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SubTech1 – the first international Symposium on Subtitling Technology

24.05.2018

Subtitles are an essential service for the accessibility of today’s media content. They are of great importance for deaf or hard hearing viewers to follow the dialog in TV broadcasts or streaming services, but also allow interested viewers to read the written translation of a dialog in a foreign language. Now, the subtitling community has arrived at a turning point. Technical advancements like UHD, VR and IP based streaming are not only challenging established AV technologies but also the technical realisation of subtitles and captions. At the same time, it is crucial that existing subtitle requirements still will be met in the future. Whereas technical opportunities should be used to innovate subtitling services, features that have developed over the years and have high acceptance in the user community, need to be continuously supported.

Sustainable progress on subtitle innovation can only be made on a global level – exchange and coordination are necessary. To make this happen people from different subtitle industries, regions and user communities need to meet face to face. Therefore, IRT, the research and competence centre for audio-visual technologies of the public broadcasters in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, organises SubTech1, the first symposium dedicated to subtitling technology on 24th & 25th May in Munich. The international subtitling tech community has been invited to discuss a large variety of aspects impacting future subtitling services. Over 70 representatives from the whole value chain, engineers and technical experts from standard organizations, studios, broadcasters, subtitling vendors as well as streaming providers join the symposium to exchange ideas and to discuss how to manage transition.

Andreas Tai, project leader for accessibility services at IRT says: “The SubTech1 symposium is deeply grounded in the believe that conversion and harmonization of subtitle technology are possible. Common technology is necessary so that the end-user gets an equivalent subtitle experience on every device.”

During the first edition of SubTech the experts in the field review a multitude of possibilities for future creation and delivery of subtitle services. Amongst subtitle standards, IMSC 1.0.1 has proven to be a harmonization point for subtitle formats: this format is used by broadcasters, studios and streaming providers alike. Open Source also plays a key role in bringing subtitles into the market, and Artificial Intelligence has shown potential to increase productivity in subtitle production.

Worldwide harmonization of subtitle formats and compatible provisioning methods, as opposed to the current multitude of heterogeneous solutions would greatly help to increase the number of subtitles media assets and thus the further uptake of this accessibility service, also in non-traditional media.

The standardisation and innovation activities carried out by the accessibility project team at IRT regarding production and provision of subtitling services are aligned with IRT’s participation in the EC-funded project ImAc (www.imac-project.eu).

More information about SubTech1: http://subtitling.irt.de/subtech/

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