WDTV LIVE SMP subtitle issues

Apparently not everyone upgraded from the original LIVE to the SMP and thus did not browse the LIVE forums. For all the people who missed my original thread on WDTV LIVE subtitle issues here’s the gist on what’s what with the SMP:

PGS subs

  • Animated subs are not displayed
    Found e.g. in the ‘Men in Black’ DVD and ‘Lord of the Rings’ BD commentary streams. When cycling through streams even the stream name of these subs is not depicted but listed as ‘unknown’.
    Solution: none.

  • Subs ripped with MakeMKV are not displayed ( fixed as of MakeMKV 1.7.8, use WDTV profile )
    MakeMKV does not compress PGS subs with zlib which are the only subs that work on the SMP. Mediainfo lists compressed subs as ‘Muxing mode: zlib’.

Solution: bug Mike to add zlib compression to MakeMKV, bug WD to support uncompressed subs

Workaround: remux MKVs with MKVToolnix which automatically compresses them. This is not related to the ‘header removal compression’ setting (which has been fixed on the WDTVs but should be disabled nevertheless cause it confuses various standalones and only saves a few MB anyway).

Sub adjustment

Unlike other players the SMP allows for adjustment of text subtitles (SRT, SSA/A SS) only. Pressing option on the remote allows you to enter a menu where you can change position & size, color, coding but not timings (which somehow got dropped from the LIVE).


Good thread. 

To add to this:

VobSub subs

  • Animated subs are not displayed unless they’re in the DVD ISO or VIDEO_TS container format.
  • Transparency in subs is not displayed unless they’re in the DVD ISO or VIDEO_TS container format.
  • VobSubs in MKV containers may make a portion of the movie FLASH briefly when first engaged.
  • VobSubs in MP4/M4V containers may make the movie FLASH briefly when every subtitle is displayed.

(certainly not an exhaustive list.)

Tech, is it worth compiling other relavent comments / additions into your top post?


Dunno. Maybe first let some more people add info concerning sub issues? I’m thinking about addind some stuff to the FAQ as well…

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Hi Tech,

Sent you a PM re a subtitle issue I’m having. Hope you can help


Just post it here in the thread so everyone can read the solution, if there is any.

Hi Tech,

Can you help me with something please?

I have a problem with getting subtitles to display in non english speaking sections of movies on my WDTV Live Streaming Media player.
I use MakeMKV for Blurays and select the English subtitle tracks.
Before using mkvtoolnix i cannot see any subs due to the compression issue that Ive read about. So i downloaded toolnix and selected the movie and hit remux.
It displays subs but the subs are on all the time for the whole movie, even in english spoken parts.

What exactly do i need to do to get it to to only show subs in non english spoken parts?

p.s. i posted this on the makemkv forum but i’m not sure how long a response will take.

Kind regards

This has always worked for me.

To show PGS subtitles.

Rip using MakeMKV.

Download MKVtoolnix.


1 - Rip your DVD or Blu-ray Disc using MakeMKV.

2 - Open MKVtoolnix.  Click “file” (top left), then “options” (on the drop-down menu), look down the list of options and put a tick in the box that says “Disable header removal compression for audio and video tracks by default”. Once you have a tick in the box click “OK”.

3 - Now you’re back on the main Windows, click the “add” button and navigate to one of your MKV files which isn’t displaying subtitles, select it and click “open”.

4 - By default the file will be written to the same place as the original. For example, if your file is called “Citizen Kane.mkv” the new file will be called “Citizen Kane (1).mkv”. Your original will be unchanged. Click the “start muxing” button and wait. It will be 10-15 mins depending on the speed of your hard drive. 5 - Once the process is complete test the new file e.g.: “Citizen Kane (1).mkv” on your WD TV Live, and see if the subtitles display. 6 - As long as it works, delete the original file (for example “Citizen Kane.mkv”) and change the name of the replacement (eg. change “Citizen Kane (1).mkv” to “Citizen Kane.mkv”). 

TA-DA! From my experience, MakeMKV will now rip all subtitles and the WDTV Live will play them all, in synch with the audio, and staying on screen for the appropriate amount of time (there were previously some issues with synching).

For me this has had a 100% success rate, both with foreign language films, and English language films with forced subs on occasional foreign language scenes like The Godfather.

If anyone tries this and it doesn’t work can you please post details of the disc, etc.

Steve W

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Hi Pecker,

I did see your post in another thread.

What you explained is what i actually tried but i did it with a couple of mkv files i had already ripped from bluray discs.

The thing is , i dont know if i had ticked all the english sub boxes in makemkv when i first ripped them.

I usually do except if i think there wont be any need for subtitles.

Ive just tried it on a pre ripped mkv file of district 9. When i put the file into toolnix it showed about 8 sub tracks. So i remuxed and just adding to drive and will go and see what happens


update: it worked on District 9. I had 6 diff sub choices and one of them is in fact forced subs for when the aliens speak.

Thanks again for your help buddy. I owe you one 

BigRoo wrote:
i posted this on the makemkv forum but i’m not sure how long a response will take.

Yeah, I found the thread and it already mentioned all you needed to know. Since forced subs can be authored in several ways you have to check the streams manually after ripping.

Pecker wrote:
TA-DA! From my experience, MakeMKV will now rip all subtitles and the WDTV Live will play them all

Right, which is exactly what I suggested with my workaround in the first post of this thread.

1 Like

Sorry, I just thought a step-by-step guide might help.

Steve W

1 Like

Hey guys,

Sorry i didnt mean to waste anyones time. I had success after ticking the “disable header removal” box.

I dont think your post mentioned this Tech. I tried remux first but didnt produce the result i was after until i ticked the aforementiond box.

I haven’t mentioned it because this bug has been fixed several firmwares ago and the SMP should play MKVs with or without this setting. However, my MKVToolnix is always set to off so if WD reintroduced this bug in one of their subsequent firmwares I would have missed it.


Thanks for your help anyway tech

It seems that getting sub-titles to display is the hardest part of using this product (and media players in general, I would guess).

So, rather then trying to debug individual problems I’d like to take a step back and ask what setup will generally make things work best with my new WD TV Live SMP’s.

Directly connecting a USB device is probably the simplest setup, but this is not an option for me.

So far, I’ve been trying to use media servers (PlayOn and Mezzmo) and have had no luck with sub-titles.  I would be interested to know which one works best with WD TV Live SMP, particularly when it comes to sub-titles.

I have not yet tried pulling the files directly from a network share (this seems to me to have some disadvantages) but I will resort to that if I can’t get (most) sub-titles working with a media server.

I also notice that WDTV can’t handle non-English subtitles. It display garage text! Please add chinese support!

Ok, I never tried chinese subs because I´ve got no need for them but a lot of languages are supported like german, french, russian and some more.

I just don´t understand why people have a problem with PGS. If you copmpress them with zlib they are displayed very fine. Is there any disadvantage compressing them or just leave them uncopressed with video and audio in a m2ts-container?

There is no problem with some non-English subtitles as long as they are using 1 bytes character set. For chinese and many asian languages, they require 2 bytes character set. Please add this support.


Boon Hong.

There is no problem with zlibbed subs being mandatory other than it should not be necessary. And of course it adds another step to the workflow which I’d like to avoid.

So the quality of zlibbed Subs isn´t worse than uncompressed PGS?

For me it´s not an additional step because I remux bluray movies anyway to get rid of all unnecessary audio- and sub-languages.

Hi Steve,

Sorry but: 

_ TA-DA!  From my experience, MakeMKV will now rip all subtitles and the WDTV Live will play them all, in synch with the audio, and staying on screen for the appropriate amount of time (there were previously some issues with synching)._


The MKV Toolnix and MakeMKV are two seperate programs, how does MakeMKV know to disable header removal… in the future?

I tried your advise and had to apply the setting using MKVmergui GUI ( I believe this is the new name for MKVToolnix) to each movie individually after ripped with MakeMKV.  

Hope you understand what I’m trying to say. Please help.