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Blu-ray Disc: What’s New with Subtitling & Closed Captioning for Blu-ray

Bluerayby Joanna Scavo

Since Blu-ray is now accepted (for the most part) as the new HD disc format standard, many questions have come up about closed-captioning and subtitling for Blu-ray Disc (also referred to as BD).

First off, to get the record straight, Blu-ray does not support closed captioning. This is for a very logical reason: Subtitles can be turned on and off through the disc’s menu (just like an SD DVD), therefore there is no need to add the closed captioning option. Consequently, BD does not carry Line 21 due to its High-Definition Multimedia Interface specs (HDMI). These specs were designed to displace the older digital and analog standards.

Converting SD captions to HD subtitles

You have a DVD or any other standard def video that you are putting on Blu-ray Disc. The SD version already contains closed captioning and you don’t want to have to pay or take the time to get it subtitled all over again. Don’t worry, there is a solution. Your closed captioning company (like Aberdeen!) can convert your old caption files to Blu-ray compatible subtitles for your authoring system. Depending on how it was captioned there may need to be some reformatting.

Some Cool “Blu-ray” Features

The really nifty thing about Blu-ray subtitles as opposed to normal SD subtitles is that multiple layers can be created. SD subtitles must have the same font type, font size and color throughout the entire program. With BD (and with the right service provider with this capability), you can add up to six different colors, fonts, and sizes. For example, to subtitle on-screen signs, you can subtitle them in the same font, color, and size that is different from the dialogue. Maybe you want each character to speak in a different font and/or color. This could help in the area of speaker identification. It’s now possible to have all your sound effects stand out from dialogue as well. The options are endless. If you want them to, HD subtitles can turn your boring subtitles from straight text on the screen, to an artful masterpiece.

File Types for Subtitling for Blu-ray

The file type used for Blu-ray subtitles is an xml based textual format along with pictures (jpg) of each subtitle, similar to the type of files that are sent to DVD authoring systems. The xml file is considered the directory file that tells each subtitle picture when and where to be placed.

Joanna Scavo is the Director for Aberdeen Captioning Inc.’s Multi-language and Subtitling Department. A bi-cultural US National, living between the US and Europe, Joanna manages clients and contractors around the globe narrowing the lingual gap worldwide. Joanna is also an advocate for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community promoting accessibility to all media via closed captioning and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. A teacher at heart, Joanna has developed various training programs, manuals and videos to keep Aberdeen’s team up-to-date on all technological advances in the TV broadcast, film, and video industry. To reach Joanna, e-mail her at info@abercap.com or for more information on subtitling or closed-captioning, go to www.abercap.com

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