Sadly, these subtitle releases (have to) differ as much as their video release counterparts. If the encoder decides to cut off an obnoxiously long theme song, the subtitles need to reflect that.
If you’re lucky, they will. If either your native language or the film you’re trying to view is a tad less popular, your chances for success drop drastically. Time to improvise with the tools at hand.
Below are some of the best and most complete subtitle toolsets, one for every platform.
Windows – Subtitle Workshop
In all my years, I have yet to come across a subtitle application that trumps Subtitle Workshop for Windows. It’s an advanced, easy to use application, and the very definition of ‘complete’. When working with subtitles, and if it finds a similarly named movie file, the video is showed above the subtitles. You can jump to any point in the timecode double-clicking a line of text, and check if it’s running on time.
All default subtitle tools – a.o. positive/negative delay, duration limits, subtitle splitting, joining and conversion between file formats – can be found in the Edit or Tools menu. One of the available timing features allows you to ‘read times’ from another subtitle file, perhaps in a different language, but with a correct timecode to match your video.
Mac OS X – Subs Factory
Mac OS X doesn’t offer as many subtitle toolsets as Windows. From these applications, Subs Factory is the most advanced. In many ways, it resembles the aforementioned Subtitle Workshop, although it sometimes feels less ergonomic, perhaps even cluttered.
Having said that, Subs Factory is actually quite easy to work and will help you with most, if not all, of your subtitle needs.
Subs Factory works through a series of independently floating ‘palettes’. These palettes can be enabled or disabled as per your desire, and are named accordingly; finding the right palette is the least of your worries. For basic subtitle tweaking the right tools are always at your fingertips.
Linux – Subtitle Editor
There are a number of subtitle editing applications available and, as can be expected of Linux applications, they all boast an impressive array of features. The appropriately named Subtitle Editor is one of the most popular ones (an alternative application for the Gnome desktop is Gnome Subtitles).
Subtitle Editor shows the corresponding video in the top left corner, and the audio in the top right, overlaid with subtitle keyframes. The latter are mostly useful when creating or editing subtitles, rather than simply splitting or delaying them.
Web – SubsEdit
When you’re at a friend’s, or using a public terminal, downloading and installing a complete subtitle toolset isn’t always a luxury you can afford. Luckily there are some great online alternatives you can use, certainly for the less technical subtitle manipulations.
The SubsEdit suite offers a number of different online tools, including subtitle translation, SUB-SRT conversion, synchronization, simple and progressive delay. There are also a number of more inspired tools, like a YouTube-based subtitle creator and subtitle combination tool to learn languages ‘side by side’.
Do you know any alternatives to the aforementioned applications, or have you come across an interesting tip on the subtitle creation process? If so, please drop a comment below!