First a little background about me, and what my goals are, & a little about what I understand. Please let me know of any corrections in what I think I understand about subtitles/CC in regards to use, & conversion.
I have a TiVo Premeire unit, I have 3 Raid 5 12TB DLNA Nas units, A Roku 3, Xbox 360, LG Bluray, & a 70" Sharp SmarTV.
I also have a library of Blu-rays & DVD's. Which I have ripped, or can be re-ripped and stored on any one of my NAS units to be watched on any of my various devices that have DLNA capability. Which is currently all of the units. (TiVo, Xbox, Roku, Bluray,TV)
However, because the video/audio industry can't settle on any one format or container, thus we have many different audio/video formats and containers which result in that each one of the devices will play formats that the others won't play, and very few formats that all will play, and none without sacrificing something.
Since I am hard of hearing sometimes, especialy with some movies and shows. I like to use Closed Captions/Subtitles. Yet even here we have many formats that are used in various different ways. UGG! LOL This of course requires that additional steps be performed in conversion from one format to antoher depending on the original format, and the device we want to play it on.
Over the years of Ripping Blu-rays, & DVD's and trying various things, and reading alot of forums about subtitles, I do think I know a few things, but I am at best still horribly confused about subtitles/CC.
As I understand it...
Blu-rays the video/audio & Subtitles are tracks contained in one more M2TS files on a Blu-ray disk. Blu-ray players will play a blu-ray disk, and then allow you to choose which audio & subtitle track to use. The Blu-ray player will play the M2TS file extracting and playing the desired Video/audio/ST track. However it seems from most blu-ray players I have owned, test driven from more than one company as well as more than several models from several companies. That a blu-ray player isn't capable of decoding the Subtitle track of any file type even M2TS if it's being played from any media other than a blu-ray disk, and even then only M2TS and only if the disk is in blu-ray format. However, all of them will display the subtitle track if its a seperate file residing in the same folder as the video file and only if its a TXT based file such as SRT. (Some only do this if the media is a USB drive, some only from network dlna servers, and some from both) As I also understand it the Subtitle track from a M2TS file is graphic in nature. Thus if needing to convert, requires OCR software to convert to SRT TXT based file for the player.
So my question in regards to blu-ray players... Is there a reason, licensing, hardware, software, or something that prevents companies who make blu-ray media players from playing subtitle tracks when the subtitle is encoded as a track in the file, and not a seperate txt file format? (SRT) or even play a seperate subtitle track, but the subtitle track be graphic just like it was on the blu-ray? The Roku 3, and my Smart TV seem to be the same way. Seperate txt based file in the same folder as the video file. Is there a logical reason why it seems that their aren't any media players that can play a subtitle track that embeded in the Video/audio file? M2TS, or MKV, MP4, MPG etc?
DVD's as I understand being that they aren't HD, have a different format for their subtitles that are encoded into the VOB/MPG files. The Subtitles are still graphic and not txt based in nature.
So basically as I understand it... to make a quik simplified explanation... If I want subtitles, I either have to A. demux the subtitle track from the original track, OCR convert it to a Text based SRT file and save that file to the same folder as the audio/vidoe file. or B. Hardcode the subtitle track directly into the video track of the video/audio file. Thus their is no more Subtitle track, as it has become part of the video track.
If I choose A. Then I have to deal with the low accuracy of OCR, and the additional efforts of maintaining an additional file, but gives me the advantage of turning them on & off. If I choose B. I don't get to turn the Subtitles on or off, but I also don't loose accuracy on the track and its 100% accurate with the original subtitle track (verbage wise) and I don't have to maintain seperate files.
Am I on the right track with my thinking?
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MakeMKV, it sees audio, video, subs, and puts all into the MKV container) and then play them through the computer through Plex to my Roku3 and then on to the television. I don't know for sure about MKVs on a USB stick inserted into the Roku3 as I've never tried it. But the original DVD subtitles play fine doing it the way I've described. I've also done it using text-based SSA subtitles. They are selectable (can be turned off and on).
So, to answer one of your questions, no, the subs don't have to be OCR'd to SRT or some other text-based format as long as whatever device you're using can play embedded VobSubs. But I've had only limited experience with all the hardware devices you mentioned. Maybe you should experiment with both MakeMKV and with installing Plex to both your computer and your Roku3 so you can stream from your computer.
As I understand though, with Plex, the subtitles are hard encoded for the Roku at the time of streaming, and its not really the Roku reading the embeded subtitle track in the MKV file, but Plex that is, and then hardcoding it into the video feed.
Second, You are refering to DVD's which are Standard Definition and their subtitle track is different than that of a Blu-ray. I only convert DVD's if a blu-ray version isn't available. My MKV's of all my Blu-rays do have the Video, DTS audio, and PGS subtitle tracks embeded in them.
Roku clearly states it won't play subtitle tracks that are embeded into the main file, when being plained with the Roku USB Channel and a USB drive. That to play subtitles, it must be on a USB stick in the same folder with the same name as the movie file.
I was just wondering why Roku, and other Media Players in other devices are not yet supporting directly playing files with embeded subtitles. Seeing that it can be done by plex, running the plex channel on the Roku, and a Plex server on the PC. or in the case of Blu-ray players, that can play subtitle from a M2TS when its on the blu-ray, but not when its on a hard drive or DLNA server is beyond me.
99% of my conversions, rips etc.. are from Blu-rays. I vary rarely mess with a DVD unless the BR isn't available.
I was just wondering why Roku, and other Media Players in other devices are not yet supporting directly playing files with embeded subtitles.