Guide: How to change

DVD subtitle colours


By CoNS.


The guide is written for DVDSubEdit v1.3 and above.

All thanks go to Jeanl for this marvelous application.


Questions, comments, bug reports and suggestions for improvements

regarding the guide are most welcome in the doom9 forum thread.






This guide will show you how to easily change the colours of your DVD subtitles using DVDSubEdit.


The application provides two different methods for this purpose:


       1.   Remap colours, or

       2.   Replace the colours in the Colour LookUp Table (CLUT).


The first method only affects one subpic at a time, and therefore it may be used to change the colours of certain subpics inside a stream. However, the changes can easily be applied to all subtitles in a subpic stream or all subtitles on the DVD.


The second method will usually affect all subtitles on the DVD instantly.


Because you have to pick a colour from an existing 16 colour palette, the first method is not as flexible as the second one. However, the two methods may be combined.


DVDSubEdit changes the DVD subtitle colours directly inside the VOB and IFO files. It can also work with SUP files, which are separate bitmap subtitle files that can be used for authoring DVDs with MuxMan, IfoEdit or ReJig. The guide is primarily written for changing subtitle colours in DVDs, but basically changing the colours of subtitles in SUP files works the same way.


If you are new to DVD editing in general, and have problems understanding the user interface in DVDSubEdit, you may want to read the user manual before proceeding with the guide.




Open the DVD in DVDSubEdit


Start by opening the DVD in DVDSubEdit.


Make sure you have the DVD on your hard disk as IFO, BUP and VOB files.


Choose “Open full domain” from the File menu.


Browse to the folder containing the DVD files and select any of the VOB files from the main movie VTS.


Alternatively you can choose “Open VOB file(s)” in the File menu and mark and select all of the VOB files from the main movie VTS. Or simply drag-and-drop all of the VOB files from the main movie VTS to the application window.


Tip: The main movie VTS is usually the largest set of VTS files in the folder. You may want to use the standard “Show details” option in the Windows “Open file” dialog to view the file sizes.


After loading the DVD you can browse the subpics by using the slider, the arrow buttons or the arrow keys on your keyboard.


If you want to change the colours of a SUP file instead you select “Open .sup file” in the file menu. Please notice that in order to change the colours in the SUP file using any of the two methods described below, you must also open an IFO file in connection with the SUP file.




Some background information on DVD subtitle colours


Before you start changing the subtitle colours it is useful to be aware of the following:


Subtitles on a DVD consist of bitmap images stored inside the VOB files. Each bitmap image is called a “subpic”. A subpic consists of four pixel types: Background (b), Pattern (p), Emphasis 1 (e1) and Emphasis 2 (e2) pixels.


In the “Subpic Color/Transparency” section of the main window in DVDSubEdit, you will see the four colours used by the four pixel types in the current subpic. Example:



The four colours are picked from a 16 colour palette, the Colour LookUp Table (CLUT), which is stored inside the IFO files.


You can bring up a small window displaying the CLUT colours by clicking on one of the four pixel colours in the main window.


The colour assignment (mapping) of the four pixel types may change from subpic to subpic, even inside the same subtitle stream.


For example in one subpic, the pattern pixel may be assigned to the fifth colour in the CLUT, and in the next subpic it may be assigned to the second colour in the CLUT. However, in most cases the colour mapping is the same for the entire subtitle stream, and also for other streams on the DVD.


In the example on the right, pixel e1 is assigned to the color defined in the 9th tile of the CLUT.


To complicate things further, the CLUT may change, too. The CLUT is defined per PGC and in some rare cases a movie spans over more than one PGC, which may have different CLUT colours. However, on many episodic DVDs each episode is located in a separate PGC, with separate CLUTs.


The transparency of each of the four pixel types in a subpic may vary, too, on scale from clear (transparent) to opaque (solid). Usually the background pixel is set to transparent, like in the above example. Otherwise the background of the subtitles would cover some or all of the video frame, when the subtitles are displayed.


The other three pixel types are used for the subtitle outline (typically a dark colour), the inside of the subtitle (typically a light colour) and anti-aliasing (typically a medium colour).


Anti-aliasing makes the transition between the outline and the inside of the subtitle smoother.


Notice that in some cases there’s no anti-aliasing and the fourth pixel type is unused.


The order of the pixel types may vary, i.e. in one subpic the pattern pixel may be used for the inside of the subtitle, and in another subpic it may be used for the outline. Often, the “b” pixel isn’t used for the background at all!


Tip: In the above example, I have turned off the “Show Video Frame” option, and in order to be able to see the difference between the background in the preview window and the subtitle outline, I have changed the default video background colour in the Preferences window (choose “Preferences” in the File menu).


Tip: Often it’s difficult to see the anti-aliasing pixels in the subpic. Sometimes it helps to check the “Show zoom bitmap” option (or hit CTRL+D) to display the subtitles in scale 1:1 in a small window on top of the main window.



The background colour in this window is the same as the colour used in the main window when the “Show Video Frame” option is off and can be changed in the preferences window.




Method 1: Remap colours


In DVDSubEdit you can easily remap the colours, i.e. change which of the 16 colours in CLUT to be used for each pixel type.


This will change the VOB files (or the SUP file), and it will not change the CLUT stored in the IFO files.


To remap a colour click on the colour you want to change in the “Subpic Color/Transparency” section of the main window.


In the example to the right, I select the yellow colour assigned to the Emphasis 1 (e1) pixels.


This brings up the small window displaying the 16 pre-defined colours in the CLUT.


In order to change the subtitle colour from yellow to a white shade, I can now select a white or light grey colour in the CLUT, instead of the yellow, simply by clicking on the desired colour.


The changes are immediately shown in the preview window behind the small window.


Click OK to exit the small window and accept the changes.


Notice: Usually you would want to repeat the procedure for the anti-aliasing colour, too, if this is in use.


The colour mapping has now been changed for the current subpic only. However, you can easily apply the changes to all subtitles on the DVD or to a selection of subtitles.


If you want to apply the changes to all subpics in a specific subpic stream, use the dropdown selection box in the “Subpic selection” section in the main window to select any of the subpic streams.


In the example to the right, I’m selecting an English subpic stream. “WS” indicates that the stream is to be used when viewing the movie in WideScreen format (“LB” means LetterBox format).


To apply the remapping of colours to all selected subpics, choose “Apply last modifications to all” in the Edit menu (or press CTRL+A).


This brings up a window with the option “Apply changes to color” pre-selected.


Click “DO IT!” to apply the changed colour mapping to all selected subpics.


Unlike Method 2 below, only the selected subpics are affected.


The rest of the subtitles are unaffected by the changes.


Notice: This method only works if there are any “useable” colours defined in the CLUT.


For example with the CLUT in the example to the right, I would not be able to change my subtitle colours from grey to yellow or white etc., without actually replacing at least one colour in the CLUT.


To do this, see below about “Method 2”.




Method 2: Replace the colours in the CLUT


A fast and easy way of changing the colours for all subtitles at once, is to replace one or more of the 16 colours in the CLUT with new colours. As the CLUT is stored in IFO files, the VOB files (or the SUP file) is not changed.


In the “Subpic Color/Transparency” section of the main window, click on the colour you want to change.


This will bring up the window with the 16 pre-defined CLUT colours.


In the example to the right I have clicked on the medium grey colour used for the inside of the subtitle characters (e1).


In the window with the CLUT colours, the colour used for this pixel type is pre-selected (marked with a thick border line).



To replace any of the 16 colours in the CLUT with a new colour, shift-click the colour (hold down the SHIFT key and click the left mouse button). In my example, I would want to shift-click the pre-selected colour to be able to change it.


Shift-clicking a colour brings up the standard MS Windows colour selection window, which allows you to choose from a palette of basic colours or define the colour you want.


When done, click “OK” in both the MS Windows colour selection window and the CLUT display window.


The subtitle colour has now been changed.


Notice: Usually you would want to repeat the procedure for the anti-aliasing colour, too, if this is in use.


The replacement of colours will affect all subtitles on the DVD that use this specific colour. Normally the same four colours are used for all subpics, both in the current subpic stream and other subpic streams on the DVD.


However, you may want to randomly browse through a few on the subpics to make sure the changes have taken effect. Otherwise, repeat the replacing of CLUT colours for the remaining subpics.


Tip: You may combine the methods. For example, if you want to change the colour of the subtitles in one chapter, and not in the rest of the movie, you can use Method 1 to change the mapping in that chapter to use a colour in the CLUT that isn’t used anywhere else, and then use Method 2 to change that color.




Save and test


When you’re done editing the subtitles, you can save the changes by choosing “Save all modifications” in the File menu (or hit CTRL+S).


Warning: The program will overwrite the original files, and no backup is made. This means that there’s no undo function to revert the changes after saving.


For this reason, you may want to manually back up your files before saving the modifications.


Also, when editing DVDs it’s always recommend to test the result in a software player before burning the disc. Or burn to a rewritable disc and test in your standalone player.