7.1 Linear Film and Linear Immersive Media

We have ensured that our linear media (film, video, audio) are accessible by working the development of all child assets and versioning them in to the original project scopes. This means that we produce a full range of child assets for each piece of linear media. For a film, for example, these child assets include: signed interpretation, captioning, descriptive audio track (including audio ducking), and transcription. We produce versions in both English and French, with the full complement of child assets and volume control.

Sign Language (ASL/LSQ)

The official working languages of the Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD) are American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ). These two languages have equal status and first priority within the CAD and its activities, and were selected as solutions in meeting our commitment to universal design. We decided to produce and record ASL/LSQ for all linear media in the exhibition program to support the needs of this audience in both official languages.

Museum experiences can be challenging for native users of ASL and LSQ as their reading levels in English and French may be much lower than their ability in sign language. To address this, we integrated ASL/LSQ through an inset window that includes a sign language interpreter in the video stream, or through some other means. We created a standardized player for digital kiosks to allow the presentation of captions alongside ASL/LSQ. This allows for both features to be toggled on or off separately to suit a visitor’s preference. When linear media is presented in a theatre, sign language is integrated into the media program.

Signers follow a monochromatic dress code of a button collared dress shirt, with sleeves rolled ¾ length. They are always located on the bottom right of the video presentation (in gallery presentation). Size is determined by the screen size and viewing distance.

Videos are transcribed (in English and French) and then time-coded by CMHR before they are sent to the ASL/LSQ media producers. This ensures that the sign language lines up with the audio track on the video. For example, if there is narration for the first minute and 15 seconds of a video, the time-coded script would read as follows: “0:00-1:15/ 1 minute, 15 seconds.”

An export codex/process is used to ensure interpretation is as clear as possible (different processes depending on the exhibit, i.e. iStations vs theatres vs mobile, etc.). Linear media theatres have the signers embedded in the films’ Interactive Stations where the ASL/LSQ is toggled. E.g. Codec: FLV w/ alpha, 448x480, 3mbps

Audio Description (AD)

The Museum uses audio description (AD) to describe video content to visitors who are blind or visually impaired.

AD is a narration track intended mainly for visual media consumers who are blind or visually impaired. AD is also known as “video description,” and is more precisely a “visual description.” AD involves a narrator talking through the presentation, describing what is happening on the screen during the natural pauses in the audio and sometimes during dialogue, if necessary. Not all videos allow for AD if there is constant conversation or narration throughout the film.

Synthesized Voice Translation (SVT)

The Museum also uses synthesized voice translation (SVT) to ensure that media content is accessible to visitors who are blind or visually impaired. AD describes what is happening in a video, while SVT is the direct translation of the video’s audio track.

SVT is created using a synthetic voice, and is placed on the same audio track as the audio description. SVT translates the language of the video to either English or French. For example, if the video has an English speaker and the media consumer speaks only French, she can listen to the audio description track and hear a synthetic voice translate the English spoken words to French. We also provide SVT for translations from French to English, and from a third language to English and French.

For SVT in Museum media:

  • Spoken words are translated via synthetic voice.
  • Gender and sometimes age (adult or child) of the SVT voice are matched to the original speaker to give context to the listener. Also, the SVT voice is different from the AD voice to avoid confusion.
  • SVT is available through our Universal Keypad (UKP)-A, UKP-I as well as our CMHR mobile application.
  • For mobile, we create a version of the video with AD and SVT as part of the audio track. This is different from our exhibit videos, where users can toggle this AD/SVT audio track on/off via the UKP.

Closed/Open Captions

The Museum uses closed/open captioning (CC/OC), a process of displaying text on screen to provide additional or interpretive information. CC can be toggled on/off while OC is always visible.

Our captions:

  • Include spoken words as well as descriptions of non-speech elements, e.g., [canon blast] [music]
  • Do not include music lyrics
  • Act as subtitles, providing alternative language translation from a film’s primary audio language
  • Are displayed as Universe Basic Medium, with a 100% opaque black outer glow

We use .srt files in scenarios where “closed captions” are needed, such as in YouTube video uploads and insight station videos (when captions can be toggled on or off).

When a video needs “open captions” (captions that are always viewable on the screen), we bring the .srt file into our video-editing software (Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere) and export the video with the captions overlaid. In these cases, French and English versions of the videos must be created.

Our type size is perceived type size, relative to the viewing distance. Please see styling below.

Transcription Process

We outsource most of our videos for transcription and translation. This provides us with a script of the video’s audio, which is then verified internally by Museum staff.

From there, we create closed-captions, which double as subtitles. The difference between subtitles and CC is that subtitles refer to spoken words only and CC describes every sound.

In our CC, sounds are described using square brackets, e.g., [glass shattering].

A speaker’s name will also appear in square brackets before they begin to speak. We do not use quotation marks in this context, e.g., [Buffy Sainte-Marie] I grew up in…

If it is not obvious who is speaking we describe the voice with an adjective, e.g., [Woman’s voice] or [Male narrator].