There are a number of Isadora users who take advantage of the QuickTime "text track" feature, especially when they are creating supertitles to accompany a performance. But, QuickTime is so old, the Text Track feature allows only the characters in the MacOS Roman character set. This article gives you a hack to work around this limitation and have the text track output nearly any language you can imagine.

You'll need to prepare the text file that defines your QuickTime text track in a special way. First, you should save the file in the UTF-8 format, which will allow you to write the text in any language.

But most importantly, you must "hack" the text by adding three spaces before and after each line. For example, the text "Χαίρετε" would need to be written as "   Χαίρετε   ", i.e., adding three spaces before and after. (You may be able to use a different character as long as it is one of the standard, ASCII characters. We also used ">>>" and "<<<" successfully. But the main point is that there need's be at least three.)

To accomplish this, we used the free text editor Text Wrangler on Mac OS. If you know of a similar free tool for Windows, please let us know via the support system and we'll update this article.

Before you begin, you'll need

  1. Isadora v2.5 or later
  2. TextWrangler (download for MacOS – if you know of a similar free tool for Windows, please let us know via the support system and we'll update this article!)
  3. QuickTime Player 7 (download for MacOS or Windows)
  4. A specially "hacked" version of the text file used to create your QuickTime text track, saved in a UTF-8 format with three spaces before and after each line of text.

Create the Text Track Movie

  1. Open your UTF-8 encoded QuickTime text track file in TextWrangler. (Or, copy and paste the example text at the end of this article.)
  2. Choose File > Reopen Using Encoding > Western (MacOS Roman)
  3. The non-roman characters in your file will now look pretty strange. For example, the Chinese phrase "歡迎伊莎多拉!" has become "Ê≠°Ëø鉺äËéé§öÊãâÔºÅ" This is OK!
  4. At the bottom of the editor window is a toolbar with some popup menus. There is one menu that offers these three options: "Classic Mac (CR)", "Unix (LF)", "Windows (CRLF)". You need to choose Classic Mac (CR) if it isn't already.
  5. Choose File > Save As... to save your text file. (This ensures it is saved in the Mac OS Roman format.)
  6. Open QuickTime Player 7.
  7. Open the text file you just saved. You may see the text appearing in the title bar area of  QuickTime Player. This is also OK... we're freaking the poor thing out. ;-)
  8. Choose File > Save As...
  9. In the save dialog box, choose "Save As Sell Contained Movie" and save the file.

Play the Text Track Movie in Isadora

  1. You now have a movie with one text track in it. Now we're ready to play it in Isadora
  2. Open Isadora. 
  3. To import the QuickTime Text Track movie, choose File > Import. The movie now appears in the media pane on the right.
  4. Add a Movie Player actor.
  5. Double-click the "Eye" icon at the top left of the actor.
  6. In the dialog that appears,  turn on "text track" under "Input Properties" as well as "text out" under "Output Properties." Click OK.
  7. Add a Text Draw actor. Connect the 'text out' output of the Movie Player to the 'text' input of the Text Draw actor.
  8. Add a Projector actor and connect the video output of the Text Draw actor to the video input of the Projector.
  9. Choose Output > Show Stages.

Voilà! You now see Chinese, French, Greek Russian and Thai rendered on the stage.

Example Text File for Creating a QuickTime Text Track

{textColor: 65535, 65535, 65535}
{backColor: 0, 0, 0}
{keyedText: off}
   Bienvenue à Isadora (French)
   Καλώς ήρθατε στο Isadora! (Greek)
   Добро пожаловать в Айседора! (Russian)
   ยินดีต้อนรับสู่ Isadora! (Thai)