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‘Thor’ Auto Captions Don’t Tell the Whole Story

The new trailer for Marvel’s upcoming movie “Thor: Love and Thunder” dropped earlier this week and garnered millions of views in its first few days.

The movie is the fourth installment of the popular comics Avenger and Asgardian god of thunder (Chris Hemsworth) whose enchanted hammer can be wielded only by those deemed worthy. The trailer’s automatic captions, however, were anything but.

Taika Waititi, the movie’s Oscar-winning writer and director, took to social media to call out the auto-caption fails.

“Lol if the robots are planning to take over the world they’re going to need to learn different accents,” Waititi tweeted. “Nice one, @Twitter technology!”

Image from 'Thor: Love and Thunder" showing the movie’s villain – Gorr (played by Christian Bale) - saying “All gods must die” but wrongly captioned as “Oh gosh, well die.”

The image he shared shows the movie’s villain – Gorr (played by Christian Bale) – saying “All gods must die” but wrongly captioned as “Oh gosh, well die.”

Another still shows Thor getting back into shape with the captions noting that “He went from dad bought to Goddard” rather than going from “dad bod” to “god bod.”

A still from the movie "Thor: Love and Thunder" shows Thor getting back into shape and the captions note “He went from dad bought to Goddard” rather than going from “dad bod” to “god bod.”

And here are a few others….

Image from 'Thor: Love and Thunder" showing Thor and Valkyrie talking with the caption 'from my sensing feelings.'

Image from 'Thor: Love and Thunder" showing a close up of Thor's face with the caption "could not transcribe the audio."

Though caption fails like these, at times, can be humorous, they nonetheless spotlight the frustrations that those in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community face every day with poor quality captions from automatic speech recognition (ASR) programs.

Though speech automation certainly has a role in creating captions, the programs need a human hand (and eye and ear and voice and intelligence) guiding and assisting it. The problem in quality lies with “unassisted” captions, where a human is not involved.

Among the areas where unassisted ASR comes up short include caption accuracy (as seen in the screenshots above), difficulty in captioning slang, tech jargon, accented speakers, foreign words, or rapid-fire conversations, punctuation, and speaker IDs.

Captions provide an essential service to those in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and others, who, otherwise, would be unable to enjoy, learn, or understand what’s playing out before them. Whether it be captions for a TV show, a classroom lecture, or the latest superhero movie trailer – it’s all about accessibility, and expanding that access to everyone.

While automation is part of the equation for some, VITAC has real people doing your captioning, subtitling, translations, and more. We understand there are people on the other end depending on accuracy to meet their accessibility needs. As a result, we do not leave your content to chance through only automation. To us, it is about humans connecting with humans, and the best way to do that is with real people.

Waititi further tweeted that, based on the auto captions, that “this movie is going to be a wild ride [for viewers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing],” and shared a screenshot of dialogue written as “sure we help them and eventually grape.”

Image from 'Thor: Love and Thunder" showing Jane Foster and Valkyrie talking with the captions '“sure we help them and eventually grape.'