Sprechen sie subtitles?
July 26, 2011 11:10 AM   Subscribe

How can I convert MKV files with subtitles into MP4/M4V files with subtitles (OS=Windows)?

I archive DVDs in MKV format. If they are "foreign" films (meaning, not in English) I include the subtitles in the MKV files. I can play these files back using VLC and the subtitle streams are present (I can turn them on or off using the controls in VLC). But I have failed at multiple attempts to create MP4/M4V files, for playback on an ipod, that contain the subtitles. I am by no means a noob, and I produce non-subtitled MP4 files just fine in Handbrake, but I am unable to climb the learning curve in the forum posts I've found dealing with this question. (It's as if they're speaking another language ha ha.) If someone can explain in a step-by-step way, including needed programs (Windows only, preferably freeware), and detailed settings, I'd be most appreciative.
posted by dust of the stars to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
(1) Install mkv2vob
(2) Load a subtitled mkv
(3) Check the relevant boxes and pulldowns in the configuration tab
(4) Press "Add File" on the main tab.

Recently some mkv authoring software hasn't been getting along with video conversion software. So you may need to install mkvtoolnix and, for each of the streams you care about, set compression to "none." Then rebuild the mkv.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:48 AM on July 26, 2011

Best answer: I think this is a job for Handbrake. It has an "iPhone" preset.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:49 AM on July 26, 2011

The subtitles in your MKV backups are probably in VobSub format. You need to convert these to SRT with Subrip. Any MP4 muxer GUI that uses mp4box as backend (e.g., YAMB) will automatically convert SRT to MPEG-4 Timed text when muxing to MP4, leaving you with an output file containing standards-compliant subtitles. Whether this solves Apple's usual finicky handling of MP4 atom data, I'm not sure, but it's worth a shot.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:02 PM on July 26, 2011

Response by poster: I should have stated that I don't care about having soft subtitles in my MP4 files, hard-coded onto the video is fine. Chocolate Pickle's answer implies that Handbrake can manage this, but perhaps I am not configuring it correctly? If so, then I am embarrassed but happy to have a solution. can anyone detail the configuration?
posted by dust of the stars at 1:14 PM on July 26, 2011

Best answer: VLC might in fact be all you need.
posted by flabdablet at 5:13 PM on July 26, 2011

Your better off keeping the same aspect ratio as the source. for example: most dvds are 720 x 480 so you should put 600 x 400 to keep that same ratio.

This is from the VLC Wiki page, and is exactly incorrect. 720x480 is the encoded resolution of NTSC DVDs, which are ALWAYS encoded to represent non-square pixel values. Thus, without getting hyper-technical, you should aim (when not cropping black bars from the source) for a resolution that multiplies evenly to 640x480 (for 4:3 "fullscreen" DVD encoding) or 800x450 (for 16:9 "widescreen" DVD encoding).
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:40 PM on July 28, 2011

Response by poster: For the record and for future Googlers who may land here, I am an idiot. I simply had my settings FUBARed in Handbrake. The interface on the Subtitles tab requires that you hit the "add" button after selecting the desired subtitle track from the pulldown menu (selecting alone is not enough).
posted by dust of the stars at 12:31 PM on July 29, 2011

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