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Old 07-03-2009, 03:28 PM   #1
Registered: Oct 2006
Location: Leiden, Netherlands
Distribution: LFS, Ubuntu Hardy
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Need to burn subtitles : issues in both Avidemux and ffmpeg

I am trying to transcode a video file for purposes of burning to DVD. That in itself isn't hard; I would normally do the following:

ffmpeg -i file.avi -target ntsc-dvd -aspect 16:9 [..bitrates..] output.mpg
dvdauthor --title -o dvd -f output.mpg
dvdauthor -o dvd -T

But, in this case I want to somehow display English subtitles from a SRT file. I don't particularly care if they are burned permanently or whether they are able to be activated later in the DVD player, just as long as they work. I tried two different things.

First, I tried using this procedure (spumux and dvdauthor) to get subtitles that can be activated on a DVD player by using an MPG file created by the above method. The only problem is the resulting file doesn't work. In an old (ca 1 year) version of mplayer, the program crashes, and in a newer build, the subs are garbled pink and green text at random positions on the screen.

Then I used Avidemux to just add permanent subtitles and encode an mpg file. Works fine (nice easy previewing too), except the bitrate is WAY off target, regardless or whether I specify single or two-pass encoding, even if bitrates are set manually. To get proper output bitrates with ffmpeg, I can just do

ffmpeg -i file.avi -target ntsc-dvd -aspect 16:9 -ab 256k -vb 6304k -minrate 6304k -maxrate 6304k out.mpg

But the output bitrate is a little off, so I can just tweak vb, minrate, and maxrate until it comes out right (in this case I reduced them by 96k and the output bitrate was roughly 6304+256). In Avidemux, the bitrate starts out ridiculously low -- like 200 kb/s, and peaks around 2000 kb/s if I'm lucky. This makes the first ~3 minutes extremely blurry, and the rest of the video has noticeably worse quality than that produced by ffmpeg.

I am wondering, is there a way to "burn" subtitles into an mpg from e.g. srt using ffmpeg? That, to me, is preferable over adding them later using spumux/dvdauthor as one has to hassle with all that XML and create TWO huge multi-gb files just before being able to test whether anything works. (I hear mencoder might work, but it, too, has problems getting roughly constant bitrates right).

That was a lot, so I'll summarise

ffmpeg + spumux + dvdauthor : nice mpeg, correct bitrates, horrible or NO subtitles (goal: subs activated on DVD player)

Avidemux : correct subtitles, LOW bitrate MPG (goal: permanent subs in the MPG)

Thanks in advance.
Old 07-06-2009, 04:12 AM   #2
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Location: Potchefstroom, South Africa
Distribution: Fedora 17 - 3.3.4-5.fc17.x86_64
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