Subtitles for 360° media – alternative presentation for immersive experiences (part 1)- IRT

When subtitles are provided in a 360° environment, they are typically fixed at the bottom of the screen and centered horizontally. This is fine for common 2D TV, but maybe is not the best strategy for 360° media. By making use of the additional “dimension”, maybe subtitles can convey more than just textual information. Whereas audio can guide a viewer through a 360° scene – by helping tracking the action and keeping the orientation – for people with hearing impairments such spatial cues are not available. Can similar cues be realized with an enhanced subtitle service? And how do viewers respond to them?

Thus, the main questions to be answered are:

  • What purpose do subtitles in 360° media serve?
  • And how can this purpose be fulfilled best?

To address these questions, alternative options for the presentation of subtitles are developed and evaluated in ImAc. An example is shown below (Image 1) where the subtitle sticks to the corresponding speaker (or, in this case, a guitar player) as long as he is visible. When the viewer turns away and the speaker moves out of view, the subtitle sticks to the side that is closest to the speaker:

Image 1 – In this example (starting at the top picture), the viewer turns his head from right to left. The subtitle “follows” the guitar player, who is moving to the right edge of the image. When the guitar player finally moves out of view, the subtitle stays at the right edge.

This is one possible way of conveying information about the scene or speakers in a scene by means of subtitle positioning. This and other possibilities to use the subtitles as spatial cues will be investigated in user trials and in our pilots.

In the course of 2018, a first version of the ImAc subtitle service will be shown to end users. And we are eager to find out, how they will respond to it.


By Peter tho Pesch.


Read PART 2 of the post here.

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