flummery: (hat 1)
[personal profile] flummery
I'm writing this down mostly so I don't forget it, but figured it might be helpful for other people as well. CAVEAT: I've been using this method for a whopping 2 hours now. I cannot do any sort of troubleshooting for it, and I have no idea if it's the easiest/best method out there. It's just the first one I tried that worked pretty well and pretty quickly, so I said "good enough!" and am sticking with it, at least for now.

I did try VLC first, which worked, but took a really long time, and stripped the audio. Which would be a bonus if I was only looking for a viddable mp4, but I wanted a watchable version first. Still, if you just want to do some conversions with familiar software, VLC will totally work.

I got impatient, and went hunting, and stumbled over a video on Youtube where someone went through all the steps they used, including links to where they found their software. He didn't have audio, so wrote the steps up in a text doc as he went along, which worked for me, but YMMV. (I've embedded the video below.)

This process needs three pieces of software (all links go to videohelp.com):


Download, extract if needed, and install all three. (As I write this, My MP4Box GUI comes zipped; the other two don't. This is different from the embedded video, so clearly things shift around from time to time.)

Once you've got them all installed, here are the steps:
  • Open MKVcleaver

    • At the top right, there's a button that says "Locate MKVToolNix". Click that, and browse to your installed MKVToolNix folder (don't drill down to a specific component; you want the entire folder here).

      • That's all you need to do with MKVToolNix - it just runs in the background of MKVcleaver. You won't need to set this up again unless you move the folder.

    • At the top left, there's a button that says "Open MKV files to process". Click that, and browse to the first MKV file you want to convert.

      • If you want to batch convert a bunch of files, keep adding files till you have everything you want.

    • The files you include will show up in the left-hand pane. The right-hand pane will give you options on what you want to extract. I wanted video and audio, so I chose Video Track 1 and Audio Track 1.

      • If you've selected a batch of files to work with, whatever you pick in the right-hand pane will apply to everything. The program will skip any file that doesn't include everything you've asked it to extract.

    • Set your output directory below the left-hand pane. If you leave this blank, it will automatically save your files to the same directory/ies they came from.

    • Click "Extract Tracks !"

    • Wait for it to finish (but it doesn't take that long).


This gives you demuxed (split) audio (ac3) and video (h.264) files. You need to mux (combine) them to get a working mp4. Even if you only extracted the video, you'll need to run it through a muxer to use the file.

  • Open My MP4Box GUI. It should open on the "Mux" tab, which is the one you want.

    • Click "Add" to add a track. You can only add one track at a time.

    • To mux files individually:

      • Add whatever tracks were extracted from the original MKV (for me, that meant one video and one audio file per original MKV)

      • Click the "Mux" button at the bottom.

      • Wait for the process to finish, then click "Clear" to clear the list of files, and "Add" to add your next file(s).

    • To mux multiple files at once:

      • Add whatever tracks were extracted from the first original MKV (for me, that meant one video and one audio file per original MKV)

      • Click the "Add to Queue" button at the bottom.

      • A second box will pop open, showing the export path for the muxed file you want.

      • In the main box, your file name(s) will vanish, letting you move straight to adding the file(s) for the next one you want.

      • When you have everything you want queued up, click "Start" in the Queue popup box.

      • The file(s) will automatically export to the same directory/ies the demuxed file(s) came from.


You should now have working mp4 files that match the original mkv quality. \o/

The batching works well in both programs, and speeds things up considerably.


Date: 2015-09-12 09:21 pm (UTC)
montanaharper: close-up of helena montana on a map (Default)
From: [personal profile] montanaharper
Thanks! I'll be memorying this, since it seems like all the files I get nowadays are mkv. (I wonder if there was wank over the change when I wasn't paying attention. I remember the giant wank of doom and destruction that happened a few years ago at the user end of the distro channels when the shift from avi to mp4 happened; it was like the world was ending for some people.)

Date: 2015-09-12 11:26 pm (UTC)
montanaharper: close-up of helena montana on a map (Default)
From: [personal profile] montanaharper
Well, if I'm just watching stuff, mkv is great. VLC likes it and it's pretty and I have a one-step ripping option for it.

As for vidding, though, I'm not sure. I've got the CS6 version of Premiere (and probably won't be upgrading anytime soon, because I think all the newer versions are subscription rather than purchase), and I made a vid fairly recently (read: in the last two years) without a problem. I don't recall, though, if I used mkv source or if I converted it somehow.

I'll definitely keep your experiences in mind for future vidding forays.

Date: 2015-09-17 12:30 am (UTC)
grammarwoman: (Default)
From: [personal profile] grammarwoman
Thank you for posting this! I foresee a lot more MKV wrangling in my future. :)

Date: 2015-09-21 02:55 am (UTC)
heresluck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heresluck
Ooooooooooh. *bookmarks*

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