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Answerman - How Are DVD and Blu-ray Subtitles Made?


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K.o.R



Joined: 31 Mar 2005
Posts: 159
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:11 pm Reply with quote
MarshalBanana wrote:
I'm very surprised that you have to use bitmap fonts, I know old video games used them as the systems didn't have built in fonts. Is it a similar problem here, or is it because it is a video file.


It's not a bitmap font, it's a bitmap full stop. There is no text data whatsoever.
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Frenzie



Joined: 08 Sep 2017
Posts: 3
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:21 pm Reply with quote
DmonHiro wrote:
I think it's quite obvious why making subtitles for DVD and BD is so difficult: lack of interest.
Outside of anime watchers very few people watch stuff with subtitles. There's the hearing imparied, but they are a minority. There's not much to be gained from improving subtitles so they don't do it.

Ah yes, all of those mainstream anime watchers outside America are really into those subtitled Hollywood anime movies. Smile
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Superfield



Joined: 13 Jun 2016
Posts: 23
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:13 pm Reply with quote
jsevakis wrote:
The reason is that each BD player has its own built-in OS, and that OS has no built-in fonts, and no ability to properly kern, anti-alias, or outline those fonts.


Anime fansubs distributed in the mega-popular .mkv video format always package the necessary fonts in the file itself so that they will display properly even if the watcher's computer doesn't have those fonts installed. Is there a reason why Blu-ray players would be unable to display fonts correctly even if they come packaged with the movie on the disc, or is that what you meant by the kern, anti-alias and outline part? Is there a reason why they would handle the same font declarations differently?

I_Drive_DSM wrote:
It's also amazing when you consider a lot of fan sub groups have (and still) done this sort of work for free.


As silly a name it is, .ass is one amazing file type, doubly so because it's literally just a text file with formatting rules, and the software to edit it, Aegisub, is freeware. If you were so inclined, you could do it in Notepad.
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AholePony



Joined: 04 Jun 2015
Posts: 188
Location: Arizona
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:02 pm Reply with quote
jsevakis wrote:

I believe AnimEigo also uses DoStudio, as did some vendors from Manga Entertainment (I know Redline had the problem) and Bandai Ent. There are a few studios years ago that actually made some commercial Blu-rays with Adobe Encore (how, I don't know -- that app was garbage) and I believe those suffered from the same problem.


I was coming in here to mention the Redline BD and I see Justin did that for me. The first few minutes of that disk do all sorts of wacky flashing even on my ps4 which I'd assume has plenty of memory. At least I got it in the bargain bin for $5. I'd be pretty annoyed if I paid $30 for a movie with janky subtitles, let alone much more for a series box set.
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jsevakis
ANN Director of New Media


Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Posts: 1641
Location: Los Angeles, CA
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:20 pm Reply with quote
Frenzie wrote:
Ah yes, all of those mainstream anime watchers outside America are really into those subtitled Hollywood anime movies. Smile

It is true, though, that NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY holds subtitles to the insane and sometimes literally impossible standards that anime fans do. Can you imagine foreign film people kneecapping each other on social media over yellow-vs-white color choice?

Superfield wrote:
Anime fansubs distributed in the mega-popular .mkv video format always package the necessary fonts in the file itself so that they will display properly even if the watcher's computer doesn't have those fonts installed. Is there a reason why Blu-ray players would be unable to display fonts correctly even if they come packaged with the movie on the disc, or is that what you meant by the kern, anti-alias and outline part? Is there a reason why they would handle the same font declarations differently?

Please read my post again, you seem to be missing almost everything I wrote. First of all, those fansub .mkv files with embedded fonts are pirating the fonts too. A legal distributor could include them on a Blu-ray, but they'd have to negotiate and pay a royalty on every disc sold. And yes, you should google "kerning" "anti-aliasing" and such because without those things there is no way rendered text would look good enough to include on a disc.

AholePony wrote:
The first few minutes of that disk do all sorts of wacky flashing even on my ps4 which I'd assume has plenty of memory. At least I got it in the bargain bin for $5. I'd be pretty annoyed if I paid $30 for a movie with janky subtitles, let alone much more for a series box set.

Yeah, it's pretty annoying. There are creative ways of mitigating the blinking by cheating the timecodes of subtitles that overlap, so they appear and/or disappear at mostly the same time. That's a time-consuming pain-in-the-ass to do, but I've had to do it for years now. Very much looking forward to not worrying about it.
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trilaan



Joined: 17 Jan 2009
Posts: 751
Location: Texas
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:38 pm Reply with quote
I hate the small Blu-ray subs such as the ones on the Rideback Blu-rays. They are hard to see from any comfortable distance.
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2weird4u



Joined: 21 Apr 2010
Posts: 8
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:51 pm Reply with quote
I'm actually surprised that this is such a hassle. I live in the Flemish part of Belgium and we sub a lot of programs, certainly everything in a different language and even our own. But that's usually only for programs with heavy dialects as not every Flemish dialect is understandable to every Flemish person. I have to be honest that there are a lot of mistakes but it depends on the show or channel, ironically National Geographic is famous for their subtitle mistakes (how they can say 1993 in English that's translated as 2003 I don't know!). Here it depends on which company is contracted. Every DVD or Blu-ray here has subtitles, for every language available on it. What I find funny is that there are usually small or even big differences in subtitles between English or Japanese spoken audio on anime dvd's...
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Tylerr



Joined: 13 Nov 2010
Posts: 433
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:02 pm Reply with quote
SpacemanHardy wrote:
Yet another reason why we should all watch dubs. Wink


or just avoid these terrible subtitles and go for superior ones fansub groups make.

[quote="jsevakis"]
Frenzie wrote:
First of all, those fansub .mkv files with embedded fonts are pirating the fonts too. A legal distributor could include them on a Blu-ray, but they'd have to negotiate and pay a royalty on every disc sold.


They do it because they can, but it's not like there aren't license free fonts that can be used. And they could always make their own.
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Superfield



Joined: 13 Jun 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:35 pm Reply with quote
jsevakis wrote:

Please read my post again, you seem to be missing almost everything I wrote. First of all, those fansub .mkv files with embedded fonts are pirating the fonts too. A legal distributor could include them on a Blu-ray, but they'd have to negotiate and pay a royalty on every disc sold. And yes, you should google "kerning" "anti-aliasing" and such because without those things there is no way rendered text would look good enough to include on a disc.


Ah, right, I apologize. I'm not quite up to speed on things like kerning, but now that I give it some thought, I do remember that there's differences between fonts for Windows and MacOS, since those are different OS's, and since Blu-ray players all have their own OS... I also forgot that using fonts would require fees that most film companies wouldn't be willing to shell out for, especially for a feature that isn't widely used or critiqued outside of a relatively small subset of non-interactive audio-visual media. I also didn't read the post carefully enough; I think my brain filtered out the section when it hit the word 'royalty'.

I tend to approach things from a technological standpoint of "this should totally be possible" without thinking through the boring and annoying (but highly necessary) business implications, which I should get in the habit of doing more often.

I just find it funny that Blu-ray of all things is still relegated to using a horribly obsolete methodology while any guy with a computer can make homebrew subs that look beautiful and are highly flexible (it's not hard to learn, either).
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gravediggernalk



Joined: 13 Oct 2013
Posts: 220
Location: Alabama
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:12 pm Reply with quote
Everything about BD sounds great, especially when compared to DVD, but then we get into how it's all implemented (or, how some of it isn't implemented), and it's just another sad shit-show.

If publishers went into this knowing that, at least for a few years, they would be making a good bit of their money off of BD, why would they do such a lackluster job at handling many of these issues?

jsevakis wrote:
Can you imagine foreign film people kneecapping each other on social media over yellow-vs-white color choice?

As much as I prefer white subtitles, it just feels comfy/nostalgic popping in a disc to find that the subtitles are some rotten-banana yellow.

jsevakis wrote:
It is true, though, that NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY holds subtitles to the insane and sometimes literally impossible standards that anime fans do.

I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but it only makes sense. If subtitles are essential to understanding the show/movie/game/etc., then they should be as close to perfect as everything else that goes into it.
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leafy sea dragon



Joined: 27 Oct 2009
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Location: Another Kingdom
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:00 pm Reply with quote
Closed captions on TV work by having text and the TV itself displaying the captions. Every TV has its own way; all it needs is the text and when the text is to show up. I'm sure I'm greatly simplifying the process, but I have to ask: Why do DVD and Blu-Ray players not simply use the TV's built-in closed captions system? Recent TVs even now have the transparency so you don't have to deal with the white-letters-in-black-rectangles problem of old.

DmonHiro wrote:
My guess would be a compatibility problem. They couldn't get it to work right on all players. Which defeats the purpose.


I was actually thinking about that myself. There are many manufacturers for these appliances, and I'm guessing besides the decoder, they have pretty little in common as far as programming goes. This was the problem railroads had until international standards were made.

jsevakis wrote:
So not only would you have to build the font into the authored disc (and all the royalty nightmares that would result in), but the resulting text would look pretty hideous.


Now I wonder: Are Comic Sans and Papyrus royalty-free fonts? They're both infamous for their overuse (and having skeletal Undertale characters named after them, but that's another matter), but if they're free to use, then I can see why everyone would be using it. Are there any royalty-free fonts at all? Even Arial or Times News Roman? How feasible is it to create your own fonts (which video game companies, both big and small, do all the time)?

gravediggernalk wrote:

I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but it only makes sense. If subtitles are essential to understanding the show/movie/game/etc., then they should be as close to perfect as everything else that goes into it.


I think Justin's point is that any other audience who would watch a lot of subtitled material don't really take the look of subtitles nearly as seriously as anime fans. And having been in groups of fans of foreign film, I can say for them, they believe the focus should be on the movie, not the subtitles: As long as the subtitles are legible, unobtrusive, timed correctly and free of spelling and grammar mistakes, they are fine with it.

I'd say an analogy is if you're growing a potted plant for decoration. Do you need an ornate, very fancy and colorful pot? Maybe that's how you like it, but the consensus among gardeners of ornamental plants is that the pot should not take visual attention away from the plant. Look at some professionally grown display or competition potted plants, and you'll see their pots tend to be on the very plain side for that reason.
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jsevakis
ANN Director of New Media


Joined: 28 Jul 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:51 pm Reply with quote
leafy sea dragon wrote:
Closed captions on TV work by having text and the TV itself displaying the captions. Every TV has its own way; all it needs is the text and when the text is to show up. I'm sure I'm greatly simplifying the process, but I have to ask: Why do DVD and Blu-Ray players not simply use the TV's built-in closed captions system? Recent TVs even now have the transparency so you don't have to deal with the white-letters-in-black-rectangles problem of old.


Actually wrote about what a giant bag of hurt closed captions are! Also, they get cropped off of most BD/DVD encodes.
animenewsnetwork.com/feature/2017-04-28/the-art-of-closed-captioning/.115428

leafy sea dragon wrote:
Are Comic Sans and Papyrus royalty-free fonts? Are there any royalty-free fonts at all? Even Arial or Times News Roman?

There are free-to-use fonts but not many free-to-distribute ones. None of the "famous" ones, definitely. BUT THIS IS A DUMB TOPIC BECAUSE THE RENDERING ISSUES MEAN IT WOULD LOOK TERRIBLE ANYWAY

gravediggernalk wrote:
If publishers went into this knowing that, at least for a few years, they would be making a good bit of their money off of BD, why would they do such a lackluster job at handling many of these issues?

Because the spec got rushed out the door to compete with HD-DVD.
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atyamamoto



Joined: 28 Aug 2008
Posts: 20
PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:25 am Reply with quote
jsevakis wrote:

It is true, though, that NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY holds subtitles to the insane and sometimes literally impossible standards that anime fans do. Can you imagine foreign film people kneecapping each other on social media over yellow-vs-white color choice?


Just to throw in my 2 cents -- I localized Yasuhiro Yoshiura's "Time of EVE: The Movie" on BD with subtitles in ten (!!!) languages, and initially I tried working with an authoring house that advertised itself as being "subtitle aficionados" specializing in indie titles for picky audiences, but they were totally paralyzed by the level of detail required for the project --
customized placement of subtitles, overlapping subtitles, etc. So Justin rescued the project, and went to the depths of subtitle hell. Justin, thank you.
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AtoMan



Joined: 17 Sep 2012
Posts: 127
PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:44 am Reply with quote
leafy sea dragon wrote:
Closed captions on TV work by having text and the TV itself displaying the captions. Every TV has its own way; all it needs is the text and when the text is to show up. I'm sure I'm greatly simplifying the process, but I have to ask: Why do DVD and Blu-Ray players not simply use the TV's built-in closed captions system? Recent TVs even now have the transparency so you don't have to deal with the white-letters-in-black-rectangles problem of old.


Probably because that format doesn't get used AT ALL outside U.S. In my life I never encountered a PAL TV that would support the format, probably because noone here ever used it. DVD/DVB subtitles plus the occasional teletext is all that's used.
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Just Passing Through



Joined: 04 Apr 2011
Posts: 186
PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:15 am Reply with quote
Solution is simple.

Double the number of BDs, repeat the show twice, once as normal with player generated sub and dub options, once as Japanese only, with fansub quality nutty rainbow subs burnt into the print, with everything written in romanji Japanese, and the rest of the screen filled with translation notes for the romanji.

Actually I wouldn't mind that as an Easter Egg on an anime disc once, just for a laugh having an episode given the max fansub treatment.
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