Part 1: – Introduction to the SubtitleNEXT 30+ Year Journey
Defined as one of the industry’s most reliable and emergent timed-text subtitling software packages, it is no surprise why SubtitleNEXT is referred to by many professionals today as the “subtitler’s lifesaver.”
Delivering to high industry standards, the system is teeming with an array of immediate resourceful tools and unrivalled features. Available in a single compact application, it punches above its weight and can be put to work on heavy deadline-driven workloads.
Primarily aimed at audio-visual translation freelance professionals, through to Language Services Providers, production, post-production companies and broadcasters, SubtitleNEXT has proven itself as a time-saving commodity, but also a productive profit-making asset to media organisations worldwide.
Many of the companies and educational establishments that have already adopted the system and use SubtitleNEXT on a daily basis including the likes of Canal+ Myanmar FG, the University of Rome Tor Vergata, The Hellenic American College, Doli Media Studio, The European School of Translation and Europe’s largest Belgium-based production company Videohouse, where it has been used on well-known TV series such as Big Little Lies, Sirens, Vikings and many more.
Created by Profuz Digital and distributed by PBT EU, SubtitleNEXT stems from a reliable legacy that has been built up over the past thirty years. CTO and Founder Kamen Ferdinandov is the brainchild behind the core software development. With a combination of technological expertise, Kamen is backed by a passionate team with astute business acumen and industry awareness, jointly responsible for SubtitleNEXT’s ongoing growth and success.
Kamen established his company Profuz Digital in 2014 along with PBT EU’s CEO Ivanka Vassileva and Dessie Nikolov who is an experienced Software Product Manager and a Master of Digital Media from Ryerson University, Toronto and currently Profuz Digital’s Managing Director for the Americas. With headquarters based in Canada, Profuz Digital boasts an R&D Centre shared between Toronto and Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.
Profuz Digital was created as a vibrant hub of technical innovation where business and technologies merge in order to provide game-changing and invaluable cutting-edge software solutions to a dynamic media and entertainment industry. The customised solutions created by Profuz Digital are not only powerful, but also cost-effective, user-friendly, time-efficient and easy to support 24/7.
The development of Profuz Digital’s LAPIS which is a global business process and information management platform, took place in 2014. Profuz LAPIS creates scalable customised modules that adapt to every type of complex business structure and connects all the dots that a business interacts with, including multiple-companies, outsourcing, partners, suppliers and customers, while constantly adapting to the needs of the organisation. Doli Media and Canal + Myanmar FG are recent LAPIS customers, among many others that have installed Profuz LAPIS systems.
In 2016, the migration of SubtitlePlus quickly followed on to the next level, resulting in the SubtitleNEXT brand. Consequently, Profuz Digital was then in a position to offer users an entire product line which included a whole range of products such as SubtitleNEXT Enterprise, SubtitleNEXT CENTRAL, SubtitleNEXT Air, SubtitleNEXT LIVE Manager, NEXT-TT, Profuz LAPIS and the EXEcutor Media Integrator. These were all in effect different products but still based on the core LAPIS and/or SubtitleNEXT technology software platforms.
The software development milestones Kamen initiated had led to the evolution from Subtitle, one of the first file-based subtitling tools, through to SubtitlePlus, a worldwide renowned subtitling tool for broadcasters.
“Actually, when the first version of Subtitle appeared over 25 years ago, there were no file-based workflows around, and in fact, they were not even on the horizon. Back then, only tapes were used for preparing subtitles and the problem was that the existing subtitling workstations at that time were specialised and expensive devices. So, my initial concept was to create a software-only solution which would provide the same high-level workstation but with a standard PC, which we successfully achieved.” Kamen reflects.
“The design was (and still is) independent from any specific hardware as such, but allows for the inclusion of additional hardware support, such as video signals processing and video mixers that create open subtitles over video signals, as well as timecode readers, VCR controllers, and so forth. This in turn, also prepared the software for upcoming file-based workflows.“
Furthermore, Kamen had the insight to recognise that it made sense to make the subtitling process more accessible to a much wider user group and not strictly for professionals alone. His initiative was to implement user-friendly and familiar text editing application tools.
“In the development of the product, my aim now is to ensure that any software user, even without a subtitling background, can find it easy to use our subtitling tools.” Kamen adds.
An example of how this development has evolved in SubtitleNEXT, is that unlike many other subtitling tools that restrict users to work on one subtitle at a time, SubtitleNEXT allows you to work with the whole text in multiple subtitles in line with advanced text editing applications that are familiar in the market today.
The Subtitle version was a DOS-based programme and used the standard PC components to create, edit and air (burn subtitles over video signal). Kamen remarks, “I think back then, it was the only programme of this type and the only one that could both create, edit and air subtitles.” Soon afterwards, he created the SubtitlePlus version for Windows. “
A year after the first version of SubtitlePlus appeared, the file-based workflow was then included in its infrastructure. I think it was possibly the first ever file-based workflow in the subtitling world and definitely the only one that provided a mixed environment for both tape-based and file-based pipelines.” Kamen recalls
Another significant innovation break-through that Kamen can take full credit for concerns the independence of existing standards in Subtitle and SubtitlePlus. Kamen explains, “This concept is more relevant today than ever before. Most existing subtitling solutions available on the market, even now, are highly dependent on what kind of subtitles one creates, whether it be in teletext format, or as open subtitles, closed captions and so on. This means that some knowledge of these standards is still required, and therefore limits what can be done with the subtitles. The modern standards that broke this mould are compatible in SubtitleNEXT which is a system that has adapted and shows its readiness to handle and serve all the latest formats, resolutions and technical requirements including various fonts, font sizes, looks, positions, appearance, and much more. This allows SubtitleNEXT to widen the scope in which subtitles or other forms of timed text formats are used.”
Between 2002 and 2014, the focus of SubtitlePlus further evolved across its broadcast-related features and the development of the multi-channel, multi-language automated subtitle airing platform known, as the DVB Subtitle Server, evolved into SubtitleNEXT Central.
In 2016, Profuz Digital focused on the upgrade and further development of the latest version of the software and renamed it as SubtitleNEXT. Many of the new features, modern standards and formats were then added and have led to the system that we now see today. It is platform-independent and runs smoothly on all major operating systems such as Windows, Linux and MAC OS.