Adding Subtitles to Flash

Adelphi Translations have done a lot of foreign language subtitling over the years but recently have had more and more requests to add subtitles to Flash movies. Macromedia Flash has become the default movie format on the web over the last few years and is the default format for most on-line film upload sites such as YouTube.

Until recently, however, it has been difficult to add captions or subtitles to Flash which would show in any browser and any Flash player, of which there are many. Even now the only guaranteed solution is to use ‘open captions’, which are ‘burned on’ to the movie itself.

The creation of an XML based caption format, Timed Text XML, has helped to standardise the process. Now the captions can be created in an external file which is linked to the Flash movie and which will play back in many of the popular Flash movie players such as the JWPlayer.

The Timed Text subtitle format looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<tt xml:lang="en" xmlns=""
 <style id="1" tts:textAlign="right"/>
 <style id="2" tts:color="transparent"/>
 <style id="3" style="2" tts:backgroundColor="white"/>
 <style id="4" style="2 3" tts:fontSize="20"/>
 <div xml:lang="en">
 <p begin="00:00:00.25" dur="00:00:03.25">Dreamweaver users now have access
 to Flash Video. Didn't have it before.</p>
 <p begin="00:00:04.20" dur="00:00:03.07">And if you were to talk to a
Dreamweaver user about three or four years ago</p>
 <p begin="00:00:08.03" dur="00:00:01.04">and ask, "You want to put video
on a web page?"</p>
 <p begin="00:00:09.11" dur="00:00:04.00">They would look at you and go
"Yeah.Dude.Yeah.Right.Uh Huh. Next."</p>
 <p begin="00:00:09.11" dur="00:00:04.00">Well never mind then</p>
 <p begin="00:00:09.11" dur="00:00:04.00">Blah</p>
 <p xmlns="" begin="00:00:12.11" dur="00:00:04.00">Di ba</p></div>

To create this kind of file could only be done manually, typing into Notepad, until some kind soul developed a Custom Format file for Subtitle workshop which allows the subtitle file to be exported as Timed Text XML. There is also an on-line tool, ‘Subtitle Horse’ which will export subtitles in the correct XML format. Then the Timed Text subtitles simply have to be linked to your Flash movie and uploaded to your web server.

We are big fans of XML standardised formats here at Adelphi but be aware that many translation services wouldn’t have clue how to handle them. So for all your foreign language subtitling needs give us a call.

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