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Why do some DVDs replace film element subtitles?


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#1 of 37 Frank@N

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Posted April 03 2005 - 03:43 AM

I was watching Hidalgo and noticed this annoying problem.

Foreign language subtitles that must have been in the film element for theaters were replaced with player-generated subtilties on DVD.

Not only does it look worse, but it also prevents you from enabling the english subtitles (since you can't have two subtitles tracks running simultaneously).

I thought this was a unique problem with Hidalgo, but I just read that Fargo SE has the same issue.

In the quest to get better film elements for video transfer, are studios going back to early print copies without subtiles in the element?

How common is this problem on DVD?

#2 of 37 Yee-Ming

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Posted April 03 2005 - 04:02 AM

IIRC, this is so that when the non-English subtitles are enabled for non-English speakers (assuming the movie in question is an English one), the "foreign language" portion gets subtitled in the non-English language selected by the viewer. So it's probably fairly common; the problem is when they "forget" to put the translation subtitles back in (e.g. Rambo).

#3 of 37 Tory

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Posted April 03 2005 - 05:16 AM

I think they did this with Hot Shots and it misssed a joke with the text but I may ber mistaken. I hate this and it seems to be one of the least complained about edits for DVD.
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#4 of 37 DavidBC

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Posted April 03 2005 - 06:25 AM

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#5 of 37 John H Ross

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Posted April 03 2005 - 07:44 AM

Many of the Bond DVDs have been spoiled by player-generated subtitles, including Octopussy and The Living Daylights (which had to be pressed twice and still look like crap) and Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day.

None of these films are presented on DVD the same way they were presented in theatres, but a disturbingly small number of people seem to care :-(

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#6 of 37 JimChan

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Posted April 03 2005 - 02:39 PM

MGM seems to be the "pioneer" in removing burned-in subs and captions in their DVD back when Tomorrow Never Dies first DVD release.

#7 of 37 Jay Pennington

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Posted April 03 2005 - 03:17 PM

It's a matter of using the best-looking elements.

A film is locked, then duplicate negatives or interpositives are made. If there are going to be subs, dupe negatives are made from these and the opticals added--in multiple languages. These new shots are cut back into the dupe negatives and then interpositives are made for duplication. (Or something more or less like this, anyhow.) Another couple of generations are lost in the process.

The unsubbed elements therefore look better.

Doing it this way for DVD is evidence of conscientious mastering, not the reverse.

When they don't forget to put them back in at the authoring stage, that is. Posted Image
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#8 of 37 Colby

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Posted April 03 2005 - 04:09 PM

I don't mind them being replaced unless they end up looking like crap. I used to think subtitles were like closed captioning: they can only look one way. Now that I know how flexible DVD subs are, I hate it when they put no effort into making them look nice (i.e. those horrible big blockey yellow letters!).

#9 of 37 MatthewLouwrens

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Posted April 03 2005 - 09:02 PM

Agreed - look at discs like Ghostbusters (where they have MST3K-style silhouettes as a subtitle stream) or BTTF (B&W images on a driving DeLorean, a rolling skateboard, or a spinning licence plate) to see how flexible the subtitle streams are. So why can't they at least try to replicate the idea of the in-cinema subtitles. Use the same font. If the film had subtitles "typed" one letter at a time, do that. The style the subtitles are presented in is a creative decision. They're not just there to provide information, they offer a unique element of the style of the film, and should be retained.

I don't know about in r1, but the r4 Catch Me If You Can is one of the worst. The closing "where are they now" text is presented two lines at a time, as we watch a very dull image of people working in an office. Awful.
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#10 of 37 ZackR

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Posted April 04 2005 - 01:00 AM

I HATE player-generated subtitles. They seriously get on my nerves. I understand the reasons for doing it, but I really dislike the practice.
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#11 of 37 Tom_Bechet

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Posted April 04 2005 - 01:13 AM

Quote:
It's a matter of using the best-looking elements.

A film is locked, then duplicate negatives or interpositives are made. If there are going to be subs, dupe negatives are made from these and the opticals added--in multiple languages. These new shots are cut back into the dupe negatives and then interpositives are made for duplication. (Or something more or less like this, anyhow.) Another couple of generations are lost in the process.

The unsubbed elements therefore look better.

Doing it this way for DVD is evidence of conscientious mastering, not the reverse.

When they don't forget to put them back in at the authoring stage, that is.


cheers Jay. very good point.

I always thought it was to avoid the "double subtitling" when DVDs are distributed in nonenglish speaking regions.

for spanish viewers it must be annoying when watching a film in english with spanish subs that parts spoken in french for example have burntin english subs and then spanish subs superimposed to that.

I always thought that was the main reason why they used player generated subs.

However Jays explanation is much better. It would also account as to why DVDs distributed exclusively in english speaking countries still have player generated subs.

There is however one little "glitch"

there are films like I Spy, where locations have burntin caps but dialogues (ie the russian or bulgarian) spoken parts have player generated subs.


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#12 of 37 David Allen

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Posted April 04 2005 - 05:08 AM

No one mentioned this problem with player generated subs: If you are watching a 16x9 wide image, and you fill up most of your 16x9 video monitor, you'll never be able to read the subs because they are in the "letterbox" black bar at the bottom. Player subs shouldn't be down in the letterbox (they weren't below the image in theaters), they should be superimposed over the image.

#13 of 37 Frank@N

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Posted April 04 2005 - 06:21 AM

Quote:
Player subs shouldn't be down in the letterbox


Well in my experience player-generated subs are near the bottom of the 16x9 area, which may be unused depending on OAR.

I suppose if you zoomed a 16x9 image, you'd lose the subs.

In the case of a 4:3 encoded transfer, they could be much lower still and more prone to zoom issues.

I'd really prefer that studios use a print that contains theatrical subtitles.

#14 of 37 John H Ross

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Posted April 04 2005 - 07:04 AM

I agree that the subs should ALWAYS be placed over the image. When they're underneath, as with DIE ANOTHER DAY, they completely take you out of the movie.

This is another reason I buy R1. If you think the situation is bad over there, it's a hundred times worse here in the UK. Even The Lord Of The Rings DVDs have player generated subs and they look just horrible.

I wish we'd made a stand over this issue. We might have convinced the studios not to do it a long time ago. Player-generated subs MUST go!

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#15 of 37 ChristopherDAC

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Posted April 04 2005 - 08:04 AM

I have to take a different view from the previous poster. I think that player-generated subtitles are a good idea, because it provides the ability for those of us who would like to enjoy the programme without anything extraneous to do so. I find even the relatively crude implementation on LaserDisc using Closed Captions or LD-G encoding to be a nice convenience. If the more versatile DVD subtitles have been dreadfully mishandled on some DVDs, it is not the fault of the technology itself, any more than the so-common dreadful mishandling of the other technical aspects [e.g. DD 2.0 instead of PCM, which is almost universal but makes no sense].

#16 of 37 Bill GrandPre

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Posted April 04 2005 - 12:22 PM

There's no reason to use the DVD's subtitle track for subs that were "burned-in" during a film's theatrical release. If a studio such as MGM wants the option of changing the subtitles to different languages to accompany each soundtrack, all they need to do is use another DVD feature: alternate angles. A lot of Buena Vista titles use alternate angles to present credit sequences in different langauges, and subtitles within the movie itself would work in an identical fashion.
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#17 of 37 Jason Seaver

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Posted April 04 2005 - 03:19 PM

Quote:
If a studio such as MGM wants the option of changing the subtitles to different languages to accompany each soundtrack, all they need to do is use another DVD feature: alternate angles
That's an awful idea. I don't know the numbers off the top of my head, but I imagine an alternate angle uses much more disc space (or degrades image quality) much more than an alternate subtitle track.

And, hey, sometimes I like having the option of watching without subtitle tracks to be able to more fully concentrate on the visuals or work on my meager language skills.
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#18 of 37 Bill GrandPre

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Posted April 04 2005 - 03:47 PM

Quote:
That's an awful idea. I don't know the numbers off the top of my head, but I imagine an alternate angle uses much more disc space (or degrades image quality) much more than an alternate subtitle track.

How much of any movie features any subtitles on screen? If you added up all the times when subtitles are available on-screen for most movies, it would add up to less than a minute. Take "Octopussy" for example. There's literally one subtitle in the entire movie, and it lasts about 3 to 5 seconds. There's no way that 3 to 5 seconds of video is going to have an impact on picture quality. Let's just say you have a DVD with English, French and Spanish. That's 15 seconds of video. It's absolutely negligible, especially when 99% of DVD's have obnoxious animated menus that have about 30 seconds worth of video and trailers for other films. Then you have to look at the fact that, as I said before, Buena Vista has been doing it with their credit sequences for years. There's absolutely no reason not to use angles.
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#19 of 37 Patrick H.

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Posted April 04 2005 - 06:16 PM

Glad to see a topic on this...one of my biggest pet peeves of the format. Someone mentioned 'Catch Me If You Can,' but if anyone's seen the disc of Spielberg's 'Amistad,' that's an even bigger offender. The blocky pop-up text utterly RUINS the closing scenes of the movie. I shudder just thinking about it...

#20 of 37 Tom_Bechet

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Posted April 04 2005 - 06:32 PM

Quote:
This is another reason I buy R1. If you think the situation is bad over there, it's a hundred times worse here in the UK. Even The Lord Of The Rings DVDs have player generated subs and they look just horrible.


John, I have to say that I like the UKR2 of LOTR for this simple fact. You can switch off the subs for elvish spoken parts, so you have no sunbs whatsoever. After a few viewings you know what they say anyways and so not having any subs makes those scenes more "pure".

But that's just me.

I also think that the subs on the R1 look better but are a bit too small.


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