I’ve long been a fan of Wim Wenders’ early movies, in particular, Kings of the Road, or Im Lauf der Zeit. When I was living in France, I bought a box set of a dozen of his movies, but they only have French subtitles. Now that I’m in the UK, I want to watch some of these with my partner, and she doesn’t speak or read French.
At the same time, I was planning to rip these DVDs to add the films to my iTunes library. While doing this, using the free Handbrake, I also added English subtitles. Here’s how you can do this.
First, find subtitles for your film, or TV series, in the language you want: opensubtitles.org has gazillions of subtitles. These are all made by volunteers, and the translations may not be as good as those made by professionals which are available on DVDs and Blu-Rays with multiple languages, but it’s better than nothing.
Download the zip file and double-click it to decompress it. The folder has an .srt file. This is what you’ll add to Handbrake.
After you’ve selected your disc in Handbrake, and chosen your settings to rip the video, click the Subtitles tab, then the Track menu, and choose Add External SRT.
Navigate to the file and select it, and Handbrake will display it as the subtitle track. Click Start to have Handbrake rip the disc and add your subtitles.
If you wish, you can add multiple languages to your rips as well. Just select another .srt file and add it in the same way. You’ll be able to choose which subtitles you view when you watch the movie. This is a good way to practice a foreign language: if you watch a movie with subtitles in the original language, it can help you follow the dialog, since it’s often easier to read subtitles than to hear the words that characters say in a movie.