Will we be able to turn on captions? Did I miss it or does it still need to be implemented? I can’t be the only one having a hard time hearing it.


Captions are coming, yes! They will be added to the final version of Santo. I believe the actual episode captions are done, but we are waiting on the captions for the live event segments.


I imagine it must be difficult to caption both a movie dialogue and the riffing on top of it. I don’t envy whoever has that job, but I’m glad it’s happening.


Thank you Lesley!


When can we expect to see the final versions of these episodes?

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Thank goodness! It’s hard for me to understand what people are saying. I’m not very good at lip reading. Shadowrama is hard to lip read, and dubbed movies are weird.


ICYMI – captions are available on the “rough cut” of Episode 1301, which was made available to backers with Gizmoplex Member Passes yesterday.


This is why I’ve always preferred ASS or PGS captions to SRT captions. ASS has a fair amount of font flexibility (including typeface and color) that some anime fansubbers have made excellent use of that allow clear differentiation of what is being said by multiple simultaneous speakers, and PGS is just a series of artwork frames that overlay the video which can thus replicate that ASS feature (though usually doesn’t). SRT is sort of a lowest common denominator thing that offers plain text captions and little more — and that “little more” is seldom used.


I have an idea and I’m curious what anyone thinks; captions colour-coded to riffers so the episode doesn’t have to use up space explaining who is riffing.


It’s not a new idea; some anime fansubbers have been using the technique for years. Plus some captioning formats allow for precision placement of a caption on the screen, so — for example — the captions for speaker A can appear to their left, while those for speaker B appear to their right, speaker C’s appear above them, speaker D’s below them, and so on.

Captioning formats that are graphics-based, like PGS, literally paint new artwork over the underlying video frame, and can effectively replace the lettering on buildings, road signs, t-shirts, etc., with a translated version or even something completely different — carefully watch some popular professionally subbed animes if you don’t believe me. Comic-like speech bubbles are entirely possible.

I’m sure the issue usually comes down to questions of money and time. Even with the script as shot in-hand, captioning already requires sitting down with the completed video and adjusting the timing of each caption so that it appears and disappears at the right moments during playback. Color-coding the captions? More time (and money). Positioning captions on the screen to reflect the position of the speaker? More time (and money). Creating elaborate graphic overlay captions? More time and effort (and money) still.


So, for anyone curious to understand more about what’s possible here, this article has a useful overview:

Right now, most of the subtitle files we have are SRT format, but I believe Vimeo OTT – the video platform powering the Gizmoplex – can also support WebVTT files, which apparently have some additional capabilities with color, positioning, etc.

We can do some tests to confirm that VTT works with the Gizmoplex, but if it does, the next step would be figuring out if people wanted to volunteer to help adapt the captions to a richer format… and it seems like there might be enough interest to make that happen.


For those who want to know the nitty-gritty of the WebVTT format:

@ivan It looks pretty straightforward, and a quick search already reveals SRT to WebVTT converters online. Graphical editors with real-time video preview would certainly be preferable for fine-tuning, however. If anyone has suggestions (edit: FOSS or low-cost, as not everyone can afford or has access to programs like Adobe Premier), please post them.

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I have some experience doing some captioning in Premiere.
If I were provided the already completed normal subtitle files, going through and color coding each speaker wouldn’t be too bad.
Some standards for colors for each character would be ideal, so any community crowd sourced captioning were consistent in style/presentation.


Just thinking about this further, and decided to do a little tinkering.
Downloaded Circus on Ice and the .srt from the normal Gizmoplex.[1]
Imported the video and .srt into Premiere. The caption overlay came in at a different resolution, and subs are at the top versus the bottom when played on the web player. I needed to match the resolution first, to even get the subs to show up. That might just be a Premiere or me issue, though… odd.
So, on color selections…
Personally, I’d like to have certain colors reserved for certain characters, but there are already just so many, and the need to have them visibly different enough from one another for quick recognition.[2]
I saw Lesley say the font MST3k has been using since S11 is Simian, so I’m using that currently.
For the color coded subs, would we want to still maintain the “- [Speaker]” formatting? Dropping the superfluous text would be ideal, imo. The color would denote speaker, and having less text to process would make it easier/faster to digest, imo.

Color selections are where I struggle, personally.
Joel and Tom are both characters I associate with the color Red. Two easy-to-read and distinguish shades of Red… Hm.
Crow a gold/mustard color.
I associate GPC and Emily with Purple.
I kind of associate Erhardt with black… (which doesn’t work great for text…)
Frank more of a grey/Silver… [3]
Forrester in lime-green…
Mike in Blue…
I’d probably stick with White for the film or one-offs/cameos.[4]

Tinkered with things more. Premiere doesn’t really give me the option to export in anything more useful than .srt. And .srt does not export with text position data (and also, vlc is taking any font color code and turning it light blue, weirdly.)
Looking into some other options.

I’ve poked around various subtitle tools, both clients and web-based, that help create/edit .vtts, but I’m struggling to find one that does anything with color, or positioning… I’m sure I’m just failing here somewhere.
Skimming this is giving me the impression that some of that is being handled by CSS?

  1. and I just want to note how awesome it is that we can do that. I didn’t expect to find the subtitle as a file I could just download, at best I was expecting .mkv video files with embedded subtitle tracks. ↩︎

  2. and while it’s on my mind, I’d want to stress how important it would be to have different subtitle options available. Some people are going to hate the color coding, some are color blind, etc… ↩︎

  3. Erhardt and Frank aren’t on screen together that I recall, so they could both just use grey/silver ↩︎

  4. Though, MikeTorgo probably deserves a brown for his dialogue :stuck_out_tongue: ↩︎


You can fix most color-blind issues by not using red, green, or blue.

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Like RRRob said, it’s 100% an issue of time, money and resources. I am a broadcast video editor and I deal with captions regularly. What people are asking for here is more in the realm of subtitles and all the customization you can do with those. But what’s being asked for is extremely time consuming and tedious. Not saying the final product wouldn’t be worth it, but just don’t want there to be some misconceptions that doing this is a quick process.


I decided to tinker with some .ass subs. It’s not .vtt, but I am liking what I can put together with it on the color/positioning front over .srt by far.
Aegisub is a pretty nifty tool to help with it.
Being able to overlap lines sure is nice, too!
(I kind of wish I could find an unriffed copy of this Circus on Ice short so I could get the full narrator dialogue correctly subbed…)

If I could find something like this for .vtt (and if the Gizmoplex/Vimeo could actually support it), that’s be awesome.
I’ll probably finish the subtitle for this short just to share the file and have it around as a proof of concept… because I’m a crazy person. Probably. We’ll see.
The biggest issue is my compulsion to retime things and correct perceived errors. :face_exhaling:

Annnd (still working with .ass) I just learned that you can setup styles and apply them on a per-line basis, so one could just setup styles for, say, Joel, Crow, Servo, and the Film, and apply it on each of their existing lines. As opposed to what I was doing, which was copying the color/formatting code and (for the narrator) position code and pasting on a per-line basis. Styles make it SO much easier!. CSS/Code isn’t my forte, but if .vtt formats work with it, and you could just on a… Gizmoplex/Theater level, have predefined styles for MST3k’s characters, and it could reference and apply those… that would be pretty nifty.

Soooo. Finished that up.
Anyone interested should be able to save this as an .ass file.
Anyone with the short in their collection can just download the video from the Gizmoplex.
Place them in the same folder, rename them to match each other.
And then a video player capable of reading it should be able to show it. (I use VLC).

Yes, agreed. I want a cobalt blue line of text up top for the film audio, then a bottom row color coded for riffers by recurring character plus maybe an additional color for guest character appearances in the theater.

This is a super important point, where accessibility is ultimately the reason for captioning but our love of character color coding for riffers can work against that ultimate purpose.

Adobe has a presentation every year in the fall at their online Creative Cloud online conference that may apply here. There was a great presentation a year or so ago about Accessibility in PDF Design about issues with contrast and font legibility.

I know off the top of my head that serif fonts do not resize well. Also it is important to have contrast between the text and the image it is over. Yellow against black and white reads stronger and clearly than other colors. Italic font is jarring to me personally though I haven’t found a cited rule against it and wonder if translators think it adds emotions to scenes.

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