HandBrake Subtitles

HandBrake is a popular program for ripping DVDs and for converting converts movie files from one format to another.

I extended HandBrake to support subtitles from file inputs (in addition to DVDs) and to support the SSA and ASS subtitle formats, which are popular for encoding Japanese anime and foreign films.

My main motivation for adding subtitle support was to watch movies on my iPhone while riding public transit and flying long-distance.

This was the first open source project I participated in.


  • HandBrake 0.9.5 and later has subtitle support
  • I have personally tested:
    • HandBrake svn3563 (2010100201)
    • HandBrake svn3567 (2010100301)

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SSA Problems?

If you experience any major rendering issues with SSA subtitles, please:

These days (as of 2011) I am more or less inactive on HandBrake development.


Simultaneous subtitle support added


Committed: https://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=18379&p=93265

HandBrake 0.9.5 released


Now everyone can see my SSA subtitle improvements.


SSA burn-in support committed!


At long last. The main body of work is now complete.

Committed: https://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=17609&start=75#p83649

SSA burn-in now compiles under all supported architectures.


Announced: https://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=17609&start=50#p83250

Initial version of SSA burn-in patch completed.


Announced: https://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=17609#p81389

Wrote HandBrake Architectural Guide.


This should help new developers on the HandBrake project come up to speed more quickly.

Committed: https://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=16559#p77909

Now decodes SSA to UTF-8 subtitles.


Subtitled anime is now playable on iPhone, albeit without styling info.

Committed: https://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=16538#p77832

Can now transcode all subtitle formats that it can output.


HandBrake can now transcode all subtitle formats that it can output (VOB, UTF-8, TX3G).

Committed: https://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=16267#p77158

General support for subtitles from file-inputs.


Committed: https://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=16099#p76255

Approach decided.


Announced to the HandBrake community here: