Building a subtitle screening box!
March 3, 2014 9:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking into the concept of building a machine specifically for screening subtitles in a movie theater.

The theater in question has a DCP unit that gives out timecode in LTC format. Basically, I'd like to take a small computer (preferably Mac) with a BNC input, hooked up to a small projector, and be able to screen timed subtitles in sync with the incoming LTC timecode.
So basically I need to focus on:
1. Hardware - I know AJA and others make cards with BNC inputs, so I guess it shouldn't be too hard to find one and a Mac to go with it. (Any specific recommendations?)
2. Software - this one's a bigger mystery for me, and what I need more help with. I've been working with subtitles for many years, but never worked with a BNC input or with a live external timecode. Anyone familiar with existing software that can basically marry incoming LTC with an existing SRT, or other subtitle file? I'm sorta hoping that a component of VLC (open source) could suffice. I'd also need the ability to control font size, location onscreen etc.
3. Final question - If I'm to build this thing, I'll have about six weeks to do it... Do you guys think it's doable?
Thanks very much, everyone. Any help is appreciated.
posted by Silky Slim to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Can you be more specific about what you're trying to do? I see that you do subtitle translation — so are you thinking of taking your subs and projecting them in sync over unsubtitled DCPs at a festival, or something like that? Will this be for one-time screenings, or for a run of something, or for something more permanent?
posted by bubukaba at 11:53 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

One or all of the above :^)
A festival for starters, perhaps something more durable down the road.
posted by Silky Slim at 11:57 PM on March 3, 2014

In that case, is there any reason not to just encode the subs directly into your DCPs? That seems like the most durable solution, if this won't always be an on-the-fly thing. OpenDCP is well-liked and seems to have a good support community, if you want to go that route.

For example, the festival-oriented DCP drives I've handled usually come with multiple files on them for common permutations of languages and subs (original language / no subs, original language / English subs, original language / French subs is a pretty common grouping).
posted by bubukaba at 12:12 AM on March 4, 2014

Well, seeing as the venue in question is already set up for this workflow, it seemed like the easiest route to go. At film festivals, schedules tend to be very tight between delivery of the DCP and the screening, but creating the subs separately (from a screener) would enable me to just send a tiny file and have it screen in sync.
I also haven't worked with DCPs before and it seems a bit intimidating, but I'll definitely try it...
posted by Silky Slim at 12:17 AM on March 4, 2014

Have you looked at Aegisub for your software? Their forum is relatively active.
posted by Mizu at 12:52 AM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mizu - Looks like a nice app that I wasn't familiar with, thanks... But it doesn't seem to be what I'm looking for, hardware integration-wise.
posted by Silky Slim at 11:29 AM on March 4, 2014

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