5. More subtle things that make good subs….

These are just personal opinions…^^;;;  But before I was a subber, I watched a lot of subbed things from Chinese movies to anime…  And certain things just make subs more legible.   I think the goal should be to make the subs easy to read so that the viewer almost forgets that he’s reading subs….

Here are some of my pet peeves that I try to avoid…

1.  Illegible fonts.  Either fonts that are too fancy to read quickly… or too small fonts.  Also, there was a time when all these Chinese movies had white subtitles… and they would be invisible if there were white background.   x___x   If I hadn’t loved “Once Upon a Time in China” so much, my eyes wouldn’t have been so strained watching them… x____x

Continue reading “5. More subtle things that make good subs….”

4. Subbing using Advanced SubStation Alpha (part 2: fonts)

Fonts and colours that are reasonably good….

The font colours for the PrimaryColour fields are:


With SecondaryColour, OutlineColour, BackColour all being  H00FFFFCC  ->  I’m not sure why these colours automatically seem to change colour a bit depending on the primary colour.

for the above texts, the font name was Serifa BT, Outline was 3 and Shadow was 0.   

For example: 

Style: Default,Serifa BT,22,&H00990066,&H00FFFFCC,&H00FFFFCC,&H00FFFFCC,-1,0,0,0,100,100,0,0.00,1,3,0,2,20,20,20,1

Thank you Susu for the following information.  ^___^

because of the colours, I experimented a bit and I found out, there’s a way to define them. I don’t have any idea what ‘H00′ is though, but ‘HFF’ made my subs invisible, transparent. so I think it’s kind of transparency? however, you know in html colors are always RGB (or however to say this >>) two numbers red, two numbers green, two numbers blue. this time it’s turned around. like H00BBGGRR.
H00FF0000 -> blue
H0000FF00 -> green
H000000FF -> red

(you see, quite a simple experiment ^^; )

so if you go to photoshop or what, choose your color and you RGB is #33cc66 (a beautiful(?) green.) the you type in your subs H0066cc33 ^^

3. Subbing using Advanced SubStation Alpha (Part 1)


This is much nicer.  You can have different fonts and font colours.   You can save without timing and won’t lose your work!!  ^___^

People say it’s kinda a bulky format but I really like it.  ^^

1.  The first part of subbing is pretty much the same as subbing with SubRip format.

2.  Save as:  File->Save As->Advanced SubStation Alpha (.ass)

3:  Marking the lines…

With Subtitle Workshop, you can’t change the fonts.  So if I need three different types of fonts/colors, I’ll just put a little sign on it so I can find those lines later when I go to edit with wordpad.

For example,   in picture A:

All the regular dialogue, I sub as per usual.  All the captions, I know I can later find with search function because they have [square brackets] around them.  All the offscreen dialogue, I put a little ^ before each line, so that I can find them easily later.

4.  After making the basic softsub file and saving it as .ass file in Subtitle workshop, the subtitles will look like picture B.

5.  Changing the fonts…

Open the softsub in wordpad.  It’ll look like something like this….


[Script Info]
ScriptType: v4.00+
Collisions: Normal
PlayResX: 384
PlayResY: 288
Timer: 100.0000

[V4+ Styles]
Format: Name, Fontname, Fontsize, PrimaryColour, SecondaryColour, OutlineColour, BackColour, Bold, Italic, Underline, StrikeOut, ScaleX, ScaleY, Spacing, Angle, BorderStyle, Outline, Shadow, Alignment, MarginL, MarginR, MarginV, Encoding
Style: Default,Tahoma,24,&H00FFFFFF,&H00FFFFFF,&H00FFFFFF,&H00C0C0C0,-1,0,0,0,100,100,0,0.00,1,2,3,2,20,20,20,1

Format: Layer, Start, End, Style, Actor, MarginL, MarginR, MarginV, Effect, Text
Dialogue: 0,0:00:00.00,0:00:05.36,Default,,0000,0000,0000,,*subbed by muish* whatever dialogue you put in, etc….


Format lists the field names.  Style lists the values in that field.   For example, Name=Default, Fontname=Tamoha, Fontsize=24, etc.  More on the exact font colours and names later.

You can have many lines of Styles for different font styles you’re gonna use.  And change the font name and size and things.. colours and thickness of outline and stuff.

For example, I found all the  offscreen dialogue, deleted the little ^ marker and changed the Name fields from Default to offscreen.  Also, I searched for all the [ and changed the Name fields from Default to caption…. so that the font would look more like the picture C.


Format: Name, Fontname, Fontsize, PrimaryColour, SecondaryColour, OutlineColour, BackColour, Bold, Italic, Underline, StrikeOut, ScaleX, ScaleY, Spacing, Angle, BorderStyle, Outline, Shadow, Alignment, MarginL, MarginR, MarginV, Encoding
Style: Default,Serifa BT,22,&H00333300,&H00FFFFCC,&H00FFFFCC,&H00FFFFCC,-1,0,0,0,100,100,0,0.00,1,3,0,2,20,20,20,1
Style: caption,Serifa BT,22,&H00990066,&H00FFFFCC,&H00FFFFCC,&H00FFFFCC,-1,0,0,0,100,100,0,0.00,1,3,0,2,20,20,20,1
Style: offscreen,Serifa BT,22,&H00006666,&H00FFFFCC,&H00FFFFCC,&H00FFFFCC,-1,0,0,0,100,100,0,0.00,1,3,0,2,20,20,20,1
Format: Layer, Start, End, Style, Actor, MarginL, MarginR, MarginV, Effect, Text
Dialogue: 0,0:07:21.45,0:07:22.66,Default,,0000,0000,0000,,Bye!
Dialogue: 0,0:07:26.26,0:07:29.09,offscreen,,0000,0000,0000,,Crown J doesn’t seem to want to leave!
Dialogue: 0,0:09:49.61,0:09:50.69,caption,,0000,0000,0000,,[What?]


6.  Having two lines of different colour on one screen (like in picture D)

For example:


Dialogue: 0,0:15:44.69,0:15:48.63,Default,,0000,0000,0000,,My mom’s really a fan..
Dialogue: 0,0:15:44.69,0:15:48.63,offscreen,,0000,0000,0000,,Why didn’t you contact me?


Note that they have overlapping/same timeline.  Also, the earlier line in the sub seems to show up with the later line showing up above it.   That is, the top line in the sub is actually the bottom line on the screen.

2. Basic softsubbing (using .srt format)

Assuming you’re as completely lost as I was when I started….  Forgive me if this is too basic.  Also, I’ve learned to do this by trial and error..so some of it may seem strange to you if you know the program better.  Please refer to the labels on the image. 

1.  Open program.

2.  File->New Subtitle…

3.  Movie->Open…

and then open the video you’re planning to sub.

4.  I usually start off with a lot of empty subtitle lines.  If you press the button labelled M, you’ll keep getting the empty lines in the N section.   Note these lines have not been timed yet and have the same start and end timing.  Then I go back to line one and start translating in the O section.

The very nice thing about Subtitle workshop is that you can start and pause video by just clicking on the black screen area

Also, Once you finish writing the line of sub in the O area, you can move to the next line by pressing Shift/Enter

Other useful to go back and forth in the movie if you’ve missed a dialogue and only need to go back a few seconds:  Ctrl/Left Arrow will rewind 5 seconds, Ctrl/Right Arrow will fast forward 5 seconds.

Save frequently so that you don’t lose your work.  ;_;  I’ve lost my work many many times.  Guh!

Note that with the .srt format (as convenient as it is…), if you have multiple lines of sub with same timing, it will only save one of those lines!   You MUST TIME BEFORE YOU SAVE AND CLOSE THE PROGRAM IF YOU’RE SUBBING IN SRT FORMAT.  OTHERWISE YOU WILL LOSE HOURS AND HOURS OF WORK! 

Few other annoying things… sometimes the last line in a sub will not save for some reason.  Make sure you check that it has saved…


Going onto Timing!  (I do this once I’ve subbed a few minutes and save so that I don’t lose my work.)

1.  Go back to line one and start with the beginning of movie..(or wherever you left off)

The left arrow J will put the start time of the highlighted subtitles to wherever the video is at that moment.   The right arrow K will put the end time of subtitle line. 

You’ll notice that When you press K, it automatically goes to highlight the next line and by default, the start time is about 0.03 seconds after the previous line ended.  This is really useful when you’re having a long dialogue.  You can just keep pressing K when one person’s stopped talking and the next one’s about to start…and don’t actually have to manually set the start time for each line.   Once you’re comfortable, you can let the video just run and pretty much time at the speed of watching it. 

Few details about timing.  If there is less than 0.03 seconds between subs, they will usually be assumed to be overlapping and show up funny. 

Also… hmmm.. this part is kinda hard to explain.

If you have lines 1 and 2…  and your line 2 has a start time already set to be much later.  When you press K to end the line 1, it will not change the start time for line 2. 

However, if the start time for line 2 is before when line 1 ends, it will automatically change to the 0.03 seconds after line 1 when you press K with line 1.

2.  And then…save.   ^^  To save as .srt which is the most commonly used and simple file, go to File->Save As->scroll down to SubRip and save.

1. Programs I use to sub (How to sub part 1)

I actually have no training in this kinda thing and everything I learned, I googled how to whenever I got stuck.  So it’s probably not the best way out there…but just the way I ended up doing things.  ^^


Other than the codecs mentioned in how to view softsubs, I use the following programs.

I use Subtitle Workshop to softsub.  This is a free program and very simple and easy to use.  It’s great if you’re doing subbing simple things.  Not as good if you’re doing something more complicated…

When I’m subbing something more complicated, with different font colours and stuff, I’ll usually edit things a bit manually in Wordpad or Microsoft Word. 

Then I use Virtual Dub to hardsub/encode.   Also a free program and simple and doesn’t take up a lot of space.   It is a bit of a limited program, mostly because it’s so simple.  More on that later…

I also use Total Video Converter to change video formats.  Mostly because Virtual Dub is incompatible with certain video formats.  Also, some videos come in wrong aspect ration and it’s possible to change that with the Total Video Converter.  Unfortunately, this is not a free program; it’s about 40-50 bucks, I believe.  However, subbing is a really time-consuming process and if paying a bit of money saves you hours and hours of headache, I’d say it’s definitely worthwhile.


For the really really newbies….  Some definitions.  ^^

Softsub:  The text file which stores the subtitles data.  Can usually turn the subtitle on or off at will with this.

Hardsub/encode:  Embedding the softsub onto a video file so that it’s merged with the video file… so you only have to play the video file to play both the video and the subtitles.   You cannot turn the subtitle off when it’s hardsubbed.