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Press Release:

MOPIX in the News

WGBH Speeds Captioned Latest Star Wars to Theaters

by Terry Costlow
June 7, 1999

Rushing to demonstrate that the captioning process can keep up with Hollywood's release schedule, WGBH quietly completed captioning and audio descriptions for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in just four days last month.

Closed captioning for hearing-impaired movie-goers and audio descriptions for the sight-impaired are available in three specially equipped theaters so far, in Sherman Oaks, Calif.; Seattle and Atlanta, and will expand into five more sites for the Star Wars run, according to WGBH. All are managed by General Cinema. Theaters at a number of science museums and at Disneyland and Disney World also are equipped for one or both of the services.

Patrons who want to see the captions borrow "Rear Window" shiny acrylic panels that reflect the lighted captions, which are displayed backwards on 10-foot-wide arrays of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the back of the theater. The reflectors are mounted on goosenecks that attach to viewers' seats. Descriptive audio is broadcast to users' earphones. Both systems were developed through WGBH's Motion Picture Access Project (MoPix).

Using a system developed by Digital Theater Systems (DTS), a major audio provider to movie houses, the captions and descriptions are recorded on a CD-ROM and played back in sync with the film, just as the theater's multichannel audio is played back from a separate DTS disc. Equipping a theater costs about $15,000, WGBH estimated.

The MoPix technologies were first used for Hollywood releases with The Jackal and Titanic, late in 1997.

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