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July 14, 2004

Health Alert: New closed captioning system for movies

From: WIS, SC - Jul 14, 2004

(National) July 14, 2004 - Alan Hurwitz is a movie-buff, but he can't hear, so imagine what a trip to the theatre is like for him, "I'd rely on facial expressions, body language. I'd try and guess what people were talking about."

He's excited about a new technology that brings captioning to the silver screen, "My dream would be to go to any movie theater and to be able to enjoy movies and watch and see the captions."

Some theaters do offer movies with subtitles, but that currently requires laser etching on the film or overlay printing, which takes time, and delays release.

Alan says theaters now have a new, more immediate option, called Cinema Subtitling System, or CSS, "We're projecting the captions directly onto the screens themselves."

The engineers and computer scientists from Digital Theater Systems, or DTS, worked for two years on the technology. Michael Archer says it's done with specially designed hardware installed at the theater, "There's a DTS playback unit, a modified video projector and a DTS time code reader head."

When a movie opens, a disc with the captions is sent to the theatre. As it's played back, a video projector superimposes the subtitles on the screen. Archer says the disc and the movie are synchronized using timecode, "That time code takes the specific information that would be in synch with that film frame and puts it directly on the screen."

The system isn't just for the hard of hearing. Archer says it can also help other movie goers, "That disc will contain either a variety of languages for subtitles, or captioning info for the deaf and hard of hearing, or a descriptive narrative for the blind and visually impaired."

CSS is already being used in more than 50 cities across the US.

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