Subtitle Stream Basics

There are several aspects of working with subtitle streams that apply whether you create them in DVD Studio Pro or import them.

Working with Subtitles in DVD Studio Pro

Working with subtitles in DVD Studio Pro involves using the Track Editor, the Subtitle Inspector, and the Viewer tab.

All subtitles, whether created with text entered in DVD Studio Pro, as individual imported graphics files, or as a subtitle file containing multiple subtitles, are based on subtitle clips in one of the 32 subtitle streams. In general, you work with the subtitle clips the same way you work with audio clips in the Track Editor. You can drag the clips to change their position and drag their edges to change their length.

The Subtitle Inspector provides the settings you use to configure each of the subtitle clips. Even the subtitle clips you import as part of a subtitle file can have their settings modified in the Subtitle Inspector.

The Viewer tab serves the Subtitle Editor function. When you double-click a subtitle clip in the Track Editor, its playhead jumps to the subtitle clip’s start, with the subtitle appearing over the track’s video. You can enter and position subtitle text directly in the Viewer tab. It also contains the tools you use when you create subtitles configured for buttons over video.

How Subtitles Switch Streams

When the viewer switches from one subtitle stream to the other, two things must happen before the second stream’s subtitles appear:

  • The subtitle clip currently showing must reach its end. No subtitle actions, including switching streams and turning subtitles off, can occur until the DVD player finishes showing the current subtitle clip.

  • A clip on the second stream must start. If a subtitle clip on the second stream starts before the subtitle clip on the first stream ends, it does not appear, and instead, the next clip on the second stream is the first from that stream to appear.

For most standard subtitles, this happens relatively quickly and the viewer quickly starts seeing subtitles from the selected stream. At most they might miss one subtitle clip.

These rules become important if you create a long subtitle clip that is the same length as the track because you will never be able to select it or switch from it. Having a single long subtitle clip is useful if you want to place a logo in a corner of the image. For this to work, its subtitle stream must be selected before the long clip starts, and once selected, you cannot switch it off or switch to a different subtitle stream.

Note: Subtitles that cross chapter markers are automatically split into multiple subtitle clips at each marker when you build your project.

Subtitle Preferences

DVD Studio Pro contains a set of preferences that control many aspects of how subtitles appear on a stream, whether manually created or imported (unless specifically overridden). It is recommended that you take some time and configure these preferences before you start working in the subtitle streams.

The preferences cover the following areas:

  • Fade and length: The General pane in DVD Studio Pro Preferences contains the default settings for the fade in and out settings as well as the subtitle length. The fade settings apply to all subtitles except those configured to provide buttons over video. The length setting applies only to new subtitles you create in DVD Studio Pro.
  • Font and position: The Text pane in DVD Studio Pro Preferences contains the default settings for the font used with text subtitles and the position settings for both text and graphic-based subtitles. Depending on the type of subtitle file you are importing, these settings may be overridden during the file import.
  • Color mapping: The Colors pane in DVD Studio Pro Preferences contains default settings for the color mapping used when importing subtitle files and creating subtitles in DVD Studio Pro. Depending on the type of subtitle file you are importing, these settings may be overridden during the file import.

See Setting DVD Studio Pro Preferences for more information.

Applying Subtitle Settings to the Stream

No matter how carefully you configure your preferences and how much time you spend deciding how the subtitles should look, there will often be times when you need to make a change to all subtitle clips in a stream (and there could be hundreds of clips in a stream). For example, you may need to use a different color for the text or to change the font.

The Subtitle Inspector includes an Apply to Stream function that you can use to selectively apply changes you make in one subtitle clip to all subtitle clips in that stream.

There are three areas in which you can independently apply changes you make to the entire stream:

  • Fade In and Out: You can make changes to a clip’s fade settings in the General tab in the Subtitle Inspector and apply the changes to all subtitle clips in the stream.
  • Text formatting: You can make changes to a clip’s font and position settings in the General tab in the Subtitle Inspector and apply the changes to all subtitle clips in the stream.
  • Color mapping: You can make changes to a clip’s color and opacity settings in the Colors tab in the Subtitle Inspector and apply the changes to all subtitle clips in the stream.