Subtitler:Final Cut Pro

Belle Nuit Subtitler creates TIFF files, which are edited in the Final Cut Pro (FCP) as graphics which are realtime on some FCP systems. You can export the spotting from Subtitler to FCP via an EDL or via XML (FCP 4.1 or later).

Note: Subtitler does work with FCP 7, not with FCP X.

Depending on your subtitling workflow, there are various methods to make work FCP and Subtitler together:

This document also discusses some special cases:

Workflow: Spotting in Belle Nuit Subtitler

  1. In Final Cut Pro, export a QuickTime movie of your sequence. Note: You should not export a Final Cut Pro movie (menu File:Export:Quicktime Movie with a FCP icon) but export a Quicktime movie (menu File:Export:Using Quicktime Conversion with a native Quicktime icon).
  2. In Subtitler, open a new document, define the video format and the file format TIFF-RLE.
  3. Import the movie. Set the Framerate. You may want to set an offset to have identical timecode with the Final Cut Pro Sequence.
  4. Spot and translate in Subtitler.
  5. Use the Preflight tool to check your spotting.
  6. Render and export the titles
  7. Transfer the Spotting to Final Cut Pro
    1. FCP 2.0-4.0
      1. Export to EDL CMX3600 with the Export List tool.
      2. In Final Cut Pro, import the EDL.
      3. Select all titles in the sequence.
      4. Select the menu File:Reconnect and show FCP where the TIFF files are. (You may have to set the popup-menu in the file dialog from Video Files to Picture Files to be able to select the TIFF files.)
      5. Final Cut Pro automatically detects the alpha channel, but not always correctly. It's possible that on the same import you may have mixed alpha interpretations. You can however change the alpha interpretation after import. Select the clips and then the menu Modify:Alpha Type:Straight.
    2. FCP 4.1
      1. Export to XML with the Export List tool.
      2. In Final Cut Pro, import the XML.
      3. Normally, the titles should reconnect automatically. If that does not work, then select all titles and then choose the menu File:Reconnect and show FCP where the TIFF files are. Note: If you experience problems with crashing Final Cut Pro 5 while importing or updating XML files, try using the EDL CMX3600 export instead.
  8. Edit the title sequence into your sequence.

Workflow: Spotting in the Final Cut Pro

  1. In the Subtitler, create some placeholder titles (a series of titles with the text "title001" ... "title999"). Export the titles as TIFF-RLE.
  2. In the FCP, import the titles. Final Cut Pro automatically detects the alpha channel, but not always correctly. It's possible that on the same import you may have mixed alpha interpretations. You can however change the alpha interpretation after import. Select the clips and then the menu Modify:Alpha Type:Straight.
  3. Create a sequence of your imported titles and load it into the source monitor.
  4. Load your program sequence into the record monitor and add a new video track.
  5. Link the track of the source to the subtitle track of your sequence.
  6. In the timeline, zoom in so that you can see about 15-20 seconds at once.

Edit the titles.

  1. As you have finished the spotting, record the sequence to a VHS or a DV-tape.
  2. Export an EDL.
  3. In Subtitler, import the EDL with the Import tool.
  4. Scripting: Write down your dialogs, using the defined borders in the spotting. Use Belle Nuit Subtitler or use a Word Processor.
  5. Translating: Translate your titles in a second window in Belle Nuit Subtitler.
  6. Export the titles.
  7. In the FCP, select the placeholder titles in sequence and reconnect media. Show FCP the location of the new titles.
  8. Edit the title sequence into your sequence.

Note: By default, titles are numbered on a "0000.tif" format. You will be safer, however, if you name the titles in Subtitler explicitely with the /file tag. This will allow you to add additional titles in corrections without creating a confusion on the filenames.

Workflow: External spotting

The spotting and the translation is provided as a file by an external service bureau.

  1. Import the external subtitle file in Subtitler with the Import tool.
  2. Add the formatting and export the titles as TIFF-RLE.
  3. Export the EDL CMX 3600 with comments with the Export List tool.
  4. Import the EDL into Final Cut Pro.
  5. The title sequence will consist in a series of offline graphics.
  6. Select all titles in the sequence and reconnect media. Show FCP the location of the new titles.
  7. Edit the title sequence into your program sequence.

Making corrections

Subtitling is an interactive process which has often several steps of reviewing and corrections. Keep the Subtitler document open while editing in the FCP. If you need to make a correction:

  1. Go to the Subtitler, correct the text, export the individual title.
  2. In the FCP timeline, select the title clip and reconnect again.

If you make also corrections on the spotting. You can update the changes you made in Final Cut Pro:

  1. Export an EDL CMX3600 of the subtitle track, including the file comments.
  2. Use the Import Tool in Subtitler to import the EDL.
  3. Use the Spotting Tool:Update Timecode to update your original Subtitler file based on the imported document

Creating and additional language

Once you have created one language version, you can recreate other language versions without much work.

  1. Create a new subtitler file with the same number of titles in the new languages.
  2. Export the titles to a new folder.
  3. In the FCP, duplicate the subtitled sequence
  4. Select all titles in the title track
  5. Do a reimport.

Note: Keep in mind that other languages can have titles which are as much as 50% longer than the same title in English. You have three solutions: Summarize more strongly with some creativity, have a slightly smaller fonts or have two lines instead of one. Making more titles would not be an option, because you would exceed the attention a public can give to subtitles.

Realtime vs. Rendering

Depending on your hardware configuration, you may or may not need to render your titles. But even in a realtime system, the number of titles can go beyond the limit of Final Cut Pro. If you have a lot of titles, some may not want to play. Increase cache or render some of the titles.

  1. Go to the menu Final Cut Pro:System Settings....
  2. Open the Memory & Cache tab.
  3. The Still Chache slider defines the amount of memory you have for subtitles. FCP uses about 1-1.2 MB per subtitle on standard definition.

EDL Importing Problems

Users have reported problems importing EDLs from Subtitler. These EDLs have timecodes of 10:00:00:00 and more. Also, we got reports with XML files from sequences with a duration of more than 10 hours.
Tests with FCP3 and FCP4 show us that Final Cut Pro cannot deal with very long sequences. The limit seems to be somewhere between 10 and 11 hours. EDL with late timecodes fall in these problem, because on import, the sequences is created first with a start of zero hours.
There is no workaround. You should not use timecode values of more than 10:00:00:00 if you intend to import into Final Cut Pro.
If the timecode comments, are already created, then you can select all titles and offset them with the menu Spotting:Offset Timecode. If you have 1000 subtitles, this command will take some time.

Note: If you experience problems with crashing Final Cut Pro 5 while importing or updating XML files, try using the EDL CMX3600 export instead.

Importing FCP Text effect titles

It may happen that the subtitles have already been created in Final Cut Pro using the Text effect. We do not recommend this procedure, as this is quite a dead end, eg. the subtitles are not reusable for other purposes and very difficult to edit.

However, there might be a possibility to recover the titles. Create a sequence which contains only the subtitle track. Export it as XML and use the Import tool in Subtitler to import it as Final Cut Pro Text Effect XML. The importer will try to recover the text part of the text effect.

Continuous titles

If you have continuous titles with no frames between them, you will not be able to export the titlelist successfully to Final Cut Pro 3.0 and 4.0. The reason is a bug in FCP handling of the CMX EDL. When the outpoint of one title is the inpoint of the next, the FCP EDL importer considers the second title as overlapping and discards it on the import.

You do not have this problem if you export through Final Cut Pro XML. The XML importer in FCP reads the sequence properly. But you need at least FCP 4.1. for that.

Localized versions of Final Cut Pro and CMX3600 EDL

The formatting of the comments of the imported and exported EDLs are not the same for all versions of Final Cut Pro. While the english version of Final Cut Pro uses "FROM CLIP NAME:" to define the name of the clip (which is pretty standard), the french version uses "DU NOM DE CLIP :". Belle Nuit Subtitler exports with the english text and expects an english text on import. If you use the EDLs with a french version of Final Cut Pro, you must replace the texts with a text editor.