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  1. Member rickydavao's Avatar
    Join Date: Jun 2007
    Location: Victoria, Canada
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    OK, I have been sweating over this forum (and a couple of others) for the past couple of weeks trying to find the best solution to converting an MKV file (I deal primarily with anime) to DVD-compatible files while retaining MOST of the attributes of the ASS (or SSA) subtitle included in the MKV file (by most, I mean font (normal, bold, italic), colour AND position of the subtitle ... unfortunately, attributes such as "fade" don't work yet). I fought a little bit with MaestroSBT, but found the program a bit unwieldy, and the quality of the subs wasn't up to what I was looking for (and it didn't keep the colour attributes - maybe not so important, but a nice feature to have when the ASS includes multi-colour subs). Also, conversion of ASS/SSA subtitles to SRT almost always results in overlapping subtitles, subtitles cut off, and complete loss of all custom formatting in the ASS/SSA subtitles, so this just wasn't an option for me.

    While my method is a little convoluted, it is really no more so than the method for using MaestroSBT. The only "downside" is that it does require the use of the new version of ConvertX2DVD Version 3 RC1 (RC2 doesn't work for this, unfortunately) for generating the subs. Hopefully, it will also be working fine for the official release of Version 3, once they get the MKV conversion bugs out of it I do not use ConvertX for my video conversion - just for the subs - but you can if you want to (I prefer slightly higher quality conversions). The rest of the required software is all freeware available through VideoHelp.

    Anyways, my final results look pretty darn good (for me, anyway), and I'd be more than happy to post my method for doing this if there is some interest ... that is, if this post gets a couple of replies saying people are interested in how to do it, I'll reply with the step-by-step (I guess I'm just lazy, but I didn't want to spend an hour or more typing up it all up if no-one was interested :P ) Please let me know, OK?

    Also, moderators, I wasn't sure whether to post this here or in subtitles ... I posted here since it does involve the entire process of conversion from MKV to DVD, although it specifically deals with the problems associated with the ASS/SSA subtitle formats. Please feel free to move this topic if necessary - thanks!
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  2. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2008
    Location: North America
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    Hey, I'd be interested. I have been trying to do that as well with little success. I was picky with the subs myself not retaining positions, style, etc. I would be interested in knowing the whole process. Thanks.
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  3. Member FulciLives's Avatar
    Join Date: May 2003
    Location: Pittsburgh, PA in the USA
    Search Comp PM
    You should definitely share but I would wait until the "final" version of ConvertXtoDVD 3.x comes out. It would make more sense then as any images you post will be the same as the "final" version and ... well you get the point.

    - John "FulciLives" Coleman
    "The eyes are the first thing that you have to destroy ... because they have seen too many bad things" - Lucio Fulci
    EXPLORE THE FILMS OF LUCIO FULCI - THE MAESTRO OF GORE
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  4. Member rickydavao's Avatar
    Join Date: Jun 2007
    Location: Victoria, Canada
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    Hi, MasterRoshi, and thanks for your response ... I'm guessing that some more people would be interested in this too, so I think I'm going to go ahead and write a guide. It's getting late here now (almost 10:00pm), so I'll start work on it tomorrow morning. Be forewarned ... I'm a stickler for detail, so it will be a very detailed guide to lead you step-by-step through the process, and it could get a tad lengthy. However, IMHO, the end result is worth it, and once you get the hang of the process, it goes pretty quickly.

    Anyways, thanks again, and I'll get on that in the morning ...
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  5. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2008
    Location: North America
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    No problem, I think most people, especially newbies like myself would appreciate the detail
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  6. Member rickydavao's Avatar
    Join Date: Jun 2007
    Location: Victoria, Canada
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    OK, here we go. For the time being, I will not be using screenshots in this guide, partly because there would need to be a LOT of them (and adequate enough descriptions will take up less space), but also because I'm much better at prose than graphics!

    You will need the following software:

    OGMCleaver
    AegiSub
    mkvmerge GUI
    (from MKVtoolnix)
    ConvertX2DVD Version 3 RC1 (500), NOT RC2 (600) or, ideally, the final release of Version 3 when it becomes available

    You may also need:

    PGCDemux
    MuxMan
    pgcedit


    Step 1: Run OGMCleaver and open the mkv file you want to process. In the right hand window, "Tracks to extract", DEselect everything except the subtitles (usually the last item). Select your "output directory" at the bottom (preferably a temporary folder), and click "Extract tracks" to extract the ASS/SSA subtitle track from your mkv. Close OGMCleaver.

    Step 2: Here's the fun part. Remember that we will be using ConvertX to generate our subs (and possibly our video if you are so inclined). ConvertX does allow you to specify the attributes for your subs, but NOT when the subs are in ASS/SSA format - in this case, it uses the attributes defined in the ASS/SSA subtitle track to create the subs. While these attributes may look good when playing the mkv file itself, they don't always translate well when converting the mkv to DVD format, especially if the font that is defined within the sub is not readily available on your PC. We're going to fix that. Open "Aegisub". Click on "File" and then "Open Subtitles", browse to the temporary directory that you extracted your subs to in Step 1, and double-click on your subtitle file. You should now see a list of all the subtitles in the file in the lower window. Now click on the menu item "Tools", and select "Styles Manager" from the drop-down menu. This will open a new window. On the right-hand side of this window you will see a list entitled "Current Script", which will list 1 or more scripts. These scripts contain the attributes for each of the different styles of subtitles within the complete subtitle file, and which we're going to modify. Double-click the first script ... yep, another window, the "Style Editor". Once you get the hang of the process, you can start playing with all the different attributes you see in this window, but for now we are just going to deal with "Font", "Scale Y%", and "Spacing". To change the font, click on "Choose" in the Font section (which brings up another window), and select your preferred font and size. Currently, I am using Tahoma for the font, "bold" for the font style, and 26 for the size, but this is your preference (play with this once you get the hang of it). Now click OK, and your changes should be reflected in the Style Editor. Leave the colors alone and move down to the "Miscellaneous" section. Change "Scale Y%" from 100 to 125 (this makes your subs a little bit taller than they are wider and, for me, easier to read - experiment with values between 125 and 150 depending on the font), and change spacing from 0 to 1 (this is the space between characters in pixels - a value of 1 or 2 prevents your letters from getting too schmushed together and makes them easier to read). That's it for this window - click on Apply and then OK, to go back to the Styles Manager window. Now repeat this process for the rest of the scripts (if any) listed under "Current script", changing only the font and size, Scale Y% and Spacing each time. If there are several scripts, as in anime for example, usually the only difference between the scripts are the colors and position of the subtitles - the rest of the attributes generally stay the same, so the changes we are making should also stay the same for all the scripts (althought the style of font can change occasionally, for example, if song lyrics are included. In this case, you can still use the same font for the subtitle if you wish, or select a different one - just try to keep the font sizes about the same throughout all the scripts, and be sure to use the same values for Scale Y% and Spacing all the way through). Once you have modified all your scripts, click "Close" to go back to the Aegisub main window.

    Now click on "Tools" again, and then "Properties", and change the "Resolution" to 704 X 480. This will keep the subs positioned correctly when we convert them. Click "OK".

    Now a really fussy part. The RC1 version of ConvertX has a bug when converting italics in ASS/SSA files in that it automatically terminates an italic script whenever the end of a subtitle is reached. This means that it ignores the ASS/SSA command to terminate the italic script, and instead, prints this command as a part of the subtitle. Hopefully, this will be fixed in the final release, and you will be able to ignore this part of the guide at that time. For now, we have to solve that problem. Click on "Edit" in the menu bar, and the click "Replace" from the drop-down menu. In the new "Replace" window, for "Find what:" copy & paste, or type this string (without the quotes) ".{\i0}" That's period-open curly bracket-forward slash-lower case i-number zero-close curly bracket. Now for "Replace with:", simply type a period ".", and then click on "Replace all". Now repeat this process 3 more times, only now replace ONLY the period in both "Find what:" AND "Replace with:" with the following punctuation: a comma "," (then click "Replace all"), an exclamation mark "!" (then click "Replace all"), and a question mark "?" (then click "Replace all") That is, replace ",{\i0}" with ",", "!{\i0}" with "!", and "?{\i0}" with "?". It should show several replacements for the period and comma, and fewer (or none) for the exclamation and question marks. When you're done all that, click "Close" to get back to the Aegisub main window.

    In case you want to get an idea of how your subs look after all this fuss (or if you'd like to play with their appearance in the style manager and need to see what effects your changes are doing), you can click on "Video" in the menu bar and then click on "Open Video". Go down to the bottom of the new window where it says "Files of type" and change it to "Other Supported Formats", then browse to where your original mkv file is and double click it to open it. Aegisub will give you a warning which basically says that the subs timing will not match the video, but this is OK since all we are interested in is how the subs look against a video background. Once the video has been opened, maximize Aegisub so that you can see both the video and the subs and click on any of the lines of text below the video to see it overlayed on the video above. Don't worry about the colors, what we are looking at here is the style, size, shape and readibility of the subtitles as we have modified them through the Styles Manager. If there is more than one style in your subtitle file, you can scroll through the subtitles to the different styles (check the "Style" column for the names of the styles), and check them out too.

    Once you are happy with the appearance of your subtitles, click on "File" and then "Save Subtitles" (overwrite if you want, or save to a new name if you want to be careful), and then close Aegisub. That's the worst of it over!

    Step 3: Open "mkvmerge GUI", and click on "add" near the top right of the window. Browse to your original mkv file and double-click to open it. Now under "Tracks" (below "Input files"), DEselect the subtitle track (usually the last track) by clicking on the check mark so that the check mark is removed. Now click on "add" again, and browse to the subtitle file that you just modified and saved with Aegisub, and double-click to add it. Now go to the bottom of the window where it says "Output filename", browse to your temporary directory, type in a new filename if you wish (make sure to retain the .mkv extension if you do this, though), and then click on "Start muxing". This will create a new mkv file in your temporary directory with our new subtitle file replacing the original one within the mkv. When the muxing is done, click "Close" and close "mkvmerge GUI".

    Step 4: Open ConvertX2DVD Version 3 RC1 (or version 3 Final when it becomes available). I'm going to assume some familiarity with ConvertX, especially since it's so darn easy to use. If you will be using ConvertX to do your final video conversion, then this is your last step. Click on the little green plus sign, browse to your new mkv file in your temporary directory, and double-click to open it. Set ConvertX's parameters to the way you want your output, ignoring the "Text subtitles rendering settings" in the "Subtitles" tab, since these won't affect your ouput (I'm sure there are guides for this program on VideoHelp if you are unsure of what each option does, but they are pretty straight forward), and then click on convert to let it rip! Your final output should have soft selectable subs, in the fonts and size we selected in step 2, while still retaining their positioning and colors from the original ASS/SSA subtitle file.

    If, like me, you use another software to encode your video and audio from mkv to DVD format (such as FAVC, DIKO, DVD Flick, etc.), we have a few more steps to go *sigh*. Don't forget that, in each of those video conversion programs, you usually have to tell the software, before you start converting, that you want to keep all the intermediate files. This way, you will have your video and audio encoded into DVD-compliant streams, and you will have them as separate video (.mpv, .m2v, etc.) and audio (.ac3, .mp2, etc.) files. (If pulldown has been applied to your video files during the conversion process, be sure that you use the pulldown files in the next step ... for example, FAVC applies pulldown "inplace", so that the pulldown file replaces the original file, whereas DIKO creates a new file, and renames the original non-pulldown file to "filename_np") Next ...

    Step 5: Open PgcDemux, and for the "Input ifo", browse to the following (default) folder: My Documents -> ConvertXtoDVD ->(title name of your converted mkv file) -> Video_TS and click "OK". For output folder, you can choose your temporary folder. Under "Options", DEselect everything except "Demux all subpic streams". Select "Process!", click "OK", and "Quit". We now have a .sup file in our temp folder wich contains all the subtitles from our ConvertXtoDVD conversion.

    Step 6: Open "Muxman". Under "Video", click the button on the right hand side with the 3 little dots and browse to your converted video file (as mentioned above Step 5), and double-click to open it. Do the same with "Audio" to open your audio files, being sure to put the default audio stream for your DVD as Audio 1. Finally, under SubPictures, for "Sub 1", click on the "..." button as usual and browse to your temp folder where we had demuxed the .sup file in Step 5, and double-click to open it. If you like, you can specify the Language and Extension for each of the audio files you have imported, as well as the subtitle file - this may especially help if you will be importing your final result into a DVD authoring program that reads these tags. (I also tend to click on both the "LB" and "Wide" buttons on the right-hand side of the SubPictures section, although I'm not sure as yet whether clicking on both has an adverse effect when playing the final DVD on either a widescreen or standard TV.) Lastly, select your destination folder near the bottom of the window, preferably the folder where you want your completed files to be stored, but can also be a secondary temporary folder (try not to use the temp folder that we've been using previously as you might get confused with all the files that will end up being there after this step!), and then click on Start. MuxMan will now mux all of your files together into a valid DVD structure (minus menus, of course). When it's done, click OK and MuxMan will close.

    Step 7: We now have our final files, but if you play it (with Power DVD for example), you will notice that the subtitle colors are all messed up. This is because MuxMan uses its own default "clut" (color look up table) for the subtitles, which is different from the clut that ConvertX generated ... we'll fix that now. Open "pgcedit", click "File" from the menu and select "Open DVD", and browse to the same directory that we did back in Step 5 (where our completed ConvertX files are), select that directory and press OK. After pgcedit has finished scanning your VTS, click on "close". Now, in the left-hand window of pgcedit, double-click on the last entry in that window (should be named something like VTST 1,1 and, in brackets, should show the playing time of your movie or show). This brings up the PGC Editor window. Halfway down on the left side of this new window, you will see the Sub-picture Color Lookup Table, complete with the original colors from our ASS/SSA subtitle file. Just below the colors, click on the button labelled "Export", answer "Yes", browse to your temporary folder (you can use the supplied filename), and click "Save". Back in the PGC Editor, click on "Cancel" in the lower right hand corner, and then close PgcEdit.

    Now open PgcEdit again, "Open DVD" again as above, but this time browse to the foler that you saved your muxed files in back in Step 6. Click on "Close" after the VTS scan is done, and double click on the last entry in the right hand window again (as above) to bring up the PGC Editor. This time, instead of clicking on "Export", we will click on "Import". We should automatically be taken to the same directory we previously exported the color lookup table just above (our temp folder), so double-click on the only file that is listed there (it's the only one with a .clb extension, after all) to import it into the PGC Editor. You will notice that the colors in the little 4 X 4 grid there have now changed to what they were when we were exporting them earlier ... we have just changed the clut in our final muxed video to the correct colors as defined in the original ASS/SSA subtitles. Click on "OK" in the PGC Editor to save the changes and exit the Editor. Now in pgcedit, click on "File" and then "Save DVD" to save the changes to our final muxed DVD video, and finally, close pgcedit. (Pgcedit does leave a folder in our final DVD folder called "PgcEdit_backup" that contains the original ifo files that we changed in this process - handy if you made a mistake and imported the wrong clut into your muxed DVD. This folder can safely be deleted once you test your final files to be sure the colors in your subtitles are OK).

    Step 8: Actually, we're done. This leaves you with DVD-ready files in a DVD-ready structure, which several authoring programs should be able to import from. I personally use TMPGEnc DVD Author 3, and use the DVD source wizard to import into my project from these completed files. The nice thing is, it will also import all the language tags for the audio and subtitles as well, and retain all subtitle positioning and colors when done this way. I'm sure that there are other authoring programs that should import in this fashion as well, and I'd be interested in hearing your success stories should you find other ways of utilizing the end product.

    Well, that's it for me for now. This is my first guide, so I hope that I was reasonably accurate in describing the steps that I've taken to get this to work (and I really hope that I didn't miss any steps!). I will do my best to answer any questions or problems you may have regarding this guide, but also hope others more experienced than I may be able to help out too. Please keep in mind that I am far from being an expert with any of the software that I've used in this guide ... I have not read any manuals regarding their use, and generally have not used any of this software for purposes other than what I've outlined here. I have, however, found all of this software to be very well designed and extremely intuitive, such that, for my purposes, the reading of manuals was not altogether necessary at this time.

    Thanks to everyone who reads this and finds it useful in some way, special thanks to the authors of the freeware software that was used in this guide (brilliant people all), and extra special thanks to VSO Software who are on their way to producing one of the only pieces of software out there that can correctly decode and convert the sophisticated ASS/SSA subtitle format for use in DVD's (and possibly other formats, too). Cheers!
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  7. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2008
    Location: North America
    Search Comp PM
    Thanks a lot!
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  8. Member
    Join Date: Mar 2009
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    Hey. Sorry to bump such an old thread, but i found a much simpler way to do this. I'm not sure if it's because a year ago this software didn't exist, or what, but this can be done with just MKVtoolnix, MKVExtractGUI and DeVeDe (both freeware).

    Here's a simpler way to get mkv files with subs onto a DVD. This doesn't preserve the subtitle styles very well, but it's an easier alternative.

    It's easy:
    1. get MKVtoolnix and DeVeDe.
    2. after installing them, get MKVExtractGUI. Extract it to the directory MKVtoolnix is installed in.
    3. Run the MKVExtractGUI.
    4. click the "..." next to the Input field and select your mkv file that contains the subtitles you want.
    5. under "content", check the box next to the subtitle track you want on the DVD. uncheck any other tracks.
    6. click "Extract." wait for the extraction to finish. this will create a *.ass file in the same directory (these are your subtitles)
    7. if you have multiple files (episodes?), click File->Reset and repeat steps 4-6 for each file.
    8. Run DeVeDe. select Video DVD.
    9. Drag your original mkv file into the "Files" box. Select the file you just dropped in the box, and click "Properties" below.
    10. Next to "Subtitles", click the "Add" button.
    11. Click the Browse button (it's a folder icon) and select the *.ass subtitle file that corresponds to your video file.
    12. leave the encoding and language as default (if your subs are in english).
    13. Click OK to select the subtitles, then Click OK to close the properties window.
    14. if you have multiple files, repeat steps 9-13 for each file. (if you want a nice DVD menu, create new Titles and put one file in each Title.)
    15. Click "Menu options" at the bottom. Here, you can title your DVD, and set up the DVD menu. if you don't want a menu, set one of your Titles to start upon disc loading.
    16. Take a look at the Disc Usage bar at the bottom. if it is greater than 100%, you cannot fit all the video on one DVD at full quality. you can either click the "Adjust disc usage" button to lower the quality and squeeze in all the video, or you can remove some of your video. Either way, ensure that the bar reads less than or equal to 100%.
    17. Click "Forward" at the bottom right. name your DVD file, and select a place for it.
    18. Click OK, and DeVeDe will convert your videos and subtitles into an ISO file which represents your DVD. (this takes a while.)

    If you know how to handle ISO files, burn the file to a DVD with whatever disc imaging software you like.
    If not, there is a freeware ISO burner called ISO Recorder.
    Install this, and open the ISO with it. It's self-explanatory.

    I hope this helps out! This is how i get all my anime onto DVDs to watch with my roommates. Enjoy.

    ~Turlz
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  9. Member
    Join Date: Mar 2009
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    side-note, OGMCleaver works just as well as MKVExtractGUI, as in step 1 of rickydavao's guide.
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  10. Sorry to bump such an old post yet again, but I'd really like to know if rickydavao's solution to preserving the ASS subtitle styles included anti-aliasing. So far I have found no way to do this. I have been using ConvertXToDVD for authoring (see my post here). It looks like DVD compliant formats just don't support anti-aliased soft subs.

    Can anyone tell me if this is absolutely true?
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  11. Member
    Join Date: May 2002
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    ConvertXToDVD v4x did not work for me - did not convert the .ASS subs properly.
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