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Captions or Subtitles?

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    Captions or Subtitles?

    Hi,

    Does VUDU support captions or subtitles?

    I am deaf and this box would be interesting, however I need to know if captions or subtitles are supported.

    There was talk about future law legislation mandating captions for VOD-type systems, but I was not able to find information in the FAQ.

    #2
    Re: Captions or Subtitles?

    So far from what I have seen with the VUDU for the inital release is that some foreign films have English subtitles. But at this time they don't have captioning.

    I am familiar with most of the rulings about "Broadcast" video and the mandatory captioning but there is yet to be a ruling in the United States about VOD services. In Canada there has been a few pilots with the CBC that mandated if any CBC created program that is carried on VOD services the captioning must be included.

    The issue is that the standards for VOD captioning is still evolving and each of the vended products are looking at different ways to provide this service.

    These are my personal comments. I hope that someone from VUDU can provide additional information for you....
    Last edited by RonV; 09-17-2007, 07:32 PM.

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Captions or Subtitles?

      Right now, the most honest answer would be that captions/subtitles are "not yet supported". This has been one of the more commonly requested features by the field testers.

      INSIGHT: The movies are digitized into a format that makes them work great for instant access, but effectively disables traditional CC type technology. In order to deliver what you want through the Vudu, they'd have to digitize a second run of the movie with the CC's turned on the whole time. This would be a second copy of the movie, totally independent from the data of the first movie. Right now, that would have to be a decision at purchase time - all or nothing in the caption department, as you couldn't switch in mid stream.

      NOTE: Several of the foreign films in the Vudu library have been digitized with the captions turned ON. The degree of success has been variable, as aspect rations sometimes goobered up the captions.

      I do know that the folks at Vudu are aware of this request, and would like to make it happen. It just won't be there on day one.

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Captions or Subtitles?

        As I am not a Vudu employee, I speak only for myself.

        Technologically, having closed captions should be something do-able. I'm not sure that Ed's conclusions are 100% correct. iTunes has started providing video content now that is available for downloading with closed captioning. I would think that the Vudu could certainly be made available to do the same thing. The data is all included in the out of screen area on the video frame along with all the content information, etc. So it should be doable.

        Right now the box does not support captions. Many of us hope that it will in the future.

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Captions or Subtitles?

          While I realize that this may not be a priority at this time (I am a software developer and understand), I think it's essential that VUDU plan this in their product software upgrade timeline.

          There are legalities involved: Due to my community work with the deaf, I heard some branches of U.S. government is discussing possibility of legislating the requirement of captioning support for PVR's / DVR's / VOD / etc. (although they haven't yet caught on about movie download boxes like VUDU, but they are also considering the issue of iTunes) -- much like back in 1993 or so where they mandated caption decoding to be built into analog TV's. It may take a few years before your box is snagged in this net, but please, include contingency in your product plans early as possible.

          Here is some technical information that applies to captioning formats that work with MPEG4 / H.264 / AVC that VUDU box probably uses:

          ISMA Closed Captions
          Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA)
          http://www.isma.tv

          MPEG4 Part 17 (MPEG4 Timed Text)
          ISO 14496-17
          http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=39478


          Please forward to the right people in the company (lawyers and engineers) to mull over -- at least after your deadline crunches caused by product launch, anyway...

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Captions or Subtitles?

            Originally posted by Nded View Post
            INSIGHT: The movies are digitized into a format that makes them work great for instant access, but effectively disables traditional CC type technology. In order to deliver what you want through the Vudu, they'd have to digitize a second run of the movie with the CC's turned on the whole time. This would be a second copy of the movie, totally independent from the data of the first movie. Right now, that would have to be a decision at purchase time - all or nothing in the caption department, as you couldn't switch in mid stream.
            There's another technique. If the MPEG4 Timed Text "technique" is used, the software in the VUDU box uses a separate low-bitrate text stream (only one copy of video needed, regardless of captions), it would add less than one-tenth of 1% to the size of the video. So to transmit video with captions that can be turned on/off anytime, you transmit video at say, 1.001 megabits per second instead of 1.000 megabits per second. Problem solved.

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Captions or Subtitles?

              Originally posted by mdrejhon View Post
              There's another technique. If the MPEG4 Timed Text "technique" is used, the software in the VUDU box uses a separate low-bitrate text stream (only one copy of video needed, regardless of captions), it would add less than one-tenth of 1% to the size of the video. So to transmit video with captions that can be turned on/off anytime, you transmit video at say, 1.001 megabits per second instead of 1.000 megabits per second. Problem solved.
              That being said, the pre-existing VUDU onscreen menu engine could be used to generate and superimpose captions separately on top of the existing uncaptioned video. No need to recompress video; just simply add MPEG4 Timed Text.

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Captions or Subtitles?

                Originally posted by mdrejhon View Post
                That being said, the pre-existing VUDU onscreen menu engine could be used to generate and superimpose captions separately on top of the existing uncaptioned video. No need to recompress video; just simply add MPEG4 Timed Text.
                Sorry about adding extra posts to this thread, but I've been googling for more information.

                My assumption is that studios send special discs to VUDU to convert to a VOD format. There are many caption formats that could be supplied. If VUDU converts from a standard DVD, some DVD's contain extractable text information. There are 2 formats of captions on DVD's: LINE21 based, and subpicture based. The LINE21 captions are easier to extract, while subpicture based require OCR-style techniques to convert to compact text -- but the good news is that there's already software that can convert these DVD captions into a text file, which VUDU can subsequently convert to MPEG4 Part 17 (timed text).

                Captions for one scene may, for example, be only be 100 bytes (100 characters), would represent 0.0001 megabytes. That's a tiny amount of additional data.

                For the wonderful engineers at VUDU, here's some good timesaver research information from a fellow programmer (me):

                Here's some of the Google research I did:

                Instructions from Deaf blog about extracting captions
                http://jarednevans.typepad.com/blog/...ting_clos.html
                http://jarednevans.typepad.com/blog/...ore_infor.html

                VirtualDub VobSub plug-in to convert DVD captions into text files
                http://www.afterdawn.com/software/vi...ols/vobsub.cfm

                Then, once the text files are created, MPEG4 Timed Text (or another caption standard, but Timed Text is currently the closest thing to a low-bitrate streaming captioning standard for MPEG4) can be broadcast/streamed in realtime using the existing VUDU infrastructure, embedded within the pre-existing MPEG4 streams -- you don't even need to recompress, just merge the caption text (which would inflate the size of a SD stream by less than 0.1%), although theoretically one could slightly increase the compression.

                I realize this means a firmware upgrade for the VUDU units to support captions, by the technique of using the VUDU onscreen menu graphics engine as the caption-displayer engine, in order to super-impose text over the existing uncaptioned video. This may require a slight amount of additional CPU time (typically less than 1%), but since the VUDU uses hardware assisted decoding, this should be a non-issue since it seems to be an intelligently designed upgradeable machine from what I heard.

                Hope the links help kick off some research in VUDU's engineering department!

                (To contact me -- my email is on my personal webpage at www.marky.com)

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Captions or Subtitles?

                  Great info, Mark! This is exactly what we need to light a fire under them...lots of info and options of how it can be done!

                  Oh, and it's time to update the "a" field in your Geek Code.

                  -----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK-----
                  Version: 3.1
                  GAT d--(++) s+:++>+:+ a C++ U P L>++ !E W+++$ N-(+) o++ !K w---() !O M->+ V PS++(+++) PE(-) Y+ PGP t+ 5++ X+ R tv+() b+++ DI++++ D+ G->++++ e+++>++++ h---- r+++ y++++(++)
                  ------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------

                  If you're really lazy, click here.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Captions or Subtitles?

                    Mark,

                    I was just looking at your web site and noticed that you are based in Canada. At this time the VUDU is only for sale in the US. What is driving your interest in the VUDU? (from a north of the border point of view )

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Captions or Subtitles?

                      Most technologies in U.S. eventually filter to Canada after a few years in various incarnations. If many brands of VOD / PVR boxes already support captions, it become more standardized. Even if you never come to Canada, the peer pressure to support captions will help, say, a Canadian manufacturer to include the feature, or VUDU will be ready when it expands internationally.

                      It is in my interests to at least make sure it's in the product plan. Also, I have lived in the U.S. before. Plus, I also work with the U.S. deaf. I also worked within a Canadian company that programmed software for the U.S. government subsidized relay services. (example such as www.ip-relay.com). Even though we couldn't easily use the software in Canada!

                      While it's true that the market is pretty new, VUDU should sieze a standard (even if the standard is not complete) such as MPEG4 Timed Text (part 17) or another standard, and run with it. If third-party authoring tools does not have the feature, pressure them to add the caption feature. Including the ability to convert captions from a master to a streaming caption format.

                      Implementation is way too spotty. TiVo added support for recording captions along with the video, but Apple iTunes Videos have not yet added support. Lead the way!
                      Originally posted by RonV View Post
                      Mark,

                      I was just looking at your web site and noticed that you are based in Canada. At this time the VUDU is only for sale in the US. What is driving your interest in the VUDU? (from a north of the border point of view )

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: Captions or Subtitles?

                        Mark,

                        iTunes just added support for closed captioning this week.

                        The info you gave is exactly what is needed like Max said to light a fire under the development teams. I know that many of us in the community have been asking for this capability as some people like to have caption/subtitles on just so that they can keep the volume low while the kids are sleeping, etc. Plus sometimes, there's things in the captioning that you miss with just hearing it.

                        As the box is capable of being updated to add new features, just because it doesn't have it now doesn't mean it won't in the future. None of us can guarantee or say it will have something because we simply don't know and don't have the authority to make those commitments. But we do promise to keep asking and to keep pushing the issue w/Vudu.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Re: Captions or Subtitles?

                          Originally posted by NA9D View Post
                          Mark,

                          iTunes just added support for closed captioning this week.
                          Well, finally -- about time Apple jumped on the captioning bandwagon!

                          Nontheless, another incentive for VUDU -- they sound like a more user-friendly product with a much bigger Hollywood library, and potential for better picture quality!

                          I'm glad I'm helping light fire under the development teams.
                          (I'm a deaf guy AND I'm a software developer, so I know what I needed to say. )

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Re: Captions or Subtitles?

                            Are you saying that AppleTV has a bigger Hollywood library? If you are AppleTV doesn't. VUDU is pushing for 5000 movies during their launch.. I don't see Apple coming even close. For picture quality the VUDU's up-conversion produces some great picture quality.

                            Originally posted by mdrejhon View Post
                            Nontheless, another incentive for VUDU -- they sound like a more user-friendly product with a much bigger Hollywood library, and potential for better picture quality!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Re: Captions or Subtitles?

                              Originally posted by Nded View Post

                              INSIGHT: The movies are digitized into a format that makes them work great for instant access, but effectively disables traditional CC type technology. In order to deliver what you want through the Vudu, they'd have to digitize a second run of the movie with the CC's turned on the whole time. This would be a second copy of the movie, totally independent from the data of the first movie. Right now, that would have to be a decision at purchase time - all or nothing in the caption department, as you couldn't switch in mid stream.
                              This is what I found: the INSIGHT says digitized into a format and disables CC.
                              Well, Nded is not an Vudu employee. I guess unless you really work on this issue, there is no way to know that for sure.
                              Anyhow, this is request from many customers and it's up to Vudu to implement it.

                              Comment

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