At home in the caption lab

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Tuesday, 6 October 2015 12:35pm

BBC senior engineer Mike Armstrong works with caption viewers in a replica of an everyday lounge room to try and get the most realistic reactions to his research and development into better ways to caption BBC television.

Multiple screens across different devices displaying captioned content. Screenshot from 'Advanced Subtitles at BBC R&D' video

In a video from the BBC’s research lab, Armstrong explains the process by which the BBC channels its captioning research (known as “subtitles” in the UK). From its surveys, the BBC knows that around 10% of its audience uses captions and 90% of those watch captions with the sound turned on. This research also looks at speed and positioning of captions for different program types and identifies those factors as being key to viewer preferences.

The end result is an ongoing research project that is designed to create “responsive subtitles” that are formulated in response to a viewer’s preferences. This work also involves looking at programs viewed on mobile and web platforms, involving outside researchers from universities and technology companies.

The process will be used to update presentation and production standards for captions as well.

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