This year all sessions will play with open captions to allow people who are deaf, hard of hearing or hearing impaired to enjoy the films too.
Approximately 1 in 6 Australians are affected by hearing loss so we wanted to make sure that those people can enjoy the festival just as much as everyone else!
A small number of films are hard-coded with foreign language subtitles, in which case they have not be captioned. These films are indicated with the OSUB icon.
Closed vs Open Captions
Captions ≠ Subtitles: Captions are similar to subtitles but also include description of audio cues important to the narrative. Captions that are visible on the screen to all viewers, are called Open Captions (OC).
About the trial program
Many short films are not supplied to festivals with subtitles or captions, with the exception of films with foreign language dialogue which is usually burnt in / hard-coded by the filmmaker.
There are a number of reasons why indie films don't have captions:
- Lack of awareness - A lot of people don't know what captions are and how they benefit hearing impared patrons.
- Cost to create - professional captions cost between $20-30 per minute of content to generate.
- Technical requirements - To play a film in a cinema, they must be converted into a Digital Cinema Package (DCP). These are complex and costly to make, and adding soft-coded Open Captions (open captions that can be turned on or off) to a DCP is even more difficult and usually adds extra cost.
- Subtitle stigma - People who don't watch content with subtitles can find them distracting to have on screen. Of course, anyone who frequently watches content with subtitles will tell you, it's really not not distracting at all. So why do some find it distracting and others don't? Well like most things, when it's new you notice it more often!
As it happens, one of our festival co-producers also runs Post Lab IO, the company that manages our print-traffic. It gave us the perfect opportunity to test the feasibility of generating and adding captions to ~30 short films, cheapely, accurately and at relatively short notice.
If you enjoyed having open captions at the festival, or have feedback, we'd love to hear from you!