What are the most important/useful features of a Subtitle Editor?
Thread poster: Jarek Kulikowski

Jarek Kulikowski
Canada
Local time: 14:01
Polish to English
May 17

I am a developer and a translator. I am writing a Web Application for Editing Subtitles which serves my purposes very well. It occurred to me that others might like it also, but I am not sure what other features would be useful. Any suggestions are welcome.

 

Jarek Kulikowski
Canada
Local time: 14:01
Polish to English
TOPIC STARTER
The idea of https://captionflow.com May 21

There seems to be no interest in this topic, at least thus far. Perhaps it might be helpful to provide the URL of the tool I am building ( https://captionflow.com ) and say a few things about it.

A few years ago, while watching an old Polish film I realized that there is great wealth of cultural resources which is effectively inaccessible to the English public; specifically my kids who have inherited much of my cultural, yet, values knowing very little about their source. Solution: translate it yourself.

I looked around for some tools only to discover that that there wasn't much available. Sure, there was a plethora applications which gave you precise position of a subtitle frame to within 1/30 of a second, there were different file formats, bells and whistles of all kinds. But all I wanted to do was to take Polish sentence and come up with its English equivalent. Of course, every translator knows what that entails, and more importantly, how much effort it takes to get it 'right'. The challenge was to build some kind of Application that would allow a translator to focus on the actual job, rather that just become an expert in the technical aspects of their trade.

So I started CaptionFlow. The prototype went well. I translated a couple of movies, a few songs and poems, some documentaries... . Translation of 'Prawo i Pięść' by Jerzy Hoffman took me 5 days and I was exhausted afterwards ( I am not a very experienced translator, certainly not a professional ). I learned my first lesson as a translator: "it ain't for the faint of heart if you want to get it right". The kids liked it, we talked about it, and apparently I must have done something right since we were talking about the same thing.

Encouraged by those experiences I decided to post my Web Application on the Internet for others to use. And now I am curious. Is this app as good as I think? Obviously not, but how useful is it? Those are questions that I cannot answer by myself. An author is the last person in a position to objectively evaluate his/her own work, we are people.

Another encouragement came from one of the users of CaptionFlow. Literal quote:
"Wow! Thank you so much for this tool! I don't know if I can even calculate the amount of time this has saved me. I would love to make a donation!"
I am not too concerned with donations at this stage, though I can't say that I don't appreciate it. I see these kinds of testimonial on the Internet all the time, but this one is real and it feels great!.

Finally, in reference other Subtitle Editor type of applications, I would like to express my respect for the work done by their authors. Something like Subtitle Edit took a lot of effort and helped many people. My kudos to the author. I just want to contribute to the effort in my own way, take it a little further perhaps.

So, if you have a few spare minutes please come by and take a look. Maybe together we can builds something we can all use and enjoy.


 

subtitleinsider
United States
Less mouse, more keyboard May 25

It is possible that for the visual demo you decided to click the appropriate command boxes rather than use a keyboard shortcut to activate those same commands (with no way for a viewer to see what command was entered), but in my opinion the most important thing in any subtitle program is the ability for the user to keep their hands on their keyboard, and use the mouse as little as possible.

 

Sylvano
Local time: 20:01
English to French
Well... May 26

Apart from accurate timecueing, I would say two major features of a good (professional) subtitling tool are 1/ display time/number of characters checking and 2/ (broad and reliable) format conversion. Good luck with number 2.

 

Jarek Kulikowski
Canada
Local time: 14:01
Polish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Great suggestions - thank you May 29

subtitleinsider, Sylvano - thank you very much for your suggestions

Key Mappings were always on the back of my mind. I've cleaned up most of the Key Mappings logic though I am still working on it. Currently you can create a frame, close frame, nudge start and end of the frame by (32ms, 100ms and 300ms), delete, split, join and a few other things. You can also move the video back and forth (by 500ms, 2s) and cue to the beginning/end of a frame. Hitting Enter Key closes the frame and automatically edits it (unless we are in continuous frame creation mode). I think I am close. I still have to resolve some redundancies. I will do the video once I am happy with the keys.

Characters/Words per second also added.

As for multiple download formats, yes it does sound useful, but there are so many of them that I am not sure where to start. The task is more tedious than difficult. If somebody could suggest which formats are most popular/useful I would much appreciate it. Alternatively, I was considering using third party conversion tool, but I am not sure what makes more sense at this point.

[Edited at 2018-05-29 19:55 GMT]


 

Sylvano
Local time: 20:01
English to French
There's one in particular May 30

Jarek Kulikowski wrote:

As for multiple download formats, yes it does sound useful, but there are so many of them that I am not sure where to start. The task is more tedious than difficult. If somebody could suggest which formats are most popular/useful I would much appreciate it.


.stl (EBU) is generally considered the universal (professional) format to get from one subtitling tool to another. The tricky part being to be able to keep all aspects of the exported/imported file intact: height, italics, specific signs for some languages, etc.

[Edited at 2018-05-30 06:40 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-05-30 06:41 GMT]


 

Jarek Kulikowski
Canada
Local time: 14:01
Polish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Basic STL Jun 1

Sylvano, thank you for the idea. I've looked into STL (EBU) format and implemented basic export version in Caption Flow (I don't have import yet). At this point you can only download a very basic .stl file which will have black background and white letters.
It might already be somewhat useful to some users who are willing to start a project in Caption Flow (get the frames timed quickly and precisely), export .stl file and finish the job in another program. I think I should do import of .stl file (drop in the Browser) next.
As for advanced features you mention, it sounds tempting, but it is also quite a challenge (it would take a lot of time and effort - I mean a Graphical User Interface that would allow users to position the subtitle in a particular part of the screen, set paddings, etc.).
As for specific signs in various languages, I've been relying on UTF-8 thus far. It seems to work well with kanji, arabic, even Hiragana and of course all European Languages. I wonder if I will need to look deeper into this issue.
Again, thank you.


 

Wojciech_
Poland
Local time: 20:01
English to Polish
+ ...
What's important Jun 1

Hi Jarek,

From my experience, the most useful features need to be adjustable, but the first things that come to my mind:
-the software should be able to recognize shot changes (crucial if you do time cueing, too).
-the app must provide you with lots of QA info i.e. exceeded number of characters in a line (adjustable),
sentences broken into two lines even though they fit one.
-adjustable key configurations for almost every function
-option to play video according to your preferences (e.g. play the whole subtitle once immediately the translator moves to this box, play the translated subtitle as well as the following one etc)
-do spell check on the fly
-alert you of the use of blacklisted words (blacklist adjustable according to a given project)

That said - most of the above have already been implemented in the SubtitleEdit app. You can look into it, it's open-source, so if you could even improve on it if you want.


 


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