3D Vision Blog

A normal user's look into the world of 3D Stereo Technologies

3D Vision Blog header image 2

Subtitling for Stereographic Media Can be a Real Challenge

June 8th, 2010 · 3 Comments · 3D Movies & Videos

If you live in an English-speaking country you probably rarely see subtitles when you go to watch a movie in the cinema, unless the movie is a foreign one of course or some of the characters talk in a foreign language. But if English is not your official language and you are not watching a local movie, but the most recent Hollywood blockbuster title, then you will either see subtitles or in some occasions get the movie audio doubled in your local language. And while doing subtitles for 2D movies is actually not a serious challenge for anyone now (not meaning it is an easy task when it is being done right), when we are talking about a 3D movie that needs subtitles, then you actually have a serious challenge in front of you…

One of the main things when talking about subtitles is the fact that you should be able to read them while watching a movie, but they don’t need to be the center of your attention as otherwise you’ll miss seeing the movie while trying to read the text too hard. The subtitles need to be clear and easy to read, small enough and placed at the right spot in order not to block the action in the movie and of course be on the screen just as little time as needed to be read by the viewers. Now these principles apply to both 2D and 3D subtitles, but actually achieving them with 3D movies is much harder than with 2D ones. You can of course decide to stick to 2D subtitles even for a 3D movie, but this means that the text will be constantly with a depth equal to that of the screen of the cinema where the movies is projected. Now imagine of you get something like a ball for example that is supposed to be jumping out towards you, but part of it is blocked by the text… the result is uncomfortable feeling, because you cannot get the right depth of the elements you see. A similar issue is present if you have to use 2D (at screen depth) subtitles with a scene where you have a lot of depth, but here the problem is different. You may have trouble refocusing your eyes quickly enough between the subtitles in front and the scene on the back and the result is yet again eyestrain and unpleasant feeling that something is not right in that movie. So you need to go for come creative approaches like using 2D subtitles on a black border of the screen with no actual depth, although that has its own issues too, go for 3D subtitles with static depth or a varying depth depending on what is being displayed, or moving the subtitles all around the screen to find the space with less separation and so on and so on…

But instead of me going all over that area from an enthusiast’s point of view, I better direct your attention to an interesting white paper covering that topic that is done by some professionals in the area that is describing the situation in more detail. I’m talking about a UK company called Screen Subtitling Systems that has been around for quite some time on the market for professional subtitling solutions, so you can be sure that in the 16 page white paper called “Subtitling for Stereographic Media” they talk about the topic based on a lot of experience.

Download the Subtitling for Stereographic Media white paper by Screen Subtitling Systems…

Tags: ······

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 StarKnight // Jun 9, 2010 at 00:16

    Unfortunately subtitles are the least thing producers care of…
    Here in Italy I have seen movies in some (second-rated) cinemas or transmitted on TV with subtitles going out of the screen. This stereoscopic issue will mostly be ignored by everybody and viewers will have to tolerate such weird side-effects…
    Luckily in Italy movies are always doubled and subtitles are present only in rare circumstances.

  • 2 Craylon // Jun 9, 2010 at 10:37

    very interesting aspect.

    its the same for S-3D MMos or similar games with lots of texts, character names, chat bubbles and dialog trees. All these text elements dont really fit into a 3d environment.

    I think for movies eye friendly sollution would be to cut away parts of the picture and do a 2d black bar on the bottom. this of course hurts a lot if part of the picture is sacrificed i.e. in a 16:9 format.

  • 3 Rob Aubey // Jun 9, 2010 at 16:17

    Sony Creative Software has just released a new product specifically created to help set the stereoscopic disparity or Z Axis position for subtitles in a Blu-ray 3D project. It is called Z Depth. For more information please see this website location.


Leave a Comment