[whatwg] Captions, Subtitles and the Video Element

Jeff Walden jwalden+whatwg at MIT.EDU
Thu Jul 16 22:21:04 PDT 2009

On 15.7.09 17:56, Ian Hickson wrote:
> On Thu, 19 Feb 2009, Ian Fette wrote:
>> However, there's a lot of uses for subtitles / captions that cannot be
>> met with subrip. No styling (beyond the bare basics), no karaoke
>> commands, no alpha, no nice handling for collisions, margins, shadow
>> colors, specifying encoding, etc.
> I disagree that we should have author-controlled styling here. While I
> could maybe be convinced to have something basic like colour and maybe
> positioning, I think it is important that we let the subtitles be under
> the control of the user and the user agent, as they are, for instance, on
> TVs. Providing a way for authors to select different voices would make
> sense, but if we allow arbitrary styling we are going to have all kinds of
> problems, like lacking the ability to take subtitles and convert them to
> braille without losing context, or losing the ability to trivially convert
> subtitles for use in other contexts like TV subtitles.
> (For the few authors who really want to go crazy, they can already overlap
> HTML onto their<video>  and do whatever crazy stuff they want to do.)

By way of a use case for at least color and positioning, there's a certain part of the third (?) Austin Powers movie wherein the color and position of foreign-language subtitles plays an important part in the artistic merits (lack thereof, arguably) of the scene.  How would you suggest a movie-viewing site use <video> to display these?  It seems unreasonable to say that the site must include special-case handling for this particular movie clip's subtitles; it's more likely they would be mangled in some manner and the semantic content (lack thereof) would be lost.

By the way, I have no idea how foreign-language translations of the movie handle this scene.  It's possible they simply subtitle the subtitles and avoid the more complicated problems this scene arguably presents.


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