Jun 23

Manipulating subtitles was for many years a difficult task to perform in GNU/Linux Operating Systems. Many steps in the process of ripping, editing and embedding subtitles on a video file were and still are quite complicated. Lots of users still complete many of the above steps using Microsoft Windows or running Windows applications with Wine.

Below I  tried to gather programs written for GNU/Linux that do all the above (and more)  as simply as possible, through a friendly Graphic User Interface (GUI). I know that programs that perform similar tasks in the terminal do exist and work perfectly, but they won’t be listed here.

Rip subtitles only

The following applications can be used when you wish to rip only the subtitles from a movie file, fast and easy.

  • Ksubtitleripper:  A very light program written for KDE. I installed it in Ubuntu. It didn’t appear in the Applications menu, but I ran it by typing ksubtitleripper in the terminal. It first extracts subtitles from .vob files and then creates the .srt file, by converting subtitle images to text.
  • OGMrip:  Even though this is a program that rips subtitles with the video, you can use a smart trick to get the subs without having to rip the whole movie. Nice!
  • Avidemux:  A great application for ripping DVD’s. It comes with some powerful tools to rip subtitles. Again, you begin by extracting the subs from vob files to vobsubs, and then using a character recognition program to create the srt. If you used SubRip in Windows, you will find the procedure very familiar. The first time you use it you must enter the characters manually, but you can save them to a file and use it repeatedly in the future. Here is a step by step guide I find very handy.

Rip subtitles with the video

These applications can also rip subtitles, but they do it simultaneously with ripping the video file. The first two give you the choice of saving the subtitles separately in a file, whilst Handbrake only burns them into the picture. In general I like having subtitles in a separate file because I want the freedom of manipulating them as I wish. However lots of users prefer to attach them to the movie in order to play them on home DVD-players without troubles.

Edit subtitles

Whatever you need to do to a subtitle file these are the programs for the job. They can be used for creating new subtitles, to transform, edit, correct and refine existing subtitles. Change times or frame-rate, translate, join two files in one, save as another format, etc.

  • Gaupol: An editor for text-based subtitle files. It supports multiple subtitle file formats and provides means of correcting texts and timing subtitles to match video.
  • Gnome Subtitles: A subtitle editor for the GNOME desktop. It supports the most common text-based subtitle formats and allows for subtitle editing, translation and synchronization.
  • Subtitle Editor: Subtitle Editor is a GTK 2+ tool to edit subtitles for GNU/Linux/*BSD. This program also shows sound waves, which makes it easier to synchronise subtitles to voices.

Attach subtitles to a video file permanently:

  • DeVeDe: A widely used application for creating video suitable for home players, from any number of video files, in many formats. The link directs to a bit outdated but still usable and complete guide on how to add subtitles to a DVD or CD using DeVeDe.

I should notice that all of the major Video Players for GNU/Linux systems support loading subtitles from a separate file through very easy interfaces, so you probably won’t have any problems playing your video files with subs.

Before going ahead and start ripping and editing, make sure to check that this act is legal in your country.

If I left out one of your favourite applications or you have a guide for other programs, do post it below.

4 Responses to “Subtitle Applications & Tutorials for GNU/Linux – Rip, Edit, Embed Subs”

  1. axel says:

    Good post tetris4. Some very good applications were presented here for anyone who doesn’t know where to start from.

  2. Koen Wybo says:

    Attach subtitles to a video file permanently: you can also use the commandline. Tovid is your friend. Here is my ‘magical’ line for pal dvd and subrip-subtitle.

    tovid -pal -dvd -quality 7 -interlaced -subtitles mysubtitel.srt -mplayeropts “-subpos 87 -subwidth 88 -subfont-text-scale 4 -subfont-outline 2 -font ~/:.mplayer/:LinLibertine_Re.ttf -spuaa 4 -utf8 ” -in my-in-movie.mpeg -out movie-with-subtitles-embedded.mpeg

  3. JohnP says:

    There’s a perl module, Subtitles, that helps correct subtitle timing issues for srt files.

    Does anyone have a good method to handle ‘I’ and ‘l’ and ‘1’ OCR mix ups?

    I’ve tried running the resulting srt files through ispell and found that too labor intensive. I even wrote a 10 line perl script to automatically convert any capital ‘I’s into ‘l’s when they happen in the middle of a word. It is on my blog.

  4. Jef says:

    JohnP, try Gaupol.
    Tools -> Correct Texts…
    It also supports searching with regular expressions.

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