Scumbagstyle.com reported this week that an outcry from the deaf community has come after Disney’s decision to ship copies of Up without any closed captioning, due to “marketing reasons.” After announcing that Johnny Depp will be making $35 million for his next film with them, I guess they have to cut corners where they can.
In related news, YouTube decided to give Disney a virtual donkey punch by announcing that they will now be including a new closed captioning system on most their videos (BBC News reports here). Developed by Google software engineer Ken Harrenstien, who is hearing impaired, the new algorithms will work in a variety of ways, allowing automatic captioning (it’s still developing: for instance, “sim card” is often transcribed as “salmon”) and user-uploaded transcripts to be analyzed and synched on its own.
This system is also being marketed to TV and radio stations, in a bid to make Disney feel even more like douchebags about their “marketing” decision. I don’t mean to fellate Google anymore than I already have (after all at least two of their employees, including VP Vint Cerf, are deaf or hearing impaired, so this seems a mite like self-interest) but this is truly a great development in broadcasting. News channels are notoriously slow on the uptake of captioning, lagging excessively then streaming by too fast to read: this system should help stabilize that problem and bring captioning to a whole new age. And I guess those of us who need captions on films will just have to wait until Up is illegally uploaded to YouTube.