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Converting Matroska (.mkv) video files

Arrow Image Let's face it. Matroska video files are a bitch to work with. Let's convert it to something a little more universal!



How to convert those tricky .mkv (Matroska) video files into different, usuable formats

Requirements:
SUPER (c) (freeware) (http://www.erightsoft.com/SUPER.html)

The steps to converting those stupid .mkv\'s that just won\'t cooperate aren\'t difficult at all. In fact, after you find the program that is used in this guide, you could probably take it by yourself from there. But after countless hours of unhelpful guides, failed conversions, and useless programs, I just wanted to make it so no one else would have to go through what I did. My original goal was to convert my .mkv into a format that 3GP Converter could recognize, where from there it could go onto my iPod.

For this guide, the example movie I will use is \"Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conquerer of Shambala\", which is from a torrent. It is encoded with H.264 and AAC Dual Audio. For those of you who don\'t know what the hell that means, don\'t worry about it. But just simply, this is the combination that will give you the best quality picture and sound that I know of, but is a pain in the ass to convert. I will show you how to convert it into the format mpeg-1, which is pretty universal and can be converted further into any other format you desire (such as .avi).

Okay, now onto how to actually convert the file instead of just talking about it. SUPER, the program we\'ll be using is FREE, has no virues/spyware/other crap like that, and is better than those other video converters going for 20-30 bucks. If you can\'t find on the page where to download it, don\'t feel ashamed. It\'s pretty well hidden all the way on the bottom. I\'m using v2006.build.19 (4/26/06), but I guess any newer versions that come out after this guide should work too. Heck, they even may have a function by then that won\'t need all of this!

Drag and drop the .mkv file into the big grey box in the program, and make sure the box next to it is checked once it loads into it. Up in the top-lefthand corner, there should be \"select the output container\" with a pull-down box underneath it. Select \"mpg (Mpeg 1)\" from the box. To the right of it should be an option to change the video codec. A codec is basically a different way of coding either video or audio so that the overall size of the movie or music file is smaller. Choose \"MPEG-1\" from this pull-down box (it\'s the only choice so if you screw this up you\'re in pretty bad shape! jk jk). Now to the right of that is which audio codec to use. Choose mp3 because it worked for me. Under all of this is which coder to use. I\'m not really sure what they do or how they work, but if you can, choose \"ffmpeg\" because, once again, it worked for me. If not, choose \"mencoder\". If these both aren\'t there, just choose one out of whichever ones are there. I\'m not sure, but I think which coders are present can change according to every system.

Now onto the video settings. Changing these will affect how the converter will handle your input file, which is the .mkv file in our case. Changing the video scale size will affect the dimensions of your movie, and can make the file size larger or smaller according to what the original dimensions were. If you don\'t know or don\'t care, just keep it at \"NoChange\". Changing the dimensions will probably stretch or smoosh your picture if they are entered incorrectly. Aspect, just leave blank if you\'re not totally sure. The frames per second (or fps) of the movie are how fast the many still images flash across the screen to render what we consider to be moving objects. The higher the fps, the better the quality of the movie because it won\'t seem as choppy. You won\'t get this issue with any movie, though, because anything over 23.976 won\'t look choppy. Double-click on your movie file in the grey box beneath to pull up the advanced specifications of it. The specifiations of my .mkv are at the end of this guide just in case you might want to refer to something, if you\'re curious, or if you\'re just plain nosy. In the \"Video #0\" section, it should say something about the frame rate. It should be a number like 23.976 or 29.9something if in the U.S., or 25 or 30 if in Europe. Don\'t ask me why they didn\'t just round off the numbers to 24 and 30 for the U.S. because I don\'t know. Anyway, just select whichever option fps in the program your input movie is. If you want to be all cool and technical and change the fps of the output converted movie, knock yourself out. Just change between 23.9 and 29.9 or 25 and 30 because if you interchange between U.S. and Europe and you might want to play your converted movie on a TV one day or something like that, it might not work. Oh, and please- don\'t make the fps more than what your .mkv file is because it\'s just a waste of space and it won\'t make your movie look any better because there\'s nothing to do except copy and paste the neighboring frames into the extra ones!

Bitrate, to the right, is how much information is going into each separate frame. It\'s the overall quality. Bitrate is measured in kbps, or kilobits per second. A higher bitrate = better quality movie = higher file size. You catch my drift. If you\'re not sure which to choose, just choose the closest one to the one that\'s in the specifications of your .mkv. When looking for the bitrate of your video, refer back to the \"Video #0\" section because the overal bitrate in the \"General #0\" is something different. I chose 768 kbps even though my original one was 1857 kbps because I knew that later on, this was what I would be choosing when I would be converting the ending mpeg-1 into a smaller iPod format. Again, follow the fps tip and don\'t choose anything higer than what your original one is unless it\'s only off by a couple kbps because your exact one wasn\'t on the list. Keep \"Hi Quality\" checked to the right and \"Stretch It\" unchecked.

Audio, or the sound that is played during your movie, is a bit easier. Sampling frequency is something I\'m not sure about, so just keep whatever default setting there is. Change the number of channels to two if it\'s not already done so. One channel will make \"mono\" audio, or the same sounds, same volume in both speakers. That\'s cruddy 16-bit crap and we don\'t want that. Keep it to two channels, or stereo audio. Other output formats have surround-sound, or six or more channels, but mpeg-1 is old and doesn\'t support that. Sorry to all of you rich people who would rather listen to their movies in glorious surround rather than sticking to traditional stereo. My .mkv was originally meant for surround, but screw that. I don\'t have it so what\'s the use? The bitrate to the right follows the same principles of the one for the video, except this time it\'s for the audio. It ranges from awesomeness to crapola, so choose anywhere from 128 (which is somewhat decent) to 320 (which is the awesomeness). Here, it won\'t make your sound any better if the output bitrate-blah blah blah. With audio in a movie, just select 320, although some files won\'t get up that high. It\'s not in the specifications, so the tiny file increase shouldn\'t matter against using some other application to figure out which one to select just to save a few megs. In a .mkv file, there usually is just one audio stream, or what you could consider to be the sound file incorporated into the movie. This audio stream plays with the video stream, creating a movie. But .mkv\'s don\'t stop there! They also have text streams, or subtitles. Since my .mkv was a rip from the DVD version of the movie, it has two audio streams, one English and one Japanese. I want the English stream, so I\'ll just keep it on default. Choosing track 1 (or Audio #0 in specs) wouldn\'t make any difference because it is the default, but if I wanted the output to be in Japanese, I would choose track 2 (or Audio #1). This changes from movie to movie, where the default could be Japanese (or any other language) and the secondary could be English. The specs say which stream is which language, \"en\" or \"eng\" for English and \"ja\" or \"jap\" for Japanese. Other languages would have different abbreviations. The default track would be whichever one plays by itself if you play the .mkv in SUPER or a different media player (Windows Media Player doesn\'t support .mkv\'s without certain extra software and codecs).

Hit \"Encode (Active Job-List Files)\" and wait anywhere from two hours to letting it work overnight, depending on your memory and CPU speed. Make sure that there\'s enough room on your hard drive for the output file or else it will screw up your computer and the conversion will fail! My movie was originally 1.36 gigabytes and the converted file was 848 megabytes, which isn\'t too bad for a 1 3/4 hour-long movie. Do the math and make sure that after the conversion is completed (estimate how large your movie may be) that there is still at least ten to fifteen percent minimum free space minimum because the computer itself uses this to function properly. After the conversion process has completed, navigate to the Program Files folder ((Windows) XP users, it\'s right on the drive itself. ME, 2000 and below, and those of you in the future who may be using Vista, it\'s somewhere on your drive. If you can\'t find it, just Google where the folder should be). A folder named eRightSoft should be located in Program Files, in which the folder OutPut is. In there is your completed mpeg-1 file, named after the original. The original .mkv is still where it was. And voila! It should open with Media Player, iTunes, Quicktime, etc. If you were originally planning on having the file be an .avi or any other format, just feed it back into SUPER or any other converter with the settings that you want. Although any mpeg file is currently supported by iPod video (OS v1.2), I converted the mpeg-1 into an .m4v file using 3GP Converter (found on Google), which automatically changes the dimensions to the screen of an iPod, and lessens the file size even more.

Well, this is the end of my first guide ever, and if you have any questions, comments, or recommendations, email me at:
stormydaystudio@netscape.net


Happy converting!




Specifications of Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conquerer of Shambala (as by SUPER):

General #0
CompleteName : C:\\fullmetal\\fullmetal.mkv
FileSize/String : 1.36 GiB
Format/String : Matroska
OveralBitRate/String : 1858 Kbps
PlayTime/String : 1h 44mn
Movie : [cLT] Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shambala
Encoded_Date : 1157196586
Encoded_Application : mkvmerge v1.6.5 (\'Watcher Of The Skies\') built on Dec 7 2005 18:53:53
Encoded_Library : libebml v0.7.6 + libmatroska v0.8.0

Video #0
Title : FMA: The Conqueror of Shambala
Codec/String : MPEG-4 AVC
Codec/Info : MPEG4 ISO advanced profile
BitRate/String : 1857 Kbps
Width : 640
Height : 352
AspectRatio/String : 16/9
FrameRate/String : 23.976 fps
Bits/(Pixel*Frame) : 0.344
Language/String : Language_en

Audio #0
Title : 5.1 AAC+
Codec/String : AAC LC-SBR
Codec/Info : AAC Low Complexity with Spectral Band Replication
Channel(s)/String : 6 channels
SamplingRate/String : 48 KHz
Language/String : Language_en

Audio #1
Title : 5.1 AAC+
Codec/String : AAC LC-SBR
Codec/Info : AAC Low Complexity with Spectral Band Replication
Channel(s)/String : 6 channels
SamplingRate/String : 48 KHz
Language/String : Language_ja

Text #0
Title : Signs (dvd)
Codec/String : VobSub
Language/String : Language_en

Text #1
Title : Full Subtitles (text)
Codec/String : UTF-8
Language/String : Language_en

Text #2
Title : Full Subtitles (dvd)
Codec/String : VobSub
Language/String : Language_en


(last updated 10/18/2006)
guide by: sToRm_seveN

Comments

sablefoxxon July 05 2007 - 09:17:36
.mkv files are awesome! they save space, just use VLC to play them. No need to convert.
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