Electronic subtitles

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by MichaelPe, Sep 7, 2002.

  1. MichaelPe

    MichaelPe Screenwriter

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    One of the new additions to this year's Montreal World Film Festival, was the implementation of an electronic subtitling system. Since the audience in Montreal is bilingual (French/English), a lot of the times it was necessary to show films with subtitles in two languages.
    Thanks to this new technology by Softitler Inc, many films could also be shown without subtitles on the actual print. Instead, the subtitles were displayed on a LED screen below the projection. At first, I thought it would be distracting, but the system was well-designed: the LED screen was black and the letters weren't too bright (pale orange). According to Softitler's websites (1) (2), the subtitles could also be displayed on the actual screen via a separate projection.
    This represents a huge economical advantage, because this eliminates the need to make multiple prints of a film for different countries. Also, many times there will be spelling/translation errors in the subtitles, so this system is very flexible for making modifications at the last minute.
    Hopefully, this technology will become more widespread in theaters around the world. I'm sure that this subtitling format will also facilitate the transfer of subtitle tracks onto DVD, making it possible to have additional language subtitle tracks, that previously required too much effort to obtain and transcribe.
    Apparently, this system has also been in use at the Cannes and Venice film festivals, but I haven't seen any mention of this elsewhere. Is this common in other countries?
     
  2. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    If I'm not mistaken, certain opera houses have a similar system of surtitles (above the stage).
     
  3. Caleb Penner

    Caleb Penner Agent

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    Michael was there one of these LED screens for English and another for French? Or did they share?
    Was there no subtitles on any films, then?

    This seems quite interesting for fans of foreign cinema. I would love to see more foreign films come into the local theatres. I can see why this system was used in Montréal- it is a *very* bilingual city. IIRC, the spilt between English-language and French-dubbed movies is about half and half in a large theatre.

    However, I speak French as my second language. I think I might find the English subtitles distracting as it would provide a simple way out than trying to understand different French accents.

    Caleb Penner
     
  4. MichaelPe

    MichaelPe Screenwriter

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  5. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    There is another method of subtitling films that I've seen a couple of installations of...
    The three local Imax theaters all have it (MD Science Center, the Theater Formerly Known as the Samuel Pierpont Langly theater at the National Air & Space Museum, and the Johnson Theater at the National Museum of Natural History.)
    On the back wall of the theater, you have a big LED display board. The subtitles are displayed on them, reversed left-to-right (mirrored.) Audience members wishing to read the subtitles merely pick up a sheet of clear acrylic on their way in the theater. They look through the plastic, and can bounce the subtitles into any portion of the image that they wish. Pretty neat, I think. And for people who don't wish, they're not even aware that they exist.
    Leo Kerr
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