About Subtitles and Closed Captions

While this chapter describes working with subtitles, it is important to understand how they compare to closed captions, which are also supported by DVD Studio Pro when creating NTSC SD projects. This is especially important if you are creating DVD titles that must comply with accessibility requirements.

There are two methods available to you to provide visual text to the viewers of your NTSC SD-based DVD title: adding subtitles and importing closed caption files. In both cases, text can be made to appear on the screen along with the video. However, the capabilities of each method are different.

Note: DVD Studio Pro does not support closed captions in HD projects or PAL SD projects.

Subtitle Capabilities

Subtitles generally provide dialogue text only—there is no text description of sounds that may also be part of a scene (although those could be added if you wish). Subtitles are generally intended to provide the dialogue in a second language and assume you can hear the disc’s audio.

When creating subtitles, you can define their position, size, font, and color. Subtitles do not actually have to be text—they can be a graphic used to display a logo or point out an item in the video.

All DVD players, including those used by computers, include the ability to show subtitles. Subtitles work the same in both NTSC and PAL projects.

Closed Caption Capabilities

Closed captions provide not only dialogue text but also descriptions of other sounds that are part of a scene (such as a phone ringing or a dog barking). They are intended to enhance the viewing experience for deaf and hearing-impaired viewers.

To view closed captions, you must have a suitable decoder—either built in to the television or as a standalone device. When creating closed captions, you choose the text’s position and, in some cases, its color—the font is controlled by the decoder.

Because a lot of computers do not have closed caption decoders, playing DVD titles on them means you generally cannot count on being able to show any included closed captions.

Due to their reliance on information contained in line 21 of the video signal, closed captions, as supported by the DVD specification, apply to NTSC programs only.

See Adding Closed Captions to a DVD for details on importing a closed caption file.