Chapter 8. Timing Songs

     Timing songs, just like timing dialogue, is best done with the WAV timing method. If you made a WAV file of the entire episode, you’ve probably captured the opening and ending songs, as well as any incidental songs you might want to time in the episode. Just like timing dialogue, you will use the cursors to select the audio segment that corresponds to a line of the song. Usually song lines are much longer in time than lines of spoken dialogue. Often too, it is difficult to know where one line of song ends and another one starts. Because of this, you might find yourself re-timing a song over and over until you get it right.

     One way to be sure that you’re timing a song correctly is to time the lines of the song that you understand first, and then go back and tackle the lines in between that you don’t know. This will give you several reference points, so you will know if you’ve grabbed too much or too little dialogue for the song line. Sometimes, I find it easier to work from the end of the song backward to the beginning if I have a hard time breaking up the lines.

     Presenting a song on screen is also a form of art. It is somewhat of a trick to not only subtitle a song well, but have spoken dialogue on screen at the same time. This can often lead to a very cluttered, messy looking subtitle. Try and pick a standard format to use when subtitling songs. I prefer to subtitle the first opening and ending songs of a tape with the translated lyrics. I then subtitle the second opening and ending song on the tape with the Romaji Japanese lyrics. Also I choose a different font and color from the normal dialogue for each song, and sometimes put the song lyrics at the top of the screen so that simultaneous spoken dialogue can be at the bottom.

     You’re probably thinking to yourself, “hey, if the song is the same for every episode, why do I have to retime it each time?” Good question, the answer is that you don’t have to retime it each time. JACOSub allows you to insert a file into your script at a specified time. This can be helpful if you want to time your song, then perform a “time shift” on the whole song (explained later) to move it to start at 0:00.00.00. By saving this time-shifted song to a separate file, you can use the #I directive in JACOSub to include the file anywhere in any script at any point in time. When you perform your WAV timing for each episode, you simply have to capture the start time for the first lyrical line in a song, and use that the time for the #I directive. This will insert your song lyrics into your script at the exact instant the first lyric is sung. Not only does this clean up your script a bit, but it makes it extremely easy to reuse a timed song. Alternatively, you could cut and paste your timed song from episode to episode and then perform a time shift on the whole song so that it starts at the appropriate time. This works because while the songs might start at different moments in each episode, the timings for the songs are always identical (unless, of course, there are different version of the songs).

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