Monday, June 19, 2017

Adventures In CC

I recently saw A Canterbury Tale--a rarely shown Michael Powell film--on TCM.  It's an oddity.  Released in 1944, with a wartime theme, one of its leads is real US army sergeant John Sweet playing a US army sergeant.  His performance is engaging if amateurish. He'd never act again.

But because he speaks as people spoke then, and not today, it led to some confusion with whomever typed up the closed captions.

Two examples:

1) Sweet is walking up a hill with a British soldier. He complains about how much he hates tea.  The Brit says the Nazis and the Japanese are attacking tea-drinking nations, so America should join in.

Sweet complains it doesn't do much for the wind, but the British soldier counters since the war began, he can now walk up the hill with no problem.

But the typist didn't seem to be familiar with "wind" as one's breath, so turns it into a modern locution.  Sweet ends up saying tea doesn't do "much for the win." FTW, baby!

2)  Sweet hasn't heard from his girl back home. He finally gets some letters, and they're from Australia.

He's surprised, but figures she's joined the WACs.

That's not how the CC gets it, though.  Instead, we discover she's "joined the wax."

How could that get through?  Did the person translating just figure I don't understand it, but he said it, so I'll type it.

PS During another Michael Powell film, the better known Black Narcissus, set at a convent in India, one character refers to the fable of a prince and a beggar maid.  But it comes out "prince and a bear maid." Maybe on Game Of Thrones, but not here.

Later, a character asks how's the coffee at the convent, and a sister warns him it's full of grit.  Except the CC says it's "full of grits," which is not the same thing at all.


Blogger New England Guy said...

Interesting now that I find myself in the arts funding world, this is an issue of accessibility. Closed captioning was largely developed for the deaf/hard of hearing and become accepted (like ramps, automatic doors, big doorknobs) and appreciated by many other consumers as well. When my son was an infant and we were trying to get him sleep, I often watched TV/movies on closed caption so there would be no noise.

But to your point, while the type of errors you describe are perhaps understandable in real time closed captioning, it seems that they should be able to clean it up for a permanent product. Although if they cleaned them all up, that (much like Jesus who cured the leper in Life of Brian and removed his begging angle) they might be taking away your column subjects

6:14 AM, June 20, 2017  

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