Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review of Sony's Captioning Glasses

I just recently got back from watching The Dark Knight Rises with captions. In this case, it didn't use open captioning or rear window captioning (RWC). The theatre used the Sony subtitle/caption glasses. They do take a little getting used to at first. No captions will show until the beginning of the movie.

They've got their good points and their bad points. But basically, the glasses have room for improvement.

The good:
- Subtitles are easily readable with green letters
- Tapping Menu on the battery pack with + and - adjusts the captioning mode and brightness
- Subtitles show up no matter where you look

The bad:
- After wearing them, they'll feel a bit heavy and the bridge of your nose may hurt
   (in my case, it was painful due to the noserests pinching me, but didn't hurt til I took them off)
- Might cause some eye strain with some people due to the focal plane of the subtitles. Meaning, you're going to be reading subtitles close to you, then look at the movie screen.

The suggested improvements:
- the ear pieces could be made adjustable, like longer or shorter
- the eyepiece connector or middle of glasses could be made hinged to allow for those with one good eye to see more of the subtitles
- the subtitle placement could be made adjustable
- if not hinged, maybe use wraparound glasses?
- the nose rests could be made adjustable
- possible to make "clip-ons" to display subtitles on the person's own glasses?

Came across these pages/blogs mentioning it as well:

Regal Captions All Movies With Special Glasses - A Review
The future of captioned films
My Opinion on the Caption Glasses

And interestingly enough, a Quick Start Guide for the glasses. There's more like this with a little more looking around.

Update: I tried them a second time and posted about it. (Part 2)


Aaron said...

The positioning of the captions is absolutely changeable! You can put them high or low by adjusting the little black boxes on the sides of the lenses. I also found the eye strain was less after I pushed MENU and adjusted the captions for to FAR. They then seemed closer to the focal plane of the screen (albeit not in the same plane)

Robert G said...

Seems I may have missed something when I got into the theatre a bit late shortly after the ads started. I know the eyepieces move up and down from the earpiece.

I'm familiar with the up/down adjustment. But I was thinking more of adjusting the captions via the menu a bit more off center for those with vision issues. I have one good eye, and one side of the captions was hard to see.

I set my captions for FAR as well.

I'm planning on returning sometime so I can take a closer look at the glasses in good light.

lavender16 said...

I wonder if Sony's Captioning Glasses over eyeglasses work well?
Thank you

Robert G said...

So far, they do. They can go in front of your regular glasses. They might take a little adjusting of both.

Jim said...

Instead of those glasses, I do wish theater would open two different version of the movie. One theater with Open Caption for all to see and other one with no Captions. That should be a comparmise to do that. Think for example of Blockbuster movies. They have two or three theaters showing the same movies? What not do just that like I mention.

derek brandon said...

The Sony Access Glasses would be very useful for people with hearing loss in the UK. Although most cinemas now have facilities to screen the latest films with English-language subtitles & audio description for people with hearing or sight loss, there are only around 1,000 subtitled shows every week around the UK. That may sound a lot but it’s only around 1% of cinema shows. In the UK, subtitles are on the cinema screen, for all to see, so require separate screenings.

Subtitle glasses would increase the choice of subtitled films and shows tenfold. People would very much appreciate such a service from cinemas. Take a look at this page of feedback from the cinema-going public:

Film distributors ensure that most popular cinema releases are routinely subtitled in many European languages, as well as captioned and audio described. Large-capacity DCP hard drives can easily accommodate a digital film and multi-language text/audio tracks.

A multi-language/caption/narration solution like the glasses would enable under-served, untapped audiences Europe-wide to enjoy the cinema experience. Not only people whose first language is not the local language, but also people with hearing or sight loss.

The potential reach is huge. Hundreds of thousands of Europeans would benefit from experiencing films in a variety of languages. And of course people with hearing or sight loss would benefit immensely. Each year tens of thousands of children are born across Europe with significant hearing loss. Every day thousands start to lose their sight. Millions, including more than a hundred thousand children, have significant hearing or sight loss.

With ageing, loss of some hearing or sight is inevitable. Access to film via captions/subtitles and audio description/narration is something that we may all appreciate eventually.

Derek Brandon

Robert G said...

Jim, I think it's been tried before, but it doesn't seem to work well. Alternating times of open and no captioning has been tried in the past. We've heard about the guy that pulled the theatre's fire alarm when he got upset that his movie was open captioned. So far, the alternative to open captioning seems to be Rear Window (RWC) or the glasses.

There's a fourth called CaptiVew. It builds on RWC and the glasses by replacing the RWC "mirror" with an LED readout. Are you familiar with CaptionFish? Their FAQ page describes it and other methods used.