Is there any way to improve the subtitle rendering capabilities of Totem? The subtitles positioning seems to be hard-coded in it and even though the style is user-customizable, it does not confirm to the formatting in subtitle data. In some scenes where writings appear, the subtitles are supposed to appear next to those along with what is being said at that moment. However, on those scenes the translations of text onscreen appears on the default subtitle area with nothing about the things being said.

The correct rendering are according to the open-source Windows video player, Media Player Classic - Home Cinema. There is no Linux port as far as I'm aware.

If VLC's subtitle support is the same as in Windows, it won't work for me, period.

Please suggest anyway to improve subtitle rendering in Totem, other video players, or a way to port MPC-HC.


I've determined that the subtitle rendering issue is not video player-specific. As suggested in the answers, I tried MPlayer, and again the subtitle formatting was overridden by default settings somewhere. I ran SMPlayer in Windows with the same videos, but this issue is not reproducible on it.


SMPlayer on Ubuntu renders subtitles perfectly. I am at a loss to understand why the core MPlayer could not do so. Additionally, anyone know how to disable the while seek bar that appears in the center when moving forward/backward?


With my interaction on MPlayer's mailing list, I discovered that -ass flag is required for correct ASS/SSA subtitle rendering.

  • What's about mplayer? Surely, advanced features needs to use CLI (and/or config file) but you can tune almost everything. It has got anti-aliased shaded subtitles (configurable, many parameters), you can set the position of subtitles, etc.
    – LGB
    Mar 9, 2011 at 16:19
  • @LGB, honestly, MPlayer is a mystery to me - I know nothing about it.
    – Oxwivi
    Mar 9, 2011 at 16:22
  • @LGB, just tried SMPlayer on Windows and the subtitles work perfectly - you may want to post an answer along with the instructions to install it and basic configuration. One thing I disliked was that the slider was displayed when I used the keyboard to go forward or backwards - is there a way to disable it?
    – Oxwivi
    Mar 9, 2011 at 16:36
  • Well yes, it has got tons of features, but as a spaceship is compared to a bicycle: more features need to know some complexity about the design and usage :) Ok, seriously: there are some nice GUIs for Mplayer out there, but I am not sure they will allow to use all the rich world of mplayer options via GUI and not CLI. You can try to dig the web for some MPlayer frontends which can make your life easy. As an ex-mplayer developer I have no problem with CLI, though. For sure, it's not an excuse if someone wants an easy to use solution nowdays, anyway ...
    – LGB
    Mar 9, 2011 at 16:36
  • @LGB, please suggest some GUI or the basic functions to access it from CLI.
    – Oxwivi
    Mar 9, 2011 at 16:38

5 Answers 5


I would suggest using MPlayer. It's a really nice, feature-rich player, but often beginners have problem with the interface (CLI based by design) and the "too many possibilities" (which is also the result of being feature-rich player btw). "Raw MPlayer" (without frontends) allows you to position your subtitles with keys 'r' and 't', also you can try key 'a' to modify alignment. You can also learn about options and default keybindings by typing man mplayer within terminal. You can also visit the documentation of MPlayer at MPlayer's site: http://www.mplayerhq.hu/DOCS/HTML/en/MPlayer.html

You can also try to use many of the GUI based frontends written for MPlayer, like SMPlayer, Gnome mplayer, etc. MPlayer has its own GUI too, some people say it's not so good as some frontends though. On default install it can be launched with command 'gmplayer' or by looking the menu item showing installed softwares (make sure you haven't tried the nogui version - from the package name - because it has not got GUI support compiled in!).

About your question: mplayer can use TTF fonts, shaded/antialiased, positioned, etc as subtitles, so as far as I can imagine it should be enough for your needs, if usability is not a problem at least :)

  • It reads subtitle data, and renders them accordingly - that's enough. Does the raw MPlayer do file type association? And which package do I install? As I said, I need no GUI as long as I can go full screen, pause/play, and forward/backwards. Or if the shortcuts are absent, please instruct me on how to set them on config files.
    – Oxwivi
    Mar 9, 2011 at 17:09
  • About the basic keys I've already written, space is to pause & continue. I am not sure if I understand your question about file type association. If you try to play a file, mplayer will try to identify the container format and the streams inside it, regardless of the filename or such. Or did you mean something different with that question?
    – LGB
    Mar 9, 2011 at 17:17
  • I think the question is "how to get the the media files to automatically open in mplayer when double clicked on" Try this link: ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=815127
    – jwernerny
    Mar 9, 2011 at 17:27
  • @LGB, so which package do I install?
    – Oxwivi
    Mar 9, 2011 at 17:54
  • @jwernerny,that even I know - is there no way to do it universally, like all the supported file types will be associated with MPlayer?
    – Oxwivi
    Mar 10, 2011 at 6:19

You might want to try mplayer (not to be confused with Media Player). It is installable through Synaptic.

  • Please read through the comments of my question discussing MPlayer.
    – Oxwivi
    Mar 9, 2011 at 16:45
  • I started my reply, got a phone call, submitted, and then saw all the comments.... LGB should get the credit... I always use mplayer through the CLI, but you may want to check out gnome-mplayer, smplayer, and kmplayer from the Ubuntu repos.
    – jwernerny
    Mar 9, 2011 at 16:56

" SMplayer will scale the subtitles to the same resolution as the video, even in fullscreen mode by default. So a video with low resolution will display quite unclear subtitles. You can fix this easily by going to Preferences > Advanced > options for mplayer and adding “-vo gl” (without the quotes) to options. Styled subtitles will still be rendered correctly."

original post http://sathyasays.com/2008/06/30/how-to-styled-subs-in-linux/


What I imagine you're looking for is a player that renders subtitles at desktop resolution rather than video resolution, like MPC-HC which you noted. Apart from the Mplayer based solutions mentioned already, which I don't have much experience with, you might find the subtitle rendering in XBMC much better. OTOH, If you're looking for a player to run in a window while you're working, XBMC will not fit your needs. For me, I like the fact that XBMC can both re-sync videos to the current framerate and render subtitles nicely, so it's my fullscreen video solution. It seems to run even better if run as its own desktop environment (selected during login) rather than running under Unity or Unity-2d.


As far as I know, MPC HC is the best player with subtitles rendering.

But there is no straight way of using that in ubuntu.

So u have to use wine for that.

Installing MPC-HC with Wine-

In the terminal-

  1. Install Wine-

    sudo apt-get install wine winetricks
  2. Download MPC-HC

    cd ~/ && wget https://binaries.mpc-hc.org/MPC%20HomeCinema%20-%20x64/MPC-HC_v1.7.10_x64/MPC-HC.1.7.10.x64.exe
  3. Install with Wine-

     wine ~/MPC-HC.1.7.10.x64.exe

then continue installation like windows machine.

  1. Remove the unnecessary files-

    rm ~/MPC-HC.1.7.10.x64.exe

Now u are done :)

U can select subtitle of any file (movie or serial file) by playing that and pressing button on the Keyboard D.

Hope u will like this.

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