Here in the captioning demimonde, we suffer from a profound lack of captioning style guides, let alone style guides based on research or even common sense.
To a Canadian audience, the use of colour-coding of captions is a tad foreign. It is essentially unheard-of despite the fact that colour has always been part of the Line 21 captioning standard.
Since we can’t exactly flick on our televisions to understand how our dear Australian friends use colour in captioning, I decided to create this simulation. Notes:
On with the show. Six simulations are available:
Colour scheme goes like this:
Repeat if necessary.
Nice work, Miles.
That should give the prosecution witnesses
I hope you're getting
Yeah, don't worry.
Between the two of us,
I think we've got a good chance now
Well, I think Anna had a role--
I'll meet you later.
You going to be long?
I'll come back.
The colour scheme is: White on black; yellow on black.
The Lying Lady Puzzle.
Five nice, pretty ladies,
who any man would be proud
One of them give you a nasty shock,
because one ain't no lady--
Can you tell which one
Is it Number 1?
Or Number 2.
Could it be Number 3?
Or maybe she both.
What about Number 4?
Mm, very difficult decision,
Or is it Number 5?
She got earrings and high heels.
Maybe that's important.
The question is,
Is it 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5?
Bet! Bet! Bet! Bet! Bet!
Whoa! Time out! No more bets!
If you say Number 2, you stupid,
because she obviously
If you go for Number 3,
because she also a pretty lady.
What, can you not tell the difference
But if you say Number 4, congratulations!
You sorting the men from the boys!
The colour scheme here gives an announcer his or her own treatment (white on blue), with normal colouration for character speech and everything else. But since there are only enough colours for four characters, this example, with eight of them, requires doubling up.
Previously on 'This Life'--
Anna, you're a complete mess.
Have you completely taken leave
If I have my way,
you won't be anywhere near
What's this bird's name?
It's a him.
I was going to take a shower.
Well, don't mind me.
Men, work, you name it--
whatever I touch
You look terrible. What was wrong?
She just fucked up.
Something in here
to pick up the baton.
There IS a condition
Get this straight.
You might turn out to be the one.
Don't take the piss, Kyra.
I'm getting fed up with it.
I just thought I detected signs
of the old chromosomes
First announcer gets red on yellow, the second blue on yellow.
And we're seconds away
While the East German (chuckles)...
are shaving their backs
the Americans are heavy favorites.
Boo-hoo, you're breaking my heart!
Voices spoken in recollection or flashback have this colour scheme:
Wait a minute, Marge. Love isn't hopeless.
Maybe I'm no expert on the subject,
but there was one time I got it right.
Would you go to the prom with me?
I can think of a dozen highly cogent arguments.
Now, the first is from 'Time' magazine,
Marge, when I see you forming
your beautiful breath pushing past
So will you go out with me?
When voices are transmitted through radios or communicators, red on yellow comes first, then blue on yellow. There is no provision for multiple transmitted voices beyond two of them, as in the case of airplane cockpit recorder transcripts.
American 1420 leaving two-two-zero
Unfamiliarity is certain an issue here, but these simulations show that all colour-coding really manages to do is differentiate speakers – that is, signify a speaker change rather than immediately and transparently triggering an understanding of which character corresponds with which colour.
Colour-coding falls down entirely with more than four characters. In the episode-recap example, there are fully eight characters, meaning each of the colour codes is used twice. Just who belongs to which colour is irrelevant, really; all the colours signify is another character speaking. One wonders why we go to all that trouble.
The Australian standard also cannot accommodate a large number of voices transmitted through radios or communicators. It has never been clear to me – and I mean never, even after 20 years – why such voices get special treatment. Either we can see the speaker or we can’t; those would appear to be the salient criteria.
The Australians must be commended for ignoring the temptation to typeset red on black. Protanopes (people with a certain form of red–green colourblindness) cannot differentiate red and green and see a substitute colour for red that is much darker than the other main class of red–green colourblindness, deuteranopes. In effect, then, red on black becomes very dark beige on black, which isn't exactly easy to read.
Both groups could not differentiate red-on-black and green-on-black captions, and protans might not be able to read red-on-black captions at all.
It is also wise of the Australians to avoid gaudy colour combos like purple on green, though there is no excuse whatsoever for cyan on blue, in actual use for multiple recollected voices.
I do not have enough experience watching actual colour-coded captions to develop genuine expertise. The indications of these simulations, however, suggest it isn't worth the trouble, particularly under the Line 21 system, which requires a visible black space to turn a colour on or off.
Updated 2001.08.03, 2007.03.09 14:30