This year over 100,000 attendees from 204 different countries came to the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry – Mobile World Congress – in Barcelona to see cutting-edge products and technologies showcased by more than 2,200 companies in nine different halls.
For the second year in a row, we provided live captions for Mobile World Live TV. This year, our captions were displayed on over 70 screens in all halls across the venue and were broadcast via a dedicated channel across Catalonia, reaching over 180 attendee hotels.
At large exhibitions, such as Mobile World Congress, where there is generally no access to audio, captions are an ideal means to ensure that the broadcast content is reaching the audience. All 70 screens were strategically placed in prominent but noisy areas, in which any audio feed would most likely have been perceived either as disruptive or not noticeable. By adding live captions to the programme, Mobile World Live TV made sure that all attendees were able to follow media coverage of the event at any time and were informed about press conferences, exclusive keynote speeches and hands-on video features of the latest mobile technologies, directly from the show floor. Viewers were able to decide when and where they had access to the information, no matter if they were just briefly stopping in front of a screen between meetings or watching the programme on one of the big screens during lunchtime. Since Mobile World Congress’ attendees come from all over the world, captions also helped those for whom English is not their primary language.
Like last year, we used the opportunity to demonstrate our live captioning service to our visitors at the Ericsson stand. We were situated in the Media area, a light green coloured space at the right hand corner of the stand, which we shared with colleagues from Media Insights, Media Delivery, Media Processing and Media Experience.
However, this year, we used a slightly different approach for our Live Captioning presentation to give our visitors interesting insights into our processes and production workflows and increase awareness of the incredible cognitive performance of our captioners.
Since the service was provided remotely from our studio in London, we installed a webcam in one of our live captioning booths, which streamed the image in real time to Barcelona, so that everyone was able to see the people behind the live captions. Since re-speaking as such is one of the most impressive parts of the live captioning process, we additionally split the audio connection from the captioner’s microphone, enabling the viewers to listen directly to the re-speaker. This allowed us to demonstrate that our captioners are not only repeating the original content but also adding additional information, such as punctuation, commands for colour change and macros. By using a two-monitor set-up – one showing the Mobile World Live TV broadcast and the other showing the live webcam feed from our captioning booth in London – our visitors were able to simultaneously listen to the broadcast feed and the captioner re-speaking. This arrangement also enabled us to show the minimal delay between the original spoken word and the captions appearing on the screen as well as highlighting our accuracy levels of 99%.
In order to achieve those accuracy levels, over the previous weeks our captioners worked on preparing vocabulary lists and other resources, such as a house style file, which were imported into the captioning software, making sure that words would always be spelled correctly. In addition to that, we used website research to create lists of vocabulary. Mobile World Live TV gave us access to its dynamic Running Order, and also provided scripts for the studio broadcast, helping the captioners to make the most efficient use of their preparation time and additionally use the material to prepare the text in advance to send out in block captions, synchronised to the soundtrack, whenever possible. Across the four days of Mobile World Congress, our team of twelve captioners covered over 34 hours.
Although captions are intended primarily for deaf and hard of hearing people, a large, international exhibition, such as the Mobile World Congress, is the perfect example of how captions can enhance the viewing experience for everyone. Without captions, visitors would not have been able to follow closely the Mobile World Live TV programme whilst being at the congress.
Anja Turner, Head of Practice, Access Services, Europe