Friday, November 2, 2012

Web Series You Aren't Watching: 2. Electric City

Some web series are publicity magnets. One of them is Tom Hanks' Electric City. Electric City, which is exclusively on Yahoo with no captions, is at What is it about? Here is the description from Wikipedia:

"In a post-apocalyptic setting, mankind is reduced to small settlements whose main business is to produce electric power. With fossil and nuclear fuel sources mostly depleted, the communities are dependent on naturally created electricity, be it by air, water, or muscle power (the latter of which is used as a punishment for criminals and other undesirables of this society). Under the motto "All in service to all" everyone must contribute to society's welfare."

Do you notice something odd about the picture above? There are no captions, but there is a "talking head" symbol accompanied by the words "English, Francais, and Espanol." Those are the languages that this web series is available in...for hearing people!

That's right. For this web series, instead of investing in upgrading their video player to make it accessible for deaf and hard of hearing people, Yahoo chose to invest in voice translation of their web series.

When it debuted, Electric City received a lot of publicity because of Tom Hanks' involvement. In addition, it was an early web television programming effort from Yahoo. Coverage was extensive, including interviews with Tom Hanks. Just a sampling follows:
  • Mashable - Interactive ‘Electric City’ Web Series From Tom Hanks Debuts
  • New York Times - Apocalypse Soon: Tom Hanks Discusses His Web Series ‘Electric City’
  • Entertainment Weekly - Tom Hanks' dystopian web series debuts on Yahoo
What about the next web series Tom Hanks produces? If it is only on Yahoo, you're out of luck. There won't be any closed captions unless Yahoo updates its video player to support closed captioning.

So there you have it...another reason to sign the caption Yahoo petition, or pass on the url!

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