Sunday, May 13, 2018

Plex Perplexed - The Issue of Subtiltles

Plex is one of the greatest things that ever happened to my media collection. It helps order, manage and even grow my library. But the one problem that has perplexed me since installing my server was the issue of subtitles.

Of the films I have that are either foreign-language, or contain foreign-language parts, most of them have subtitles that are "burned-in," that is the parts with foreign-language dialogue are automatically part of the film, no extra effort is required. In my region, the type that appears at the bottom of the screen is in English, but many films these days allow you to select a particular language.

However, some of the films that I purchase don’t automatically burn-in the subtitles. So the question I struggled with for so long was, how do you add them?

I decided to pose this question to Plex Pals. I got several answers. First of all, it’s important to mention that oftentimes your movies will come with a ".srt" file. This is the subtitle "script," and there are several actual formats.

The first suggestion I received was to name the .srt file the same as the movie and add it to the same Plex folder in which I stored the movie file (.mp4, .mkv, etc.), then refresh the library (I’ll explain that part later).

The second suggestion was to add a plugin called "Sub-Zero."

Neither worked for me at first, so I decided to look for help on YouTube. I found the following video very helpful in closing the gaps.

First:  here is an excellent step-by-step on how to install Sub-Zero. Keep in mind whatever agent you choose should be moved to the top.

It’s important not to forget to mention that I use a Roku to watch my movies, and the next steps are how to set this all up on a Roku device.

To get the subtitles there are a few steps to take. First, set up Sub-Zero properly and refresh metadata in your library.

Access your server using a browser > under LIBRARIES, click the three dots next to Movies, then select "Refresh All Metadata." You can also do this step on a title-by-title basis by clicking the three dots on the movie thumbnail.

Second, set up your Plex Media Server to only display the subtitles you want. For example, in a WWII movie, I only want subtitles for when they are speaking German, Russian, or French for that matter. Third, and this is the key, you must set up your Roku to utilize this set up every time you watch that movie. (I’m currently looking for an easy way to set it and forget it, but haven’t found it yet.)

Click the settings icon > go to Settings > got to Streams > choose your .srt. > click back to the main menu, then click Playback > click Roku Captions Mode > then click “ON.”

If you’ve completed all prior preparations, you should be in business. Only foreign-language translation subtitles will appear.

The correct .srt for you should be the first available and will correspond to the prior set up instructions, and should contain the words “forced,” or “embedded.”

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a pain to have to remember to go through all of this, and to remember to turn off Roku Captions Mode after watching a movie, but SOOO much better than to have to guess what the characters are saying. When I figure out how to do a one time setup, I will update this article.

For now, happy Plexing and please feel free to “Like” and “comment.”