Totem Bug When Playing With Subtitles?

Totem, which is the default movie player for Ubuntu 10.04, has this odd habit of going back to the very start whenever a SRT file (subtitles) is loaded while midway through a movie. While this inconvenience is acceptable since it is very easy to go backward and forward, the bad thing is that after you have loaded the SRT and continue playing it to where you left off, the subtitles won’t show anymore. Imagine if you were already at 00:57:03 in a 2-hour movie. You certainly can’t go repeat the whole hour just for the subtitles to show up as it should.

One solution is to have Totem load the text subtitles by default when the movie is played. This behavior can be enabled in Edit > Preferences, under the General tab, then check the “Automatically load subtitle files when the movie is loaded.” This will only work when the movie came with the SRT file. If it didn’t, you still have the option to look for one manually or through Totem’s built-in feature. Go to View > Subtitles, then select “Download Movie Subtitles…” from the sub-menu where Totem will try to search for available subtitles of the movie on the Internet at various predefined sources.

Most of the time I will not load a movie’s subtitle because it can be distracting to read and watch at the same time. I am only forced to when the movie has a number of dialogues spoken in a language other than in English. Sometimes, the original copy of a movie will not intentionally translate a non-English dialogue on purpose. That is fine, but when I know it did but my copy of the movie didn’t include the subtitles during encoding, then that’s where I have to use/get the SRT file.

There are times when I have really forgotten how many non-English dialogues are there in a movie because it is an old one. This is where Totem fails. I load the SRT and Totem forces the movie to go back to the start. BAM!

Thankfully VLC Media Player is installed. This media app is really a wonder and it never ceases to amaze me. Where Totem fails to play a movie for reasons I don’t know, VLC is able to play it. Where Totem suddenly stops at some point in a movie maybe because it can’t read past that point because of an encoding glitch, VLC will go on and play it to the end. And when I load the SRT and forward the movie, it will keep on showing the subtitles without fail.

That is why I keep the VLC around even if I seldom use it. 96% of the time I will use Totem to watch videos on my Ubuntu. As much as possible I keep to the defaults. I like the simplicity of Totem even if it is lacking in a few ways. No app is perfect anyway.

I hope they fix this on Totem. However, I heard that Totem will get replaced as the default movie player come 11.04 or was it Banshee for Rhythmbox?

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Notice: This article was published on December 8, 2010 and the content above may be out of date.