The owners of the Ritz Theater are happy to announce that July 18, 2017 through August, we will be testing offering open captioning on movies shown on Tuesdays when captioning files are available. This change is to help our customers that have hearing difficulties to be able to enjoy the movies we feature at the theater. After considering various technological options, this choice is the one that is not an unreasonable cost of us to assume.
Since transitioning to digital projection, we have been examining the various ways the new technology affects how we operate. One of those changes is the ability to provide captioning to films through either closed or open captioning technologies. As we considered the different approaches, the choice became which technology was financially feasible for us to implement as a small theater. We have chosen to experiment with open captioning.
In September, we will evaluate the service and decide if we will continue the program or if we need to modify it in some fashion. If the service is well received, it will continue. If it causes more problems than it solves it will be discontinued and we will reexamine how to best offer captioning when needed.
What is the difference between open and closed captions?
When using open captioning, the captions being displayed on the screen where everyone can see them. Closed captioning uses various devices such as tablets, small screens, or headsets to display the captions only for those who need them. Closed captioning systems require extra equipment to process (viewing devices, transmitters, and decoders) that can cost thousands of dollars to purchase and install. We found that the open caption system was already built into our projector at the Ritz and merely needed to be configured and appropriate licenses acquired.
What do you mean by “when available”?
Not all movies we receive include the open captioning file and licenses. We are making efforts to ensure the distributors include those files in the future. However, our advertising is distributed on Monday, before we have received the files for the movies. We will not know before Thursday if captioning will be available for a movie. Also, our system is programmed for the week on Wednesday. If those files were not included in the initial shipment, it is not possible to have them shipped and programmed in time for a Tuesday showing. Also, not all movies are being made with those files yet. We will do our best to have captioning on all the showings on Tuesdays, but we do not guarantee they will be available.
Why can’t you show a movie with captioning on demand/on other nights/or turn them off if no one needs them?
Our projection system at the Ritz is fully automated. It is programmed for the week on Wednesday and runs without operator input other than to turn it on and off each night. Generally, we cannot change the scheduled show or interrupt the operation of the projector. The one exception to this is if there is a projector error or power failure where we must call in our technician to troubleshoot the system. This can take up to an hour depending on the day and time the issue occurs. Because of this, we chose to offer captioning on Tuesdays only.