Author Topic: Subtitled films  (Read 1125 times)

Subtitled films
« on: February 13, 2020, 07:44:52 pm »
I'd love to watch some foreign language films, but I read very slowly, so would not be able to keep up with the subtitle dialogues as they appear on the screen.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2020, 07:55:36 pm »
I'd love to watch some foreign language films, but I read very slowly, so would not be able to keep up
with the subtitle dialogues as they appear on the screen.

I had a conversation with barakta a while ago where I wondered if she'd get more out of film if she watched it at fractional speed.
 As she has to read the subs to follow the dialogue, she sometimes misses what's going on on the rest of the screen.

Just tried it with mplayer:  The audio sounds ridiculous if you slow down by more than about 10%.  That might be okay for some material (I often speed documentaries up so I don't get bored), but probably not the artier end of film.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2020, 08:37:52 pm »
I mostly record and watch Slovak dubbed films (when I am in Slovakia). Occasionally there are Slovak subtitles over an English language original and I notice that I cannot read as many words per minute as I can hear and understand. Similarly, I can speak faster than I can write. Recording works well for me as I can pause to look up a word in the dictionary or rewind and replay to hear a phrase again (and again).

Mrs. road-runner is Slovak and prefers English language films with English subtitles as that gives her the best chance of following the plot and dialogue.

Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2020, 09:06:22 pm »
Google suggests  you can download the subtitle files & translate them to .txt or similar format.  You could then read the subtitles in advance, though this would obviously kill any suspense, a bit like reading a novel before viewing a film.


I'm currently watching "Babylon Berlin" in German with English subtitles.   I suppose you could hit "pause" whenever new text appears but it's going to make for a longer & fragmented viewing experience.
Not fast & rarely furious

tweeting occasional in(s)anities as andrewxclark

Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2020, 06:46:30 am »
I suppose you could hit "pause" whenever new text appears but it's going to make for a longer & fragmented viewing experience.
I think the cinema projector person would get some stick from people in the audience. :-D

T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2020, 08:18:37 am »
MrsT's hearing has been dodgy since she had quinine for malaria in her teens, so we always watch films with subtitles.  Trouble is that some of the films on Netflux are in English with French subtitles, and while she gets on fine with them I spend a good deal of my attention on checking them against the dialogue and fail to take in what's happening. Yetch.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2020, 08:35:53 am »
I watched a film – in English, at the cinema – with subtitles on Monday. I think it was the first time I'd seen an non-foreign language film at the cinema with subs. Though obviously my now renounced international jet set lifestyle means some of those foreign-to-the-locals films have been in English. I didn't find the captions particularly distracting, I did read them to an extent. On one or two occasions they didn't seem to actually agree with the dialogue (I don't mean inevitable omissions for space, actual disagreements).

Mostly I was tickled to find they used (!) and (?) to indicate sarcastic and questioning tones.
Days become simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time...

T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2020, 09:51:42 am »
Subtitle translations are sometimes vile to the point of being Googleish. A few years back we watched something French or Italian with English subtitles in which the word for "son" was translated as "wires" all the way through. We were warned at school about that one.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2020, 12:21:31 pm »
I normally watch English-language video with subtitles on.  Habit, I suppose.  I find they help more often than they hinder, especially if you're playing at accelerated speed (a typical post-1990s documentary is bearably paced at 1.2-1.5×), or someone's gone over the top with the background music.

ETA: Since I use headphones for computer audio, I tend to watch short internet videos propagated by news sites and social media without sound.  If they don't have subs (or make sense without audio), I usually can't be bothered.

Quality varies enormously, especially if you've gone fishing for pirate subtitles files in the seedier parts of the internet.  Not just the distinction between verbatim transcription (translators, for the use of - it's usually a bit too much to read), English for foreign language users and English for the hearing impaired.  A good hearing impaired subtitle track is a work of art[1].


[1] I recall introducing a Deaf friend to Ferris Bueller's Day Off and cringing as every non-visual gag fell flat on its face.  The subtitles had simplified for language and verbosity, and managed to whittle away most of the humour and comic timing.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2020, 01:37:13 pm »
I once was on an Air France flight to Japan, and they showed a Japanese film with French subtitles. Amazingly, with my limited Japanese and distant memories of school French I managed to follow the film pretty well.

A French film with Japanese subtitles would have been a problem.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2020, 02:49:07 pm »
Subtitle translations are sometimes vile to the point of being Googleish. A few years back we watched something French or Italian with English subtitles in which the word for "son" was translated as "wires" all the way through. We were warned at school about that one.
There are three problems here. Firstly, the translated subtitles are literally English (or other original language) subtitles translated into audience language. They are not a translation of the dialogue. This matters because the original language subs are inevitably a compression of the original dialogue.

Secondly, the translation is frequently made straight from the subs without reference to the film itself (translators don't necessarily get to see it) and though they're supposed to get notes for context, made by the editor of the original caps, they might or might not use them.

Thirdly, it's work that tends to be done on a tight deadline and budget, so farmed out to the lowest cost translators.
Days become simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2020, 03:08:29 pm »
This is presumably why copyright-violating amateur subtitling (as encountered in the anime community, or when mainstream films are translated into minority languages that aren't commercially viable) can often do a better job: It's done by enthusiasts without the same time pressure, who have access to the original video for context.

They're also a lot more inclined to subtitle onscreen written material, where relevant.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2020, 03:13:40 pm »
Onscreen written material, or 'principal photography', should always be subtitled. That was the policy where I worked anyway. Obviously this doesn't apply to SDH (same-language subs for the hearing impaired).
Days become simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time...

fd3

Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2020, 11:21:20 pm »
My issue with subs is the frequent "white letters on a white background".  Also as my vision isn't great and our TV is small it's hard to read at the best of times.  We did find a netlfix option to change the colour and size, but the subtitles took up half the screen.
[/I could be wrong]

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2020, 11:57:36 pm »
My issue with subs is the frequent "white letters on a white background".

There are so many bad implementations out there.  In principle the formats that store the subtitles as images and don't allow any control of the rendering on playback (eg. DVB) should be worse, but they frequently have more thought put into the fonts and colours than J Random Internet Video Player.


Quote
Also as my vision isn't great and our TV is small it's hard to read at the best of times.

When our telly died a few years ago, we decided not to replace it.  Watching video on a computer[1] screen actually works better for both of us - for me because it means I can enjoy HD without wearing glasses, and for barakta because it's easier to control the size of the playback window to fit her visual field.  And it freed up some living room space for n+1s.

The other advantage to using a computer screen rather than a TV is that you're not stuck with a 16:9 aspect ratio: As my computer monitors are 5:4, most video gets letterboxed, and subtitles can be rendered in the letterbox area rather than on top of the picture, greatly improving the subtitle-reading experience.


[1] Noting that I mean a proper desktop computer with decent monitor, comfortable chair and quality headphones / DAI, rather than trying to watch videos hunched over a laptop.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2020, 09:36:46 am »
The best implementation is going to vary from film to film, screen to screen and person to person, but white letters with thin black edge (or vice versa) seem a decent compromise. Gotta be better than the old letters on a black "tape" anyway.
Days become simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2020, 01:38:41 pm »
The best implementation is going to vary from film to film, screen to screen and person to person, but white letters with thin black edge (or vice versa) seem a decent compromise. Gotta be better than the old letters on a black "tape" anyway.

I'm quite partial to a semi-transparent grey "tape", but yes, I think that's the sensible default.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2020, 03:43:06 pm »
The best implementation is going to vary from film to film, screen to screen and person to person, but white letters with thin black edge (or vice versa) seem a decent compromise. Gotta be better than the old letters on a black "tape" anyway.

I'm quite partial to a semi-transparent grey "tape", but yes, I think that's the sensible default.

They could always XOR them, although that would mean live processing according to language. Shadowing might work, though.

BTW, ever noticed that when popular music is playing the SD&H captions give you the title & name of the artist, but anything classical gets "[Classical music]"?  Rare exception: a film we watched recently gave the full title of each piece but not the composer.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2020, 05:55:01 pm »
BTW, ever noticed that when popular music is playing the SD&H captions give you the title & name of the artist, but anything classical gets "[Classical music]"?  Rare exception: a film we watched recently gave the full title of each piece but not the composer.

Yes, frequently.  I'm not sure if that reflects the music knowledge of the subtitler; the information they're provided with (perhaps the script calls for a specific popular song, but leaves classical music as an exercise for the sound people?) or some expectation of the music knowledge of the audience.

TBH, I think it's generally better to subtitle the lyrics, where they're relevant to what's going on, and otherwise describe what context or emotion the music is trying to convey.  [UPLIFTING MUSIC BUILDS UP], [LOUD RAP MUSIC ON RADIO] or [STRING QUARTET IN BACKGROUND] is probably more meaningful than the name of the piece.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2020, 06:10:14 pm »
The best implementation is going to vary from film to film, screen to screen and person to person, but white letters with thin black edge (or vice versa) seem a decent compromise. Gotta be better than the old letters on a black "tape" anyway.

I'm quite partial to a semi-transparent grey "tape", but yes, I think that's the sensible default.

They could always XOR them, although that would mean live processing according to language. Shadowing might work, though.
XOR?

Quote
BTW, ever noticed that when popular music is playing the SD&H captions give you the title & name of the artist, but anything classical gets "[Classical music]"?  Rare exception: a film we watched recently gave the full title of each piece but not the composer.
This might be to do with copyright and licencing. FWIW I agree with Kim on description and/or lyrics being more relevant, but subtitlers might be legally restricted in what they can do with music (in that they might be required to give title and artist of some pieces; not in being forbidden to do so for classical stuff – that's probably more to do with lack of knowledge or it being deemed less relevant).
Days become simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time...

fd3

Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2020, 11:54:18 pm »
The best implementation is going to vary from film to film, screen to screen and person to person, but white letters with thin black edge (or vice versa) seem a decent compromise. Gotta be better than the old letters on a black "tape" anyway.
Best implementation is full screen black backdrop and words in white.  Keep the piano playing but pause the action for the words.
[/I could be wrong]

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2020, 11:58:54 pm »
Best implementation is full screen black backdrop and words in white.  Keep the piano playing but pause the action for the words.

 :D
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2020, 08:48:04 am »
The best implementation is going to vary from film to film, screen to screen and person to person, but white letters with thin black edge (or vice versa) seem a decent compromise. Gotta be better than the old letters on a black "tape" anyway.

I'm quite partial to a semi-transparent grey "tape", but yes, I think that's the sensible default.

They could always XOR them, although that would mean live processing according to language. Shadowing might work, though.
XOR?


Exclusive OR: logically combine background pixels with text pixels so that the text colour always contrasts with whatever's behind it. It would require real-time processing in the television, though.  I'm not sure the result would be all that legible against a moving background, though.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2020, 08:58:00 am »
BTW, ever noticed that when popular music is playing the SD&H captions give you the title & name of the artist, but anything classical gets "[Classical music]"?  Rare exception: a film we watched recently gave the full title of each piece but not the composer.

Yes, frequently.  I'm not sure if that reflects the music knowledge of the subtitler; the information they're provided with (perhaps the script calls for a specific popular song, but leaves classical music as an exercise for the sound people?) or some expectation of the music knowledge of the audience.

TBH, I think it's generally better to subtitle the lyrics, where they're relevant to what's going on, and otherwise describe what context or emotion the music is trying to convey.  [UPLIFTING MUSIC BUILDS UP], [LOUD RAP MUSIC ON RADIO] or [STRING QUARTET IN BACKGROUND] is probably more meaningful than the name of the piece.

Sometimes they subtitle the lyrics in the same font as the dialogue and interleave the two indistinguishably. Most helpful.

And to be honest, I don't think that reading [UPLIFTING MUSIC] really produces the effect of same.  They might as well put [SHAME YOU CAN'T HEAR THIS MUSIC, IT'S GREAT].
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: Subtitled films
« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2020, 09:15:48 am »
I don't suppose it does produce the same effect, but it's about explanation as much as producing an effect. I think.
Days become simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time...