Sunday, 14 October 2007

Missing DVD Subtitles

I like watching films and as such over the years I've built up quite a large VHS based film collection. VHS tapes don't last forever and buying a new video recorder is becoming increasingly difficult. So whenever I see a sale on DVDs I tend to see if I can pick up replacement copies of films I enjoy. The problem with buying older films on DVD is that often the disc is badly put together as the studios know that they are never going to make lots of money on them.

While I like watching extras on some of the DVDs I own, I'm quite happy with buying DVDs which just contain the film. What I'm not happy about is when the disc is so badly put together as to make the film unwatchable. I've found that a common problem is missing subtitles.

While my eye sight has deteriorated over the last few years I don't seem to be going deaf and so don't usually need subtitles. What I do need though are the forced subtitles which give English translations.

One film I picked up recently was Death Train. Whilst slightly predictable I still find it a highly enjoyable film, especially when I want a simple action film that doesn't require much in the way of concentration. The film includes a crazed Russian general, who funnily enough often speaks Russian! Now I don't speak Russian and so subtitles would be useful, unfortunately they seem to be missing from the DVD, and believe me I've looked for them. Fortunately I found the subtitles were missing from the DVD before I got rid of the old VHS copy I had, so after a long evening I managed to transcribe the subtitles. Now for the tricky part -- adding them to the DVD.

Firstly I used Subtitle Workshop to transcribe the subtitles and save them into the correct format. I then used a combination of these two tutorials to add the subtitles to the DVD, and this tutorial to force the subtitles to always be on so that I don't have to manually turn them on each time I watch the film.

Whilst the instructions may look complicated the procedure is actually relatively straightforward although a little time consuming. The most complex bit is actually transcribing and syncing the subtitles to the film. Fortunately for many films you can find the subtitles somewhere on the web. Unfortunately for me I couldn't find any subtitles for Death Train so I had to transcribe them myself -- although now no one else will have to as they can use mine.

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