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Complex Subtitling in DVD Studio Pro 4.0 - What you NEED to know

By Kevin McAuliffe

Like with most editors using Final Cut Pro Studio, I've been asked to make DVD's for clients from time to time, but lately, I've gotten into more complex DVD creation, and have needed to include subtitles on some of my DVD's.  For most people, subtitles are pretty straightforward, but, what do you do if you need to subtitle an hour long show that is mostly dialogue the entire way through?  In this tutorial, let's take a look at how all you independent producers/editors can do 1200 subtitles (and I'm not kidding) quickly, and efficiently, so you won't end up pulling all your hair out.

The first thing you need to take into consideration is the fact that realistically, to do 1200 subtitles, would take you a couple of days work with typing, proofing, etc.  After two days of looking at all the text you've input, all the words will look about the same.  My suggestion is this. . . don't do it!  It is definitely not worth the aggravation.  If you have edited an hour long show in Final Cut, first, get final client approval on your show. 

This is probably the most important part of the entire process.  Once you have final client approval, and have output your final show to tape, you cannot make any time changes or all your subtitles from your change point onwards are useless, and will require a lot of work to fix.  Once the show is output, you will need to find a Closed Captioning house in your city that will CC your show, and be able to output the closed captions as subtitles in a .STL file.  This is an easy and cost effective way for freelance editors and producers to create not only closed captions, but subtitles in DVD Studio Pro, and not have to sit in front of the computer for hours and hours with the tedious task of typing.  Even if you take however much the Closed Captioning house is charging, and add a 10-20% markup, trust me, it's worth it.  Once you have received your .STL file back from the Closed Captioning house (which could take anywhere from 2 days to a week, depending on how busy they are), you are ready to finish your DVD.
Now, I had said earlier that the most important part of the process is the client approval, which it is, because once you have final client approval, the timecode on your tape is the timecode the Closed Captioning house will use to create your .STL file, and we want that file to sync up flawlessly with our clip in DVD Studio Pro.  Here's the process I like to use.  Take your final show master, and redigitize the entire show (we'll assume it's a one hour show starting at 01:00:00:00) back into the system with your in point at 00:59:59:20 and your outpoint ten frames after the show ends.  The reason that I say to do this, is that there are so many things that can go wrong when exporting from Final Cut, that I normally tell editors just to redigitize it, as then you only have one clip to worry about. 

Once the clip is digitized, stream it in Compressor at your desired resolution, and then import into DVD Studio Pro.  A great feature of Compressor, that not a lot of people realize, is that when you compress your file, the timecode information that is embedded into your QuickTime file, is also embedded into your m2v file as well.  Now your m2v file has the same timecode as your final master tape.  Once imported into DVD Studio Pro, create a new track, and drop in your audio and video (m2v) files.  Now, select the video clip in your track, and take a look at your "Clip Info" window.  As you can see, even though your track has a "00:00:00:00" starting timecode, your clip has a starting timecode of 00:59:59:20, which is exactly what we want.  Now, let's take a look at the .STL file. 

As you can see from the image, a .STL is pretty straight-forward.  Included in the file is the font type you want to use, font size, color, justification and the most important item, the timecodes, and corresponding text for each subtitle that will appear in your show.  The only thing you may have to adjust in the file before you import it into DVDSP is the font size, just to get the desired look that you want. 

Once you are back in DVD Studio Pro, importing the file is as simple as right clicking on the S1 section of your Track, selecting "Import Subtitle File", and sit back and wait for the subtitles to appear.  One major downside of DVD Studio Pro's subtitling is that you can only move one subtitle at a time, so if you have a problem midway through your piece, you will find yourself moving 600 or so subtitles individually.  What a pain.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that they have fixed this annoying "bug" in FCP Studio 2. 


I know that this process may sound pretty easy, and to be perfectly honest, it is.  If you set your project up correctly from the beginning, your subtitle work for an hour long show should take you no longer than about an hour to do.

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at [email protected]

Related Keywords:DVD Subtitling , DVD authoring,

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  • Complex Subtitling in DVD Studio Pro 4.0 - What you NEED to know by DMN Editorial at May 04, 2007 6:27 pm gmt (Rec'd 4)

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