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Submerge 1.5.6 review

Verdict:

If you need to add subtitles to movies, look no further.

Review Date: 27 Feb 2009

Price when reviewed: (about £6)

Reviewed By: Tim Danaher

Our Rating 5 stars out of 5

It's a rare thing when you find a piece of software that does exactly what you want it to do. Even rarer when it does it with speed, style and simplicity.

Submerge, from Swedish developer Bitfield, is a piece of software that allows you to add subtitles to movie files. There are a number of reasons you may want to do this - for language-teaching purposes, or simply to annotate presentations or home movies. To do this, though, you'll need to be able to produce your subtitle file in the desired format. Luckily, there are sites dedicated to producing subtitle sets in a variety of different languages, and the emerging standard seems to be the SubRip format (.srt files), although Submerge also supports Sub 1, Sub 2 and Micro DVD formats.

In use, Submerge starts off 'faceless' - that is, its interface doesn't appear until you actually open a movie file. Submerge seems to support everything out there - even the brand-new Matroska (.mkv) format - so you should be able to open your movie without a hitch. Help is included, but Submerge is so ridiculously easy to use and self-explanatory that you'll probably never need it. You simply hit the Choose button to select a subtitle file, click on Render to blend the subtitles into the movie file, and then export in whatever format you choose.

Submerge's rendering speed is worth mentioning. We've encountered other subtitling software in the past that is much slower to output, taking at least the length of the film. Submerge can render titles to a two-hour film in under a minute.

This speed gives you the option of experimenting with fonts and styles to your heart's content. There's a slide-out drawer that gives you access to all the subtitle settings, where you can set font, alignment, style and - being a fully Quartz-aware program - the all-important 'Plate'. That's the translucent strip behind the subtitles that ensures they're always readable, no matter if the background image is crowded with fine and fast-moving detail.

Once rendered, you can output your film to almost any format, or export it using ready-made presets for iPod, iPhone or Apple TV. It even supports Elgato's Turbo.264 hardware converter for faster export.

Submerge is simply unbeatable thanks to its versatility in dealing with a range of movie and subtitle formats. On top of its superb functionality, its laughably low price of $9 (about £6) ensures that it deserves every one of its five mice.

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