December 13, 2007

Nanoha S1 in the can

Finished the DVD subs for the last volume of the first season of Nanoha.

This is actually kind of a convoluted process. Modern subtitling programs are pretty smart; if you tell it "put a subtitle up from this time to this time" and "put another subtitle up from that time to that time", and the two times overlap, it'll properly display both subtitles at the proper times, even moving one out of the way if they're positioned in the same place.

DVD subtitle pictures are not that smart. Every time the subtitle picture changes in any way, a new picture must be used. Furthermore, DVD subtitle generating programs are -also- not that smart. They won't sort out overlapping subtitles on their own, so the user has to break down each subtitle into separate pictures - so if a line from a song overlaps with four different subtitles, that's four different pictures, plus another picture for each gap before, between, or after those lines. Manually. It's a time-consuming process, and one you have to pay a lot of attention to, because if you typo one of the timecodes, it will likely blow up when you attempt to feed it into a DVD authoring program. (The various subtitle programs vary in how good they are at checking your file for this sort of thing. The one I'm using is terrible at it, but fortunately, I started working on one that was even worse, so I'm pretty careful...)

Ironically, you can actually produce DVD subtitles from Aegisub output, and it's smart enough to do it correctly. It's not, however, set up to do the same thing with timecode. This is most unfortunate... The subtitling software that we were using at ADV (near the end; at the beginning it was SSA and two VCRs), Wincaps, is not smart enough to do either of these things, but it's pretty easy to bash through it in a WSYIWYG environment, and it can take two completed streams and weave them together properly... so if you're clever enough to keep your subtitles from running over each other, it's pretty easy to put on-screen captions, songs, and dialog subtitles together without effort. (Then again, it's also several thousand pounds sterling, which is an investment I may eventually make, but not one for which the present work justifies.)

The upshot of all this is that the insert song in Nanoha ep 12, which has some fight-scene dialog over the song, contains about a quarter of all the subtitle pictures in the episode (not, I should point out, a talky episode by any stretch.) Each one of those subtitles has been opened up in Photoshop and edited to one extent or another by me. It took as long to do that song as all the rest of the volume's post-processing put together.

Of course, if this was a really complicated show, it would have been much worse. Excel Saga's first volume had over 5400, all told (though the vid-notes up that total substantially).

It definitely affects my timing practices. I'm very likely to leave subtitles contiguous (no gap between) if they're overlapping with something, unless the amount of space between them is huge. I'm also significantly less likely to include unimportant background dialog - sure, subtitle it and put in the effort if it's important, but if it's just background of people going "ohayo" in front of the school gate in the morning, forget it.

Can't complain, though - looks like it's going to come out pretty nicely.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at 09:39 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 Pardon me but there is a good program that could help.

You could use is MaestroSBT , although its old and no longer updated, but it can take ssa and it will generate the pictures with the subs on it while keeping all those subtitles from clashing., MaestroSBT comes with a virtual dub filter that can serve the subtitles into Virtual dub where u can preview if your subtitles are synced to the frame. I understand the annoying framerate to time and time to framerate conversions.

Hope that your Nanoha comes out well ^^

Posted by: shia at December 13, 2007 11:27 PM (HeGm2)

2 MaestroSBT is the one that doesn't do professional timecode. I don't mean time/frame shifts (that's easy), this is the five-letter abbreviation which I never can remember, SMTPE or something like that. I've been knocking stuff down to .ssa, using the Captions Inc export option, correcting for the :30 frame bug, then re-importing the text file as Flying Sky into Belle Nuit, generating sub pics, then using Photoshop to clean up. ;p

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at December 14, 2007 12:53 AM (LMDdY)

3 Hmm as in what do you output to, what my side does is to output to scenarist and we do the titles from there. We could discuss via email instead of cluttering up this post .

Posted by: shia at December 14, 2007 01:16 AM (HeGm2)

4 That's probably why we haven't seen the "jiggle meter" become a standard feature on fan-service titles. I wonder how much it complicated the job of doing the subtitles for "Plastic Little"...

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at December 14, 2007 01:26 AM (+rSRq)

5 Answer is "significantly". Actually, it's completely fair to say that the jiggle counter was a prototype of the vid-notes that were in Excel Saga. Same principle, but when we thought it up, we didn't know how much extra effort would be required (just that it'd be a doozy) or if it would actually work. Rather than risk rolling out an untested feature on an A title, we ran the jiggle counter on a smaller show (and then again on Burn Up Excess, to make sure we could do it in bulk.)

Of course, with both shows, breasts were all of the appeal anyway, so it's not like the counter was inappropriate or anything. Two birds, one stone.

What you don't think about is the extra proofing - especially with the video notes, which requires a whole host of subtitle tracks and double the audio tracks to successfully accommodate all the various subtitle combination options. This more than doubles the amount of time a DVD requires for proofing, to say nothing of the added complexity of what you're looking at. You DON'T want to do it unless it's really worth it, and to be blunt, it's not usually.

Heck, even with shows that could use it, the emphasis these days is on booklets or other printed extras. Can't pirate paper (well, I mean, you can, but nobody does!)

Shia, Belle Nuit is a DVD subtitle generating program. Not too flexible, but pretty easy to use, and relatively cheap compared to the alternatives. I don't mess with Scenarist - or rather, even feeding one of these Nanoha files to it would probably cause it to choke. Scenarist doesn't like subtitles less than twelve frames long, which is what you get if you have a lot of stuff overlapping irregularly...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at December 14, 2007 02:56 AM (LMDdY)

6 kinda true.  with so much dialogue going through it >.>

ah well different approaches to achieve the completion of the dvd.

Posted by: shia at December 14, 2007 03:04 AM (HeGm2)

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