Belle Nuit Subtitler goes open source

Life is life

Lausanne, 29.3.2016

Belle Nuit Montage announces the immediate end of sale of our software Belle Nuit Subtitler. The last build of the software is now available as a free download and the source code of the program is released under the GNU Lesser General Public License. Users with current licenses will get email support until 31.3.2017.

I have developed the first version of Subtitler back in 2000 when I was film editor. The program was at that time the only subtitle program on Mac, became soon popular and was sold into 45 countries (I stopped counting them some years ago). It was written in a time where video playback on the Mac needed special hardware and the realtime overlay of subtitles was out of reach for a software engineer. The main goal was to keep editing of subtitles manageable, to import and to export the myriad of file formats that existed for subtitles.

Subtitler was only possible with of the development software Realbasic. For the first time on the Macintosh, there was a language that was high level and that - first of all - managed the user interface on the background. This allowed us programmers to concentrate on the code, once a user touched a button or moved a mouse.

By the time, I moved from editing to other goals and I could not keep up with the possibilities that new hardware and system software could give to Subtitler. The program still is popular because of its straightforwardness and ubiquity. I have also moved to other programming environments, essentially PHP and C, and could not follow the development cycle of Realbasic which now has changed its name for Xojo. I think it is now the time to give the tool to the users.

The source code of the program is published on this site. You can inspect the code, use it for other programs, recompile it for you and also sell it. If you want, we can publish your result on our site. Please note however, you cannot immediately recompile the source code, because first it is based on Realbasic 2012 which is not available any more (you will have to update the project to Xojo) and second it uses the proprietary MBS Plugin library you will have to license.

The main reason software editors do not open source their programs is probably not because of the license fee, but because they do not want to expose their spaghetti code to the public. Well, I think some part of this project is rather well designed, and other is made using the devise ‘’better done than prfect.’’ There are, for example, two different Time Code classes, the second handling better non-drop-frame, but for some reason I decided to keep the first not to break existing code. Please understand that I will not give support explaining the code.

For those who just want to use the program, a free compiled version is available in the here:

Generic license for older versions:
User: Generic
License code: ff-04-82-3d-site

‘’Subtitling is essential to filmmaking because it fills the gap between languages and therefore allows us to follow films made worldwide. They allow us to listen to the original voice of the actor, therefore respect the original work and help us to understand the world in its diversity. And understanding the Other is today more important than ever.’’

Technical information on the source code

The source code can be downloaded on Github

Belle Nuit Subtitler is released under the GNU Lesser General Public License. You can modify the code, recompile it, use it for other programs and also sell it. If you have improved versions, we are happy to host them on this site.

This version has been edited in Real Studio 2012 Release 1. This release is not the newest release. The software is now named Xojo. I did not try to import it in Xojo. The build settings are Mac OS X Carbon. You can get Xojo here:

The source code has been cleaned and unused code has been. Everything is in one project file except the textfile langxml.txt that localizes the interface.

When you open the project for the first time, you may get some warnings, that some control classes are deprecated. I created the main interface with early versions of Realbasic.

My own code is source code, but the program has a dependency. It uses the following MBS Plugins:

  • MBS Real Studio ComputerControl Plugin.rbx
  • MBS Real Studio MacOSXCF Plugin.rbx
  • MBS Real Studio Main Plugin.rbx
  • MBS Real Studio QuickTime Plugin.rbx
  • MBS Real Studio Util Plugin.rbx

If you want to compile all features of Subtitler, you must buy a license from MBS
However, you can compile the project without MBS by setting the constant kMBSused to false. The project will still compile and the program will work, but the following features are not usable: PNG alpha export, audio waveform, avid helper tool, document window modified icon and some cosmetic details on the save dialog.

Belle Nuit Montage is a privately hold postproduction facility founded in 1995 and situated in Lausanne, Switzerland. During its existence, we have provided knowledge on digital editing and created many software programs for subtitling, managing time code and color grading.

27.5.2016 2.1.1 b9
Fixed URL path on FCP XML export