This past week, I felt how important time code was when authoring captions and subtitles to DVD and Blu-ray Disc authoring systems. Consistency is the name of the game. As a producer, editor, DVD authoring person, et cetera, you must be sure that the video your captioning company receives from the onset of the project, has the final time code.
Ask yourself some questions: Is the first frame of the video the same timecode on all video versions? Does the first spoken word start at the same time code? Does the last frame of the video end at the same time code? Am I authoring in drop, non-drop, FILM, et cetera? Pick one and stick with it for the entire project. The standard time code for authoring systems is drop (29.97 fps) and I recommend that you use this from the onset of the process. Your editing system may have a different default time code than your authoring system, so make sure they are the same. Have any edits been made from the initial video you gave your captioning company? Minor edits will affect the captioning or subtitling in a major way.
You may be wondering what the big deal is and why it isn’t simple for the captioning company to adjust. It’s just simply trying to coordinate changes, especially if we don’t know what is differences are between files. Sometimes it is an easy re-ripple of time code or a conversion from drop to non-drop time code. Sometimes, the final videos are so different that the time spent re-sending new captioning and subtitle files can be as laborious as actually creating them in the first place. The time it takes for the authoring person to re-render and check new files over and over again is time taken away from the final delivery of the authored DVD or Blu-ray Disc. The bottom line is this—send your captioning company the real deal the first time around.