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Subtitle Fonts in DVD Studio Pro 4

Working with fonts and changing the font for an entire stream By Dave Nagel
Working with subtitles in DVD Studio Pro 4 isn't always the most convenient thing in the world to do. In fact, there are times when it can be outright frustrating. One example of this is in formatting subtitles--especially changing fonts on subtitle streams that contain numerous individual subtitles. Well, fortunately, there are some pretty simple tricks to help make your life easier.

Before we get into the secret trick of applying style changes to an entire subtitle stream, let's look at the basics.

The basics: working with fonts in subtitles
We'll assume for the sake of argument that you've already created your subtitles (or have imported them) and simply want to make changes to the style of an individual subtitle in your stream. It's simple enough, unless you're not quite familiar with working in Apple's pro apps.

To begin, go to the track editor. Your subtitles will be listed in S1, S2, etc.

Now double-click the subtitle you want to reformat.

This will move the playhead to the beginning of that particular subtitle and make the subtitle visible in the Viewer window, with its text box activated.

However, at this point, you won't be able to make a change to the formatting of the text. First you have to select the text you want to change. So, up in the Viewer window, click and drag your cursor in the text box to select it all (or hit Command-A).

Now choose Format > Font > Show Fonts (Command-T). This will open up the Font palette. One thing you needs to realize though is that in DVD Studio Pro, even though you've opened up the palette, it may not actually be the currently active palette. Various things you do when formatting your text can cause you problems if, in fact, the Font palette isn't the currently active palette. (For example, if you hit the Return key on your computer right now, your text will be wiped out, which wouldn't happen if the Font palette were currently active.)

Here's how you can tell if the Font palette--or any other palette in DVDSP. Look at the title bar of the palette. If it looks like this--a sort of flat medium gray--it's not active.

Even if you drag around the palette by its title bar, it won't become active either. What you need to do is simply to click once on the title bar. This will turn it a lighter gray and give it a slightly beveled appearance, like this.

It would be nice if the effect were a bit less subtle, but there you have it.

Also important to note is that whatever palette you had selected prior to opening the Font palette is the one to which the style changes will be applied. For example, if you click the Inspector palette, then click the Font palette, you won't be able to apply changes to the text in your subtitle until you click again on the Viewer window, then back on the Font palette.

Again, weird, but there you have it. So just keep in mind that if you don't see any changes happening to your subtitles when you try to adjust the font, click back on the Viewer window tab, then back onto the Font palette. And make sure that your text is still selected.

Now you can make any changes you wish to your text's formatting without worrying about deleting the text itself. For this example, I'll just change the font from regular Helvetica to Helvetica Neue Condensed Black, which is a nice, big, fat, legible font--one that I wish, from a consumer point of view, that all DVD authors would use, curse their skinny-font-loving bones! (Hong Kong, I'm looking at you....)

From the Font palette, you can also choose various underline and strikethrough styles for the text. The Font palette also gives you the apparent option of adjusting the text, background, underline and strikethrough colors. However, with subtitles, these functions don't actually work. They're present in the Font palette for formatting other types of text on your DVD, such as menu text.

Other formatting options are available for subtitle text in the Inspector palette. For example, you can change the alignment of the text in the General tab, or you can change the colors of the text in the Colors tab.

Applying a font change to the entire stream
Now that you've changed the formatting of one subtitle, you might want to apply these changes to the entire subtitle stream. This would obviously be a tremendous pain if you have to do this to each subtitle individually, and I have the distinct sense that this is exactly what people have been doing. Why? Because there's no immediately obvious way of changing the font for an entire stream. Even if you select all subtitles simultaneously and attempt to change their fonts all at once, nothing will happen.

But there is a handy little trick that will help save you an enormous amount of time.

If you look over at the Inspector palette, in the General tab, you'll see that there are several functions that can be applied to an entire subtitle stream--fade in, fade out, force display, alignment and offset--just by clicking the appropriate "Apply to Stream" button.

Guess what. One of these can also be used to apply font changes and other style changes to the entire stream as well. You just have to do it in a particular way.

To do this, you must select all of the text in the Viewer window for a subtitle. If you haven't done so already, change the font to whatever font you want to use for all your subtitles.

Now, with the text still selected--all of the text in that particular subtitle--hit the Apply to Stream button located just under the Offset parameters in the Inspector palette, the one that the cursor is pointing at in the screen shot below.

And voila! The new font is applied to all of the subtitles in the stream. To check it, just double-click on a sampling of the subtitles. The playhead will be moved to that position, and you'll see the changes that you've effected.

That's it for now. If you have any questions on this, be sure to visit me at the DVDSP forum at DMN Forums by clicking here. You can also find our previous DVDSP tutorials by following the links below.

DVD Studio Pro Scripting, Series 1
DVD Studio Pro Scripting, Series 2
Other scripting articles
General design and authoring topics

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Related Keywords:dvd studio pro, subtitles, formatting, fonts

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