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Blurays and subtitles

Posted: Thu May 02, 2019 3:09 pm
by russellbateman
For years now, I have robotically used MakeMKV (legally purchased version--always kept up to date), then Handbrake to transcode (rip) disks, both Bluray and DVD for use on my Plex Media Server. I've changed nothing in my habits or settings, yet, for the last 2-3 years Bluray subtitles are now always messed up. The subtitles now appear in the movie at least 1 minute before the action/dialog they describe/transcribe. DVD subtitles remain perfect.

Does anyone have insight into this?

Subtitles are important to me because my parents are hearing-challenged and don't speak other languages than English.

For the last 2-3 years, I've found it impossible to align subtitles for Bluray disks. I assumed that this was due to something changed in the manufacture of Blurays , but now I suspect it's something that's changed either in MakeMKV (or, perhaps, Handbrake).

The other day I found a Bluray I had purchased back in 2013 and lost track of never transcoding it. So I did the transcoding (rip) a few days ago, confident that I was going to have working subtitles since the disk was so much older than when subtitles stopped working. The result is--again--that the subtitles appear at least 1 minute before the action or dialog with which they correspond.

I'm willing to go to additional lengths to make this work, but I have no clue what the solution could be, though I also wonder why a feature that worked perfectly well for so many years stopped suddenly and is now broken with no remedy. I posted about Blurays and broken subtitles a year or two ago in a forum, but never received an answer. Am I the only MakeMKV user interested in subtitles?

Re: Blurays and subtitles

Posted: Thu May 02, 2019 3:54 pm
by Grauhaar
No problem at all with subtitles, MakeMKV works as expected. Nothing changed in the Blu-ray specification. Don't know why you are think that the problem is in the MakeMKV or Blu-ray area.

The problem must be in your process, software, hardware, playing Software/Hardware. Test the output file after each process step, after MakeMKV creates the file, after Handbrake and so on. And do not use Plex Media Server. Use the direct way with VLC viewing of the file.

Re: Blurays and subtitles

Posted: Thu May 02, 2019 6:33 pm
by Woodstock
In the MKV file, the subtitles will be passed through unchanged.

Some playback environments do not sync up well, though, when reading either PGS subtitles (from the BD) or SRT/SSA subtitles (added after the fact, such as in handbrake).

I've found that, if handbrake burns the subtitles into the video, the timing is fine. With "soft subtitles" (not burned in), several hardware players I've used will display the first subtitle immediately, even if it doesn't occur until 90 seconds into the video. After the first, things work. Watching the same file in VLC, the subtitles are all synchronized.

Re: Blurays and subtitles

Posted: Thu May 02, 2019 8:39 pm
by russellbateman
Thanks for the responses.

I think I adequately explained why I'm exploring (not accusing or complaining) that this problem is not in my process nor in the disk. The point is that I've been ripping disks using MakeMKV and Handbrake for nearly a decade the same way every time. DVDs work flawlessly. Blurays used to work flawlessly. Something changed 2-3 years ago that affected only Blurays. I will, however, do some testing between MakeMKV and Handbrake to ascertain whether the subtitles are "already" off before I use HandBrake. (I use Handbrake to add the subtitles, sometimes audio options that I want to make available in the final product on my Plex server as well as compressing a little to reduce size. I have always done this in the same way according to the same procedure; it has always worked, never ever messing up the subtitles.)

(I only watch these transcoded .mkv files on devices via my Plex server. I prefer .mkv because everything is bundled in a single file. I confess I'm not qualified to essay upon distinctions between using VLC player vs. Media player vs. whatever's used when Plex is in the mix.)

I never want the subtitles burned into the video because I don't like to watch films in languages I understand with English subtitles burned in--very annoying and anyway I would have to choose which language I burn in, I generally support French and English because some family members need one or the other.

Re: Blurays and subtitles

Posted: Fri May 03, 2019 4:27 am
by Chetwood
I'm also pretty sure nothing has changed with MakeMKV in the last 2-3 years that would affect subtitles. I don't see any issues with delays either.

Re: Blurays and subtitles

Posted: Fri May 03, 2019 6:59 am
by Grauhaar
russellbateman wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 8:39 pm
I use Handbrake to add the subtitles
Can you explain this point? Subtitles from Internet, other disc or ...? All tracks in an MKV file have an PTS (Presentation Timestamp) to sync the components. Adding things from anywhere can be a problem if different timestamps are used.

Re: Blurays and subtitles

Posted: Fri May 03, 2019 1:45 pm
by russellbateman
Profuse thanks for your responses.

Commercial Bluray or DVD -> MakeMKV (running on Linux Mint desktop) -> intermediate.mkv -> Handbrake -> final.mkv -> Plex filesystem (Ubuntu 18.04 headless) -> various devices (Roku, Apple TV, Chromcast, XBox, NVIDIA Shield, PS, etc.)

When I transcode a disk using MakeMKV, besides the movie, I select those subtitles I want using MakeMKV's interface. When I process the matroska output from MakeMKV using Handbrake, I select for inclusion with the movie (so, it goes into the same file) the option to use or not use the subtitles (in English, French, etc.). I do this naively--I do nothing other than command Handbrake to include the subtitles from what MakeMKV produced. I don't touch delays or anything else. I do not impose subtitles, but my parents (late 80s) can select English subtitles using their Roku when they watch the movie on my Plex Media server.

Third-party subtitles have been a no-starter for me. I have rarely if ever been satisfied by the result of digging up subtitles from the Internet for use with a movie even when I try to bundle it with Handbrake.

Re: Blurays and subtitles

Posted: Tue May 07, 2019 7:31 pm
by russellbateman
My mistake...

I have just transcoded Tristan & Isolde including English subtitles with MakeMKV. The product is 27Gb and the subtitles are accurate. Once I reduce the .mkv file using Handbrake to a much smaller size, though I included the English subtitles (and there is no option to control their synchronization), the subtitles show up a good minute before they're wanted. It is neither Blurays nor MakeMKV to blame.

I will take this issue elsewhere. Perhaps something changed in Handbrake or in its configuration 2 or 3 years ago since I began having trouble with Bluray subtitles, but I will have to experiment first.

This is my mistake and I apologize for being so sloppy as to report an impression without better observations to support it.

Thank you for the responses.

Re: Blurays and subtitles

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 6:30 am
by Grauhaar
Is your Handbrake up to date? Any speicial options, customization, setup files or whatever ..? If Handbrake itself has this specific problem, anyone else has this problem too. But I cannot believe this.

I use VidCoder (uses the actual Handbrake core) and have not any problems with subtitles.

Re: Blurays and subtitles

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 3:07 pm
by russellbateman
(Thank you for responding!)

I generally keep it up-to-date, but I see just now that I've fallen far behind.

I use a pile of settings I refer to as "YIFY" which I put into an .xml file and select after launch from the pane on the right side. These reduce the huge Matroska files by up to 90% without visible loss except for scenes at nighttime and in adverse conditions (such as sandstorms in American Sniper, etc.) What I experience is:

1. Files whose origin was a DVD are reduced to about 10% of original output from MakeMKV. Subtitles remain perfect.
2. Files whose origin was a Bluray are reduced to about 10% of original output from MakeMKV. Subtitles are always a good minute or two ahead of what's happening on-screen.

These same settings and same process, from which I've not deviated in many years (at least 5), always worked, until they didn't for Blurays. This may be my fault; it was not my impression that it stopped working due to an update of Handbrake, but it is true that I surgically set up presets for any new installation of Handbrake. Maybe I screwed something up inadvertently the last time I did this. See ... fy-presets.