I'm of Russian descent, but I've been living in Germany for the better part of my life now, which means that I deal with both German and Russian media on a regular basis. Most video stuff I have will have two or three audio tracks (depending on source language, which is usually included), so that one or another track can be played, depending on the audience.

This is where my children come into play. I try to raise them bilingual, so they could watch their cartoons in either language, again, depending on the audience. Which is a problem: any Pixar / Disney production is always fully localized, including the visuals, which means that I have to decide which visuals the file will contain.

I would like to incorporate multiple localized video tracks. However, my naive understanding is that there is no way to just replace the localized parts of the main movie (i.e. one large video track with a couple of hundreds localized snippets), but instead I'd have to keep several full video tracks in the file.

Is this correct, is multiplying the file size the only way? Is there any workaround, maybe something like the snippets model described above? Is this problem solved for physical media, e.g. is there any Blu-Ray which provides multi-language video tracks in a comparable form?

  • Which playback devices/software does the solution have to work on?
    – Gyan
    Aug 22, 2016 at 10:23
  • @Mulvya ideally mpv and Kodi, but I'm mostly interested in the solution as is, if anything is missing on the player side, that's something that can be fixed or at least reported. Aug 22, 2016 at 13:34
  • In theory, some of the MXF OP's would allow you to do this on the professional side. However, all of the standardization work I know of (SMPTE and AMWA, especially) has been around multi-language audio. Aug 22, 2016 at 22:58
  • I don't understand "I'd have to keep several full video tracks in the file." --- There seems to be three solutions: 1. Bit-copy (duplicate what you have, one large file + all snippets). - 2. Copy with snippets for both Russian and German languages inserted (so, 2 large files). 3. Copy with snippets inserted for all supported languages (so 3 or 4 big files, not several large ones). I know DVD supports this (and you can copy BR to DVD (with compression). What is your Input Format and Output desired?
    – Rob
    Mar 21, 2017 at 4:30

2 Answers 2

  1. ASS-subtitles. Anime-fans use it for rich-style subtitles and simple drawing over frame. In theory, format supports images/videos as overlay, but I don't know player with full format support.

  2. MKV with linking. You can split your movies in tons of small parts and create two different sets. The you just launch file with proper link sets. Low compatibility. But seems will work. Same as playlists. Same as HLS.

  3. Just 2 video streams. Even lower compatibility. But can works sometimes.

  4. In DVD exists "multi-view" feature, you can encode multiple streams as differen views. Actually it's double stream. To be very precise, you must recode all streams with lower bitrate, as DVD has max limit for all streams, but it exists as standard!

  5. You can write DVD (and I think BD) with "hacked filesystem". Did you remember strange CD disks which contains much more data than 700mb? For example, I have "all windows versions" with 2gb of data! Magic? No: there disks contains many same file duplicated, which on physical disk was written only once.


I can't give you a complete answer, but it's certainly possible in theory to create 'playlists' (for lack of a better term) that call out a sequence of clips, most of which are common to two or more lists, with localized clips being different in each list.

This would require a player that understands these lists, so it wouldn't work for general distribution since no common, general purpose player I'm aware of can do this. But I've written such players -- not for this purpose, but with the same result -- so I know it could be done. Audio sync might be the trickiest part.

I hope someone else has an off-the-shelf solution. There's a whole lot out there and more every day. Good luck.


It later occurred to me that this is exactly the function of an NLE (non-linear video editor) when previewing: create a timeline onto which you place audio and video clips, then play out the result without creating a new file. If this suits you, there are free or low-cost NLEs available, including LightWorks.

  • If you mean HLS playlists, Potplayer, VLC..etc play them.
    – Gyan
    Aug 22, 2016 at 10:36
  • @Mulvya Well, you read the question. Do HLS playlists address it? Can they play a separate continuous audio track and play a series of video clips in sync with it? If so, that could be an answer.
    – Jim Mack
    Aug 22, 2016 at 16:11
  • Quicktime "by reference" movies do this. They don't contain the actual media, just links to the media. To create them you need Quicktime Pro version <= 7, or an apple NLE
    – stib
    Dec 21, 2016 at 9:18
  • @stib Cool, so it's essentially a mini-NLE. Where is the actual media? And which players support this format?
    – Jim Mack
    Dec 21, 2016 at 12:42
  • I think it's only really supported by quicktime player, I think it relies on the quicktime framework to work, though from memory VLC might be able to play it. Yup, it's exactly like a mini NLE, and it uses the original media, so if that gets moved or renamed the movies won't play. It was very useful as an intermediate format from FCP7. It's kind of surprising that there's not a non-proprietary container format that does it, though I guess its usefulness is limited to cuts-only editing - anything else usually requires pre-rendering.
    – stib
    Dec 21, 2016 at 23:50

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