Modify all subtitles in a sequence FCP 7.0

Posted by Andy Wills 
Modify all subtitles in a sequence FCP 7.0
March 10, 2014 08:45AM

I have made all my english subtitles on one video track in my FCP 7.0 sequence.
My sequence is ProRes 422(HQ) 1920x1080 23.98fps progressive.

Unfortunately the black outline around my lettering is too thin, so the subtitles are too hard to read when they are against a white or light background.

Also I would like to have the option to make the text in all the subtitles larger, so that they are still easy to read when I have to downscale to SD (640x360 pixels for a web test-viewing version).

Is there any way to change all 900 subtitles at once, so that I don't have to go through and change each one individually?

I'd be very grateful for any advice you could give.

Re: Modify all subtitles in a sequence FCP 7.0
March 11, 2014 11:26AM
Here is something you can experiment with. First change just the first title to be the way you want it to look.

Next export your project as an XML file.

Here comes the the tricky part. You need to load the XML into a word processor. Then find the first title and the second. Compare the code around the titles looking for differences. The code is more or less plain english. If you can locate the changes use the find and replace feature of the word processor to change all the rest of the strings to be like the first. Save the file and import back into Final Cut.

This process does not harm your original, but rather more like a copy. Still backup your project file first.

Re: Modify all subtitles in a sequence FCP 7.0
March 11, 2014 12:03PM
There is a "dirty" way I can think of that could achieve what you're talking about without dealing with codes and XMLs, and without messing with the timing of the subtitle cards.

First, backup your project file.

I'm assuming you used the "Outline" Text to make your subtitles. If so:

Copy all the subtitles. Paste them onto a track above your current ones.

On the top layer (the text), apply a Motion Scale value about two to five per cent higher than what you have right now, however large you want them. Copy-Paste Attributes to all subtitles on that track. That should make the text larger.

On the bottom layer (the outline), use Paste Attributes to apply the same Scale value as the top layer. Now use the Center attributes in the Motion tab to offset the bottom layer by one to two pixels. Copy-Paste Attributes this Center value to all subtitle objects in the bottom layer. You should now have bigger text as well as a thicker outline. You can also increase the Scale value by another one or two per cent to make the outline even thicker.

This isn't perfect, of course -- the Scale, theoretically speaking, makes the text less sharp, and you don't have as much control over the outline (since the Center value will only shift it and some parts will have less thickening than others). Using Scale to increase the outline will result in the sides being darker than the center (since a blowup is more noticeable on the edges than in the center). But it does get a similar result to changing the values of all 600 objects. Try this technique on one subtitle and see if you're satisfied with the results. Pick the wordiest, densest one to check.

Point being, don't use FCP for lots of subtitles. And don't do the whole film before you decide on the style.
Re: Modify all subtitles in a sequence FCP 7.0
March 12, 2014 09:38PM
I would go the way Vance suggested.

Its not that difficult.
Create a a new sequence matching the settings of your original sequence.
Copy a subtitle from your original into the new one.
Export as XML.
Now in FCP modify the generator settings till they match your needs.
Export as XML again.
Open both XMLs in TextWrangler (free) and select compare front documents.
This will highlight the differences. Normally it will be easy to figure out a block of text which can be used later in a find/replace action.
In FCP export your original sequence as XML.
Open that one in TextWrangler as well.
Find/replace the differences found in the first compare – as said often enough you can figure out a complete block and have to run one find/replace action only.
Save the XML and import it into FCP. This won't affect your original sequence.

You also can use my TitleExchange which will do those things in a similar way for you, but it is not for free with this amount of subtitles.


Some workflow tools for FCP []
TitleExchange -- juggle titles within FCS, FCPX and many other apps.
Re: Modify all subtitles in a sequence FCP 7.0
March 20, 2014 07:59PM
Elegant XML! I can't wait for my next Yiddish feature to try this.

Might be a while, my last was about 20 years ago. And shot on 35mm HiCon.

- Loren

Today's FCP 7 keytips:
Copy clip Attributes with Command-C
Paste selected Attributes with Option-V
Remove selected Attributes with Command-Option-V !

Your Final Cut Studio KeyGuide™ Power Pack.
Now available at KeyGuide Central.
Re: Modify all subtitles in a sequence FCP 7.0
March 26, 2014 10:40PM
The Text Wrangler workflow is very neat. I just used it for a documentary to replace an hour worth of subtitles.
Re: Modify all subtitles in a sequence FCP 7.0
March 27, 2014 03:00AM
Thanks to all of you for your very helpful advice.
Andy Wills
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