I got question from one of the readers to explain what Matroska
format is, and how it is different from AVI, you used to, while playing
compressed video files. And also, how to convert files to MKV format.
Matroska (MKV) is not entirely new video format on the Web
of multimedia, however, until recently, it was not well known to the users,
except for countries of the former Soviet Union (MKV was developed in
Belorussia). Due to its certain advantages over AVI, it fast gains global popularity.
What is MKV?
MKV stands for "Matroska Video". Matroska is a
container file format, capable of holding unlimited number of video, audio and
subtitile tracks, along with any metadata. Practically this means that it is
possible to put entire movie with multiple sound and subtitle tracks, chapters
information and movie thumbnail into single file. Being open and patent-free
Matroska gained broad support recently and quickly becomes de-facto standard
for storing movies.
Matroska file format (and Matroska video in particular) has
a number of advantages:
1. MKV is open and free. No one holds patents or licenses
and anyone can implement it freely. As a result nearly every software player
and many hardware devices support it. The best software players out there (VLC,
MPlayer) have full MKV support and are absolutely free.
2. MKV files do not have evil features attached.
* You can play them on any capable hardware. No need for
HDCP-certified video card or any "trusted" environment.
* You can copy them to your laptop and watch anytime, even
if your laptop lacks DVD or Blu-ray drive, or any drive whatsoever.
* One file is one title. If you don't want to watch dozen
trailers before the movie, you don't have to. And fast forward button always
* There are no restrictions where to play the file. There
are no region-based restrictions. You have control over the content you've paid
3. MKV files are easy to change. Want to remove unneeded
audio track from the file? Thought about converting MPEG-2 video into H264 to
make the file 5 times smaller? All of it can be easily done with free software.
4. MKV files are compact. For exactly the same content MKV
files are about 10% smaller than DVD files and roughly 40% smaller than Blu-ray
Why MKV is better
The AVI container was originally introduced by Microsoft in
the early 90s, and was designed as a very flexible A/V container format for the
video and audio compression formats of those days. It is necessary to understand
that AVI is only one (but important) part of a complete multimedia framework
called 'Video For Windows' (VfW), offering programmers not only a container but
also a complete set of API commands to be able to program their own video and
audio codecs, using either the VfW or the ACM interface.
Unfortunately this VfW framework cannot support many of the more advanced
features that modern audio and video compression formats will offer, such as
Variable Bitrate audio encoding (VBR), or Variable Framerate video encoding (VFR).
Although AVI was extended with an additional standard called 'Open DML AVI' in
the mid/late 90s, overcoming most of its very annoying limitations like the 2
GB file size limit, there is still no proper and spec compliant way to support
modern compression formats like the excellent, opensource Ogg Vorbis audio
Matroska has overcome all those limitations and can support all known audio and
video compression formats by design. To make sure it will also be capable of
coping with the future standards it is based on a very flexible underlying
framework called EBML, allowing to add more functional features to the
container format without breaking backwards compatibility with older software
utilities and files.
Free software to
Convert to MKV
MakeMKV is your one-click solution to convert video that you
own into free and patents-unencumbered format that can be played everywhere.
MakeMKV is a format converter, otherwise called "transcoder". It
converts the video clips from proprietary (and usually encrypted) disc into a
set of MKV files, preserving most information but not changing it in any way.
The MKV format can store multiple video/audio tracks with all meta-information
and preserve chapters. There are many players that can play MKV files nearly on
all platforms, and there are tools to convert MKV files to many formats,
including DVD and Blu-ray discs.
Additionally MakeMKV can instantly stream decrypted video
without intermediate conversion to wide range of players, so you may watch
Blu-ray and DVD discs with your favorite player on your favorite OS or on your
* Reads DVD and Blu-ray discs
* Reads Blu-ray discs protected
with latest versions of AACS and BD+
* Preserves all video and audio
tracks, including HD audio
* Preserves chapters information
* Preserves all meta-information
(track language, audio type)
* Fast conversion - converts as
fast as your drive can read data.
* No additional software is
required for conversion or decryption.
* Available for Windows, Mac OS X
* Functionality to open DVD discs
is free and will always stay free.
* All features (including Blu-ray
decryption and processing) are free during BETA.
Direct Download (Windows): http://www.makemkv.com/download/Setup_MakeMKV_v1.8.5.exe
General information about MKV: http://matroska.org/