SubStation Alpha

Summary

SubStation Alpha (or Sub Station Alpha), abbreviated SSA, is a subtitle file format created by CS Low (also known as Kotus) that allows for more advanced subtitles than the conventional SRT and similar formats. It is also the name of the popular, now discontinued tool used to edit subtitles.

SubStation Alpha
Capture d'écran de SubStation Alpha.png
Screenshot of SubStation Alpha Tool for edit subtitles
Filename extension
.ssa, .ass
Developed byKotus
Initial releaseBefore 23 November 1996; 25 years ago (1996-11-23)[1]
Type of formatTimed text
Open format?Yes
Free format?Yes

This subtitle format is frequently used in anime fansubs, either to overlay subtitles onto video while it is being encoded (hardsubbing), or to store subtitle data alongside video data, often in a Matroska (MKV) container (softsubbing). It's not commonly used professionally except by Crunchyroll.

The current version of SSA is v4.00. There are many freeware and open source subtitling applications that support the SSA format.

Principal sections in an SSA subtitleEdit

A basic SSA subtitle:

[Script Info]
; This is a Sub Station Alpha v4 script.
; For Sub Station Alpha info and downloads,
; go to http://www.eswat.demon.co.uk/
Title: Neon Genesis Evangelion - Episode 26 (neutral Spanish)
Original Script: RoRo
Script Updated By: version 2.8.01
ScriptType: v4.00
Collisions: Normal
PlayResY: 600
PlayDepth: 0
Timer: 100,0000
 
[V4 Styles]
Format: Name, Fontname, Fontsize, PrimaryColour, SecondaryColour, TertiaryColour, BackColour, Bold, Italic, BorderStyle, Outline, Shadow, Alignment, MarginL, MarginR, MarginV, AlphaLevel, Encoding
Style: DefaultVCD, Arial,28,11861244,11861244,11861244,-2147483640,-1,0,1,1,2,2,30,30,30,0,0
 
[Events]
Format: Marked, Start, End, Style, Name, MarginL, MarginR, MarginV, Effect, Text
Dialogue: Marked=0,0:00:01.18,0:00:06.85,DefaultVCD, NTP,0000,0000,0000,,{\pos(400,570)}Like an angel with pity on nobody

Advanced SubStation AlphaEdit

Advanced SubStation Alpha (ASS) is a script for more advanced subtitles than SSA. It is technically SSA v4+. It is able to produce anything from simple texts to manual graphic editing used in karaoke. There are few programs designed to create these scripts. The main feature of ASS is it has more specifications than normal SSA, like in styles programming. For example, the above script changed into ASS:

[Script Info]
; Script generated by Aegisub
; http://www.aegisub.org
Title: Neon Genesis Evangelion - Episode 26 (neutral Spanish)
Original Script: RoRo
Script Updated By: version 2.8.01
ScriptType: v4.00+
Collisions: Normal
PlayResY: 600
PlayDepth: 0
Timer: 100,0000
Video Aspect Ratio: 0
Video Zoom: 6
Video Position: 0
 
[V4+ Styles]
Format: Name, Fontname, Fontsize, PrimaryColour, SecondaryColour, OutlineColour, BackColour, Bold, Italic, Underline, StrikeOut, ScaleX, ScaleY, Spacing, Angle, BorderStyle, Outline, Shadow, Alignment, MarginL, MarginR, MarginV, Encoding
Style: DefaultVCD, Arial,28,&H00B4FCFC,&H00B4FCFC,&H00000008,&H80000008,-1,0,0,0,100,100,0.00,0.00,1,1.00,2.00,2,30,30,30,0
 
[Events]
Format: Layer, Start, End, Style, Name, MarginL, MarginR, MarginV, Effect, Text
Dialogue: 0,0:00:01.18,0:00:06.85,DefaultVCD, NTP,0000,0000,0000,,{\pos(400,570)}Like an Angel with pity on nobody\NThe second line in subtitle

Software supportEdit

Authoring softwareEdit

Title Platform License Notes
Aegisub Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X Free and open-source Focused mostly on typesetting.
Gaupol Linux and Windows Free and open-source Has partial support for Sub Station Alpha and Advanced Sub Station Alpha subtitles.[2]
Gnome Subtitles Linux Free and open-source Built-in video preview, times synchronization/shifting, translation, spellcheck, subtitle merge/split.
Jubler Java Free and open-source[3] Splitting, joining, time shifting, translation mode, styles (in SubStation or SRT formats)
Kainote Windows Free and open-source[4] Translation mode, subtitle comparison, audio spectrum / waveform with karaoke autosplitting tool
Sabbu Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and BSD Free and open-source Focused mostly on timing. Abandoned since 2013.[5]
Sub Station Alpha Windows Freeware Outdated and no longer developed.
Subtitle Composer Linux Free and open-source Supports SSA/ASSA formats, text style and colors, unsupported SSA styles are ignored.[6]
Subtitle Edit Linux and Windows Free and open-source Supports 250+ subtitle formats, translation, audio waveform preview
Subtitle Processor Windows Free and open-source Unicode is supported from version 7.7, UTF-8 is preferred, other encodings are internally converted to UTF-8.[7]
Subtitle Workshop Windows Freeware[8] Apparently abandoned.[9] Not recommended because it is not a fully dedicated SSA/ASS editor, because it doesn't follow the strict rules about SSA subtitles, and it erases any style put in with another program.[citation needed]
VisualSubSync-Enhanced Windows Free and open-source[10] Forked from VisualSubSync, which was abandoned in 2013.[11]
Subtitled Pro Android Non-free[12] A mobile subtitle editor app that supports importing, exporting, converting, editing, and hardsubbing of SSA/ASS files and other formats.

Subtitle encoding softwareEdit

Software tools to encode subtitle files into video containers (mkv, mp4, mov, ...):

Title Platform License Notes
FFmpeg Windows, Linux, Mac OS Free and open-source FFmpeg can also encode and convert subtitles in video containers including 'Subtitles Character Encoding Conversion' for plaintext files and special characters[13]
iSubtitle MacOS Freeware Encoding of soft subtitled movies for Apple gears[14]
HandBrake Windows, Linux, Mac OS Free and open-source HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform video transcoder[15]
MKVToolNix Windows, Linux, Mac OS, BSD, OpenIndiana Free and open-source MKVToolNix is a collection of tools for the Matroska media container format. See also MKVMerge, a part of MKVToolNix, which is often used to attach/merge subtitle and/or audio files to a video file.
XMedia Recode Windows Freeware XMedia Recode is a free All-In-One video converter and audio converter tool[16]
Subler Mac OS Free and open-source Subler is an open-source GPL-licensed for the MP4 media container format. It is used to attach/merge subtitle and/or audio files to a video file.

Players and renderersEdit

Title Description
Avidemux Open-source video editing and processing software product
DirectVobSub a DirectShow codec for displaying SSA subtitles in Windows Media Player or other Directshow player (there is also a fork of it called xy-VSFilter).
DivX The proprietary DivX Plus software supports this subtitle format[17]
GStreamer Open-source multimedia framework that supports SSA subtitles through its plugin architecture
HandBrake Open-source video transcoder (video converter) that can process SSA subtitles (either soft-subbing or hard-subbing them, depending on the user's preference)
KooRaRoo Media A media server and organizer for Windows. Supports rendering external subtitles as SSA on devices that don't support external or embedded subtitles.
libass Open-source library used by Aegisub, Avidemux, GStreamer, HandBrake, MPlayer, Totem, VLC media player, XBMC, and many other open-source programs to render/process SSA subtitles
Media Player Classic Home Cinema[18] Open-source self-contained media player for Windows
MPlayer Open-source media player that runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, *BSD, Solaris, BeOS, Syllable, AmigaOS and MorphOS
mpv Open-source media player that runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and *BSD; originally forked from MPlayer.
PS3 Media Server Media server that works with PlayStation 3 systems (has some bugs with some effects)
Totem GNOME's default media player that can render SSA subtitles via GStreamer
Universal Media Server Media server that works with DLNA, UPnP and HTTP/S-capable devices
VideoPad Video editing program from NCH Software that support .ssa subtitles[19]
VirtualDub with the subtitler or textsub filters[20] Open-source video capture/processing utility for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows platforms
VLC media player Open-source media player for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, BeOS and Syllable
PotPlayer Media player for Windows, with a huge number of features and customizations, allowing screen recording, podcasts, and many user friendly shortcuts including global hotkeys
Kodi (formerly XBMC) Open-source cross-platform Media Center program
xy-VSFilter a DirectShow codec for displaying SSA subtitles in Windows Media Player or other Directshow player, included in the Combined Community Codec Pack and the K-Lite Codec Pack (it is a fork of DirectVobSub)

Further readingEdit

  • "SSA/ASS Subtitles". Matroska.org. CoreCodec, Inc. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  • Kotus (18 February 2002). "Sub Station Alpha v4.00+ Script Format" (Microsoft Word Document). Retrieved 11 July 2010.
    • moodub.free.fr Mirror
  • "ASS Tags". Aegisub Manual. aegisub.org. Retrieved 25 March 2014.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Sub Station Alpha". Kuts and Sub Station Alpha. Archived from the original on 3 February 1997.
  2. ^ "Gaupol Subtitle Editor". Home.gna.org. Archived from the original on 2009-03-04. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  3. ^ "teras/Jubler". GitHub. 23 December 2021.
  4. ^ "bjakja/Kainote". GitHub. 19 October 2021.
  5. ^ "sabbu". SourceForge.
  6. ^ "Subtitle Composer". GitHub. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Subtitle Processor | Download Subtitle Processor software for free at". Sourceforge.net. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  8. ^ "URUWorks - Subtitle Workshop". Urusoft.net. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  9. ^ "URUWorks - Subtitle Workshop Forum". forum.uruworks.net.
  10. ^ "VisualSubSync-Enhanced". GitHub. 16 December 2021.
  11. ^ "VisualSubSync". Visualsubsync.org. 2010-04-18. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  12. ^ "Subtitled Pro". 27 January 2022.
  13. ^ "FFmpeg". ffmpeg.org.
  14. ^ "iSubtitle". bitfield.se/isubtitle.
  15. ^ "HandBrake". handbrake.fr.
  16. ^ "XMedia Recode". xmedia-recode.de.
  17. ^ "DivX Plus Software". DivX.com. DivX, LLC is a subsidiary of Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  18. ^ "Changelog · MPC-HC".
  19. ^ "How to create and edit subtitles with VideoPad".
  20. ^ VirtualDub Filters