Lance Pickett's YouTube Channel


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Closed Captioning look and feel on AppleTV and iTunes posted a question on what people thought of iTunes Closed Captioning. I don't think a of people knows what it does look like but would like to see. Instead of trying to describe it in words I decided to post pictures and show that AppleTV's closed caption is a bit different from what we are used to. So first off, iTunes does support Closed Captioning as well as QuickTime, kudos to Apple for taking that step for the rest of us. Even beyond that, iTunes Movie Store has a small list of Closed Captioned movies. There is an easy way to find them all, in the Movie section of iTunes Store you'll see "Power Search" in the right column under the "Quick Links Section". Click on "Power Search" and you'll see a check box that says "Search for movies that contain closed captioning". Simply check the box and press the "Search" button. You'll see the list of all movies that are available with CC. Anyway, I bought Stardust so I'll use a snapshot of a scene from Stardust to display what CC looks like:

iTunes Movie window with CC looks like this:

As you can see it looks exactly like the CC we see on a TV! Now, my previous post was about the AppleTV, I actually did have a lot of friends ask about CC abilities on AppleTV and how it looked, below is a quick snapshot of the Closed Caption from my wife's iPhone - keep in mind that this is NOT the actual quality you get from AppleTV, this is just what happens when you take a picture of a TV with a slow camera. But you'll get the point with this image:

So you can see that the CC looks a little different, kinda stylized with shiny edges. At first I didn't like it because it was different and gave me a different feel, but after watching this movie I got used to it and didn't mind too much. So thats it folks, What do you think of the new CC style? I'm curious whether the new look of CC is acceptable or not for you. Personally, I prefer the standard style but I would like to have the option to fade the black background like some TV offers.

Oh and one last thing, Closed Captioning on iPhone looks just like the iTunes snapshot in case anyone was wondering.

BTW, Apple is open to suggestions on this so send them a note if you want to change the look. I think I will too.

UPDATE: 1/2/09 - I feel really stupid now. In the Settings of AppleTV I discovered that there are two modes you can set for subtitles "Standard" and "Enhanced" the Closed Captioning above for AppleTV was set to "Enhanced" by default. When changing to "Standard" the captioning style is just like the image shown in iTunes what we are all used to, very nice.



  1. Looks like it'd be too small to actually read while watching. How was your experience there? I noticed in the second pic the text looked bigger. Were you able to modify the size of the text?

  2. It is small but readable, I don't have to squint my eyes or hold the iPhone really close. The jpeg is a compressed image so hard to read there.

    You can't modify the CC on AppleTV or in iTunes.


  3. Since your asking about the look and feel, do you like the way some tv captions move all over the screen?

    I like to watch TV with Captions on, but I like to ignore them when I want and having them move drives me crazy.

    I had done a couple caption projects that way on bubbleply, but the source files are gone, so they pulled the videos.

  4. Bill,

    Sorry it took me a while to respond. I agree with you, I don't like the Closed Caption moving all over the screen, especially when they are covering the faces or action. However, I do understand that it is necessary to move captions to the top when there are credits appearing on the screen sometimes thats okay.


  5. the scant selection of captioned movies is insulting to my deaf family and makes me strongly regret our purchases of three macbooks and 2 iphone 3g's- the exclusion by apple is disturbing!!

  6. Dawn,

    You need to realize that Apple doesn't have any control on which movie or show has caption and which does not. Apple made the technology available for studios to add captions and it is entirely up to the studios to do this NOT Apple. The Apple TV does support Closed Captioning. So your regret towards Apple products is based on the wrong assumptions.


  7. Lance,

    This is much later, but it's also true that Apple is the one who decides which movies they will list in their store, and they can order companies to add tracks.

    Beyond that, if you can download the video file, you can often download subtitles from the internet for free. If the file is already there and all they have to do is merge the .srt with the .mov file, then it's really pathetic to not do it, either at the Apple level or the studio level.

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