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I have a .srt file with the desired subtitles and I want to merge it into the main file. I want them as soft subs, though, and I haven't seen anything that says how to do this. All I can find is how to do them as hard subs.

Edit: Turns out that for me it's basically a moot point anyway, while the target machine supposedly plays .avi files I have not been able to get it to do so.

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mkvmerge will gladly mux subs with video. The only thing is that you'll be left with a .mkv after, which may not be a problem.

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I tried this one also--nope, I'm getting boxes instead of subtitles. At least it behaved a lot more sensibly than the AviAddXSubs option. – Loren Pechtel Nov 15 '10 at 3:36
Is the file encoded as UTF-8? – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Nov 15 '10 at 3:41
I don't know the encoding. It displays properly in Notepad. – Loren Pechtel Nov 16 '10 at 4:09

You can add soft subs to an .avi file easily by a free tool called AVIAddXSubs. See this tutorial which explains the details.

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Sounds like it, trying it now... – Loren Pechtel Nov 15 '10 at 0:59
...nope. It can't cope with the track. I tried both Default and ChineseBig5 (the track I'm trying to add is Chinese) and both produce ??????'s instead of captions. – Loren Pechtel Nov 15 '10 at 3:13

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