It takes considerable effort to distribute accessible content in time for opening night. Distribution executives have to goad their production counterparts to not make that last minute edit. Time is needed to create and assemble HI and VI-N sound tracks, as well as create and assemble open and closed captions. Most, if not all, studio distributors jump through such hoops on a regular basis. But despite these efforts, exhibitors complain that they can’t get accessible content. Likewise, manufacturers of closed caption systems complain that they can’t close sales until exhibitors know they can put the equipment to work.
The gap is fairly wide. For it to be this wide, there are bound to be problems on both sides of the order desk. While the projectionist understands that multiple versions of a movie can appear on one disk, does the booker for the cinema also understand what is meant by a supplementary package? (A supplementary package reuses content from a primary package by changing as little as one element of the composition, such as image, sound, or subtitle, and introducing a new Composition Playlist, or CPL.) Does the distributor who picks up the phone to accept the order understand that their closed captions are playable on systems other than Rear Window?
Language could be a cause for problems. Warner this month issued a notice to exhibitors that it was first to include content for Rear Window systems in its digital distributions. A prominent Warner executive looked into how such a statement could have come about. (Warner is neither first in this area nor is its closed caption content limited to Rear Window systems.) The exec reported that numerous people in the booking department were unaware of the existence of other closed caption devices for digital cinema, even though they were invited to attend demonstrations of such devices by ISDCF. A similar problem could exist within exhibitor organizations. It’s easy to imagine that a cinema calls a distributor to get closed captions for a USL system, only to be told that they only have it for Rear Window, neither party understanding that only a generic closed caption distribution is needed.
Such oversimplifications can be risky, but somewhere along the way, some miscommunication appears to causing the efforts of studios and manufacturers to fall flat. This will be a subject of discussion in the next ISDCF meeting.