Embedding subtitles in videos

A friend of mine asked on Facebook if it were possible to add subtitles into a video, and I felt VLC would be the best tool for this. But I didn’t know quite how it should be done. So I looked for a short video I had downloaded that would be nice to test this with, and tried it out…

  1. Open VLC (download and install it if you don’t already have that.)
  2. In the File Menu, click Convert/Save (or press Ctrl-R.)
  3. The “Open Media” dialog box pops up: select your video file here, and add subtitles.
  4. Click Convert/Save (or press Alt-C.)

    Open Media dialog box with names of video and subtitle files filled in.

    Choose the video and subtitle file you wish to combine here.

  5. In this “Convert” dialog box, enter a Destination file name, and choose Video – H.264 + MP3 (TS) in the Profile. The default option of Video – H.264 + MP3 (MP4) didn’t allow me to add the subtitles into the video. It might for you, I don’t know.

    Convert dialog box with output file name and format selected. Click the settings button to proceed

    Your mileage will almost certainly vary, but choose your output file name and format here.

  6. Click the wrench/screwdriver button next to the Profile list to “Edit Selected Profile”.
  7. Run through the tabs to make sure your settings are correct:
    • Encapsulation: MPEG-TS
    • Video: H-264 (the bitrate will probably drop here, more experimentation is needed)
    • Audio: MPEG Audio (make sure the sample rate matches the original video to avoid weird effects)
    • Subtitles: select “Subtitles” and “Overlay subtitles on the video” (because that’s why you’re here.)
      Encapsulation settings: here MPEG-TSVideo settings: here H-264Audio settings: here MPEG Audio. Verify the bitrate.
  8. Click “Save” to go back to the “Convert” dialog, then click “Start”.
  9. The video will now be “streamed” so that VLC can do its work, i.e. the time bar on the bottom will move through the entire duration of the video. Let that do so. That’s it!

When this is done, open the file you used in another media player to check that the subtitles have indeed been added.

Thanks to this instruction video, I found that the font can be changed in the Preferences dialog box. I chose 24 pixels, because that is about an inch high on my monitor. Use what works for you, and feel free to edit the other properties as well.

Preferences - Video - Subtitles/OSD - Text renderer (in "All Settings" mode)


Let me know if it helped, if you have any other comments or advice, or complaints about this post! I’ll be glad to answer.

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2 Responses to Embedding subtitles in videos

  1. I suggest going to freelancer and getting someone to do it for you. I have an excellent Malaysian subtitler that does mandarin translations as well. $30-40? Worth it if yuh ask me!

    • icedwater says:

      Thanks @debbiediscovers. The subtitles were already done, the question was just to combine them with the video that the subtitles came from 🙂

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