Quote Originally Posted by evilsoup View Post
MKVmerge is a very useful tool in general, but I don't think it can do what you want. It can set up soft subtitles, but it can't burn them into the image (hardsub). Your best bet would be to use ffmpeg's subtitles filter. Assuming your input file is called 'input.mp4', and the subtitles file is called 'subtitle.srt':

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -filter:v 'subtitles=subtitle.srt' -c:v mpeg2video -q:v 4 -c:a ac3 -ac 2 -ab 192k output.avi
This will give you mpeg2 video, with a quantiser setting of 4 - this sets a sort of constant quality, rather than a bit rate (VBR, Variable Bit Rate). The range is 1-32, where lower=better quality and about 2-5 is generally a sensible range to use. You should consider using MPEG4 video, which will give you smaller/better quality files, and should be compatible with most DVD players, even most cheap ones. MPEG4 uses the same quantiser range as MPEG2.

This command will also convert the audio to AC3 with two audio channels (so, stereo) and a constant bit rate of 192 kbit/s. AC3 is a standard part of DVD VOB files, so should be compatible. If you have surround-sound audio that you don't want to be downmixed to stereo, just ditch the '-ac 2' and dial the bit rate up to 384k. If you have some audio that you just want copied (because you're sure that it will work), use '-c:a copy' and ditch the other audio options.

The following command will use MPEG4 video with an xvid tag (which some players need for some reason), and will simply copy the audio:

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -filter:v 'subtitles=subtitle.srt' -c:v mpeg4 -q:v 4 -tag:v xvid -c:a copy output.avi
Note that the version of ffmpeg in the Ubuntu repos is a crippled, fake version from the libav team. If you use avconv instead, that might work; you'd be best off either grabbing a static build from the downloads page or compiling it yourself. The Jon Severinsson PPA might be an option (I don't know if it has the subtitles filter yet).

This blog post gives a decent general overview of useful delivery codecs & their usage with ffmpeg (though the information of VP8 is out of date).
thnx a lot, i'll post back soon with results!