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Filtaku Tutorial Corner! – Merging, Extracting, and Rendering .mkv’s

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I know there are a lot of other people making karaoke with aegisub and editing/rendering videos.  I’m still new in this field, but I’ll try to release some tips and tricks along the way that will help everyone out!

So, before we get to the fun stuff, there are two kinds of subs in videos, hardsubs and softsubs.

Hardsubs are rendered directly into the video.  They become part of the video and cannot be removed.  This is more commonly done with regular video editors such as Adobe After Effects or Sony Vegas.

Softsubs are rendered externally by the computer software/hardware and are not part of the video itself.  When you watch a video, your computer reads a script and displays it on the screen.  Aegisub is one of the programs that makes these scripts.

Disadvantages and advantages of hard/soft subs?

Hardsubs are made by rendering the softsubs into a different video format or adding in text to a video via editor. Since a video editor is used, there are options for more advanced effects .  The rendered video can be in any video format that catches your fancy, such as .avi or .mp4 which can be played on pretty much any device or player.  The quality of the subtitles is highly dependent on the rendering quality setting and would need a very good computer to dish out quality works within a reasonably amount of time, unless you don’t mind waiting a whole day for one video.

Softsubs are cleaner on the screen since it is individually rendered by the computer.  They can be changed to suit many purposes without messing with the video itself.  The script is easy to make and much faster than using a regular video editor to add text.  However, the types of effects you can do are limited.  Softsubs are usually in a .mkv envelope that can only be played on the computer using a community friendly media player.

I mentioned before the ever popular .mkv file (Matroska Video).  Matroska video files or .mkv files are very subtitle/audio friendly envelopes.  You can pack it with video, different kinds of audio, different kinds of subtitles, and the resources necessary to display those subtitles (usually text fonts and such).  Usually a media player that is community friendly, such as Media Player Classic, can play these files and allow switching between audios and subtitles.  Just make sure you have the Combined Community Codec Pack so your guaranteed your videos play.

Throughout my experience with .mkv’s I have ran across the following issues:

How do I put stuff into a .mkv file?
How do I extract stuff out of a .mkv file?
How do I convert .mkv files to different formats so I can play it on other devices or programs?
How do I convert .mkv files to different formats while preserving subtitles, styles, and effects?

First download and install the following:

MKVToolNix –  Tool pack to fiddle with .mkv’s
Any Video Converter – A very good free video converter that I personally use
Combined Community Codec Pack – Guarantees your videos play, also required to do most quality rendering

Open the directory where MKVToolNix unpacked your tools to (default: C:\Program Files\MKVtoolnix)

Inside the folder you will have the following tools:
mkvinfo.exe
mkvextract.exe
mkvextractGUI2.exe
mkvinfo.exe
mkvmerge.exe
mmg.exe (short for mkvmergeGUI)

Everything but mkvextractGUI2 and mmg is command line only.  Please refer to the guides HERE if you need help further help or how to use the other tools.

I make shortcuts and place them in a folder on my desktop for easy access.

How do I put stuff into a .mkv file?

What I like to do is put all my project files into one folder for ease of access and to be organized.

Place all your video, audio, subtitles, and resources into one folder.

Open mmg.exe.  Add associated files.  Fiddle with extra settings as you see fit.
Make sure the Output destination and name is where and what you want it to be.  By default it’ll send the output file where the source files are in.
When your finished hit ‘Start muxing’.   You’ve now created a .mkv file

You can add more stuff to a .mkv file by just adding the .mkv file itself with mmg.exe and then adding things.

Some video I’ve encountered never had a subtitles off option, so I usually just add a dummy blank subtitles script to the .mkv so I have the option to watch the video RAW.

How do I extract stuff out of a .mkv file?

Open MKVExtractGUI2.exe

hit ‘…’ button to the right of Input File and navigate to the .mkv file you want to extract stuff out of.

Set an Output destination or check to have it extracted to the source directory

Check the items you want extracted and hit ‘Extract’

This is good if you want to grab scripts.

How do I convert .mkv files to different formats so I can play it on other devices or programs?

If your video converter can take .mkv files, you can just usually drop the .mkv in and render it to whatever format you want.  However, it will do either two things.  1: It won’t render your subtitles and your left with raw video & audio, or 2: it will render your subtitles but they will have funky styling or not retain any effects.

How do I convert .mkv files to different formats while preserving subtitles, styles, and effects?

For this you will need the CCCP (Combined Community Codec Pack), Any Video Converter (or a video converter that accepts .avs scripts), a .avs script, your video, and your subtitle script

Place your video and subtitles into a folder.   I like to label my folder ‘Project _____’.

Create a new text document in the folder.

In your new text document insert the following:
LoadPlugin(“C:\Program Files\Combined Community Codec Pack\Filters\vsfilter.dll”)
DirectShowSource(“Source Video Destination”)
TextSub(“Source Subtitle Destination”)

Where the inside of your quotes should be the destination path.

Save it as what you want the rendered video to be with the file extension .avs (type it out)

Open your video converter, drop in the .avs file, and proceed to render it as what you want.   Your final render should have implanted your subtitles script into your video and retained all styles and effects.

I have noticed that the .avs script is a little unfriendly with .mp4’s, that or my .mp4’s were encoded wrong.  So I now start projects with .avi and then finish with my desired format of choice.

This post was a little disorganized, but I hope it helps some of you.  I took some screenshots for reference.

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Author: PJ

I am a filipino college student that enjoys watching anime, gaming, and is an airsoft enthusiast.

29 thoughts on “Filtaku Tutorial Corner! – Merging, Extracting, and Rendering .mkv’s

  1. This is a great tutorial for most videos. Even I learned a few things that I had never thought about. I especially appreciate the part about keeping subtitle effects. I’ll have to experiment to see if it work with 720p or 1080p though since they’re the only resolutions I watch anymore.Two things I’d like to add.

    One is for the anime community. The Combined Community Codec Pack is a good start which supports most videos, and in some cases can even support 10-bit playback, but that all depends on how it was encoded. If you want to have constant clear playback of 10-bit video on Windows XP, Vista or 7, I suggest following the guide at this address (copy and paste):

    haruhichan.com/wpblog/?p=205#guide

    The other thing to mention is codecs and working with Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD). Practically all codecs and containers/envelopes support SD resolutions. On the other hand only a few actually support HD. Of course containers/envelopes (like mkv and DivX) support HD because they you just put them in together with audio and other types of files. Currently the standard and most used codecs are MP4 and H264. Most commonly seen video file extensions and file types are a branch off of one of the two. Quicktime (mov), DivX, Windows Media Video (wmv), xvid and several others use a type of mp4 codec. Smartphones like Droids and Blackberries can use natively view H264 encoded files in recent models, and H264 encoded video is pretty much the standard for anime that can be found on the web for download (usually in an mkv container). 3gp is usually encoded with H264 which is a low profile video type that can commonly be found on mobile websites and can be found when getting videos for your phone.

    Hope that fills in any gaps or helps clear any confusion for those just getting into the video fray.

    And I’ll end this big post with a question, that I can’t seem to find an answer for. I actually downloaded a video which was an mkv with MP4/AVC video and TrueHD audio. Yes, that is not a mistake with the audio. It was actually TrueHD, but no matter what codecs I had installed I couldn’t find ANYTHING that recognized it other than info apps. I extracted it only to find it didn’t have an extension to tried all the ones I knew of and I never got it to play. So the question… Have you ran into TrueHD audio like that before? And if so, were you able to get it to play?

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  2. Thanks for the further insight, I’m still new to most of the codecs and rendering jazz. Most of my knowledge was self taught through what I encountered. As long as its helpful to other we’re all good ^^

    As for the TrueHD audio thing.
    From what a quick google search research has taught me.

    .mkv doesn’t support TrueHD audio and no players can play it. Some solutions state that you decode and convert it losslessly into another format. Just like how only bluray players can play bluray disks. TrueHD audio can only be played by devices capable of playing it because of unique core. Hope that helps!

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  3. Tried the lossless conversions, they were a “no go”. The lack of a file extension probably didn’t help. But it’s good anyway. Found someone who’s encoding their own Blu-Rays and will use AAC or FLAC for it. So goodbye 32GB raw copy of S-CRY-ED. LOL.

    On another note, good news for conversion seekers. The latest version of Handbrake, 0.9.6 (it’s free), not only handles 10-bit videos but it also handles all of the effects and fonts from subtitles. I ran a couple of tests on avi’s, ogg’s and some mkv’s. The mkv that really showed me how well this new version handles was Eureka Seven AO ep3 and Shining Hearts ep3. Both were 720p and had some very nice sparkly, fade and other effects and fonts. After a run through Handbrake with the subs set to Burn In (subs muxed into video instead of separate file), they both came out as perfectly made mp4’s with everything retained. Tested on PC, PS3, Android and iPod Touch (5thGen). Since it worked on the droid and PS3 I can pretty much guarantee they’ll work on XBOX360 as well.

    So there’s good news for some. I’ll be adding the news to my blog later to help spread the word.

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  4. Lol maybe i should check out handbrake. Sounds a lot easier than what i’ve been doing.

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