Are You Ready to Subtitle Your Movie, Part 2

So, in my last post regarding subtitling your video for Amazon Prime (or more appropriately ‘closed captioning’), I promised I’d write another post once I figured out how to make the move from closed captioning in Premiere, to subtitling a DVD in Encore.  Well, through a lot of trial and error (and quite a few choice words), I finally have an answer.

We did most of the heavy lifting in our captioning efforts in Premiere (learn more in my previous post here).  This entailed watching your movie and creating subtitle text blocks on your timeline in Premiere and then entering the dialogue, word for word.  We then exported the entire video, creating a Sidecar File along with it.  We exported the captions as an .srt file, and then used an on-line converter to create an .scc.  So, we now have the following:

  • Video file (.mp4, .mov, or whatever you saved it as)
  • A .srt file
  • A .scc file

If we are going to burn a DVD, we will now want to export our movie from Premiere into a DVD format, like h.264 DVD or MPEG-DVD.  This time, go ahead and “embed” the caption file instead of creating a Sidecar file.  This will embed the captioning in your video.  If closed captioning is all you’re concerned with, that’s all you’ll need.  Now, when you burn your DVD, it will have closed captioning burned into the movie file.  (NOTE: Closed captioning will ONLY be seen by TVs hooked up to a DVD player with normal standard composite connections as HDMI does NOT transfer Closed captioning).

But now you probably want to have the captioning as an actual subtitle track that you can turn on and off from your DVD remote.  Hell, you may even want to get fancy and pay your buddy who speaks Spanish a few bucks to translate it all into Spanish so you can have a Spanish subtitle track, too!  Know anyone who speaks Japanese?  French?  Arabic?  Hell, even Swahili?  You can do that and have subtitle tracks in foreign languages! More on that below.

For now, we just want to subtitle it in English.  If you don’t want to read my harrowing epic journey to the solution, just scroll down to the bottom where I take you step-by-step through the process.

Invalid ImportNow, at first, I thought this would be easy.  All I’d have to do is import my fancy new .srt file on the subtitle track in Encore, and all would be well with the world.  On my first attempt, I was given an option of importing three types of files.

Invalid TimecodeMy .srt file could be opened in TextEdit, so I tried importing it as a text file.  It didn’t like it and refused to open it.

So, I opened the .srt file in TextEdit and saved it as a .txt. file.  I tried it again.  Didn’t like that either.  The time-coding and formatting was wrong.  Crap.

I tried exporting several different file types from Premiere and none of them worked.  So, I gave up for the night.

TextInfo
Incorrect formatting for Adobe Encore

The next morning, I decided that I had all of the text information, it just wasn’t formatted correctly.  I could have opened the .srt file in TextEit and corrected the formatting line-by-line, but I’m lazy so I didn’t want to do that.  I started googling for online converted that would allow me to save the file in an Adobe Encore-friendly format.  3PlayMedia offers the software, but they charge you every time you use it.  I didn’t like that option.

 

I continued to search and found a free, open source program called Subtitle Edit.  After a few attempts, I discovered it only runs on Windows, so as a Mac user, was S-O-L.  I googled some more, and finally found a program called Jubler.  It was the answer to my subtitling prayers.

I downloaded the program, installed it and opened it up.  I imported my .srt file and clicked Save As.  In the format options at the bottom of the save window, I chose Adobe Encore Text file from the dropdown and hit ‘save.’  I now had a .txt file in the appropriate timecode format.

Proper format
Correct formatting for Adobe Encore

I opened Encore and right-clicked on the subtitle track. I chose import from the menu and held my breath. It worked!  It gave me warnings for all of my blank lines of dialogue I had inserted but I just chose, “Skip All,” and they were removed from the timeline upon import.

But alas, there were a couple problems.  Due to drop-frame codecs, my subtitles starting falling out of sync ever 5-10 minutes.  It took less than a half an hour to scroll through the timeline, selecting the titles, then nudging them down the timeline to sync back up, but compared to the alternative, I took on this task gleefully.

My DVD now had subtitles!

Translate to another language

Now, it you desire to have subtitles in other languages, pay your Spanish, French or Swahili speaking buddy a few bucks to go into TextEdit and remove the English dialogue and type in the translation in it’s place.  This will take some time and can be a pain in the ass, but it may be worth it in the end.  Especially if you want to sell your DVDs in foreign countries.

Alternatively, You can even have some fun and create a subtitle rack with behind the scenes info, or sarcastic jokes in an MSTK kinda way.

I hope this has helped you.  Now, as promised, I’ve supplied a step-by-step breakdown below for your convenience.

Step-by-Step Procedure

At this point, you have created an .srt Sidecar file on your last import from Premiere.  We will start there.

  • Download and install Subtitle Edit for Windows or Jubler for a Max.
  • Open Jubler (or Subtitle Edit) and then open your .srt file.
  • Once the file has been imported and is in the program, From File>Save As, then from the dropdown menu, choose Adobe Encore Text Script.Export as Adobe Encore txt
  • You now have a .txt file that Adobe Encore will recognize and import. Jump over to Adobe Encore, open your Encore DVD project and right-click on the subtitle track to create a new Subtitle layer.Add Subtitle Track
  • Then, right-click again on the Subtitle Name and select Import Subtitles>Text Script. Choose the .txt file you just created in Jubler.Import srt
  • At this point, you will have the chance at to change the alignment, subtitle color, font and size.  Choose OK when you are happy with the look of your subtitles.  Typically they are yellow or white with black outlines.  Now, some graphic designers will say, “No one does outlines anymore, that’s so 2016.” Well, screw them.  This is subtitling and the point is seeing the words on an ever-changing background.  Yellow is often used because it can be seen against almost any background except white. But if you prefer white, go with white.  But certainly try to put either an outline or drop shadow, because otherwise when your titles are against a white or yellow background, they’ll get lost.
  • You may then be asked about certain errors that may pop up, like blank text lines.  I created some due to Amazon Prime playing my subtitles until the next subtitle appeared.  The blank line would turn off the previous subtitle. Just choose “Skip All” and these text field will be deleted.
  • Sometimes, drop frame codecs imported into a non-drop frame project (or visa versa) can cause timing problems.  Just take a few minutes to skip down the time line to make sure everything is timed properly.  If not, then just grab all the subtitles past the timing problem and budget them to the proper time.  You may have to do this a few times depending on the length of your project.Subtitle Timeline Edit

That’s it!  Finish your project, burn it and watch your glorious subtitles flash across the screen and bask in the knowledge that people can now see what your characters are saying because they certainly can’t hear them due to all that crapy audio you got at the location.

 

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