Hide and Seek and Closed Captioning
March 31, 2019 7:44 PM   Subscribe

Some DVDs have it, some don't. Some list having it, but don't, and some don't list it, but do. Or maybe my Blu-Ray player is hiding it from me? I don't know, do you?

I'm deaf. In the good old days of simple analog TV, turning on closed captioning was as easy as pushing a clearly marked button on the remote control. But now in the world of digital TVs and complicated players, it becomes a maze of menus and determining which piece of hardware needs to have this or that option selected.

I have an LG TV and a Toshiba Blu-Ray player. Navigating the TV's settings to turn on the CC is hard enough. I have yet to figure out how to turn on the player's CC. I figure it must have some kind of way of turning captions on because I purchase or receive through Netflix DVDs that are supposed to have them independent of the subtitle options, but when I watch, they never appear. I have them selected on the TV, but that does nothing.

An example. I have currently the documentary Not Quite Hollywood. Netflix says it has captions. Amazon says it has captions. I play it and no captions.

If you have any experience working with these devices, I could use some trouble shooting advice. Thank you!
posted by Fukiyama to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For technical reasons to do with the kind of video that HDMI cables pass, most Blu-rays do not include the kind of closed captions that over the air broadcast and cable signals do. For most Blu-rays, you will have to navigate the menus at the start of the disc or during the feature to turn on subtitles, which for most North American discs have the same content as closed captions but are called something different for esoteric industry reasons.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:17 PM on March 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Blu-ray uses subtitling rather than closed captioning. If you check the user manual for your Blu-ray player (or let us know the model and we can help find it online with you) there should be instructions for controlling subtitles. On the player I've used you press "OSC" on the Blu-ray player's remote to bring up the on-screen display, and then you choose a subtitle option.
posted by bcwinters at 8:18 PM on March 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Have you tried playing discs on a computer? Not necessarily to watch it all the way through but to try to verify the presence of the captions. I find VLC media player software most useful for checking out a disc's capabilities; in its "Playback" submenus it will list every video, audio, and subtitle track.

When I've come across it, captioning seems to show up as an additional subtitle track besides the regular English one. If so, it might be a matter of skipping past the non-English tracks to select the right one.
posted by XMLicious at 8:19 PM on March 31, 2019

I'm hard of hearing and regularly use captioning/subtitles. I've gotten used to using the subtitle options on dvds and blurays rather than the closed captioning on the tv. It's often found under "languages" in the main menu and navigate from there. The subtitles (at least for english language) are often intended for the D/HH so they usually include some description of sounds as well as the dialogue.
posted by acidnova at 9:33 PM on March 31, 2019

DVDs can have traditional closed captions and (encoded differently) subtitles. I’ve noticed that many DVDs just use the subtitles feature and don’t bother to use the CC encoding. This is annoying because it’s usually more difficult to quickly turn subtitles on/off instead of closed captions in most user interfaces (TV remotes or computer software). I just happened to watch a movie (after reading this question earlier) that surprisingly only used CC, not subtitles, allowing me to use a keyboard command to toggle them instead of having to use the mouse-based menu for subtitles.
posted by D.C. at 11:45 PM on March 31, 2019

I am familiar with subtitles of course if you all are referring to what people can normally select to show through their DVD/Blu-ray's set up menu. I know how English subtitles are listed as English-For Hard of Hearing or something to that effect.

In a lot of cases though, including the DVD I mention in the OP, it is listed as having captions and the only subtitle option is for Spanish.

My Blu-ray player is a Toshiba BDX2150.

I checked out using VLC Media Player on my computer. That was a chore! But I got the captions going there, so thank you for suggesting that. I don't like to watch movies on my computer though for reasons, so first choice is always watching on my TV if possible.
posted by Fukiyama at 8:30 AM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well since captions work on the VLC media player (and good job getting it running if your computer isn't one where you can just pick it from an app store!), as a last resort I'd point out that there are ways to get your laptop's screen mirrored onto your television.

Particularly, if your LG TV were a “smart TV” already connected to a wireless network, and if it supports something like Google Cast, and you ended up with a recent 3.x version of VLC media player, and the laptop is on the same network as the TV, all you might have to do is pick your TV's network name from Playback → Renderer. Or, if the laptop has an HDMI-out port and the TV has HDMI-in you could connect them with an HDMI cable.

But other than those really easy options it'd be complicated to set screen mirroring up so it certainly seems your original plan of figuring out which button on which remote to press is the way to go.
posted by XMLicious at 11:24 AM on April 1, 2019

Unfortunately, the CC for Not Quite Hollywood were poorly done. The poor quality combined with the rapid fire nature of that movie made watching it not worth my time.

Another issue is that Netflix's DVDs are bare bones editions. Mulholland Dr. from the Criterion Collection is supposed to have English subtitles for the deaf, but this DVD I have has no set up menu and using a button on the remote to change the subs from none to 01 keeps giving me "prohibited."

I'm a little pissed off at technology right now. Thank you though, everyone who commented.
posted by Fukiyama at 9:33 AM on April 9, 2019

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