Matroska Media Containers (MKV)

One of our most important areas. Learn to use this site, improve your download speeds, convert to DVD and much more.
Post Reply
OldChemist
Registered user
Registered user
Posts: 104
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2003 1:40 am

Matroska Media Containers (MKV)

Post by OldChemist » Tue Apr 03, 2007 7:51 pm

An introduction to matroska media containers

Welcome! This tutorial will show you everything there is to know about matroska multimedia containers, or MKV files. MKV is the file extension used for matroska multimedia containers. Multimedia containers combine both the audio and the video components of a file into one convienent file. This allows you to watch media files with ease instead of having to deal with two separate components. When dealing with two separate components you have to manually sync the audio with the video which can be quite tedious. Knowing this you can see how useful media containers are in that they do all the work for you! Matroska multimedia containers are essentially in competion with AVI files as they're both multimedia containers, designed to offer the same type of solution.

Matroska files have three formats:
A. MKV - A file which contains both audio and video components or just video components.
B. MKA - A file which contains only audio components.
C. MKS - A file which contains subtitle streams.

What are the benefits to using a matroska multimedia container?

So what's the difference between AVI files and MKV files? Why create another format when AVI files already existed and have existed for a while?

A. AVI files do not support Variable Bitrate audio encoding (VBR). VBR essentially creates a smaller file with no quality loss.
When an audio stream outputs low or no audio VBR allows for the bitrate to be decreased. When an audio stream outputs high volume VBR allows for the bitrate to be increased. Since a constant bitrate is not used, the file size decreases.

B. AVI files do not support Variable Framerate video encoding (VFR). VFR essentially creates a smaller file with no quality loss. VFR is essentially the same thing as VBR, except VFR works on the framerate of a video where as VBR works on the bitrate of the audio.

C. AVI files do not support modern compression formats. Compression allows you to decrease file size while maintaining all file information. With modern compression formats the decrease in file size is growing as compression techniques are refined. One of the newest and best compression formats is the OGG file format. AVI files do not support OGG!

Not only does the matroska multimedia container support VBR, VFR and modern compression formats, but it also plans to include DVD-like menus. You'll soon be able to watch fully customable videos without having go through the trouble of creating a DVD!

Why is all this important? Features such as VBR, VFR and compression allows you to decrease file size while keeping quality at a high level. This allows you to fit more files on your CDs, DVDs, HDDs, etc without having to create pixelated files!

How do I playback a matroska media container on my PC?
In this section I'll explain two methods of playing a matroska media container file on your PC. Method 1 will be using the VLC media player and method 2 will be using the Media Player Classic media player. Method 1 is prefered since no codec packs need to be installed. Installing codec packs can lead to system instability, thus we recommend you choose method 1.

How do I playback a matroska media container using the VLC media player?

The VLC media player natively supports matroska media containers out of the box. Thus, no extra work is required to playback a matroska media container other than installing the VLC media player!

How do I go about installing the VLC media player?
1. Download the VLC media player.
2. Continue with installation until you reach the Choose Components section of the installation process.
3. When at the Choose Components installation process, choose Recommended as the type of install.

Image

4. Continue with the installation process as normal.

Now that I have the VLC media player, how do I play a matroska media container?
1. Right-click the matroska media container file and choose the Open With option from the pop-up menu.
2. Choose VLC media player from the list of programs presented to you.
3. Make sure to check Always use the selected program to open this kind of file and then hit Ok

You now have your matroska media container playing in the VLC media player. When playing matroska media containers in the future, you now only have to double-click the file since we now have the VLC media player associated with matroska media containers. After all this hard work, I think it's time you enjoyed your movie ;).

How do I playback a matroska media container using the Media Player Classic media player?

The Media Player Classic media player supports matroska media containers natively, but support for matroska media containers is outdated so it's recommened that you first install an up to date version of the matroska filter.

How do I go about installing the Media Player Classic media player?
1. Download the Media Player Classic media player.
2. Open up the downloaded file and extract the contents to "C:\Program Files\Media Player Classic"
3. That's all! You're now finished installing the Media Player Classic media player!

How do I go about disabling the internal matroska media container support in the Media Player Classic media player?
1. Open up the Media Player Classic media player. If you've been following this guide than the Media Player Classic media player will be located under the "C:\Program Files\Media Player Classic" folder.
2. Once the Media Player Classic media player is open, go to View menu and choose Options.
3. Click on Internal Filters in the left pane, uncheck Matroska and hit OK

Image

4. Close the Media Player Classic media player.

Now that I have the Media Player Classic media player, how do I go about installing the up to date matroska filter?
1. Download the ffd-show codec.
2. Install fdd-show using default settings for EVERYTHING. Only make configuration changes if you know what you're doing!

Don't you think we've done enough work already? How can I play a matroska media container?
1. Right-click the matroska media container and choose Open With... from the pop-up menu.
2. Select Browse...
3. Locate the Media Player Classic media player, if you've been following this guide than the Media Player Classic media player is located under the "C:\Program Files\Media Player Classic" folder.
3. Make sure to check Always use the selected program to open this kind of file and then hit Ok.

You now have your matroska media container playing in the Media Player Classic media player! When playing matroska media containers in the future, you now only have to double-click the file since we now have the Media Player Classic media player associated with matroska media containers. After all this hard work, I think it's time you enjoyed your movie ;).
Last edited by OldChemist on Tue Apr 03, 2007 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

OldChemist
Registered user
Registered user
Posts: 104
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2003 1:40 am

Post by OldChemist » Tue Apr 03, 2007 7:54 pm

How do I create a matroska media container?

So far this in guide you've learnt what a matroska media contianer is and how to playback a matroska media container. In this section you will learn how to create your very own matroska media container. The matroska media container created in this section will be created from an AVI container and will optionally contain chapters. We will use the mkvmerge GUI utility as it is a very simple utility to use.

How do I get started in the conversion process?
How do I obtain the mkvmerge GUI?
1. The first step is to download and install the mkverge GUI.
2. Installation of the mkvmerge GUI is straight forward with no options needing configuration.

How do I create a matroska media container from an AVI container?
1. Open up the mkvmerge GUI and go to the Input tab.
2. Click 'add' at the top and locate your AVI container.
3. It is important to note that you need proper codecs in order for mkvmerge GUI to obtain information from the AVI container. If your AVI container doesn't generate tracks, please see the Codec guide to obtain the proper codecs for your AVI container.

Image

How do I create chapters for my matroska media container?
With matroska media containers you have the option of creating chapters. Chapters are like bookmarks in which they allow you to bookmark certain scenes of video. If no chapters are required you can skip down to the section labeled How do I start the conversion process.

1. With mkvmerge GUI open, go to the Chapter Editor tab and then go to the Chapter Editor menu and select New chapters.

Image

2. Select the Add chapter button and select the (unnamed)[und] from the Chapters pane.
3. Give your chapter a name under the Name field.

Image

Now it's time to determine the start and end points of your chapter. I'll be using the VLC media player for this guide, but you can use any media player available to you.

1. Open your video and position yourself at the point in which you want your chapter to start. Note the time and get ready to go back to the mkvmerge GUI.

Image

2. Back in the mkvmerge GUI enter in your start time. It's important to note that the start time format is 00:00:00, that is
hours:minutes:seconds.

3. Back in your media player, position yourself at the end point of your chapter and note down the time.

Image

4. Back in the mkvmerge GUI enter in your end time. It's important to note that the end time format is 00:00:00, that is hours:minutes:seconds. When finished these steps the mkvmerge GUI should look something like the following.

Image

Now it's time to save your chapters so that way you can add them into your matroska media container.

1. Visit the Chapter Editor menu and select the Save option. Save your file as an XML file and get ready to load your chapters back into mkvmerge GUI.

2.. Once your chapters are saved you're ready to load them into mkvmerge GUI. Visit the Global tab and find the Chapters section. Browse to your chapters file and load them.

Image

You're now done adding your chapters to the matroska media container. By using these techniques you can create multiple chapters for your file. Matroska containers also support sub-chapters so you can create a complex chain of chapters very easily using these techniques.

How do I start the conversion process?
Once you've set any additional options you can start the mux by selecting the Start muxing button at the botton of mkvmerge GUI.

Image

If things go to plan you'll have an MKV video file ready to watch!

How do I obtain detailed information from a matroska media container?
Obtaining detailed information is extremely easy. All that is required of you is to obtain a copy of MediaInfo and you're off to the races. Detailed information can include, but is not limited to, the audio bitrate, the video framerate, the chapters, etc.

How do I obtain MediaInfo?
1. Download MediaInfo
B. Installing MediaInfo is extremely straight forward and no options need extra configuration.

How do I obtain basic information from my matroska media container?
1. To get basic information open MediaInfo
2. Click the upmost button and locate your matroska media container

Image

That's all there is to it, you'll now be shown basic information about your matroska media container.

How do I obtain detailed information from my matroska media container?
To get detailed information all you need to do is swtich to a different view other than the Basic view. The Basic view is the default view so you wont get detailed information without an extra click.

1. Open up MediaInfo
2. Click the upmost button and locate your matroska media container

Image

3. Under the View menu select any view other than the Basic view.

Image

You're now looking at a detailed view of your matroska media container.

How do I capture a still image of a matroska media container?

So you want to capture a still image of a movie or video clip you're watching and you don't know how to do it. Well you're in
luck, it's pretty simple. I'll be using the VLC media player in this guide, but feel free to use any other media player. The same techniques will apply with some tweaks needed if necessary.

How do I take the shot?
1. Open up the VLC media player.
2. Go to the Settings menu and then visit the Preferences option.
3. Select Video from the left pane.
4. Uncheck the overlay video output option.

Image

5. Hit the Save button and close the VLC media player. Note, this step is important! Please close the VLC media player!
6. Re-open the VLC media player and play your video file.
7. When you seen the scene you want to capture pause the video and hit the Alt + Print Screen (Prt Scn) keys simultaneously.
8. Go to the start menu and click the Run option. Type "mspaint" in the Run Dialog and you'll see the Microsoft Paint utility open up.
9. Paste your screen into Microsoft Paint by going to the Edit menu and selecting Paste.


How do I crop the image?

If you've been following this guide you'll notice that the the VLC media interface is in your image capture. This section will show you how to crop out/remove the the VLC media interface.

1. In the Microsoft Paint utility select the Marque Selection tool, which is the top right tool on the toolbox. It looks like a square with spaced out lines.
2. Use the Marque Selection tool to draw a rectangle around your image.

Image

3. Go to the Edit menu and select the Cut option. You'll notice the enclosed box is now gone.
4. Start a new file by going to the File menu and selecting the New option.
5. Go to the Edit menu and select the Paste option.
6. If your image ends up with a white space at the bottom you can remove it by just dragging the bottom corner up.

Image

7. If dragged correctly you'll end up with an image looking like the following. That's it you're done!

Image

Compatibility
There are many types of hardware which allows you to run videos. Not all hardware will be able to run matroska media containers. In this section we'll go over some of these hardware options available to you and whether or not they support the matroska media containers.

iPod
The iPod doesn't support the matroska media container. Whether Apple modifies the firmware to support the matroska media container in the future is unknown, but doubtful. In case you download a matroska media container and which to put this file on your iPod you will have to convert the matroska media container to an MPEG-4 audio or video file. These converters include the River Past Crazi Video for iPod.

XBOX/XBOX 360
The XBOX Original does support the matroska media container, but you must use the XBOX Media Center. The XBOX Media Center will not only allow you to playback matroska media containers, but also a wide variety of content which includes, but is not limited to, MP3's, MPG's, OGG's, RM's, etc. The XBOX Media Center provides a nice Wiki on how to install the XBOX Media Center.

The XBOX 360 doe support the matroska media container, but requires you to use the Trasncode 360 software. This software will allow you to stream a wide variety of content which includes, but is not limited to, DivX encoded videos, XviD encoded videos, Real Media encoded videos, etc. The Transcode 360 site hosts a nice quick start tutorial for those interested.

Other
If you're unsure of any other hardware please ask for additional information and we'll provide you this information as well as update this section of the guide to include the requested information.

The Conclusion
Matroska media containers are one of the best containers available and will enevitably take over the AVI containers stranglehold. Knowing what a matroska media container is and how to use a matroska media container will give you the edge on your friends once the matroska media container starts becoming increasingly popular.
Last edited by OldChemist on Wed Apr 04, 2007 1:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

Rhadamanthys
Donator
Donator
Posts: 2597
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 4:55 pm
Location: Slovenia
Been thanked: 207 times

Post by Rhadamanthys » Tue Apr 10, 2007 4:58 pm

Excellent work mate, really well done :thumbs

Post Reply

Return to “Tutorials”