Standard font and size for subtitles??

Posted by Robert 
Standard font and size for subtitles??
September 03, 2007 10:51AM
Hello All,

I hope I did not overlook anything on the FAQs but I am making subtitles on FCP HD4.5 for my documentary. These will be projected from a DVD in an exhibition space (maybe 6 -9 foot wide screen).

Are there a standard font and font size for subtitles?????

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help!

Kind regards,

Re: Standard font and size for subtitles??
September 03, 2007 11:10AM
No "standard" size and font, but usually you'd want a nice, clear, solid font with no serifs, and if you're able to fit more than 12 words or so per line, then chances are you'll be making your audience work too hard to read the words. The best case would be to make the subtitles so clear that they can watch the image while reading the words. I like using Impact or Helvetica Neue Bold for subtitles. Use Boris Title 3D so you can take advantage of its more advanced shadow and outline capabilities.
Re: Standard font and size for subtitles??
September 04, 2007 02:08AM
Rules of thumb, possibly for the FAQ:

No more than 40 characters per line (4:3 aperture).
No more than 12 lines of type per screen.

I've done pul-enty of subs over the years, film and video. For video, I often use a nice medium 24 point Helvetica. NOT Bold-- the counters (a's, e's, o's) fill in too easily-- and limited line count to no more than three lines. Bring that luminance down below 90.

Place an "eyeblink" between titles to allow viewer to register a change in text. About 6-8 video frames.

Don't be afraid to break up phases, ideally on commas, or simple thoughts, to keep up with speech. A single line can be comfortably read within a second or two and hearing the speech often helps. (If it's a silent, well... that's a mute point.)

If you're letterboxing, take advantage of the black space below the frame, it's perfect. But keep the line width contained where the eye can travel quickly to the next line, i.e limit to 40 chars.

More here, in a quaint and chatty web page I wrote a decade ago -- before FCP-- for Frame Shop -- the real inventor of the "Ken Burns Effect." It's for film but there's some wisdom there for video.

- Loren
Today's FCP keytip:
Set Video In & Out separate from Audio with Control I & O !

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