Why Young People Use Subtitles to Watch Films and TV

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Vox producer Edward Vega gave a resounding explanation of why television and movie dialogue seem harder to understand and why people of younger age use closed captioning to watch television.

It’s not you – dialogue in TV and movies has become harder to hear.

Vega used director Christopher Nolan’s films as an example of decreasing dialogue volume. Nolan told Indiewire in 2017 that he didn’t make movies for small viewers.

Nearly every film of his has been criticized for its hard-to-hear dialogue that essentially begs for subtitles. … And in his 2017 interview with Indiewire, he said, “We made the decision a few movies ago that we weren’t going to mix movies for substandard theaters” And this is pretty much the crux of the matter.

Vega also notes that people watch movies on increasingly smaller screens, which also affects audibility.

Mixing mixers for re-recording the widest surround sound format available, such as major release movies. That’s Dolby Atmos…. with true 3D sound up to 128 channels. The thing is, if you’re not in a movie theater that can show the best sound Hollywood has to offer… then you can’t experience all those channels.

Vega turned to sound producer Austin Olivia Kendrick to explain this further.

Many people will ask questions like “Why don’t you just turn up the dialogue?” Just turn it up. And… if only it were that simple. Because a big thing we want to keep is a concept called dynamic range. The range between your softest sound and your loudest sound. When you have your dialogue, it will be at the same volume as an explosion immediately following it. The explosion won’t feel that big.

An ironing board can always help.

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