by Kim von Keller, CompuScripts’ Caption Editor
Many people have not only favorite movies, but favorite movie scenes. If you’re a fan of science fiction, you remember the big reveal in “Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” when Darth Vader stuns Luke Skywalker — and the audience — by saying, “I am your father.” Maybe you enjoy a courtroom procedural. In that case, you likely recall the heated exchange in “A Few Good Men” in which Colonel Jessup yells at Lieutenant Kaffee, “You can’t handle the truth!” But if you’re a fan of the family sports film, you can repeat verbatim the last lines from “Field of Dreams.”
In this story, Ray Kinsella is given the opportunity to meet a much younger version of his deceased father, John, from whom he was estranged in life. As the two men stand on a baseball diamond, John tells Ray that there is a heaven. “It’s the place dreams come true,” he says. As John turns to leave, Ray calls out to him. “Hey, Dad… you wanna have a catch?”
Thanks to closed captioning, the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities are able to view and understand televised movies like “Field of Dreams,” plus a full complement of series, news programming, and sporting events. But the quality of the viewing experience may depend on the quality of the captions. The National Association of the Deaf refers to the act of closed captioning as “Making sounds visible.”
In addressing the quality of closed captioning, the NAD states that captions are not limited to the display of the spoken word. Captions also include speaker identification, sound effects, and music description. These captions should be displayed as close as possible to the “corresponding visual information.” In other words, captioned speech is placed onscreen near the speaker. Captioned sound effects are placed near the source of the sound. In addition, captions should be synchronized to the audio. (http://www.nad.org/issues/technology/captioning) The complete description of sound plus the accurate placement and timing of pop-on captions attempt to match the experience of the hearing viewer by enriching the experience of the deaf or hard of hearing viewer.
It is the continuing goal of CompuScripts Captioning to provide a complete viewing experience to those who rely on closed captioning. CompuScripts is proud to be endorsed by the Described and Captioned Media Program, which is administered by the NAD and funded by the U. S. Department of Education. Achieving DCMP “Approved Captioning Service Vendor” status is a prestigious honor in the captioning industry. Of those who participate in the rigorous evaluation process to acquire approved vendor status, only half actually earn the distinction
Now let’s imagine that moving final scene from “Field of Dreams,” this time with sound description. It is twilight, and birds twitter from an Iowa cornfield. Orchestral music plays softly in the background as the two men discuss heaven. Footfalls are heard as they walk upon the packed dirt of the baseline. John drops his catcher’s mask, and it slaps the chest protector that he’s left on the ground by home plate. As the conversation pauses, the music swells. Ray looks toward his home, and his daughter giggles loudly as she sits on a porch swing with her mother. John begins to walk away, but Ray calls to him, his voice breaking, “Hey, Dad… you wanna have a catch?” John and Ray toss the ball gingerly at first, and then the ball whacks the leather mitts. A heavy switch clicks as Ray’s wife turns on the outfield lights, and father and son continue their long-overdue game. Makes you cry just reading it.
To view a clip from “Field of Dreams” that does not include captions, click here.
CompuScripts Captioning has been providing NAD quality captions and sound effects since 1997. We’d be honored to add quality captions and sound effects to your production’s media!