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Answerman - How Do Blu-Ray Subtitles Work?


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Robbl



Joined: 13 Jun 2017
Posts: 15
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:05 am Reply with quote
TheAncientOne wrote:
I am curious if UHD Blu-ray addressed any of these issues.

I'd like to know that as well.
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I_Drive_DSM



Joined: 11 Feb 2008
Posts: 206
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:03 am Reply with quote
I have to periodically produce subtitles in the public sector to satisfy ADA [Americans with Disability Act] compliance for DVD and digital files - we still haven't gotten to Blu-Ray yet simply due to the costs (budgets are fun...) - and I can tell you it is some of the most absolutely most cumbersome, time-consuming, and error prone portions of my work. It's constant double and triple checking and even then if I get even one encoding anomaly or something I don't like I have to re-work that portion to figure out why it came out that way.

MarshalBanana wrote:
So in order to write a line, instead of writing the line "Do you know what they call a quarter pounder with cheese in France?" they would have to arrange each bitmap letter into a line like an old fashioned printing press and then use that image file, or does the authoring program create an image of that line and save it out as a bitmap.


The process is similar to the idea behind green screens.

In what is a VERY basic way to create subtitles, you type all the text for a particular portion of words into a bitmap image, then when you insert the bitmap into your video editing software you "key" out the background (it doesn't have to be green but has to be a color that's not both text and outline). From there you can time it in and out. Now repeat that 300 to 400 times (as in how many files and times you have to "key" and time) for 25-30 minutes worth of footage.

While my above example is basic it has some advantages. As mentioned in the Answerman response when you have both spoken dialogue and signage being displayed you can just create as many still images and "key" them out. Further not only can the text for the image be stylized - think as in if it's colored or jagged - you can move the "image" (text) directly on the video and have it's time ins and outs separate from the spoken dialogue. Think of if a sign is being held for three to four lines of dialogue you can still have multiple subs being displayed but the same text for the signage. You're ultimately only limited to how many layers you want to use in your video edition software and how obsessive you are. If it sounds like a lot of work that's because it is.
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Sherris



Joined: 28 Oct 2013
Posts: 247
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:51 am Reply with quote
Meanwhile, at Crunchyroll...
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russ869



Joined: 22 Dec 2006
Posts: 389
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:16 pm Reply with quote
DmonHiro wrote:
I'm very curious why the text based part of the bluray ended up not working at all. I can understand not working right, but at all?

It's not that it doesn't work at all. Maybe he means it doesn't work very well, or it doesn't work consistently with all players. I have at least 1 or 2 BDs with text based subtitles that display fine on my PS3.

Dark Absol wrote:
For Funimation/Sentai Filmworks, the subtitles work in Japanese Audio, but they don't work in English Audio. That's just lazy on their part for not including the subtitles in the English Audio.

If they can make region free BD players then theoretically they could also make players that ignore the remote button lockout masks and let you change subtitles even on "locked" discs. I wonder if they ever have...? As a last ditch effort you can circumvent locked subtitles by ripping the BD to your computer, removing the lockout mask with a utility like BDEdit, and burning an unlocked copy of the disc on a BD-R. I've done it before. It works, but kind of an expensive process (especially for BD50s).

You can use .ass subtitles on a BD, just not directly. You have to run them through a program to render then in to bitmaps or PNGs first because that's the standard BD subtitle format. Everything you're showing in that Crunchyroll screenshot can be easily accomplished in BD subtitles (color, shadow, outline, etc.). The only .ass effects that wouldn't work well would be things like fading in and out, moving subtitles, etc. Because that would create too many different images that have to be displayed in too short of time and it will overflow the BD player's image buffer for subtitles.
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iamtooawesome



Joined: 02 Feb 2015
Posts: 351
Location: Thailand
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:14 pm Reply with quote
Im quite surprised that after all these years, BluRay never resolves it's own bitmap rendering issue.Tbh Physical copies are dying and people are streaming more. Not every platforms can play BluRay(obviously) and a BluRay player's not that inexpensive either resulting for the modern generation to sadly...rely more on streaming, Monthly subscription is cheaper too. I mean I'm a late 90's liner I remember when we used to have a DVD player, now it's inside my mom's closet kept for almost 10 years.
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marek1712



Joined: 29 Aug 2007
Posts: 128
Location: Poland
PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 5:30 pm Reply with quote
I still don't get why BD couldn't adapt ASS/SSA format (I'm suprised Blue-Ray uses bitmaps for subtitles. What is it? 90s?).

And even if they'd opt out for some simple text file format, they could use TTF fonts (which look THE SAME on all systems and are fine after upscaling, compared to raster images).

Instead, as Justin mentioned, BD is an overcomplicated mess - hard to play on anything that isn't dedicated to play Blu-Rays. There's literally one functional free BD player for PC (that comes from a person that has to import stuff from different regions and has to deal with AACS/BD+/regional locks). UHD? Good luck playing it with older CPUs - I'm not buying legal anime to rip stuff and circumvent copy protections.
They'll kill physical distribution by focusing on security instead of functionality.

/Rant
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Ashley Hakker



Joined: 31 Aug 2016
Posts: 115
PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 5:32 pm Reply with quote
Tylerr wrote:
they should be using .ass subtitles.

it's rather hilarious unpaid fansubbers have been doing better work than professionals.

and they expect people to pay for this inferior work.


Basically it is because Blu-Ray is an exceptionally rigid standard. The goal is to ensure that every Blu-Ray player supports every Blu-Ray disc, the first players on the market SHOULD play even the latest discs. So the hardware and software must conform to very narrow specifications to ensure this compatibility. People would be enraged if they bought a Blu-Ray and found out 'Oh, no, this is an older, slower model so it won't run this disc right'. Most Blu-Ray players are also very affordable becaues they employ hardware that only meets the specifications of the media standard, no need to spend money on 'overkill' hardware.

Meanwhile, real time vector subtitles can actually strain even some PC systems. I've seen some highly advanced karaoke effects that can stress weaker PCs. (And some SUPER weird stuff in sharply angled sign subs in a Yakitate Japan fansub that even burried the needle on a i7 3770k. o.O Side note: I really need to get that series now that it has an offical DVD release)

For sure vector subtitles like ASS are HIGHLY flexibile but that's also the problem, you could come up with subtitle sets that would strain or even crash some machines. Even this post here highlights how loading up too many bitmap subs can bog machines.
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Zalis116
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Joined: 31 Mar 2005
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Location: Kazune City
PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:49 pm Reply with quote
marek1712 wrote:
I still don't get why BD couldn't adapt ASS/SSA format (I'm surprised Blue-Ray uses bitmaps for subtitles. What is it? 90s?).
As mentioned in the earlier Answerman column, that format was developed in complete isolation in a niche of a niche fandom sector. Nobody other than the anime fandom cares about the kinds of unique effects .ass can create, aside from maybe tokusatsu fans watching TV-Nihon's elaborate "special attack" subs. Live-action foreign films just translate signs with notes at the top or bottom of the screen, and only for the most critical, plot-relevant text.

The Blu-Ray developers and manufacturers were never going to make things exponentially harder on themselves and mainstream content producers just to satisfy 1.3% or whatever of the consumers out there, who still would've just moved the goalposts if BD subs fell short in any way.
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marek1712



Joined: 29 Aug 2007
Posts: 128
Location: Poland
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:00 pm Reply with quote
Zalis116 wrote:
The Blu-Ray developers and manufacturers were never going to make things exponentially harder on themselves

Yet here we are and Justin complains that preparing subtitle track is one of the most annoying parts of the mastering process.
I'll state it again: SSA/ASS would be "nice to have". But even simple TXT file with some timestamps and TTF/OTF is a lot better than pre-rendered image.

Instead they pull PKI infrastructure to secure the discs (since we're talking about simplifying things)...
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Sakagami Tomoyo



Joined: 06 Dec 2008
Posts: 907
Location: Melbourne, VIC, Australia
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:04 pm Reply with quote
marek1712 wrote:
Zalis116 wrote:
The Blu-Ray developers and manufacturers were never going to make things exponentially harder on themselves

Yet here we are and Justin complains that preparing subtitle track is one of the most annoying parts of the mastering process.
I'll state it again: SSA/ASS would be "nice to have". But even simple TXT file with some timestamps and TTF/OTF is a lot better than pre-rendered image.


In short, implementing soft subtitles on a home video format is always going to be a colossal pain, the only difference between ways of doing things is who it’s going to be more of a pain for and in what ways.

Defining a standard for text-based subtitles and getting player manufacturers to stick to it and have things render consistently across all platforms is a lot more difficult than you think it is. Even for plain subtitles without any styling, which consumers would complain bitterly about. Getting disc authors to stick to the spec and not try to do something unusual with it, either out of a desire to push the envelope or just incompetence, also basically impossible.

Much as it annoys me, bitmapped subtitles are actually the lesser of the available evils.
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