[Athen] captioning commercial dvds

Sean J Keegan skeegan at stanford.edu
Fri Oct 30 11:16:35 PDT 2009

> I may need to caption a commercial DVD. Assuming all the legal and
> copyright stuff is taken care of, what are the steps involved?

Hi James,

If you are only doing one DVD (or even a few), I would probably
outsource the whole project. It is easier than fussing with the
different applications for only a few items. There is a learning curve
to using the DVD authoring applications and nothing is more frustrating
than trying to burn a finalized project to the DVD and the disc fails.
I made many DVD coasters when I first learned the process...

Something else to consider: commercial DVDs can have different menus,
video/audio snippets, commentaries, etc. Captioning a commercial DVD
requires that you "unpackage" the content, add the captions, and then
"repackage" the whole thing. Not very much fun.

The HTCTU has a PDF training manual available on captioning DVDs using
Adobe Encore (http://htctu.net/trainings/manuals/tutmain.htm). Look for
the title Captioning Solutions for DVD Media. While it is for an
earlier version of Adobe Encore, the basic workflow should still be

Basically, you have two options to consider when dealing with DVD media
and captioning. You can use the subtitle track to include the caption
information or you can embed "Line-21" style captions into the DVD's
video stream. If you go with the "Line-21" style captions, you will
need a caption decoder attached to the video feed to view the captions.

One workflow model would be to outsource the creation of the caption
information to a vendor and then combine the files yourself with the
appropriate DVD authoring application.

If you are going to use the subtitle track, you *should* be able to use
a .SRT file (see Subrip - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SubRip). If you
are going to use the "Line-21" style captions, then you will need to get
a .SCC file. When I was using Adobe Encore, I used both the subtitle
track AND the "Line-21" style captions just to see what would happen (it
worked just fine).

It is not particularly hard...it just takes a lot of time. What I found
was adding the subtitle or caption information was really simple - it
was the whole re-mixing of the DVD menus and video/audio assets that
took A LOT of my time.

Take care,
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