Before taking this course, I already had previous experience with video editing software, including subtitling and working with timelines. However, I had never worked with DaVinci Resolve, which meant relearning the basics, and I was trying to subtitle a video … Continue reading
During our last session on July 13, 2023 each student group presented the final results of the projects we have done during the course of this semester. It was a great way of getting a better understanding of the individual folktales besides the ones we were working on ourselves. Together we took a look at the different video editing and coding experiences as well as talked about our individual difficulties during the process.
In the beginning of this semester most of the students, myself included, struggled with the coding part of this class. The most common mistakes were such as:
- forgetting to close the tags
- changing the geographic coordinates in the header
- Finding quotes in the text so it can be properly coded
- Finding all words for the notes and glossary
- not using the <q> tag
At least for me it was a foreign experience and way beyond my “academic comfort zone”. Nonetheless it was an experience that greatly benefitted me in the end.
This class wasn’t the first time I used video editing programs but I never worked with DaVinci Resolve before. Since I missed both tutorial sessions I had to figure the works out by myself but thankfully our instructors provided us with a detailed step by step guide. Nonetheless there were a few things that really proved difficult in the beginning:
- locking the subtitles and setting them at the right place (the timestamps were sometimes confusing)
- adding a title page without shifting any of the subtitle, audio or video tracks
- inserting the credits at the end
These were all things that most of the students struggled with and together we came up with helpful suggestions how to solve any of the before mentioned problems, e. g. the use of additional editing programs or to create the videos in multiple steps to avoid the shifting of the subtitles. In the end most of us felt confident in using DaVinci Resolve again with considerably less effort.
At the end of our last session we talked about the class in general and gave feedback on our individual experiences and accomplishments. Personally I am really glad that I had the chance to participate since I gained a lot of new skills and insight into the Konkomba culture.
In this week’s class we had our group presentations on the videos we had to edit and subtitle at home. We looked at what we have done so far and the problems we have had during the process of subtitling and the editing with the program Da Vinci Resolve.
The biggest problems that were mentioned had to do with the title, the timestamps and the software.
Also, as a community, we made some changes and discussed improvements to be made.
Title -> One person only had an audio about the telling of the folktale and not a video. She had a black screen at first but then figured it out and used a lot of pictures matching the audio. She encountered problems when putting the title before the audio so the subtitles were already shown in the title.
We also used the English titles of the folktales rather than the original ones because we decided to use those in the class before.
Timestamps -> The timestamps are displayed in seconds and milliseconds and this made it difficult for some of us to convert them directly into Da Vinci Resolve since it happened that the video shifted in the program because of the title. That is why some had to listen to the presenting voices (even without understanding Likpakpaln) to fit the subtitles to the spoken. Others put the subtitles first and added the title afterwards but that also caused some videos to shift. Some timestamps also were not that accurate so people went with their gut and listened to some key words. Therefore the question arose if we should rather focus on the exact timestamps or the characters per second.
Software -> For some it was difficult getting used to the software. One person did not know how to cut the video in the end before the credits but she received help and fixed it. We also noticed that after we finished editing the video quality got worse, probably because of the adjusted frame rate.
One folktale had a song and the editor changed the subtitles to another color to make it more clear when they were singing. The storyteller was also speaking very fast so he had to put the number of the characters per second down and left no gaps between the subtitles.
Additional changes / information
Other things that were mentioned were those, that the presentation on video-editing and subtitling was very helpful when problems arose.
We also decided to add “Düsseldorf – HHU“ to the credits after the “Centre of Translation Studies“ to make them more accurate.
The pyramid form when subtitling is highly preferred.
The word Ulambidaan was no translated because there was no good English translation for it. It is a common noun in Likpakpaln and it describes a psychological or medical condition, similar to a hyperactive kid that also takes joy in teasing and making fun of other people.
The word Ubor was also not changed because it means chief or political leader of the people and is very known and common.
Often folktales are being told while other community activities are happening to keep them entertained, such as cracking shells manually. The folktale and video “The Monitor Lizard nearly floors the Hyena in a wrestling match“ is a good example for the occasion where folktales are performed.
Other than that, we were told that a few things were added to our codes for our final presentation next week where we will present everything we have done throughout the semester with the help of powerpoint presentations we are preparing.
In this post I’m going to tell you a little bit about our last “Demarginalising Orature” session. As you may have guessed from the title, we talked about and worked on video editing and especially subtitling. In the past few weeks we have learned about Konkomba folktales, language and culture, we have worked with some of the folktales by encoding them using TEI. And now the next step is editing videos of Konkomba people narrating the folktales. Ultimately, you will find them in the HHU Mediathek.
Our last session
So, what happened in our seminar? Firstly, our tutor Jana gave a presentation, introducing us to a video editing program called DaVince Resolve (DVR). She also introduced us to some of the basics of subtitling. E.g. the length of a subtitle, which should be no more that 30 characters per second. The ideal length is 15-20 CPS but as Jana pointed out, this is quite difficult to achieve. Futhermore, a subtitle should always start synchronously with the speech (defining a subtitle’s start and stop point is called spotting). If the subtitle comprises 2 lines, it should be presented in pyramid form, so the upper sentence should ideally be shorter than the lower one. There are many more rules and conventions regarding subtitling but naming them all would go beyond the scope of this blog entry.
DaVinci Resolve and SubtitleEdit
Then, a fellow student, Lisa, also gave a short presentation on DVR and also introduced us to another program. According to both Jana and Lisa, DVR can be a bit difficult to work with, especially in the beginning. But luckily Lisa is familiar with another subtitling software, which she introduced to us as well. It is called SubtitleEdit. You can find a very useful step by step tutorial for DVR and SubtitleEdit in her blog entry. Some “fun facts”: According to their website, DaVinci Resolve is Hollywood’s #1 post solution. Apparently, many films and TV-shows are edited in DVR. It was first released in 2004. SubtitleEdit, on the other hand, is a free open-source subtitle editor.
To sum it up, in our last session we learned about subtitles and subtiling tools. During our session, DaVinci Resolve made my laptop crash and there were definitely some initial difficulties. But SubtitleEdit is a bit more beginner-friendly and in the end we will manage to subtitle all our folktale videos, I am sure! Yet another step to conserving orality and making Konkomba folktales accessible to a broader audience!
Working with Davinci Resolve is usually a little stressful for beginners. In this post I will show you the basics of subtitle editing, give some hopefully helpful points at the beginning and suggest a different program for editing subtitles.
1. Getting started
If you are working with Davinci on a laptop, get yourself a blue tooth mouse. It is easier to click precisely. Davinci uses a lot of CPU. Meaning it will crash at some point if it is run on a laptop. Because it is using this much CPU the video will probably stutter when you’re playing it in Davinci. This is normal and not a malfuntion. The more you edit, the more likely is the stuttering.
1.1 The good news is:
-Davinci is a non-distructive programm. If you want to reverse your actions just press STRG+Z.
-There are a lot of free tutorials on YouTube and most of the time you will find problem solutions quickly.
Let’s start with the basics:
You have seven panes in which you can work on different things.
These are the little symbols at the bottom.
From left to right they are:
- media (this is where your media is shown basically)
- cut (mostly used for cutting but you can do that in the edit pane as well)
- edit ( where you will work most of the time generally)
- fusion (you can remove greenscrens here)
- color (you can remove greenscreens here but much easier and better)
- fairlight (this is where you can correct audio)
- deliver (this is where you can produce your videos)
For our purposes (which is mostly putting subtitles into videos) we are interested in two of them: „Edit“ and „Deliver“.
Click on the „edit“ pane button.
Now, what you see is still an empty project. But we obviously want to import some files so, how do we do that?
You can use the easy way and press STRG+I on your Laptop keyboard (sometimes it is CTRL+I – that varies).
Or you use the menu:
Go to File. Choose Import. Choose Media.
Double click on the file in the opened window and it should appear in your Davinci media pane on the left:
Drag the file into timeline 1:
The audio of the video will appear separately in „Audio 1“ directly under „video 1“. Always play the video to check if it is working correctly. Press „space“ to start the video and press it again to stop it.
2. Editing Subtitles
Above „Video 1“ there is a free space. Right click there with the mouse:
Choose „Add Subtitle Track“. Subtitle1 appears above Timeline:
Move the needle to the part where you want to put the subtitle. Right click on mouse and choose „Add Subtitle“:
The subtitle track appears in beige:
If you click on the subtitle track the subtitle edit pane appears on the right. You can type them into the video in this pane.
To adjust the length of the subtitle move the cursor onto the side of subtitle block. When it shows two brackets keep left mouse button pressed. Drag them to the side you want the subtitle track to extend to.
It’s easier if you zoom in on the timeline. You can do that under the video (small lenses or -_______+. )
If you switch into the „style“ page in the subtitle options you can change size and colour.
To remove a subtitle track click on it and press STRG+X.
You will have to edit every subtitle manually. This will take you some time.
3. A suggestion
I want to suggest editing subtitles with SubtitleEdit. The reasoning behind this is:
1. it would safe us time
2. we can seperatly safe the subtitle file
3. it is much more comfortable
Subtitle Edit is opensource.
The benefits of it are:
– You can import full text
File –>import plain text
– SE will show you which lines are too long (it marks them red).
– you can drag and drop the video into the program
– you have a big audio line. Visualization is very helpful.
– you can almost entirely manage the program with shortcuts
– you can adjust the subtitle length a lot more easily.
– colour changing is manageable by clicking right on your mouse.
– you have a lot of data formats you can save it under.
4. Final Steps
After you have finished the project in SE you can save it as .srt file and drag this file into your Davinci project.
Place the .srt file into subtitle timeline.
All the subtitles are there now. Usually they are connected and you can move them as a whole.
Adjust them by dragging.
Style changes can still be made in the side bar.
Export the video in the format you want.
Move to “Deliver”:
If you choose to „burn the subtitles into the video“ under ‘subtitle settings’ they will be in the video permanently. You can import them as a ‘separate file’ too. Or you chose to export them as ’embedded captions’.
When reading folktales that have rarely been written down before, it is important to keep their origin in mind. Konkomba folktales have been passed on orally for a long time and have only recently been written down and translated from Likpakpaln into English. Storytelling in the Konkomba’s culture takes place in a very specific way that is essential to them, a storyteller tells the tales to a group, with which he interacts throughout the process in a theatrical way, and often audience participation is what makes the story complete. The questions they ask or the things they say make the storyteller tell the story in its entirety. These interactions can be seen in videos of the storytelling sessions. Many of the folktales have been written down and recorded by Tasun Tidorchibe, who worked on this project with us and provided the material, such as videos and documents of the stories. This project will help to make the folktales more accessible. The storyteller incorporates a lot of emotion and expressive body language into his session, which gives the viewer an insight into the story’s highs and lows. This performative element of the storytelling helps us understand the people even though we don’t speak the language. Therefore, when the storyteller or the audience laugh or show other emotions in reaction to the narrative, their interpretation becomes more obvious to us. When reading the story in English, there will be some words that can not be translated, but a glossary and footnotes will hold explanations for Likpakpaln terms. This will be incorporated in our TEI document, that Nadine Hoffmann is working on. Nadine has also summarized the story in her blog. Because the storyteller in the video of “Nachiin Pays for Feasting on Unyii’s Children” tells the original story, translation and subtitles are a way of following the session and understanding it at the same time. His name is Bilinyi Chikpaab and the video was recorded on the 18th of march 2022 in Kutol. The story told is called “Nachiin Pays for Feasting on Unyii’s Children” and includes multiple characters, such as a wolf, a rabbit and a crocodile.
When creating subtitles it is important that the text is timestamped so it is accurate to the video. Tasun Tidorchibe has timestamped the tale for this video. The subtitles have to be on the screen in time and long enough to be read fully. In addition to that, they also have to be in a style that makes them clearly readable. This can easily be achieved by creating a background for the text that sets the words apart from the background. What I did in this case, is make the background transparent, so that the background isn’t lost. The font should also be as simple as possible, so that it is not distracting. I chose Open Sans Semi Bold and made the font size 48.
There is a lot to see in the video and the subtitles shouldn’t compromise the storyteller’s presence. A block of subtitles should not be more than two lines of text. For example: The text at 00:02:55:05 to 00:03:15:05 and 00:06:30:00 to 00:06:37:00 had to be split up according to that rule. I started making a list of text that had to be split, looked at the words and then decided where to split the sentence, so it wouldn’t be too disruptive. There were 20 blocks in total, that had to be split. The subtitles in the program are numbered in accordance with those on my list and the timestamped sheet. To not get those numbers confused whilst editing, I decided to put the new subtitle chunks in a separate line at first and then drag them down into the original one, when I was done splitting all of them.
After I had created all the subtitles and decided on the style, it was time to check the CPS (Characters Per Second) of each text block. Sometimes, an accurate timestamp means that the CPS will be too high (the ideal CPS is 30), so I had to adjust some of them. Doing that, I realized that it made more sense to try and keep the accuracy of the timestamp set at the beginning of a text block and push it as much as possible to the back, so that there would be more time to read it. I used the DavinciResolve program to create the subtitles, because it gives the most accurate time stamp format, which is hh:mm:ss:SS. This format allowed me to try out how to create the perfect length for a subtitle, but do minimal adjustment and not push them out of place. I kept watching the video repeatedly to see if everything was in place and if everything was easy to see and read. Some of the blocks had more than 30 CPS, but I made sure, that it was still readable.
Having completed all these steps, it is time to rewatch the video again and make sure all is in place. Watching the video now, the story comes to life and English readers can understand the emotions around the storyline perfectly.