Ozu & subtitling etc...

Graham Steward gpsteward
Wed Jun 7 07:18:05 EDT 2000

Wow, Michael, that was an awful lot of information about DVD and subtitling 
- you've obviously been experimenting with this for a long while... and a 
Warwick graduate to boot !

I've only just dipped my toe into subtitling and have already run into 
problems - well, it was inevitable wasn't it ?  I have imported a clip from 
a french copy of Ozu's 'Kohayakawake no aki' (is it called 'End of Summer' 
in English ?) into Adobe Premiere, saved it and then played it back through 
Quick Time 4.1 on my Mac G3, and it noticeably loses lip-sync after about 
two minutes ! All i've done is import the clip into my G3 !  I'm going 
through one scene at a time and copying the French subtitles so that I can 
translate it into English.  Yes, I am indeed that desperate for titling.

Because English subtitled copies of various Japanese directors' work are so 
difficult (practically impossible) to come by, I've had to resort to such 
methods to come up with a written script.  A written script is no substitute 
for subtitles when watching a film obviously, but if one wants to study it, 
they can be the only option.

I really would like to get involved in producing decent quality, subtitled 
DVDs for the group, but it looks like an expensive (and illegal) fantasy at 
the moment.  Once all the practicalities have been sorted, there's always 
the copyright nightmare.  KineJapan's site implied that keeping it 
private-ish would circumvent this. Is this realistic or are we just fooling 
ourselves ? Would a script library be a better (and less illegal) 
alternative for now ?  Do you know how I can get hold of any English 
language scripts for Ozu's or Imamura's films ?  Any suggestions would be 
gratefully received.

In your email you asked about Laser Discs of Ozu films.  I've seen Shochiku 
laserdiscs in Oita City's 'Conpal' Hall, so I know that they were available 
at one time.  When I tried to buy some subsequently, they were not available 
as far as I could tell.  The laser discs I saw at the Conpal Hall were: 
Ohayo, Tokyo Story, Late Spring, Akibyori, Samma no aji and Higanbana. They 
all seemed good quality to me, but I was watching them on a 13-inch Library 
TV, so who knows !  Maybe second-hand copies can be found somewhere ?  Was 
Victor Perkins at Warwick when you were there, Michael ?  (He must've been, 
he's always been there). He wanted me to bring back a laser-disc of Late 
Spring from Japan, but I couldn't find one.

I was pleased to find that 'Buta to Gunkan' is still available on video in 
Japan - well, at least I'm assuming it is.  Is it a Nikkatsu release ? I'd 
love to see it - Imamura's early work sounds intriguing. If I do go to Japan 
in 2001, I'll look out for a copy.  Where are these available ?

If you're thinking of doing some Ozu silents for titling, I'd be very 
interested in 'Days of Youth'(Wakaki Hi), 'Where now are the dreams of 
Youth'(Seishun no yume imaizuko) and 'Tokyo Chorus'(Tokyo no gassho).  I 
have these on SHV tapes, which I bought in Japan, but all I have to go on is 
the image and Bordwell's encyclopaedic book.  Silents were intended to be 
predominantly visual, obviously, but even so, Ozu's later silents seem to be 
crying out for sound, judging by the amount of titling he used.


>From: "Michael Raine" <mraine at umich.edu>
>Reply-To: KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
>To: <KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu>
>Subject: subtitling
>Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 23:38:40 -0400
>Hello Graham, welcome to the newsgroup. I'm also a Warwick Film/Lit 
>(1987)! I'd better reply to this since I seem to be one of the (only?)
>people making subtitles...
>I just showed a copy of "Janken musume" (featuring Eri Chiemi's "Usukudara"
>song, by the way) in class yesterday. I projected the video using one
>projector and the subtitles using another! It was actually less difficult
>than it seems. The main problem was timing the subtitles and comprehending
>the Kyoto accent parts. It's even easier if you have a Japanese DVD: then
>you just need a computer with DVD playback capability and one projector 
>a VGA input. No code-breaking, video editing, or re-encoding necessary. In
>case anyone is interested in showing these films to groups, here's how it
>For DVD you need:
>A Japanese film on DVD (not many available: Nikkatsu is best, unless you
>like Shochiku's Otoko wa tsurai yo. A few recent festival films have also
>made it to DVD.)
>A fast computer with software DVD playback or a slower computer with
>hardware DVD playback.
>A free subtitle overlay program such as SubViewer or SubMagic. This is for
>the PC: I don't know if there is any MAC software available.
>A script of subtitles and times.
>A video projector with 15-pin VGA input or a computer monitor.
>	Use the computer to play back the DVD and the inlay software to
>superimpose the subtitles.
>For VHS you need:
>A Japanese film on VHS tape. Hundreds are available in Japan, though 
>sometimes expensive ($100).
>Any PC (all you're doing is playing back the subtitles).
>A subtitle overlay program.
>A script of subtitles and times.
>Two video projectors, one attached to a VCR and one connected to the
>computer via a 15-pin VGA input. (You could try doing this on one projector
>or monitor, using a computer equipped with a video-in port, but it would
>look terrible).
>	Play back the film on one projector and the subtitles on the other. It's
>best to align the subtitles with the top of the second screen and tilt the
>projector (a small digital projector is easiest!) so that the titles are
>just visible at the bottom of the main screen. Turn the brightness down and
>the contrast up to create the least interference with the original image.
>Some other points:
>You can use the software to fine-tune the synchronization of the subtitles
>with the dialogue - if you don't they slip 1 or 2 seconds over the course 
>a film. Of course, it helps to be able to understand the dialogue (but then
>you wouldn't need the subtitles...) though it's usually easy to tell from
>context whether the lines are getting slightly ahead or behind of where the
>should be.
>Region codes on almost all DVD drives can be reset to accommodate Region 2
>Computer playback of DVD, scaled by a high quality video card and projected
>through a high quality projector, gives the best image short of a good 16mm
>print. Shame there are so few available.
>It's been pointed out that superimposing subtitles over a film creates a
>"derivative work" that may be covered by the original copyright. I don't
>suppose it's any worse than showing "home viewing only" tapes and DVDs in a
>classroom anyway...
>This isn't as convenient as a "fan sub" but the image quality is higher 
>the previous statement notwithstanding, the copyright issues are possibly
>less fraught.
>Subtitles can be corrected easily, and different versions can be created 
>different occasions: "literal" vs "easy reading" vs "abusive" (Markus!) for
>I'm planning on subtitling Buta to gunkan next, since the print is no 
>available. After that I'd like to try something easier, like a silent film
>(just the intertitles, not the benshi narration!). Are there Japanese laser
>discs of Ozu films? Are they relatively good quality? Does anyone have an
>Ozu film that they'd particularly like to have subtitled?
>Would anyone else like to make some subtitles?
>-----Original Message-----
>From: owner-KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
>[mailto:owner-KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu]On Behalf Of Graham
>Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 9:17 AM
>To: kinejapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
>Subject: Self Introduction
>I have to admit, I?ve been lurking on the fringes of the KineJapan mailing
>list for a few months now, but I?ve only just started to find the time to
>become a more active participant. So, as is customary, I?ll now spill the
>beans about myself.
>I currently live in Bristol in the U.K.. I studied Film & Lit. at Warwick
>University (also in the U.K.), graduating in July 1997. Thereafter I lived
>in Japan until July 1998, which was great because I was able to buy copies
>of several Ozu films that I couldn?t get my hands on in the U.K. (there
>isn?t much available here in the U.K.).
>I saw the KineJapan site a few months ago and was particularly interested 
>the idea of subtitling Japanese films and distributing them to 
>group members ?Esimply because there?s a dearth of available material in 
>west (especially in the U.K.!!).  What has happened about this lately ?  
>anyone actually made any DVDs ?  If so, what methods did they use and how
>good were the results ?  I?m especially interested in this subject because
>I?m about to embark on an MSc in Computer Science and eventually want to
>become involved in DVD production.  I remember someone commenting on the
>improved image quality DVD provides, which prompted me to wonder what the
>source of the imagery was going to be. Surely if they?re dubbing from VHS,
>the DVD image can never better VHS ?  I'd love to get involved in this, but
>my Japanese skills are rudimentary.  What can I do to help, if anything ?
>In response to Janet?s queries about locating a copy of ?An Inn in 
>have you tried the Bfi ?  They have a screening facility where you can 
>films on a Steenbeck.  You have to change the reels yourself and it?s a bit
>noisy, but it?s better than nothing.  I wonder if they?ll have this film
>though, because it?s rather early in his oeuvre, and Ozu didn?t become
>trendy in the west until the 1950?s. The following URL shows that Shochiku
>do sell an unsubtitled NTSC copy of it (at least I think it?s Tokyo no yado
>I hope this is of some use to you. I don't know if they sell online yet, or
>whether they ever will.  Shochiku isn't the most forward looking studio in
>the world, but you never know.
>I look forward to actively participating in KineJapan in future.
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