Jun 152010

By Cheryl Heppner 6/3/10

Hurrah for Captionfish!

Have you checked out Captionfish lately?  The website had an upgrade in mid-May and there are new things to discover.  I just skipped to the website at www.captionfish.com and instantly saw Captionfish’s list of 45 movies showing at 24 theaters within 60 miles of my location.  All the movies were labeled to let me know whether they would be open captioned, subtitled, or Rear Window captions. The show times were also listed.

Some Fun Features

–  A beta test to list live theater performances with open captions, including future showings at Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center.

– A list of movies that are scheduled to be released with captions over the next few months.

– Movie trailers with open captions.

– A nationwide movie schedule.

– If there’s a movie you want to see, you can sign up to get e-mail notifications when Captionfish finds showtimes in your area.

Captionfish News

Also check out subscribing to Captionfish News by email.  The latest edition has this news from Nanci Linke-Ellis:

Q: Why are some movies captioned and others aren’t?

A: As a general rule, all new films being released by the major distributors (Warner Bros, NBC Universal, 20th Century Fox, Sony, Walt Disney and Paramount) have been captioned in one format or another.

In all of these cases, the captions created for use with equipment based systems (i.e. MoPix and\or DTS-CSS), disks with captions are shipped with the print in the film cans upon initial release.  For a variety of reason, films change auditoriums during their run, and projectionists sometimes forget to keep the disk with the print, requiring the captioning agency to resend a disk.

In the case of OC films, the print can play in any auditorium. It’s up to the theatre to determine the best size (200 seats or 600 seats) for the film.

In the case of smaller studios, it’s all dependent upon the distribution team.  Some of very pro-active. Others require some prodding. Because the same caption files are not necessarily used by the Home Video or multi-platform divisions within the same umbrella company, the separate divisions may decide.

Because so many studios now own, TV, radio, cable and Video On Demand companies, theme parks, etc., and are subject to FCC regulations in specific cases (TV is one), they routinely order captions top to bottom. The reality is that because we are accustomed to captions at home and in certain theatres, we want them everywhere. But each technology requires its own platform – meaning the files have to be reconfigured – and they have to pay each time the files are changed.

Technology is moving way faster than the ability to keep up with captions for all applications.  Hopefully digital will provide a simpler method of repeated conversions that can keep pace with the onslaught of content being delivered each day.

Nanci Linke-Ellis, Founder and Executive Director of InSight Cinema, a non-profit organization, has forged alliances with the major film studios and theatre chains to distribute and promote captioned versions of first-run films to deaf and hard of hearing audiences nationwide. During 2007, InSight Cinema’s outreach and advocacy efforts have grown to include live theatre, opera, and all forms of captioned entertainment in the nation.

– Thanks to Cheryl Heppner, NVRC, Fairfax