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Jul 22, 2014

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[SOLVED] Add English or non-English Subtitles To a Video File And Save it as a New Video File in SECONDS!

Amazon I volunteered to add closed captions in Chinese to an English-speaking video clip for the Prader-Willi Syndrome organization. At that time I thought it would be quite easy to do. Boy was I wrong. I had to do some extensive research to figure each each piece of the puzzle and how to put them all together.

I Googled and I realized nobody knew how to do it from start to finish. That's why I decided to write this post to help those who want to add their own subtitles or closed captioning to a movie or video file.

Eventually I figured out exactly how to do it, all for FREE. You start off with a subtitle-free video or movie as MP4 or some other format. You end up with the same video or movie with subtitles added to it when you play it. This is what this article will teach you to do.

Follow the following simple steps.

Step 1: Download VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player is a free video player and processor. You will need it to add subtitles to a video file. My VLC Media Player version is 2.1.3 Rincewind. If you use another version it may or may not work.

The video file I use is an MP4 video file. If your video file is a different format VLC Media Player should be able to handle it. If not let me know!

Step 2: Prepare the subtitles file

There is a de facto format standard for the subtitles files. The file has extension .srt. You can go read up on it at The file is extremely easy to draft. It looks something like this:

0:0:0,0 --> 0:0:4,0

0:0:4,0 --> 0:0:7,0

0:0:7,0 --> 0:0:10,0
翻譯人員為溫泰皓 (Michael Wen)

0:0:10,0 --> 0:0:15,0
你好,我是 Pam Eisen, 國際小胖威利症協會 (IPWSO) 總裁

In fact my example skips the numbering added in front of each subtitle because it's not really needed. The first subtitle is 此影片由國際小胖威利症協會製作, and it is shown from 0-second position to 4-second position. The next line is 中文字幕由小胖威利病友關懷協會翻譯, and it is shown from 4-second position to 7-second position.

Simple right?

I developed a tool to easily create the SRT subtitle text file for a video file. Please use it.

Step 3: What subtitle language are you using?

If your subtitle is English you can skip this step. If your subtitle is a language other than English (e.g. Traditional Chinese like shown in the example in the previous step), you will need to do the following steps assuming we are using Traditional Chinese:

1. Save the subtitles file as the correct encoding. In this case it's UTF-8. You can use any text editor capable of doing this. A simple text editor is Microsoft Notepad.

2. Go to settings in VLC Media Player and set the OSD encoding to the correct encoding. In this case it's UTF-8.

3. Go to settings in VLC Media Player and set the font to the correct font. In this case it's Microsoft YaHei 中文范例.

You can read up on it at

If you are using a different language and cannot figure out what to do let me know!

Step 4: Play the video with the subtitles file

At this point you should have the video file as well as the subtitles file. In VLC Media Player in the big white area right click the mouse and select Advanced Open.... In the dialog add the video file in File Selection, and click on Use a subtitle file radio button and navigate to the subtitle file. Then click Enqueue. Double click the generated icon in the big white area and you should see your video playing with the desired subtitles!

If not let me know!

Final Step: Save the resulting video as a new video file

Right click the mouse on the generated icon in the big white area and select Stream.... Click Next >. Click Next >. Click Next >. Now you should see a big white area labeled Generated stream output string. Copy the following text in this area:

:sub-file=D:\\stuff\\\\video\\Prader Willi Plus :sout=#transcode{vcodec=mp2v,vb=1024,acodec=mpga,ab=128,soverlay}:file{dst=D:\\stuff\\\\video\\1.mpg,no-overwrite}

Make sure you have the correct value for sub-file and dst. You need to use your own values for these two keys. sub-file is the subtitle file location. dst is the resulting video file location.

If you use a backslash in any of the file paths make sure you escape it with another backslash.

Click on Stream and VLC Media Player should be making the video now. When it's done you should have the resulting video with desired subtitles in the file location indicated by dst. The video file's extension should be .mpg.

Sometimes when I click on Stream nothing happens. If it happens to you, you may need to reboot your computer. Beggars cannot be choosers..

Here is an example of the video with Chinese closed captions I made for the Prader-Willi Syndrome organization:

If not let me know!

Other things you may want to do..

Let's say you have used this method to create several videos. If you want to combine them into one single video file, simply use a free software application. Free AVI MPEG WMV MP4 FLV Video Joiner and Any Video Converter are two examples.

If you have any questions let me know and I will do my best to help you!
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