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Adding Subtitles and Closed Captions to Your Project

Subtitles generally translate the main audio track, but they can also be used to supplement the video by providing captions, lyrics, hints, or teacher notes. Some designers create simple graphics using subtitle image files to add pointers or to mask, highlight, or overlay areas.

You can type subtitles directly into the Monitor or import subtitles using three different file types or scripts. Here are some subtitle basics:

  • Each subtitle text string or screen, whether it is an imported file or text typed directly in the Monitor, shows up as a separate clip in the timeline.
  • A timeline may include up to 32 subtitle tracks for standard full screen video and 16 subtitle tracks for widescreen video. However, a DVD player can display only one subtitle track at a time.
  • Subtitles are overlays. They do not become part of the video or slideshow. For that reason, viewers can opt to display any of the subtitle tracks over the same video. This means you don’t have to transcode multiple video files, one for each subtitle track.
  • Subtitles are limited to only three colors, which define the outline, the fill, and partial anti-aliasing (smooth edges along diagonal lines) of the characters or graphics. You can use different three-color sets for each subtitle group.

Manually Adding Subtitles

You can add subtitles by typing them in the Monitor. The process involves selecting a starting video frame, typing in the subtitle text string, positioning it on-screen, and setting its ending frame. If you accept the default text font, color, and other characteristics that’s all there is to it. But you might want to adjust those other properties. You’ll do that in this lesson’s final section.

  1. In the Behind the Scenes timeline you worked on in the previous exercise, right-click anywhere in the audio or video tracks or in the blank area below the Audio tracks and choose Add Subtitle Track.
  2. The Subtitle track will show up in the section below the audio tracks. If you can’t see it, expand the height of the Timeline Viewer and drag the divider line (highlighted in the next figure).
  3. Set a language for that subtitle track by clicking the language drop-down menu (as you did with the audio track) and choosing a language from that extensive list.
  4. Click the Monitor tab to open it.
  5. In the timeline, drag the current time indicator to the first frame in which you want to add a subtitle.
  6. Click the Show Safe Area button (highlighted in the next figure) to display the two rectangular safe area guides.
  7. Click the Text tool in the Tools panel (highlighted in the next figure).
  8. Move the cursor into the Monitor, note that the pointer changes to an I-beam within a dotted box icon_insertion.jpg (highlighted in the next figure).
  9. Position the baseline of the I-beam pointer where you want the subtitle to begin, and click to set the insertion point for the type.
  10. Type in some text.
  11. Click the Selection tool (the black arrow on the left side of the Tools panel), click inside the subtitle text bounding box, and move the text to an appropriate screen location.
  12. Move the CTI to a new location in the video.
  13. Click the Add Subtitle button (highlighted in the figure following Step 6).

    That places the insertion point at the same place you ended up dragging the subtitle bounding box to in Step 11.

  14. Type in another subtitle.

    Take a look at the Timeline Viewer, Subtitle 1 track. As shown in the next figure, there will be two clips there. As with all still images on a timeline, you can drag subtitle clips to other locations and shorten or lengthen them.

Importing Subtitles

You can import subtitle files. Encore DVD accepts three subtitle file types: text scripts, image scripts, and FAB image scripts.

Image and FAB use graphics that can be text or any shape. In those cases, the text position is set by its location on the graphic and, once imported into Encore DVD, you cannot reposition the text or change its size or font. You can change its color. All three subtitle file types have information associated with them, either in separate script files or within the text file, that specifies the start and end timecodes of the subtitles.

Text Subtitle Script Files

Unlike image-based subtitles, text script files include the subtitle text along with the timecode for the start and end point for each subtitle. Text scripts contain no screen position or formatting information. You format and position the subtitles as a group when you import them and you can later update those parameters on a subtitle-by-subtitle basis.

The Import Subtitles (Text Script) dialog box also lets you designate the track on which they will be placed, the language, and the color set and group that will be used when displaying them.

Since creating subtitle files for import into Encore DVD is a specialized task, we won’t go into too many details here. Many DVD producers rely on subtitle production companies to do this work more because it’s tedious.

If you want to create text subtitle files, you can learn the specifics by choosing Help > Adobe Encore Help, clicking the Contents tab and opening Working with multiple audio and subtitle tracks > Creating and editing script files.

Creating Text Script Subtitles

Here’s a basic overview. You can create text script subtitles in any text editing software such as Windows Notepad. The text should follow this format (the underscores designate a single space between items):

  • Subtitle #_Start Timecode_End Timecode_Subtitle text
  • Additional line of subtitle text

Here is an example:

  • 1 00;00;04;08 00;00;06;25 Creating subtitle files is easy,
  • once you get the hang of it.

This subtitle would start at 4 seconds and 8 frames into the video and end at 6 seconds and 25 frames. It would appear as two lines of text.

Save your text script subtitle collection as a TXT file using UTF-8 or UTF-16 encoding (Unicode Transformation Format). To do that in Notepad, choose File > Save As and choose UTF-8 from the Encoding drop-down menu (Notepad does not have a UTF-16 option).

Importing Text Subtitle Scripts

  1. Add another subtitle track by right-clicking in the Timeline Viewer and selecting Add Subtitle Track.
  2. Right-click in the Audio/Video track area of the Timeline Viewer, choose Import Subtitles > Text Script, navigate to Encore DVD 2.0 CIB Assets/Subtitles and double-click on Text subtitle script.txt.
  3. In the Import Subtitles (Text Script) dialog window, make a few adjustments and selections:
    • Grab the upper-right corner of the text bounding box and shrink it down to match the length of the subtitle. Otherwise, later you won’t be able to expand the size of the text and if you add text, it might be too small to view easily.
    • Center the text bounding box just above the title safe guide (refer to the next figure).
    • Choose the text characteristics, subtitle track (if you choose New, that will add a third subtitle track to the timeline), language and other parameters (the Color Set feature is covered later in this lesson).
  4. Click OK.

    As shown in the next figure, that will add five subtitles to the beginning of the timeline.

  5. To see the subtitles in the Monitor, click the Track Selector, (the empty box to the left of the Subtitle 2 track header), to switch on the display.

    You can change subtitle durations and locations on the timeline as well as edit the text and text characteristics in the Monitor.

Image and FAB Subtitle Files and Scripts

Image and FAB subtitles use graphic files in addition to script files. It does not take any technical expertise to create them but, as is the case with text subtitle files, the process is tedious and most producers rely on other companies to produce image-based subtitles.

Both Image and FAB subtitle files can be made in graphics software like Photoshop CS. The next figure is a cropped portion of one of the sample FAB subtitle files you’ll import in the next section.

Here are some image-based subtitle creation tips:

  • The text should have borders—strokes in Photoshop parlance. That helps them stand out over the video.
  • Use sharp edges for text and graphics. Don’t use gradients, feathering, or anti-aliasing.
  • Image files can be in JPG, GIF, PNG, TIF, or BMP format.
  • Limit image files to three colors or fewer.

What differentiates Image and FAB subtitle files are their scripts. In particular, Image Scripts specify the file folder location where you’ve stored the subtitle graphics files. FAB Scripts do not need that extra information.

Other characteristics of those script files can be a bit esoteric, so if you’re interested in creating subtitles refer to the Encore DVD Help file.

Importing Image-Based Subtitles

For this exercise you will import an FAB Image Script because you don’t need to edit its script file to specify the location of its graphic files.

  1. Right-click anywhere in the Video/Audio track area of the Timeline Viewer, choose Import Subtitles > FAB Images Script, navigate to Encore DVD 2.0 Assets\Subtitles\FAB Subtitles, and double-click FAB script.txt.
  2. In the Browse for Folder dialog box (refer to the previous figure), select the FAB Subtitles folder and then click OK.

That opens the Map Colors dialog box. You need to tell Encore DVD the function of each of the graphic file’s three colors so it can properly map colors to the subtitles.

  • Background —Maps transparency to the subtitle background.

  • Fill/Color 1 —Maps to the fill of the subtitle text (or for nontext subtitles, the object).

  • Outline/Color 2 —Maps to the outline or stroke of the text or object.

  1. Click the Background eyedropper, position it over the blue graphic background and click to select the color.

    To clarify, that tells Encore DVD to make that blue color transparent—to give it 0% opacity. There is no need to select the other two colors since they are the default Red and Black values in the Map Colors dialog box.

  2. Click OK. That opens the Import Subtitles dialog box.
  3. Choose Track 1, choose the language of the subtitle, and note that the Absolute Timecode button is selected.
  4. Open the Color Set drop-down menu and click on Group 2 and Group 3 in turn, and note how that changes the color of the subtitle text in the Import Subtitles screen. No matter what Color Group you select, you can change it and customize it later.
  5. Click OK.

Ten subtitle clips of varying lengths will show up in the Subtitle 1 track.

Adding Subtitles to Slideshows

You can add subtitles to slideshows on an individual slide basis. Here’s how it works:

  1. Select a slide.
  2. On the Basic tab of the Properties panel, click Create Subtitle and select Name, Description, or both.
  3. Type your subtitles in the Name or Description fields at the top of the Basic tab.
  4. Do this for as many slides as you choose.
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