[MacDV] Re: closed captioning

Derek Roff derek at unm.edu
Mon May 18 22:09:23 PDT 2009

> Is there anyone on the
> list who knows about closed captioning and Final Cut Pro Studio2?
> I am working on a 1-hr. documentary and had planned to send it away
> to add closed captioning. Now my question is how do I get the
> closed captions to DVD? The company I contacted will return the
> caption master to me on DVCAM. The more I research the less I
> understand :-)   Will I lose the CC line if I bring it back into
> FCP?

Closed Captioning is a very lame technology.  You have no control 
over font, size, color, screen position, phrase boundaries, number of 
text lines displayed, or anything else of importance in presenting 
the text.  You get words on black bars that completely block the 
video image.

DVD title tracks give you much more control over text presentation, 
including all the elements mentioned above, and several more, 
including two outline colors and opacity.  In addition, you can have 
something like 32 different user-selectable title tracks on a DVD.

It is often said that the difference between Closed Captioning and 
titles is that former includes sound cues such as [wind noise], 
[applause], [laughter], etc, whereas the latter does not.  But this 
has nothing to do with the technology.  Indications of sound are 
often absent from Closed Captioning (although they shouldn't be), and 
can be included at will on DVD title tracks.  It is quite reasonable 
to offer one title track with dialog plus the sound cues, and another 
with only the dialog.  Generating the second track, deleting the 
sound cues from a properly prepared captioning transcript for the 
first track, can be done in minutes, using the search and replace 
feature of a word processor, and importing the result into DVD Studio 
Pro.  Although some manual adjustments might be necessary.

Final Cut Studio can handle both Closed Captioning and DVD title 
tracks.  I have thankfully never had to deal with creating or editing 
Closed Captioning.  I've done plenty of title tracks, and Final Cut 
has pretty good tools for working with them.  Although I have a 
wish-list for several additional features.  Title tracks can be 
created (typed in) within Final Cut, or imported from a plain text 
file, or from any of several formats used by captioning software.  In 
every case, the title duration, position, and other attributes can be 
changed at any time within DVD Studio Pro.

If you have any control over the decision, I suggest avoiding Closed 
Captioning, and using DVD title tracks.  This choice might not work 
for you, if the DVD is intended to be played over broadcast TV with 
Closed Captioning.  But then again, maybe it would be fine.  I don't 
know if Closed Captioning from a DVD will translate to broadcast TV, 
nor that a DVD title track couldn't be used.  Talking to your Public 
Access TV engineer might help you learn the answers to those 

Further delineating my ignorance, I don't know if you can import 
Closed Captioning into Final Cut Studio from a DVCAM tape.  My 
reading of the Apple Pro Training Manual for DVD Studio Pro makes me 
think that the answer is "no."  A Google search on the subject also 
didn't bring up any way to bring Closed Captioning from tape into DVD 
Studio Pro.  Perhaps it can come back into Final Cut Pro, and be sent 
from there to DVD Studio Pro.

Good luck,


Derek Roff
Language Learning Center
Ortega Hall 129, MSC03-2100
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
505/277-7368, fax 505/277-3885
Internet: derek at unm.edu

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