Case: TV4tolken

In December 2011 the TV4 Group began to use the remote live sign language interpretation technology that Westreamu have developed. The premiere events were covered in a couple of our blog posts (in Swedish, December 14 and 16).

TV4 Group is “the Nordic region’s leading tv company”. These particular live sign languaging productions was made by the Interpretation centre in Örebro. The videos were delivered via RTMP streams to TV4’s streaming servers. Local recordings were shortly afterwards uploaded to TV4’s video-on-demand server platform.


From idea to live in 2 weeks

For the first test  phase TV4’s planning director asked that eposiodes from five shows should be signed in this fashion. Within a couple of weeks from the initial request all signing productions were executed. The selected shows were:

  • Bonde söker fru – bröllopet
  • Svenska hjältar-galan
  • Jul med Ernst (2 episodes)
  • Berg flyttar in
  • Kalla Fakta.

The first show was signed in real time, with a mp4 copy of the original programme played locally as a source, live recorded and then uploaded to Tv4 a few hours before the episode was published on the web (no post production). The remaining episodes were live signed with the DVB-T broadcast as a source, and streamed with a few seconds delay to the designated TV4 live video page. All local recordings were then uploaded to TV4 and published for on demand viewing, available via

Success meant more

All six episodes were sign language interpreted without any problems, although *very* close to the deadline in a couple of cases. The video clip here below (also at Westreamu’s Youtube channel) is taken from “Jul med Ernst” (“Christmas with Ernst”, a famous Swedish interior designer/chef). The clip is simply cut out from the real time video recording that was made during the live production in Örebro.

The successful productions, and the enthusiastic appreciation from the audience, called TV4 to order sign language interpretation of many more shows during 2012. The first, “Agnetas nyårskarammeller” (Agneta’s new years candy) is aired January 3:d, and will be followed by a host of programs throughout the month.

A sign for design

In earlier productions Westreamu have strived to make sure that the background graphics follows the aestethic theme of the main event. In the current case we adviced TV4 to let the background follow the individual shows rather than TV4’s video on demand site (red color plate). The difference can be seen below, in the still images from various episodes. We also asked that the sign intepreters should wear clothes that fitted with the programs content and theme.

Commercials too

We also adviced that the commercials too should be sign language interpreted. Advertising is, besides TV4’s main revenue generator, an important cultural factor in contemporary society. Up until now a great part of this kind of TV/video culture has been inaccessible to the deaf and hard of hearing. While the sign language interpretation of commercials exhibit some specific challenges, we believe that the very idea of doing it is valuable to all of us.

On the design side we have strived to use different interpreters, in neutral clothes, during commercial breaks. This as a way to separate editorial content from commercial messages.

The video embedded below (also available at Westreamu’s Youtube channel) shows one of the commercial spots. Please note that the interpretation was made during a commercial break in a live show, and that the signer had no time for preparation.

[Updated 2011-12-31]