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hector
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Location: Spain

what can be included in SRT format?

Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:37 pm

Hi.

When writing subtitles I usually follow some rules about what can and what cannot be put in a SRT file.

The problem here, as I've already said somewhere else, is that there is no clear formal standard.
I usually accept <i> tags as valid but I have doubts about "font color".

I think it could be useful in subtitles for hearing impaired people. The problem is that audio (speech and sound) carries much more information than plain text. You can alleviate this by writing descriptions. For example, in many subtitles you find tags to show who is saying the following text. But this has the drawback that it occupies space and it could make it excede the maximum recommended CPS. Color (and text format in general) is a good way of carrying this kind of information.

Summing up: can I put "font color" tags in a SRT file?
If not, should I choose ASS as the alternative?

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oss
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Re: what can be included in SRT format?

Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:20 am

There is support from some media players, from other media players isnt. In general you can put color tags in SRT file, but it is good to provide also no colors (no tags) for SRT. And yeah, more duplicates...

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hector
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Location: Spain

Re: what can be included in SRT format?

Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:24 am

Yeah, more duplicates.

Honestly, I think we need a more general format. I've been developing an XML-based format.
https://forum.opensubtitles.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=15203
You can give it a try.

What benefits does it provide?
  • Avoids redundancy. This can be achieved because it has:
    • multiple languages sharing the same timings.
    • hearing impaired and normal versions in the same file.
    • Information about the original audio language. You can handle multiple language subtitles and multiple language movies nicely. "Foreign parts" and that stuff.
    • Supports "literal" and "easy to read" version in the same file.
    • several cuts and editions in the same file. Still to be implemented.
  • It has metadata, so you can store checksums, movie information and whatever you want in the subtitle file.
Drawbacks:
  • it is not very widespread (I am the only user in the world :-) so you would have to generate SRT or webVTT or ASS at download time (more load).
  • Still on developement - unstable. But this can be seen as a good thing: much room for improvement.
  • The migration would be difficult.

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oss
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Re: what can be included in SRT format?

Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:40 am

well, this is planned for new subtitles website. to have one meta-format and then generate from it any format needed.

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Mazrim Taim
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Re: what can be included in SRT format?

Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:43 am

Personally I prefer to make subtitles available to as many users and as many devices as possible. The more you add to a srt-file and the more you deviate from the basic srt-structure, the fewer users and devices you will reach. Simply because there is no universal standard.

On my PC or tablet I experience no problems with <i>, <b> or <font color> tags. All are accepted and displayed perfectly. Although I don't really see the benefit of using different colors. Far too distracting in my opinion. Just plain white, always, is preferable. Unless the background at that time is white also. In that case it would be acceptable (and even useful) to have a color other than standard-white.


Problem is that most people (in my experience) don't view movies/series-episodes on a PC. Instead they use external devices or play it directly on a TV. For the most part by plugging in a USB-stick. That's what I do too. Download on my PC, find a matching (English or Dutch) sub, transfer everything to USB-stick, and plug it into my HDD/DVD-recorder.

A lot of those external devices (especially older ones or the ones in a lower price range) have a tendency to not accept every srt-format. My device (now 7 years old, but still working perfectly) only accepts subs in ANSI-format and does not display <.> tags. Which means that in a lot of cases I have to manually (using Subtitle Edit) edit the subs before I transfer them to USB-stick. If I don't, I either get useless characters on screen, or no subs are displayed at all.

A problem that occurs quite often. Even here on the forum people have noted that some subs display perfectly on PC, yet become invisible when used on an external device or directly on TV.

Like this most recent topic for instance -

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=16023



Many subs here are offered in UTF-8 format. Which causes problems for a lot of external devices. And that is the reason why I prefer to use and create subs in ANSI-format. At least that format is widely accepted, unlike others.

I am well aware of the drawbacks of ANSI. You just have to be creative instead of using tags for everything. If a word needs to be accentuated you can either put accents on letters (in Dutch) like è of é. Or write an entire word in capital letters.

And as for distinguishing who is saying what, you can simply let the first line start without anything in front of it, and let the second line start with "-".
"I have no idea what you're on about."
- "Thought so."



Those are the rules I follow when creating subs. Make them as minimalistic as possible to allow as many users as possible to make use of it. Maybe one day, when we have a universal standard, all that can change. Until then I think OpenSubtitles should never force a standard on those who create the subtitles. Even if this leads to duplicates.

Another reason to keep the amount of additional information in a sub down is that reading is a slower process than hearing. Adding the name of the person speaking or things like ("car approaching") could make lines too long to fully process.

New standards for srt-files are interesting none the less. Problem is compatibility with a lot of devices. Those external devices generally can't be updated to accept anything else then what was pre-programmed the day they left the factory. Most people simply want to (automatically) download a subtitle and expect it to work. Everywhere. They don't want to tinker with subs themselves or even know how to. They expect it to work 'out of the box'.


oss wrote:well, this is planned for new subtitles website. to have one meta-format and then generate from it any format needed.

Does that mean that creators of subtitles (in the future) are going to have to supply their subs in a specific format? Or is all that magically going to be done by a system? Hoping for the latter...
Image

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oss
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Re: what can be included in SRT format?

Tue Jun 20, 2017 5:10 am

in new site it will be managed by system, you upload basically any format, we convert it to meta format, and then you export it as you want...

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