Since launching our Universal Closed Captioning solution for delivery to all devices, we have received many great questions from the Encoding.com community. Here are answers to three frequent questions. Thanks for all the interest and keep asking questions!
What’s the difference between closed captions and subtitles?
Closed captions as a concept is unique to the States; Europeans refer to them as “subtitles for the hard of hearing” and deliver them as such. There are some technical differences. The practical difference in North America (or Region 1 for all you DVD watchers) is viewers use their TV remote to turn on closed captions and use the remote for their DVD player to switch on subtitles. Most digital TVs make it dead simple to turn on the closed caption decoders. You will need to use the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad to turn on closed captions (ex: this is great for watching Breaking Bad on a noisy train). Your Android device probably depends on subtitles instead of closed captions.
How does player and authoring software create, store and read closed captions?
With two competitive mechanisms. Closed captions may be:
1. Stored in a video file: closed captions are either CEA-608 (analog) or CEA-708 (digital) tracks in a video file. 3GPP Timed Text is the standard for subtitles stored in MP4 and 3GP files. These formats are either stored as a data track or encoded in a video stream itself. Most DVDs distributed in America contain analog closed captions. Broadcasters use digital closed captions for all their programming. The HTTP Live Streaming format supports analog and digital closed captions. The most recent FCC regulations require closed captions stored in a video file.
2. Stored in a text file: SCC, SRT, DFXP, and SAMI files may contain closed captions. These formats provide timed textual information outside the video file. SCC is frequently used in authoring environments (ex: Avid, Premiere, Final Cut Pro). Browser-based video players (ex: Flash, Silverlight, HTML5) generally rely on sidecars to deliver closed captions. Video players native to Android generally require sidecars. (We’ve encountered no Android device that has a closed caption decoder.) Apple’s mobile devices can decode both analog and digital captions. Subtitles for the hard of hearing (and other users) are stored in a text file.
How do closed captions impact the bottom line directly?
Adding closed captions increases the value of a given video file by vastly increasing its addressable audience. Let’s review 4 ways that closed captions can expand your reach:
1. They are commonly used by the over 38 million Americans who are hard of hearing
2. They are commonly used in workplaces, in public or wherever it gets loud
3. As the Boomers age, more Americans will need closed captions
4. They are a popular learning tool for people studying to achieve advanced proficiency in American English