Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Opening Up on Closed Captioning

By Gőlbez and special guest 'Aurian'

Closed Captioning (CC) is not something most hockey fans need or think about. I'm sure most of us have seen it, or played with the CC button on the remote a few times, but the captioning is always a few seconds behind the real action, and it's not something we need to have to enjoy the game.

I'm in that majority, but my many hours at the gym, on the cross-trainers, have been spent in front of TV screens, where the CC option is often turned on while I'm watching a sports game or highlight show.

I'm always amazed at just how 'butchered' some of the names can get. Pavol Demitra becomes 'Pablo', Pavel Kubina becomes 'Havlid Subpoena', Messier becomes 'Mess Yay', Bure becomes 'beret' or 'Bear A', and so on. It often seems like the typists who do the CCing have never watched a hockey game before in their lives.

Now, I know the players well and CC is not something essential for me. The errors seem more amusing than anything else. But, what about someone who needs CC?

Hockey Rants reader Aurian is someone who needs to use Closed Captioning to enjoy the full viewing experience, and contributes her thoughts on the issue

Why Captions are Important for me:

Even though people always tell me that the announcers are as annoying as hell and there isn't much point to captions anyways, I do find I miss the captions when they are not running. Watching a game, I don't always know who's wearing what number jersey for the opposing team, and the lettering on the jersey is often too small to make out. I like to have the captions running so I can go "oh, so that's how so-and-so plays!" I don't always catch why the play is stopped, what the ref is calling, who assisted on that goal, etc. The "public" channels (CBC, Rogers Sportsnet, TSN) all have captions, whereas PPV does not. I actually sometimes feel like I am not getting much value for my money because I am getting less from PPV :p
(Jes: PPV is never worth the money! *COUGH*)

How Captions work:

I had a captionist in one of my university classes that involved a lot of discussion in a big lecture hall. She captioned the discussion for me, so I watched her at work. She would program her computer to auto-type words if she typed in a few letters, especially for the longer ones. Before a class, she would find out the subject and program a list of new words into her computer. This is important for live stuff, because people can speak faster than someone can type properly (taped programs have FAR fewer caption errors and do not have the lag you see in live shows and games). Even so, she would still make mistakes. Usually caption errors come from typing phonetically or breaking down a name into similar words. However, sometimes I get the feeling that the captionist has never watched a hockey game or heard some of the names before :p

Caption follies:

The sports news shows usually are not too bad, because the speakers generally plan out what they will say. The games are the best source of bloopers. CBC is the best source for funny captions - they are the ones doing the "Brenda Morrison" on a regular basis.

I just watched a period of the Bruins-Rangers game and got the following:

Crueller took at shot at the goal (Cullen). The announcers discussed the trade of "Con Ray". Someone by the name of Peter Pwei ska is playing too (Peter Prucha). Also, at one point, the Vlaisers were up by three goals (NY Rangers).

I remember some great ones from various Canucks games. The captionists have just as much trouble with Bieksa as those Toronto announcers did. I've watched "Bert Fuzzy" and "Henry Sedin" play. I've also seen Cloo Tear and Longo in goal (insert bad pun there :p). There have been some minor gaffs like Sammy Salo, Kessler, and Burros.

If the networks are going to take the time to provide CC for the games, why don't they hire somebody who actually follows the sport? I can understand if some AHL call-up gets their name slaughtered, but how can you screw up a star like Bertuzzi? Give the captionists a roster list or find a hockey fan out of the bunch. There must be one.

Closed Captioning might not be important to everyone, but to those that need it, they do deserve to be able to watch a game without a whole whack o' errors.

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