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Friday, August 26, 2011

Ripping your DVDs and Blu Rays pt.2: Extract Subtitles for M4V / MP4 / iTunes

UPDATE March 2014

Handbrake (from version 0.9.9) will now burn subtitles direct from MKV containers ripped from Blu-Rays as the screen shot below shows:

But I've kept this post on, in case you are using an older version of Handbrake.

Also, for the record, BDSuptoSub can be run on OSX - but you need to install the OSX Java engine

In a previous post, I covered the method I use to rip DVDs and Blu Rays for use in iTunes and iOS products (check out the article here if you missed it).

To recap the tools I have:

I have been trying for sometime to find a way, using my Mac, of carrying subtitles over from Blu Ray discs onto these ripped M4V files.

(BTW, Windows users, the following software all comes with Windows versions - so you should be fine to follow this summary described below.)

Often films contain "forced subtitles". These are for when a film in English language has dialogue spoken in a another language, and forced subtitles translate just these small sections rather than the whole film.

They are called "forced" because they play back as default on DVD and Blu Ray players. Trouble is getting them to do the same on your ripped copies.

As an example, the Lord Of The Rings trilogy of films have sections spoken  in Elvish for which there are subtitles provided. This has been the catalyst for this investigation, as I really wanted those movies for my iPad.

The method described below also works for full subtitle tracks  - especially useful for me for the Millenium trilogy of films where I like to have the original Swedish soundtrack, and have English subtitles.

Obviously, if you are hard of hearing, this is going to be of great interest too for all your Blu Ray ripping.


DVD is simple, and can easily be done in Handbrake. As you can see in the example below, this DVD of 101 Dalmatians has subtitle tracks recognised by Handbrake.

All you do is

  • Select the right language
  • Check the "Burned In" box
  • Check the "Forced Only" if you want just forced subtitles, or leave it blank if you want all the dialogue subtitled.
That's it.

Blu Ray

Blu Ray is MUCH harder. This is because the Blu Ray format of subtitles are bitmaps, and as such, as not supported by many editing tools - Handbrake included. To witness The Lord Of The Rings in true HD glory and understand that Elvish dialogue, we are going to need to get some more software:
As an aside, this method may be long-winded, and there could be a simpler way to do it - I'm not perfect! So if there is, let me know! It took a lot of research through various forums....

OK, so we will assume you have a nice MKV file of your Blu Ray with all the audio and subtitle options on it that you need.


(1) Open MKVTools and open your MKV file.

(2) Navigate to the "Edit" Tab and choose the subtitle track you want to export (I know the Elvish to English translation for this Lord Of The Rings rip is Track 2). If you aren't sure, open the MKV is something like VLC Player and fiddle with turning on the different subtitle tracks until you find the one you want, then go back into MKVTools.

(3) Check the "Extract Selected Tracks" box on the right and click "OK". Another window will open and you will see the progress of the file extraction. It will store the subsequent SUP file in the same folder as you MKV file.


You will now need a Windows machine, or an emulator on your Mac running the BDSupToSub software.

I have searched high and low for a Mac native equivalent and draw a blank. Again, if you find one, let me know.

(1) Open BDSupToSub and load in your SUP file.

(2) Just leave the Conversion options as they are (the resolution should be 1920x1280 as this is the Blu Ray default).

(3) You will get a nice screen showing you the first subtitle line found. You don't need to do anything with this, just go into File / Save/Export and click OK (changing the language marker if needed).

You will have two files; a SUB file and a IDX file.


Back to the Mac environment now, and you need to open up the MKVToolNix tool.

(1) Click the "add" button to add your original MKV file and your new IDX file (make sure the SUB file is in the same folder or it will throw an error).

(2) Scroll down the "Tracks, chapters and tags" box until you see the VobSub entry at the bottom. This is your subtitle track. Check that box and uncheck all the other subtitles.

(3) Name the new MKV "Output filename" and hit the "Start muxing" button and wait patiently....


Now you have your new MKV, open it in Handbrake and check the subtitles tab - you should now see a VOBSUB file that Handbrake understands. 

Set your options and off you go! Your output should look like this:

And there you have it.

Not too complex, just a lot of faffing about with different bits of software.

I'm sure paid for software does this out of the box. Actually, I'm not sure! It might not!

Thursday, August 25, 2011 Review: Download and Keep YouTube, MP4 and other media is a little gem that I need to share. I have tried plenty of freeware programmes in the past for downloading YouTube videos, but really is the best.

And it is totally FREE!!

It's pretty simple:

(1) Go to

(2) Type in the URL of the video you want to download (or you can search within the same box). It might ask you permission to load the Java application, in which case allow it yo do so.

(3) Choose the format which you want to download it in

(4) Click on it and off you go!

You will need to have Java installed (which you can get via your browser or at but it's cross-platform (works on Windows, OSX, whatever).

You download a program should you wish to, and thus contribute to the site, and if you use it a lot it might be nice to "give something back" via this route. I personally prefer the web service route, and perhaps the authors will consider putting a donate button on the front page?

They list all the sites they currently in their FAQ and it is pretty comprehensive.

So ditch the freeware, that might well be more malware than anything else, and use this excellent free service.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Neuroshima Hex! iPad and iPhone Game Review

An operation and subsequent lay off from work has meant I have had time to do some things I don't normally get time to do. I have watched a lot of movies that everyone else has seen and I haven't; I have made a serious dent in ripping my DVD collection onto iTunes and I have played games on my iPad.

My son enjoys a good game of Monopoly, so we downloaded and played that for a bit. The same publisher also did Risk, which I have loved since a kid, so a few hours were spent playing that. Then iTunes Genius recommended Neuroshima Hex! and the recovery days have flown by.

So what is it? It's a turn-based board game of the world domination genre set in a post-apocalyptic future world of war machines, mutants and mankind locked in a battle for land and resources. As always with these things, he who survives and destroys his opponents wins the game.

There are six armies to choose (four come with the game, and two are available via an in-game purchase). Each has it's own strengths and weaknesses, and your preferences will be based on how you like to play.

I have to say it is much more complex than the likes of Risk, and the phrase "Read The Manual" is very relevant for this game. I'll try and summarise the basics here.

Each player starts with a HQ that has 20 hit points. The goal of the game is to either destroy your enemy's HQ, or take less damage during the game than them. The game takes place on a hexagonal board, which you can see pictured below:

Each player also starts with 35 "tiles" that are split into several types:

  • HQ - The Headquarters that must be defended whilst you attack your opponents.
  • Board Tile Unit - the armies of your campaign. These attack opponents tiles on the board.
  • Board Tile Modules - give your Unit tiles special abilities, such as increasing attack strength or Initiative (more on this later)
  • Instant Action Tiles - provides an instant hit, such as destroying an enemy tile or allowing you to move one of your own to another hex

Each player gets dealt three tiles, of which he must discard one. Two are then used and either placed on the board (if they are Board Tiles) or used as an Instant Action. Players take it is turn to place or use tiles until one of two things occurs; the board is full or a player uses a Battle Instant Action. The battle stage begins, and this is where Initiatives are used.

Each piece has a number marked on them and this is the turn in which they act - the higher the number the earlier in the battle you act and so you get the jump on your enemies by destroying their pieces before they destroy yours. So using a module to increase your Initiative or decrease your enemies is a good tactic.

Different units have different abilities. They can shoot in multiple directions or multiple times (or both!), or use a net to disable an enemy or have armour to defend against attacks. Generally the more powerful a piece, the lower it's Initiative, and this adds an interesting dynamic to the strategy.

Let Battle Commence!
Up to four players can play in a game (either human or AI), but only on the iOS device - although the publishers are promising Internet play at a future stage. There is integration with Game Center, and there are plenty of trophies to aim for.

The game itself is incredibly addictive. There is a steep learning curve, though, and I advise reading the manual included in the game from start to finish (it doesn't take long), studying the armies catalogue and then plunging in for a two player game against the AI on Easy level.

This tutorial from the publishers will give you a good overview of how it works:

It doesn't matter which army you choose to start with, I found my early successes came with the Outpost, but play a few games and see how you get on.

Some people are recommending playing the puzzle version of the game, Neuroshima Hex Puzzle,  to learn it better, but I haven't played that (saving it for a long plane journey) so I can't say one way of the other. I enjoyed the learning curve, and am still finding new ways to set up units against different enemies.

There is an element of luck, getting the right tiles at the right time, but that doesn't overly affect the gameplay as you may have to battle back from a bad start, which is a challenge in it's own way.

With the addition of Internet play, and new expansion packs promised, this is a bargain for £2.99 considering the board game retails at closer to £40 and you have to work out all the attacks and defenses yourself - which can be pretty complex! The two new armies (£1.49 each) add new dimensions, and are worth a purchase when you have mastered the four provided.

Find out more by visiting the publisher's website: