If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know we’ve been working with AMC to bring more captioned movies to Kansas City. Thanks to efforts by HLAA’s Terri Shirley and Shanna Groves, AMC has installed RWC (Rear Window Captioning) in additional theaters and closed captioned films are now available at the Barrywoods, Independence and Olathe locations. Below is the latest update from Melissa Johnson, Director of Guest Services at AMC:
“Thank you for your continued interest and understanding as we have worked through the many technical issues involved in delivering captioned content after our conversion to digital cinema. AMC is committed to improving access to movies for deaf and hard of hearing guests at our theatres and understands your frustration with the delays. We are pleased to inform you that the Rear Window Captioning (“RWC”) systems at our Barrywoods, Independence and Olathe locations are once again operable.
AMC has long been an industry leader in providing access to closed captions, installing more than 160 RWC systems throughout the country. We have not significantly expanded the number of RWC installations in recent years due to the planned conversion of our theatres from traditional 35mm to digital projection technology which commenced on a large scale last year. RWC systems were not compatible with digital cinema and we anticipated that the digital projection technology would provide a platform for new closed captioning systems that would be both more cost-effective and provide a more user friendly experience for our theatre guests.
Unfortunately, new digital captioning technologies did not develop as quickly as we had hoped and as we commenced conversion of our theatres to digital projection, our existing RWC systems became inoperable and there were no digital based captioning systems commercially available. AMC technicians have been working diligently with our technology vendors to find a solution to allow continued showing of closed captions at our digital theatres. We believe we now have the necessary hardware and software configurations to provide a bridge between the digital servers and the existing RWC displays. As mentioned above, this has allowed us to bring the existing RWC systems back online at our digital theatres in the Kansas City area.
In addition, we are evaluating various new digital closed captioning systems. These systems will broadcast captions into the theatre auditorium to a display device (likely either a seat mounted LCD device or special eyeglasses) used by the theatre guest. We are in the process of installing prototypes of these systems at several auditoriums in our Kansas City theatres (including 6 additional auditoriums at Studio 30 in Olathe) for further evaluation. The systems are technologically complex and require compatibility across hardware, software and digital files from multiple providers. However, we expect to have these systems operational within the coming weeks.
We anticipate selecting a digital captioning system for our theatres in the coming months based on the results of our tests. After that, it is our intention to commence installations that will significantly increase the availability of captions at our theatres. The exact number of auditoriums to be equipped with captioning systems will depend on a number of factors including equipment selection and cost, guest preferences and demand, technological compatibility, and captioned content availability. At this time we cannot commit to you that captions will be available for all movies at all showings. In particular, it should be noted that captions are not provided by the studios and distributors for all movies shown in our theatres.”
Many thanks to AMC for their professional and courteous responses to our requests!