Sunday, March 31, 2013

Yahoo Starts Captioning! But...

Earlier today, a discovery was made: After at least five years, Yahoo has finally started to closed caption. There was no announcement from Yahoo; apparently they just started quietly. The word was put out on Twitter. People checked things out and found that Yahoo is probably using a form of automatic captioning because they noticed a lack of semantic structure and difficulty in reading the captions. One viewer pointed out that he could not see the full captioning unless viewing in full screen mode. The captions also are plain white with no background and can not be customized by viewers. So things are not perfect but it is a start.

All of Yahoo's Originals at were checked for captioning. The total captioned is currently 16 shows out of 59. It looks like Yahoo is starting with its most popular shows and expanding.We will be adding these 16 shows to the Captioned Web TV blog accompanied by a warning note about the automatic captioning.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your awesome work getting Yahoo! to start captioning, and then checking what is captioned and how.

    As I'm in Switzerland, there are many shows I can't view at all because they are "geo-blocked" for copyright reasons here (and probably in several other countries). But I can view chowciao, with captions.

    I'm not sure about their being automated, though - at least not fully. E.g. in How to not cry peeling onions, the content is accurate, as only human - or human-revised - transcribing can be. What might be automated is the splitting and syncing of the transcript into subtitles.

    But the main issue seems indeed to be a limit of subtitle length in the player in "not full screen" mode, which means that if a sub is longer than that limit, the last words are missing.

    However, this is unrelated to whether the subtitles are automatically synced or not. Last summer, tried to impose a similar limit in its player, and that similarly amputated thousands and thousands of subtitle sets made before the limit imposition. So they eventually withdrew it.

    So that length limit in the player settings is what Yahoo! developers should correct. Automated timing, per se, needs not produce illogically split subtitles, because if subtitle breaks are humanly indicated in the transcript by an empty line, the software will use these indications, instead of splitting the subtitles haphazard. At least that's how it is with YouTube's automated timing (see Transcript File in the YouTube Help).

    So maybe the warning note you mention should be worded slightly differently, like: "there can be display issues with the captions"?

    Just an idea.