TV viewers may soon be FULLY free from mumbling actors, while BBC is trying out technology that reduces background noise and boosts voices
- BBC is a test technology that allows viewers to dampen background noise
- A recent episode of Casualty was the first show that was made with the new tool
- A version of the episode on the BBC website now has a slider
- Scrolling to the left reduces background noise, including music, to make the dialogue clearer
Blooming soundtracks and incomprehensible actors often make television difficult to follow – until now.
The BBC is a test technology that allows viewers to muffle background noise, reinforce the voices of characters and – hopefully – suddenly to follow more easily.
A recent episode of BBC One Casualty medical drama was the first show to be made with the new tool, The Times reported.
A version of the episode on the BBC website now has a slider – moving it to the right preserves the default audio and moving it to the left reduces background noise, including music, to make the dialogue clearer.
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Mumbling worries: the BBC said in February that the real problem with Happy Valley – in which Sarah Lancashire plays a tough policeman – was the Yorkshire accent
The project is aimed at the 11 million Britons with hearing loss and everyone else who has difficulty finding out what actors are saying.
Commuters that stream shows in noisy buses and trains can also benefit from the technology.
Frustrated viewers have filed thousands of complaints with the BBC after being unable to recognize the dialogue in tense dramas such as Jamaica Inn and Happy Valley.
Their anger led to a national debate about actors not speaking – the issue is even being raised in parliament.
Lord Blunkett, the former Labor Home Secretary, who is blind, criticized actors trying to create atmosphere by mumbling on the screen in 2017.
& # 39; Atmosphere is great if you can read lip, & # 39; he said in the House of Lords. & # 39; If it fails, the murmur not only becomes irritating, but also an impossibility. & # 39;
Each individual sound element in a program is classified in a hierarchy based on how important it is for the plot. Some sound effects – such as the beep of a heart monitor in medical shows such as Casualty – are crucial to the story of an episode.
The new technology ensures that these more important sounds remain prominent, while less essential sounds are rejected.
Lauren Ward, the project leader, told The Times: & The goal is all about accessibility, and ensuring that the stories we try to tell are accessible to many different people with many different needs. & # 39;
The reaction of viewers is already overwhelmingly positive, she added. The pilot episode of Casualty was viewed online by 3,300 people, 80 percent of whom described it as an improvement.
War and Peace: the great budget adjustment by Leo Tolstoy & # 39; s novel with James Norton and Tuppence Middleton garnered rave reviews from many, but for others it became an exercise in lip reading
The technology is still experimental, but could quickly become mainstream online both on iPlayer and on broadcast television.
The BBC plans to evolve into a more personalized broadcast system that & # 39; object-based media & # 39; is used to divide TV programs & # 39; s into sounds and frames and rearrange them in different ways for different viewers.
& # 39; It is aimed at people with hearing loss, but the effects of hearing loss are very similar to trying to listen in a noisy environment, & # 39; Miss Ward said.
& # 39; If you try to listen to a program on your mobile phone on the Tube, many challenges are very similar. & # 39;
Director-General Tony Hall ordered the BBC to investigate the problem in 2013. & # 39; I don't want to sound like a grumpy old man, but I also think that mumbling is something we can look at. & # 39;
JAMAICA INN, QUIRKE AND WAR AND PEACE & # 39; MUMBLING & # 39; IN BBC TV DRAMAS
The company has had many problems with the sound of some of its other major TV series.
In January, some viewers of the BBC version of War and Peace complained that they could not hear well because of the mumbling of the actors.
The large budget adjustment of Leo Tolstoy & # 39; s novel with James Norton and Tuppence Middleton garnered rave reviews from many, but for others it became an exercise in lip-reading.
Viewer Janice Mitchell tweeted at the time: & # 39; Why the hell was the actor chosen for Pierre in War and Peace, because he just mumbles? I can hardly understand a word he says. & # 39;
Two years ago, the lavish adaptation of the book Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier attracted more than 2,000 complaints about sound quality – and the BBC accused actors of muttering.
What did he say? Two years ago, the lavish adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier & # 39; s book Jamaica Inn (photo) attracted more than 2,000 complaints about sound quality – and the BBC blamed actors for mumbling.
Viewers complained that they could not hear the actors and in many cases their thick accents were impenetrable – and the BBC said halfway through the series that they would change the sound level.
In response to criticism at the time, the BBC drama commissioner Ben Stephenson admitted that there was a problem with the show, and added: & I think that actors who are not clear are part of it.
"But my understanding of the Jamaica Inn complaints was more complicated than that, so I think it's probably not right to choose that, but we clearly want actors to speak clearly."
Meanwhile, Quirke crime drama was criticized for the same mumbling issue in May 2014, where viewers said they should turn on subtitles or turn up the volume to the maximum setting.
Set in Dublin in 1950, Quirke is based on the novels of Booker Prize-winning author John Banville. He follows the most important pathologist in the city, played by Gabriel Byrne, while investigating a murder.
But many of the 4.2 million people who watched the first episode in the three-part series had difficulty following the action, although a BBC spokesperson said there were & # 39; no reported issues or complaints & # 39; goods.
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