#1 Pet Peeve - Player generated subtitles!

Ric Easton

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Well, if it's not my number one... it's right up there. I use black Mattes to cover the screen on anything wider than 1:1.85. So, I can't use them when a dvd displays these subtitles below the frame of the picture. This was a big point for me when the new Star Wars sets came out. Anyway, I was watching The Da Vinci Code when I realized I had to take the screen mattes off. But beyond the fact that I use the mattes (I realize that I'm in the minority, but trust me, the picture looks great), these player generated subs are ugly and jarring. Bright yellow letters with jagged edges. They are very distracting and really took me out of the movie when they were on screen.

Why do they do this? Is it a money saving/technical option so that they can do it for various languages? Has anyone noticed if HD discs are also doing this?

Just felt like venting!
 

ChristopherDAC

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Player-generated subtitles are a great idea, I think, but the way DVD handles them is poor. Since it's a bitmap image, they can't be shifted around (unlike the LD-G subtitles found on some late LaserDisc releases), nor the transparency or colour changed, or anything. From my point of view, they ought to be stored as text and rendered on the player side, so that (if you have a good player) you can use a "style sheet" to control position, font, colour, and so on to suit you, if you don't like the effect of the player's or disc's default style sheet.

(Of course, I watch a good deal of foreign-language stuff, so I would like to be able to shut off the subtitles and just look at the picture. In case of movies made with brief subtitled portions, I think those should just be left as they are in the film, unless perhaps they're totally illegible.)
 

Eric Carl

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The Da Vinci Code, eh?

When I played the Special Features, on Sunday, they had text within the shot. Maybe they just left it in for the SF*, and changed it for the actual movie......

*Or took the shot as is, because the SF are in English and don't need to be altered.

Either way I'll check this out in a couple of weeks. Not cause I forgot what happened, in the movie, but to see how improved, if at all, the video is.
....errrr..... that is to what I saw in the theatre.

-Eric

Edit: I really like your idea Chris.....Maybe that will be an advanced function on future players. Or, if either HD-DVD or Blu-ray become the "winner" it will happen sooner than I think. And if either "wins" but turns into something like Laserdisc or, more recently SACD, maybe it will be on newer DVD and (insert "winner" here) Players......Errrr......can this be done on such Players now? (That is, the HD-DVD and Blu-ray.)
 

Brian L

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Well said. I could not agree more.

I thought they were ugly in SW, and Sunday, watching DaVinci Code, it brought back bad memories of the subtitles in SW. At least in SW, they are not used much, but they ARE used a ton in DaVinci Code.

When I first saw them in SW, I thought something in my player was broken, they looked so bad.

Brian
 

TonyD

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subtitles that were originally part of the movie should be burned in.

ordinary subs, not already part of the movie should always be within the frame of the picture not in the bars.
and player generated at an unobtrusive size.

the ones on davinci were an embarrassment, whoever designed those should be ashamed.
 

Jesse Skeen

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Guess "Da Vinci Code" is another title I won't buy for this reason- I consider this practice an alteration of the original movie and will not tolerate it. Anyone know if the Blu-Ray disc does the same thing?
 

Richard Kim

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Sony is notorious for placing its subtitles below the frame in its 2.35:1 films. As a result, black mattes are useless in thier foreign films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and 2046.
 

ChristopherDAC

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I think BD-Java, and presumably iHD as well, would allow for a much more user-friendly system. My preference is to have user-selectable position &c. — after all, someone with a 4:3 or even 16:9 TV might not want his subtitles in the frame of a 2.35 film, obscuring part of the movie, while another person with a constant-height setup would want exactly that. In fact, the same person might easily want a different setup on each of his viewing devices, and different size titles on different screen-sizes to boot. If experience has shown anything, it's that a "one-size-fits-all" solution doesn't.
 

Yumbo

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They (movie subs) look great in The Italian Job HD-DVD (Paramount).
 

Jay Pennington

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Yes, they are bitmaps, and as such, they can be ANY FONT the DVD authors want them to be! Or pictures of bunnies. Whatever! Remember, they're not text in the computer sense--they're pictures.

Where the cheapness/laziness comes in: DVD authoring programs can take a text file and generate the bitmaps that way. That's where the ugly fonts come into play.

But there's nothing to stop the DVD author from going into Photoshop or something and making the bitmaps himself, making them match the font, placement and spacing of the burned-in theatrical print versions, for example. It's more time consuming, but sooo worth it.

The problem would be that they almost never do this.

So the term "player generated" is a little misleading. They're really "authoring program generated". Well, the bad ones, anyway.
 

Jesse Skeen

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..Or they could just use a print that already has the burned-in subtitles and leave it the hell ALONE!!
 

Wayne_j

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I think the reason why they don't use burned in subtitles is so that they can use the same transfer for all regions.
 

Douglas R

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Can you explain what you mean? I don't understand why you need black mattes (or what exactly they are!). Anything wider than the TV screen size has black borders at the top and bottom anyway.
 

TheLongshot

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People use black mattes to frame the picture on a set for films that don't fit the aspect ratio. For example, if you have a 16:9 set and you are watching a 2.35 aspect ratio film, you have black bars on the top and bottom. Problem is, on a TV set (or a projector), it isn't quite black. If you matte it with some sort of black material, you get a better visual effect.

Player generated subtitles are a bane for those who use mattes, since players place subtitles based on the resolution that they are displaying, rather than to the aspect ratio of the film. So, the text could appear in the black bar rather than in the film itself.

I also wish that players gave options to adjust where subtitles are located.

Jason
 

RichardCrowther

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Player-generated subtitles are a disgrace. They make perfect sense to distributors as a money saving exercise, of course, so we're not going to be rid of them any time soon. However, as others have noted, any English language film that used subtitles to translate foreign dialogue, or provides captions to indicate a location or date should be left exactly as they were seen in theatres, in other words, "burnt-in" to the picture. It's not different to chaging the ratio, or not providing the original audio mix. I'm amazed there aren't more complaints about it.


Non-English language films should have removable, player-generated subtitles, since, of course, they wouldn't have had subtitles plastered all over them in their country of origin.

I'm not sure why it's so hard for companies to stick to this general rule, other than to increase their profit margin, obviously, but it looks sloppy, and results in certain distributors films getting an appalling reputation.

Using player-generated subtitles can also lead to more problems than it solves - there have been many instances where subtitles or captions have been incorrectly reproduced or missed off a release entirely, a problem that simply wouldn't occur if things were left the way they should be.

In the UK, the film of Starsky & Hutch should contain subtitles during one dialogue exchange, but these can only accessed by turning the subtitles stream on, and I think Rush Hour is affected in the same way. Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 is missing one of its captions, the captions for Usual Suspects, so necessary when watching the film for the first time, don't even bother to provide a timeline (last night, etc.), just the location, rendering that first viewing much harder to follow. The Living Daylights is affected by missing captions also (despite this being a well-known problem on the first US release of this film years ago, so one must ask how the same error can occur in a different country many years later?). And these are only the tip of the iceberg.

American purchasers should think themselves lucky that they have the good track record they do regarding such practices, since, for every film released in the US with player-generated subtitles, at least five are released similarly affected in Europe, so as to allow the same disc master to be circulated throughout the continent.

The Lord of the Rings films are all marred in this way, as are most of the Star Trek films, and the first Mission: Impossible film, Terminator's opening caption, which now plays out two lines of text at a time, at the bottom of the screen, throughout the opening moments of the film, and The Train is treated in a similarly bizarre way, extending the running time of the film by nearly a minute as a result. The Magnificent Seven (and its first sequel) is also given the palyer-generated treatment, as is The Professionals. The recent remake of The Mummy also has them. Not to mention at least six of the Bond movies. No doubt when Casino Royale hits the shelves, it will be treated in the same dismissive manner. The list goes on and on and on. Seriously it's huge, and the vast majority can be purchased from the US (usually at a cheaper price in any case) with the correct, burnt-in captions.

What makes it worse is that most reviews on sites don't bother to mention whether player-generated captions have been empoyed, and, to make matters worse, it seems some reviewers, when asked, don't even know what they are, or how to identify them, so it's a matter of luck whether the film you've just bought is a keeper, or whether it will then be necessary to hunt down Region 1 versions to see if they are better handled. To this day, I've no idea whether the two Bourne films have burnt-in subtitles in the US, but I would love to know.


In fact, MGM have taken it a stage further and on most back catalogue titles now, there isn't even any text on the menus, each one being made up of icons and symbols alone. Until you get used to what each symbol means, you've no idea what you're selecting. Simply playing a film has now become an exercise in logic and guesswork. Again, this is to keep costs down, so the same disc can be distributed throughout Europe. It's an insulting and rather slapdash method.
 

Qui-Gon John

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Yes, they really screwed the pooch on The Da Vinci Code. Really unbelievable, for subtitles that were part of the original movie.
 

Jesse Skeen

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They still can- if you're doing a translated version, just put player-generated subtitles over the original English ones, or at the top of the screen as I've seen them do on some movies. ("10 Things I Hate About You", which has a couple funny scenes involving subtitles, uses the second camera angle function to show burned-in subtitles in French if you're watching it in that language.) If you're translating the movie you're already messing with it so that's fair game, but if you're watching it in its native language you shouldn't have the original text removed just to accomodate a translated version.
 

Mathew B

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Actually, the Ultimate Edition, released last year in R2 land, corrects this huge error by having the original opening text. Just thought it should be noted.
 

ChrisWiggles

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Some sources allow you to move the subtitles around. I use TT as playback software which allows me to move the subtitles up and down, which is handy. I have a larger FP screen, and so I like to bump them up higher a little bit so I don't have to look so far away from the middle to read the subtitles. I watch a lot of foreign films, so it's definitely a nice feature to have.

I don't like burned-in subtitles because then I can't move them around. But I don't know of really any movies off the top of my head that have burned-in subtitles in the actual video except for small pieces of foreign dialogue in an english-language release that already would have had subtitles burned in for the english release.

I haven't seen the davinci code yet, so dunno about that one.

The font and styles of some subtitles is strange, it would be nice to be able to change that, but other than that because I can move my subtitles up and down, I actually like the player-generated subtitles.
 

Fritz Nilsen

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You'll all be happy to know that the recently re-released Superman IV has glorious burnt-in subs.

RUN, don't walk, to your stores :)
 

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