Talk about movie subtitles


How to convey characters as a font maker ...

Regarding the subtitle type "New Cinema Font" newly added to the lineup of LETS this time, Type Designers Hideo Sato and Masahiro Ogawa of movie distribution company Warner Entertainment Japan who has been using Sato's subtitle type for many years, Motoei Erin We asked Shigeru Akiyama, a judge and a member of Cinema Yume Club, to talk about the history and appeal of the typeface in a dialogue format. [October 11, 2007]

I think this is truly a "subtitle culture" because it is a typeface created by many seniors through trial and error since the era of pre-war Western movies with subtitles.

Are the movie subtitles still handwritten today?

I don't think I'm writing by hand right now.
In the past, I used to make a title negative by shooting a black card handwritten with a white poster color, but what is the mainstream these days?
That is the case when mass producing prints. Usually, I used a white card that was handwritten in black and called "punch", and then directly punched it into each film. Nowadays, in all cases, fonts are used for handwritten typefaces. It's still the same to make a title negative for mass production, but when the number of titles is small, the subtitle changed from punching to laser burning.
I think I used to use about 1,200 to 1,500 cards per work in the past, but how many days did Sato-san do his best in one day?
I think it would have been better to write about 250 sheets.
I agree. If there were 1,250 sheets, it would take at least 5 days. I think that it was shortened considerably because it was made into a font.
What was the first movie with fonts?
It was "AI". Natsuko Toda was surprised that she could do something like this, but that was the first time for Warner-san's company.

We've been watching movies since we were kids, but was the subtitle typeface of a movie always such a unique type of character?

That has changed with the times. And each writer has individual differences. Isn't it a kind of personality? We have arranged our own and made readable letters over time. The most important thing for a subtitle type is readability that does not disturb the movie.

The width of the screen of the movie is considerably wider than the height, but is there still a fixed number of characters per line? What do you pay attention to when designing letters?

Regarding the number of characters, for example, in the case of Cinemascope (*), 13 characters in horizontal subtitles is a rule. The length is 10 characters.
Warner took the initiative when changing from conventional vertical subtitles to horizontal subtitles, but the combination of kanji and hiragana would be different for vertical and horizontal. Therefore, if you use vertical subtitles in horizontal subtitles as they are, the balance with kanji will be messy and very difficult to read. Of course, I asked him to fix it so that it looks beautiful in horizontal composition.
You get jerky when you read it. Therefore, in horizontal writing mode, the design is done so that the hiragana and katakana shoulders are aligned as much as possible. If you do that, you'll see it quickly. < Figure 1 > .

The other is that in phototypesetting, the rounded dots of "pa" and "ba" and the semi-voiced sound are very small. So I don't really see the difference. I wonder if it's better to make the round dot larger ... < Figure 2 > . I wonder if there are about twice as many as ordinary people. On the contrary, it pops into your eyes. So it's readability. I think that being able to read smoothly without being conscious is an important factor for subtitle typefaces.

* Cinemascope: A horizontally long screen size with an aspect ratio of approximately 1: 2.35 to 2.55. A trademark of 20th Century FOX.

Wasn't there a story about whether to use the letters when the typesetting was done?

Originally, it was a human philosophy produced by each movie company, and that person's subjectivity. More specifically, I like it. I'm used to the traditional subtitle typeface of written characters. That is a typeface that many seniors have created through various trial and error since the era of pre-war Western movies with subtitles, so I think it's a culture, or a "subtitle culture." That's why I had to pass this on to future generations. With the exception of being forced to go Maru Gothic, Warner consistently wrote through.

Mr. Sato's typeface is a sophisticated and smart typeface that mixes the goodness of written characters while maintaining a well-balanced look like a round Gothic typeface.

Is there anything else you are careful about when designing Sato-san, other than dakuon and semi-dakuon?

Especially, katakana does not have a strong character. After all, habitual characters also keep an eye out. So in the end, I don't play much vertically or horizontally. It's fluent and readable.
In addition to Mr. Sato's cinema font, several subtitle typefaces have been fontified. I tried it all out, but it's Sato's typeface that I've been using for a long time both personally and as a company. The biggest feature is that it is sophisticated, or very smart. It's smart and uniform like Maru Gothic, but the goodness of the written characters is skillfully mixed in, and it's left ... I think that is the biggest deciding factor from my perspective. .. So it's very beautiful to look at.

And do not disturb the screen. As Sato-san said earlier, if you put it in a nutshell, it's a personality, but if you put it badly, a typeface with a habit seems to have subtitles that float and appear to float. If you do so, it will be a fall at the end. Western-style paintings mainly consist of screens and sounds (music / sound effects), and because they happen to be unknown to the Japanese people, they are attached with an additive. That's why subtitles shouldn't get in the way. It's easy to read because the subtitles come in without any resistance, and I think Sato-san's typeface is attractive because there is no habit.

Mr. Sato has two types of subtitles, with and without air holes. How is it different?

The typeface without air holes is made in regular characters, and the typeface with air holes is a more unique and abbreviated typeface.
With the air holes, it is a letter born from the wisdom to prevent slipping out because it punches out using the same principle as an English typewriter.

Which type of font is used in the main?

For Warner, it is almost 100% typeface without air holes.
Mr. Ogawa is a person who hates abbreviations and is not good for education (laughs).

Is there something like Warner's rules?

After all, in my case, I think like that, "subtitles are culture". After all, for many people to see it, for example, being able to learn the abbreviated form with air holes is a terrible thing in Japanese ... Therefore, Warner Inc. has used the orthographic characters as the basic typeface instead of using the abbreviations and collapsing characters peculiar to subtitles.

In addition, as a general rule, I try not to use words without "ra". No matter how much a young man is talking, he doesn't say "get out", "get out". And the other one is how to use kanji and kana. If it is a novel, the writer's sensibility is as if it were the same word, but even if it is the same word, sometimes it's Kanji, sometimes it's Hiragana, and you're free. However, since it is a subtitle culture, I follow the rule that the notation is properly done, whoever translates it, so to speak, it is the main rule of the character conversion principle of Word.

Then, technically speaking, in the case of the so-called air hole typeface, there is a unique thing called "Tome". "Tome" is a kind of bulge that I put in my effort at the very end of the letter. This is called "Tome". If you do not do this, it will be very difficult to see on screen. Narrows Innovation Sue in the calligraphy of the ink Styles that's "Tome" because there is no, it was very hard to see missing and felt saw trickle down. I don't basically use this typeface. Sato-san's typeface would be all right. I mean, the Weight is not so thin. So this looks pretty beautiful.

For the fan of novels, "Harry Potter" was devised to have the image of the novel expressed in subtitles as much as possible.

Of the works that use Sato's subtitles, what are the memorable works that you liked?

That's what Harry Potter is all about (laughs). As you can see from the Japanese version translated by Mr. Matsuoka, "Harry Potter" is a novel with various types of characters. I'm using at least 5 or 6 typefaces, and then when I scream again, I think it's getting bigger, "Wow!" For the fan of the novel, I wanted to express the image of the novel in subtitles as much as possible, so I asked the ordinary serif to write in the usual typeface of Mr. Sato, but I did it by my custom order. However, as you can see, it's a round Gothic style handwriting, but you have the image of the novel properly left.

This is an ordinary typeface, the size of an ordinary ruby. < Figure 3 > . And one is a spell. So, if you say what this is, it ’s ruby. < Figure 4 > . It's ruby, but this is aimed at the meaning of the quasi-Text.

In the actual movie, everyone, even Harry, says the spell in katakana. I want you to remember the katakana. But katakana alone doesn't make sense. However, by the principle of subtitles, the meaning cannot be ruby, because it is Kanji. It's very difficult to read even if you change the kanji into ruby. Therefore, the meaning is used as the Text, and the words that are actually spoken are made into a larger ruby (semi-Text). With normal ruby, it is about 50% of the main body, but in this case it is a little smaller than the main body, about 70-80%.

So when you look at both, the typeface is dancing. The novel is dancing like this. You are aiming for such a route. I asked Mr. Sato to write something like this.

In the scene where the bad guys in the example came out and made a dreadful prophecy, I asked them to write a so-called "dreading character", a typeface that was choppy on the way, like blood dripping. < Figure 5 > . I made such a device.
Mr. Ogawa told me to "write as you like" and "play a little". Isn't it written in blood on the red wall, right? At that time, I used this character, but it surprised me. So when I asked the people who watched the movie, I could read it properly, but I could read it, but I forgot (laughs). But for us, it's a success.
The spell of "Harry Potter" is one of the merits of the subtitle version. When it comes to dubbed editions, it doesn't make sense to just say the lines. People who are reading a novel hard might understand the meaning, though. For example, after you say a spell, your opponent will always change something, so you'll see that change, but you'll know "Oh, that's what it means." For people who haven't read the book or who haven't read it, subtitles are good, because they give meaning at the same time as the dialogue. I think this work has the best impression because it was able to express the image as well as the Japanese translation of the subtitles.

In the digitized era, it is possible to leave the analog elements in a sense and read the characters ... I think this will lead to the comfort of the human mind.

How do you feel that "Sato's subtitles" is used by many people?

Well, it's a hope or a happy thing. It's a very happy thing, and it's only on the screen of the movie as it used to be, so it will be seen in various media. If the person who reads the font reminds me of the movie, and after all, by seeing the font of the movie, it causes various interests in the movie, we are the edge of the movie I can't beat that. After all, there are hundreds of fonts and typefaces, and I read characters with these handwritten elements, and in a digital era, leave analog elements in a sense. I think it's good to be able to read letters. It's extremely exaggerated, but I think it will lead to the relaxation of human hearts.
You can feel the kindness.
That's right.
It's also used in NHK's "Top Runner". From now on, I think you can see Sato's typeface in various media.

Please expect by all means. We will do our best to make it available to many LETS members.

Former Warner Entertainment Japan KK / Warner Bros. Movie / Production Office Manager Masahiro Ogawa
Cinema Yume Club Recommendation Committee (Former Screening Foreign Judge / Former Japanese Herald Movie) Shigeru Akiyama
Hideo Sato, Handwriting Type Designers movie subtitles / Representative of Advanced Media Laboratory


When it comes to movie subtitles,
Many people are attached to that unique font.
Subtitle culture that has undergone decades of trial and error.
Mr. Sato is one of the contributors.
Natsuko Toda

Hideo Sato (left) and Natsuko Toda (right)

* Type design and specifications are subject to change without notice for improvement.
* New Cinema is a typeface for LETS members.
* We do not plan to sell it as a Packaging.

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