How To Add Subtitles To A Movie Or TV Series

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how to add subtitles to a movieOne of the first things I do before watching a movie is add subtitles. Not just with films in languages I don’t speak well, like Japanese, but even with English films or television series, like House MD.

Especially with a television series like House MD, if I want to keep up when they start throwing around names like pneumothorax or retinoblastoma.

Today we’re going to look at a few different ways of how to add subtitles to a movie or any other video file. We’ll be discussing both the soft and the hard way – overlaying subtitles by means of software, or burning them directly into the videos.

Add Subtitles To A Movie File Using via Overlay Method

We’ll start out with the overlays, as this will be the fastest and most easiest way of using subtitles with your movies. We’ll show you a few alternatives, because contrary to popular belief, I do think people want things to choose from.

DirectVobSub

Available for Windows

This is an external, minimalistic application that runs from the taskbar and uses a DirectShow filter to overlay subtitles. This means that you can use it with nearly all video players, ranging from Media Player Classic to Real Player.

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The wonderful thing about DirectVobSub is how little you need to do, and how little you notice it. By default, no additional set-up is needed.

directvobsub - add subtitles to a movie file

DirectVobSub automatically looks for subtitles that show the same name, both in the videos as in a subtitles folder. Of course these settings can be tweaked further in the program settings, if thought necessary.

Nowadays DirectVobSub is a standard addition in most decent Codec Packs, like K-Lite. Otherwise, it can always be found here.

[NO LONGER WORKS] VLC media player

Available for Windows VLC media player 1 Linux VLC media player 2 Mac

VLC media player is thought to be one of the best media players available.

One of the great things about the VLC media player is its standard ability to overlay subtitles. Besides, the application can be used on Windows, Linux and Mac systems.

There are a few ways to get our subtitles. The first, and probably easiest way, is to put them in the same folder under the same name – VLC media player will then automatically load them when the video is opened.

Additionally, you can always add subtitle files through the ‘Advanced File Opening’ or the ‘Browse for Subtitles…’ options – located respectively in the File and Video dropdown menu’s.

vlc - add subtitles to a movie avi

The application can be freely downloaded [NO LONGER WORKS] from the site. There are also portable versions of VLC media player available. You can find the Windows version here, and the Mac version here.

Subtitle Burning (AVI)

Tutorial for Windows add subtitles to avi

Burning in subtitles means that we’ll put them directly into the video source. This has the advantage of being playable on every platform (even PSPs and iPhones), but the process takes a lot longer and you won’t be able to remove the subtitles afterwards.

Usually, subtitles are burned into AVI files. We’ll show you how to add subtitles to avi movie file in the tutorial below.

Files you’ll need:

Step One: Installing Software

Let’s start out by installing the software.

VirtualDub doesn’t have an installer, so it can be unzipped right on your desktop or in another folder of your choice. No special options are required during the Xvid installation either.

During the VobSub installation, please make sure that you’ve selected both “VobSub for VirtualDub” and “TextSub for VirtualDub and AviSynth” under plugins.

You’ll also need to specify the directory where you’ve unzipped VirtualDub.

Step Two: Preparation

Start by opening the VirtualDub application – open the VirtualDub.exe file in the unzipped folder – and open your AVI file.

Next, we’re going to be enabling the TextSub filter. Navigate to Video -> Filters -> Add… and locate it in the list.

Select the TextSub filter, and press OK.

In the pop-up window, press “Open” and browse to your subtitle file. This file must be in one of the supported subtitle formats (srt, sub, smi, psb, ssa, ass).

When You’re ready, press OK.

Back in the video dropdown menu, make sure you’ve got Full processing mode selected, and go to Compression.

Here you need to select one of the available codecs. Xvid does a great job for a free codec, and that’s the one I used. You can alter some settings, and tweak the quality of the video if you press Customize – however, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’d best leave it be.

Accept everything when you’re done.

Also make sure that the program’s set up to do a Direct stream copy of the audio; this doesn’t need any processing.

Finally, save the video somewhere on your computer, and wait for the process to finish.

This can take quite a while and is quite memory extensive, so you might want to leave your computer alone for an hour or two, and do something else for the time being. If you’ve got big files to process, you can run the application at night.

I hope you found this guide helpful and were able to learn something from it. If you’ve got any hints and tips, or unanswered questions, you can find the comments section below.

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Comments (65)
  • James

    I use the subtitle option in filebot (www.filebot.net)

  • mkmkmk

    simon, right?

    for some reason i couldn’t find the TextSub 2.23 when i tried to add the filter.
    any ideas why?

  • techpops

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’ve just tried it out with a small variation. I had to use the vosub filter in the list of filters rather than the textsub which wouldn’t work for me.

    I’m running Windows 7 x64 with a quadcore cpu. A 700mb typical avi is taking me 25 minutes to render using xvids multi core processing. That’s with the highest details enabled, including the post processing filters within xvid.

    Very happy with the results. I’m ending up with 1.4gb movies instead of 700mb but I wanted to retain every last bit of quality I could during the recoding of the video so don’t mind this. And the CD is dead to me so no cares about trying to match that size heh.

    Again, great tutorial and hope these additional details can help someone in a similar situation as me.

  • Arman

    jus very good very useful

  • Arro

    Hi,

    Interesting reading… I am looking to add subtitles to a film, is there a step-by-step guide for doing so? The film is ‘little Lord Fauntleroy’ (1980 – with Alec Guinness) and the subtitles should be in Dutch. How easy/hard is this to do, is there a ‘dummies guide’ or has anyone done this one before?

    Any help / comments greatly appreciated!

    Arjan

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.