Subtitling with Avid Newscutter

This guide has been written to support the MA International Journalism at Cardiff School of Journalism, Cardiff University. Some of the text may be specific to our own setup but Im sure the guide will be of use to anyone working with Avid Newscutter.

Interviews that are not in English will need to be translated before submission. The translation could be done in two ways; a voice-over using a different voice than your own and appropriate to the interviewee (gender, age) or subtitled text over the pictures.

You should already have the skills to record a voice-over and edit audio into a sequence.

This guide explores how to add subtitled text over interview pictures using the SubCap effect in Avid, similar to the example below.

It is assumed that you will have interview clips edited onto a sequence. You should also have transcribed the interview and have the transcription available as a text file, such as a Word document.

  1. Log on to an Avid computer
  2. Connect your USB device containing the transcribed text file.
  3. Open the text file with WordPad (Start menu – All Programs – Accessories – WordPad).
  4. Open your Avid sequence. You will need to resize the Avid window to see both applications at the same time; Avid Newscutter on the left screen and WordPad on the right screen.

The subtitled text is added to a video track above the other tracks. It is usual to use a number of video tracks in a documentary. You may use 2 tracks for video; the main track and an overlay track; a third track for name captions; and a fourth track for subtitles.

Preparing the sequence

  1. To add a new video track, go to the Clip menu and select New Video Track.
  2. Switch OFF all the tracks making sure the subtitle video track is the only one ON
  3. Move the play bar to the beginning of the interview
  4. Press the Add Edit button to add an edit point.
  5. Move the play bar to the end of the interview
  6. Press the Add Edit button to add an edit point.

These two edit points split the track and create a space on the sequence to add the subtitle text. Listen to the interview and add more edit points after every two or three sentences (about 40 words). Don’t worry if these edit points are not in exactly the right place. They can be moved with the Trim tool.

Adding subtitles

  1. Open the Effect Palette (Tools menu) and choose Generator from the menu
  2. Select the SubCap effect and drag onto the space created by the edit points. The space fills with the effect ready to be edited.
  3. Open the Effect Editor (Tools menu). You may need to click on the effect on the sequence and then the Effect Editor window to see the options.

Text can be added in two ways: the Caption Text window or the Master Caption List. The Caption Text window is used when adding or working on a specific subtitle. The Master Caption List will become much more useful once multiple edit points have been added. This will enable multiple sections of text to be added quickly.

Master caption list

Master caption list


  1. Choose the Master Caption List option to reveal the caption text box/boxes.
  2. Copy a portion of text from your transcript (select text and press the Copy button) and paste into the text window (right click and Paste or Ctrl V).
  3. Click OK
  4. Play through the sequence to see the text added over the pictures. The text will not be in the correct position or style. These changes will be made in the next step but you could continue adding more text to other sections and adjust the formatting and style later.

Formatting subtitles

The SubCap effect has a lot of settings that can be altered to change the look of the subtitle text. Click on the arrows to reveal all the settings. The window may need to be resized to show them all. Below are suggested formatting options.

Before you start, it is useful to show the Safe Zone Grid over the video pictures. The grid works as a guide helping you to keep the text within the safe text zone.

Text Appearance

SubCap effect editor

SubCap Effect Editor

  • Colour = White
  • Opacity = 100
  • Font = Arial or Veranda
  • Font Size (pixels) = 24
  • Line Weight = 20
  • Outline Weight = No Outline
  • Shadow = No Shadow
  • Alignment – Centre Align

Box Appearance

  • Colour = Black
  • Opacity = 60 (approximately)
  • Box = One Box
  • Anchor = Anchor to Bottom of Text
  • Anchor = Anchor Centre
  • Anchor Position
    • X = 0
    • Y = 390 (for 3 rows of text)
  • Width = Fixed Width (Wrap)
  • Box Width = Variable (no more than 570)
  • Rows = As Many Rows As Needed or Exactly N Rows
  • Row Count = 2 or 3
  •  Padding
    • Vertical = 2
    • Horizontal = 3
  • Row Spacing = 0

Applying Global Styling

Adjusting the formatting and styling, as described on the previous page will apply changes to one subtitle only.

To make the subtitles look consistent your formatting choices can be applied to all subtitle clips with the Global Properties option.

Global Properties

Global Properties

  1. Click the Edit Global Properties button in the SubCap Effect Editor window.
  2. Select the Synchronize tab
  3. Scroll down the list and change all options from Clip to Track.
  4. Click OK to confirm the changes.
  5. Review your clips. All subtitles should now display your formatting choices and any changes you make to the SubCap settings from now on will update to all subtitles.

Adjusting timings

Subtitling Avid

Subtitling with Avid Newscutter

With your subtitle text added to the sequence, review the subtitles making sure the text on the screen fits appropriately.

To adjust the timing of a caption, use the Trim tool to move the position of the edit points.

If the text does not fit the caption box, use the Master Caption List to move text (cut and paste) from one caption box to other.

About shazmagill

I work as a Senior Technical Demonstrator and Lecturer in digital storytelling at Cardiff School of Journalism, Cardiff University. I teach and support any tools necessary for our students to function as journalists or media practitioners. This means anything from audio recording techniques, video editing, photography and print and mobile publishing. I have recently completed MA in Arts Practice (Fine Art) at the University of South Wales exploring the subjective and objective view and community storytelling through art of the Rhondda valley.
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1 Response to Subtitling with Avid Newscutter

  1. Peter Wilcox says:

    Thanks Shaz!

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