DVD Subtitle font

ykyau's picture

In my quest for a perfect subtitle font for DVD, I have tried in vain to identify the one that I think is ideal. I have attached a sample of subtitles I have copied from the movie, and I hope you can help to shed some light on it.

Ideally, I am looking for a san-serif font with double-storey "g" and curly "y", and preferably in condensed form. Any help is welcome.

AttachmentSize
Subtitle Sample.jpg282.01 KB
riccard0's picture

This one should be (a customised version of) Andale Sans:
http://typophile.com/node/79137

That said, I often wondered how well could Trebuchet fare as subtitle font.

ykyau's picture

Riccard0,
Thanks for your lead. Andale Sans is indeed close, if not because of the letter "W", which does not have a lower middle. The spur of "Q" is also slightly different.

The subtitle is in fact from another Lionsgate movie (similar to your lead), "The Red Violin".

As to Trebuchet, personally I find it a very good choice for subtile too, but the software I am using could not render the italic font correctly (it becomes bolder than usual). Adjustment has to be made too to the spacing during rendering to produce easy-reading subtitles. But it has a plus point compared to most san-serif fonts, as it has a curly tail for lower cap "L". It looks nicer actually on screen.

bowfinpw's picture

I think the answer given by Steve Matteson, who is the head of Ascender, is the final answer to your quest, Andale Sans does match exactly, except for the W and Q, which Steve's explanation about customization seems to cover. It certainly meets your criteria for the font you want, unless you must have the modified W and Q. In that case some font editing software might be a worthwhile investment.

- Mike Yanega

hrant's picture

I don't think that's ideal.

Look at the font used here, after about 15 seconds in:
http://armenotype.com/2010/10/live-tv-launch-video/
It comes in a smaller and larger size as well.

hhp

bowfinpw's picture

Not sure which font we were supposed to notice, Hrant, but neither was the same as the one YK was searching for.

What is the font name, and where can it be seen?

- Mike Yanega

hrant's picture

It's the 13-Bold cut of Mana, starting at ~15 seconds into the video.
http://www.themicrofoundry.com/manademo/

I know it's not the one YK was trying to ID - I was just trying to
change his mind, by showing him how not blurry a font can be,
especially these days when videos are mostly viewed on monitors.

hhp

--------

Today, learn about the Armenian Genocide.

ykyau's picture

Hi Hrant,
I get your point. Unfortunately, DVD subtitle has many limitations in terms of anti-aliasing, and most fonts would appear blurry, unlike subtitling for other movie formats, such as DIVX or MKV. Also, the rendering software imposes its own limitation in terms of character spacing and outline. That is why it's difficult to find an ideal font, though there are tonnes of fonts available out there.

I have heeded Mike's advice and use a font editing software to customize the font set I need (curly "f", curly "l", musical symbol, etc, based on Franklin Gothic Condensed), and I am fairly satisfied (80%...) with the outcome. My quest is over temporarily, until such a time I can find a better rendering software. Thanks for all the input. It's a pleasure to receive help from the professionals.

YK

hrant's picture

It seems you know exactly what you're doing. But I am curious about something: these days don't you specify a precise resolution, like 720p or 1080p, and at least a TV running at that "native" resolution will display the pixels accurately?

hhp

ykyau's picture

HI Hrant,
The problem with DVD subtitles is due to its primitive format/specifications. They are actually rendered from bmp/tif graphics that can only support 4 colors at any time, and based on very small font size (about 18~24 typically). Thus it is almost impossible for a "perfect" anti-aliasing to smooth out the edges. So if you observe the subtitle next time you watch a DVD movie, you may realize the edges of the fonts are jagged. Some professional subtitling tools can improve on the rendering, thus giving a better and smooth-looking subtitle, such as those DVDs produced by Criterion. Still, it is far from perfect.

In fact, the sample I attached in my original post is not "really" the normal DVD subtitle, but they are being "burnt" onto the movie itself (the original dialogs are in German for that section, thus the special treatment of the subtitles for this portion of the movie). Hence it appears to have a smoother edge than normal but looks blurry.

It is only in blu-ray that these limitations are being overcome, with 8-bit color depth, alpha transparency, and can work on large font size. The end result? the subtitles look as if they are being printed by laser. Thus they appear sharp and crisp.

YK

hrant's picture

This is all very educational, thank you.

> only support 4 colors at any time

FWIW, Mana-16 uses 8 grays (counting black and white), the other sizes use 16. I myself would indeed have trouble getting satisfactory results with just two grays between black and white.

> Some professional subtitling tools can improve on the rendering

How do they do this?

> In fact, the sample I attached in my original post is not "really" the
> normal DVD subtitle, but they are being "burnt" onto the movie itself

OK, a question: When that's the case is it then true that a bitmap font (as opposed to an outline font) can address specific pixels and not suffer from as much blur?

> It is only in blu-ray that these limitations are being overcome, with
> 8-bit color depth, alpha transparency, and can work on large font size.

That sounds hopeful.
And I assume in that case as well a bitmap font can address the actual pixels?

hhp

ykyau's picture

Hrant,

>> Some professional subtitling tools can improve on the rendering

>How do they do this?

>OK, a question: When that's the case is it then true that a bitmap font (as opposed to >an outline font) can address specific pixels and not suffer from as much blur?

The designers of these tools have striven to optimize the rendering engine/algorithm, so as to achieve the best contrast/smoothing/anti-aliasing of the font edges under the severe limitations of color choice and transparency depth. For example, some work based on 8-bit color and on bigger font first before scaling the final subtitles back to the desired size and to 4-color graphics (it's 4-bit actually, but only 4 colors are allowed at any time). In this way, the outline would be more defined. It also means choosing the right font becomes paramount as the output of the algorithm differs in quality on different types of fonts. (These tools/software typically cost more than 1000 Euro.)

Some hobbyists even use Photoshop to render the subtitle individually with specially designed filter to achieve the desired effect. It's painstaking as typically a 2-hour movie would have 1500 subtitles. You may read this under http://home.comcast.net/~c.linke/dvdsub/.

I believe a bitmap font would thus be more difficult to achieve the desired anti-aliasing effect as there are more "gaps" to fill and apparently the algorithm would be much more complex. But that is just my guess.

Also, the "burnt" subtitles I have attached appear blurry as I believe it is caused by the blending of the font edges with the background shadow using proven techniques such as "Gaussian Blur" so that they appear smooth. "Burning" the subtitles onto the movie is akin to printing text using a printer, while DVD subtitling is essentially an overlay over the movie. Thus the latter could not come close in term of sharpness.

If you interested, you may read this article under http://forum.doom9.org/archive/index.php/t-116734.html, in which they discuss about how to render high quality subtitles. Based on their experience, the choice of the right font type is apparently vital.

Also, there is an article under http://screenfont.ca/fonts/today/interim/, which discusses what is the ideal font for subtitling. For font specialist like you, you will definitely find it insightful and interesting.

YK

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