Subtitles in mp4 video files

Last update : September 22, 2013


Subtitles are textual versions of the dialog in films and television programs, usually displayed at the bottom of the screen. They can either be a form of written translation of a dialog in a foreign language, or a written rendering of the dialog in the same language, with or without added information to help viewers to follow the dialog.

Closed Captioning

Another process of displaying text on a visual display to provide additional or interpretive information is called closed captioning (CC). Most people don’t distinguish captions from subtitles. In the United States and Canada (ATSC), these terms do have different meanings. Closed captions were created for the deaf community or hard of hearing individuals to assist in comprehension. Everything you purchase from Apple’s iTunes Store have CC subtitles, if at all. CC subtitles can be extracted with CCextractor (version 0.66 released on July 1, 2013), a free GPL licensed closed caption tool for Windows.

Read The Closed Captioning Bible by Werner Ruotsalainen about this topic.


The most basic of all subtitle formats is SubRip, named with the extension .srt, which contains formatted plain text.

SRT consists of four parts :

  • A number indicating which subtitle it is in the sequence
  • The time that the subtitle should appear on the screen, and then disappear
  • The subtitle itself
  • A blank line indicating the start of a new subtitle

Here is an example :

00:00:20,000 --> 00:00:24,400
Altocumulus clouds occur between six thousand

00:00:24,600 --> 00:00:27,800
and twenty thousand feet above ground level.

Subtitle editor

Subtitle Workshop

Subtitle Workshop

There exist a great number of subtitle formats and programs to create subtitles. An efficient and convenient subtitle editing tool that supports all the subtitle formats you need and has all the features you would want from such a tool is Subtitle Workshop (version 6.0a released on August 26, 2013) from URUWorks. It even includes spell check function and an advanced video preview feature, but it doesn’t embed the subtitles in a video file.

Another performant tool is Subtitle Edit (version 3.3.8 released on September 1, 2013; Wikipedia) created by Nikolaj Lynge Olsson from Denmark.

Subtitle embedder

There exist two methods to embed subtitles in video files : soft embedding and hard burning. The following tools allow the embedding of SRT subtitles :

SRT subtitles are embedded with Timed Text as the Stream Text type, CC subtitles are labeled as EIA-608.

Subtitle player

The following players and servers support delivering of integrated subtitles :


The following links provide additional informations about soft subtitles in videos :