Closed Caption (part 1)
"Closed Caption is the American equivalent of our European "Antiope
" or "Teletexte
" systems. A specific unit, called a "Closed Caption Decoder", allows one to obtain, thanks to this system, subtitling in ENGLISH
of films in NTSC
, coming from the UNITED STATES
, whether it be on simple video cassettes, laserdiscs or even DVD’s.
It has been developed by the "National Caption Institute
", emanating from a very strong lobby of deaf and hard of hearing persons in America who, when necessary, help the production companies to sub-title their films. The NCI has, for example, contributed to the voting of a law in the United States forcing TV manufacturers to integrate closed caption decoders in all televisions bigger than 36 cm.
Diverted from it’s initial utilisation on US soil, Closed Caption allows people around the world who have a relatively correct level of English to understand any film on VHS, laserdisc or DVD coming from the USA. It is without doubt one of the best "English teachers" around. There’s nothing better than watching a good film while learning the language at the same time. Let’s take a closer look at this system:
-/ The word "caption
" is basically the equivalent of "sub titling
". A film may be "captioned" in two ways: Either the sub-title is directly inlayed on the video (which is quite rare nowadays), or (on a DVD for example) captions are an integral part of the choices of sub-titles available and, it is not, in the second case, necessary to have a specific decoder.
-/The term "closed caption
" means "encoded sub-titles
" for which one needs a closed caption decoder
" DVD is a DVD that has in its menu
the possibility to choose between 32 different sub-titles (on the condition, of course, that the producer has included them on the DVD!). It’s quite possible that a DVD not be "captioned", that is to say that it has no sub-titles available on the menu, while still being "closed captioned
": it necessitates the use of a closed caption decoder
to have access to the sub-titles.
For the moment, the trend is towards the manufacture of DVD’s with only "closed caption" coding, due to the massive importation of Zone 1 DVD’s in Europe. Multiple sub-titling, one of the reasons behind the success of DVD’s in Europe, is in fact in the process of becoming a thorn in the side of European publishers, who are seeing the market invaded by DVD’s with the sub-titles in French or other languages, coming from the USA. DVD’s are tending to become more and more "narrow-marketed" in order to attract only purists to the original version, which is a real shame.
The closed caption signal is found encoded on the 21st line of the NTSC
video norm. The decoder knows exactly where to find the signal: it extracts it and mixes it with the video. You have to connect the closed-caption decoder to the video, between the source (video player, videodisc player or DVD) and the television, which should, in theory, be NTSC
compatible. To work, the disc or cassette must be encoded with closed caption. This is the case of 95% of NTSC 5% discs and cassettes put on the market at the moment, and 75% of the entire market. Little by little, the American publishers are bringing out new versions of old films, encoded with closed caption. NB
: Laserdiscs by MGM are very rarely encoded with closed caption, in fact rarely coded at all, even though the jacket may carry the mention "Closed Caption". By the same token, discs of the CRITERION collection are only rarely encoded (but in this case, on the other hand, the mentions "Closed Caption" are never misleading). How to Recognise CC discs
: All encoded supports must imperatively (except for MGM discs as mentioned above) have one or two of the following indications: The mention cc
or CLOSED CAPTION