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Old May 8, 2011, 02:17 PM   #1
bedifferent
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MKV vs MP4 containers

I've read that some prefer MKV containers for all their DVD encodes. I've been using MP4 (working on SD DVD's, I'll use MKV for my BD's). I know that the Apple TV 2 doesn't play MKV files, I have my Apple TV 2 JBen and using XBMC so compatibility there isn't an issue. The only issue is with iDevices and non-JB'en items. I plan on ditching my DVD's once encoded so getting the encodes near lossless (don't care about size) is more important, but I'm curious why MKV may be better than MP4.

Last edited by bedifferent; May 11, 2011 at 04:10 PM.
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Old May 8, 2011, 02:45 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by bedifferent View Post
I've read that some prefer MKV containers for all their DVD encodes. I've been using MP4 (working on SD DVD's, I'll use MKV for my BD's). I know that the Apple TV 2 doesn't play MKV files, I have my Apple TV 2 JBen and using XBMC so compatibility there isn't an issue. The only issue is with iDevices and non-JB'en items. I plan on ditching my DVD's once encoded so getting the encodes near lossless (don't care about size) is more important, but I'm curious why MKV may be better than MP4.
I don't really think you can compare mkvs with mp4 since one is a container format and the other is a video format. With mkvs, it allows you to add audio, video, subtitle(s) separately without having to embed it all on the video. This means that you can turn the subtitles on and off (softsubs vs hardsubs) like a dvd, extract just the .ass or .srt file, or video or audio. Inside mkvs, I've seen a lot of the video track in .mp4.

I guess it is more convenient and emulates a dvd.
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Old May 8, 2011, 03:01 PM   #3
bedifferent
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I don't really think you can compare mkvs with mp4 since one is a container format and the other is a video format. With mkvs, it allows you to add audio, video, subtitle(s) separately without having to embed it all on the video. This means that you can turn the subtitles on and off (softsubs vs hardsubs) like a dvd, extract just the .ass or .srt file, or whatever else you desire. Inside mkvs, I've seen a lot of the video track in .mp4.

I guess it is more convenient and emulates a dvd.
Thanks for the help. I forgot about MKV = container and MP4 is a video file, I knew that but jumped the gun. My goal is to future proof my DVD's as much as reasonably possible. In HB I I have been using:

Video:
MP4 H.264, Large file size, Constant quality = 18, VFR, FPS = Same as source, Anamorphic = Loose w/ Modulus =16

Audio:
1. AAC Stereo for iDevices (iDevices default to the first audio track, I can switch the tracks in XBMC)
2. AC3 Passthru
(Other layers for director's commentary, etc.)

Subtitles:
English Bitmap (not Burned In)

A lot of advanced tweaks and if I have the srt for chapters I'd import it in HB then use MetaX for tagging.

Should I use MKV containers as they seem to be as close to DVD as possible? Given that MKV isn't supported natively in iDevices I can play them in XBMC on my aTV 2 but I would not be able to on my iPad unless it's JB'en. If I use MKV container can I extract the data and produce an MP4? I want to future proof as much as possible (I'm still learning, I've gotten the gist of MP4 video files and advanced encoding but as I have yet to work on my BD rips I put off MKV learning as I was informed MKV is primarily recommended for BD rips).

Thanks again for any help.
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Old May 8, 2011, 03:21 PM   #4
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I would stick with mkvs for your dvd collection. It offers more convenience later on
How? For the process BeDifferent uses (which is perfectly suitable), they would gain *nothing* from MKV, other than a compatibility headache.

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Thanks for the help. I forgot about MKV = container and MP4 is a video file, I knew that but jumped the gun.
MP4 is a container, MKV is a container. Various codecs such as h264 are based on the MPEG4 standard. So when someone says "MP4" it depends on the context.

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Originally Posted by bedifferent View Post
Should I use MKV containers as they seem to be as close to DVD as possible?
That doesn't really mean anything. Seriously, just forget that trail of thought...

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Originally Posted by bedifferent View Post
Given that MKV isn't supported natively in iDevices I can play them in XBMC on my aTV 2 but I would not be able to on my iPad unless it's JB'en.
There are 3rd party iOS apps that can play files in an mkv container.

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Originally Posted by bedifferent View Post
If I use MKV container can I extract the data and produce an MP4?
Absolutely!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bedifferent View Post
I was informed MKV is primarily recommended for BD rips
That's simply untrue. It may be favoured for BD rips as it allows the storage of DTS, DTS-HD/HR, TrueHD, PCM etc which MP4 doesn't. However, you're setup with AAC and AC3 in no way requires MKV.

MKV does have more options for subtitles, however mp4 can utilise soft subs as well, so no big deal.

My opinion: Keep doing what you're doing. You're not missing out on anything using MKV, only breaking compatibility. Also with MKV you lose the ability to add metadata.

m4v was designed for Apple devices, and it works great, no reason to use anything else.
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Last edited by AdrianK; May 8, 2011 at 03:29 PM.
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Old May 8, 2011, 03:04 PM   #5
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I convert all of my mkv files to mp4 (m4v specifically). The main reason is compatibility with ios devices. I have no problem with mkv since the video in it is usually compatible with iOS, I just change the container.

I think the MKV crowd mainly uses HTPCs for playback but most mp4 people use PS3, XBox360, AppleTV, Roku, etc.....

I'm not a fan of avi files though. I know they were and are still popular since movies can be burned onto cheap CDs and played back on cheap DVD players suck as my $29 Philips.

I'm use handbrake to encode my DVDs into m4v with 5.1 DD and 2 channel aac. This way I can get full iOS compatibilty. Think of it this way, when a family member with an iPad or iPhone want to "borrow" a movie for a trip, I have a compatible file handy, and dont have to convert each file individually.

When I say "borrow" it works well and semi-legally because I can hook up their iPad (doesn't work with iPhones) to my computer, load up the movie and away they go. But they can't transfer the movie back to their computer (last we tried) so they delete it after one viewing. So I don't feel that it's evil to give them the movie since they only have it temporarily.
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Old May 8, 2011, 03:15 PM   #6
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mp4 is a container just like mkv, the video inside is mp4 in the mp4 (usually h.264) and every mkv that I see has mp4 (h.264) video inside it.

Mkv can have a variety of video formats inside, but I always see h.264 which is iOS compatible. Therefore I use subler, MKVtools, or iflicks to put the video and audio of the mkv into a mp4 container. It only takes 10 minute on a core2duo 2ghz Mac mini. there is no loss of quality.
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Old Aug 12, 2012, 05:16 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spacepower7 View Post
mp4 is a container just like mkv, the video inside is mp4 in the mp4 (usually h.264) and every mkv that I see has mp4 (h.264) video inside it.

Mkv can have a variety of video formats inside, but I always see h.264 which is iOS compatible. Therefore I use subler, MKVtools, or iflicks to put the video and audio of the mkv into a mp4 container. It only takes 10 minute on a core2duo 2ghz Mac mini. there is no loss of quality.
What do you mean by container? Is it a folder or something? Why have a container? Can I just take the file without the container? What is the point of a container?
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Old Aug 12, 2012, 09:39 AM   #8
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What do you mean by container? Is it a folder or something? Why have a container? Can I just take the file without the container? What is the point of a container?
A container makes a video with multiple tracks (video, audio, subtitle, chapter) appear and act as a single file. So think of it as a way of organizing associated files. In a way, a dvd is also a "container" that holds various folders of movie information. Some media players can play a movie from this dvd folder structure others cannot, e.g. aTV.
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Old May 8, 2011, 03:18 PM   #9
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I agree with spacepower7 on that it really depends on how you want to view the video. I'm with the htpc crowd so mkv is the way to go.

I would stick with mkvs for your dvd collection. It offers more convenience later on. And yes, you can extract the data and produce an mp4 (the extraction process is called demux, I think).

I often extract the subtitle track in asian dramas, reedit, and mux back into container. Plus, I can turn off subtitles since it isn't hardsubbed onto the video track, something mp4 can't do.

I guess with iOS, you can always extract the video track and mp4 it, but still retain the mkv as the master.

It's the way to go for movies and whatnot imo.
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Old May 8, 2011, 03:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by And1ss View Post
I agree with spacepower7 on that it really depends on how you want to view the video. I'm with the htpc crowd so mkv is the way to go.

I would stick with mkvs for your dvd collection. It offers more convenience later on. And yes, you can extract the data and produce an mp4 (the extraction process is called demux, I think).

I often extract the subtitle track in asian dramas, reedit, and mux back into container. Plus, I can turn off subtitles since it isn't hardsubbed onto the video track, something mp4 can't do.

I guess with iOS, you can always extract the video track and mp4 it, but still retain the mkv as the master.

It's the way to go for movies and whatnot imo.
You can have soft subs in mp4, they are not pretty though, and your best bet would probably be MKVtools or Subler.
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Old May 8, 2011, 03:27 PM   #11
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I convert all of my mkv files to mp4 (m4v specifically). The main reason is compatibility with ios devices. I have no problem with mkv since the video in it is usually compatible with iOS, I just change the container.
Forgot to mention that I encode them into m4v's. Just posted this after reading the new comments, so you can extract the MP4 from the MKV container. PERFECT. I'll start using MKV in Handbrake from now on.

Quote:
I think the MKV crowd mainly uses HTPCs for playback but most mp4 people use PS3, XBox360, AppleTV, Roku, etc…..
Yeah, not to get long winded, here is my setup:

1. 2010 Pioneer Elite VSX-33 AVR: supports AC3/DTS/DDII/THX/7.1+, everything you can throw at it (controls all devices via HDMI in and outputs 1 HDMI channel for viewing). Also supports 3D should I decide.

2. 50" Pioneer Elite (again, high quality is essential)

3. Here's the important part:

I have 2 "Time Capsules", the latest gen is my main router, the previous gen connected WiFi to extend my network to my media center. This provides internet radio and full control of my AVR from my computers. Most importantly I have my aTV 2 connected to that "Time Capsule" via ethernet and configured XBMC to access the HDD via SMB, acting as an attached storage device for my media instead of streaming it. Using Finder I drag and drop my final movie into the "Time Capsule" HDD folder and XBMC loads it, allowing me to select the audio tracks I encoded as well as subtitles. It supports about every codec and have had no issues playing any movie so far.

Quote:
I'm use handbrake to encode my DVDs into m4v with 5.1 DD and 2 channel aac. This way I can get full iOS compatibility.
Exactly what I've been doing (learned the hard way through months of studying). I learned that placing the AAC Stereo track first is key as iOS and OS X Quicktime default to the first audio track, and XBMC can be configured to default to the best track. I've been told to use AC3 Passthru for the second track as this preserves the DVD audio (before I was using AC3 6-channel discrete which I learned made no sense).

I've achieved great audio and with my advanced settings at full mach I can encode a DVD on my 2010 3.33GHz 6-Core Mac Pro in less than an hour, retaining quality without a huge file. I refuse to use the batch encode workflow as I have little control over the quality and don't mind manually processing each rip, I'd rather do it right the first time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spacepower7 View Post
You can have soft subs in mp4, they are not pretty though, and your best bet would probably be MKVtools or Subler.
I've tried Subler but found MetaX to offer more. Maybe I should give Subler a second chance as most recommend it.


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Originally Posted by AdrianK View Post
It may be favoured for BD rips as it allows the storage of DTS, DTS-HD/HR, TrueHD, PCM etc which MP4 doesn't. However, you're setup with AAC and AC3 in no way requires MKV.
My system supports DTS and such, so I was planning on a different encoding process for my BD's. Does that throw a wrench into the equations?

Quote:
My opinion: Keep doing what you're doing. You're not missing out on anything using MKV, only breaking compatibility. Also with MKV you lose the ability to add metadata.

m4v was designed for Apple devices, and it works great, no reason to use anything else.
Tagging is definitely something I need, and isn't supported in MKV? Hmmmm. Good point on M4V in Apple devices, my only fear is if that changes and MKV format is supported or other video devices develop that may be better. Then again, I ain't Ms Cleo

Thanks for all your help guys. It's amazing how much more you can always learn

Last edited by bedifferent; May 8, 2011 at 03:39 PM. Reason: Read the new comments since writing this post
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Old May 8, 2011, 03:35 PM   #12
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If compatibility and iOS usage is a big factor for OP, I'd say stick to mp4. But then again, how often do you watch on iOS devices? Your answer to that will determine whether or not to use mkv vs. mp4.

I'm just prefer mkv for all my video needs.
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Old May 8, 2011, 03:35 PM   #13
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PERFECT. I'll start using MKV in Handbrake from now on.
Why?! You don't gain anything from using MKV.

Yes, you can remux to m4v, but then you have the same file, in the same quality, except one plays on iOS and the other doesn't.
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Old May 8, 2011, 03:40 PM   #14
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Why?! You don't gain anything from using MKV.

Yes, you can remux to m4v, but then you have the same file, in the same quality, except one plays on iOS and the other doesn't.
But, given the information the OP posted, to me, it doesn't sound like iOS compatibility is the deciding factor.
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Old May 8, 2011, 03:40 PM   #15
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Why?! You don't gain anything from using MKV.

Yes, you can remux to m4v, but then you have the same file, in the same quality, except one plays on iOS and the other doesn't.
Yeah, wrote that after your post (tend to be long winded as I want to get as much info as possible for help, so sorry for the long posts and delays).

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Originally Posted by And1ss View Post
But, given the information the OP posted, to me, it doesn't sound like iOS compatibility is the deciding factor.
It's one of the factors, but the most important one is near perfect/lossless encoding as reasonably possible while maintaing device compatibility. If MKV's are better quality (sorry if I misread that) and I can always extract an MP4 from it should I want stock iOS compatibility, would it make sense to encode in MKV keeping my options open? I mainly watch my m4v's on my aTV 2 through XBMC, as the quality is better than stock iOS aTV 2 MP4's. Rarely do I watch on my iPad, however it would be nice to have that option.

Screw it, I'll encode both, I have the space j/k

Last edited by bedifferent; May 8, 2011 at 03:47 PM.
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 11:21 AM   #16
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For what it's worth...

To add to the original post question... I found under "help" -> user guide in in handbrake to be incredibly helpful. (amazing we always seem to forget to read the instructions!)

Specifically:

What HandBrake Is, What HandBrake Isn't
https://trac.handbrake.fr/wiki/IsIsnt

Containers
https://trac.handbrake.fr/wiki/Containers

Audio and Video Encoders
https://trac.handbrake.fr/wiki/Encoders

For more info the rest of the user guide can be found here:
https://trac.handbrake.fr/wiki/HandBrakeGuide

Hope this helps!
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 11:52 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by ELMpro View Post
To add to the original post question... I found under "help" -> user guide in in handbrake to be incredibly helpful. (amazing we always seem to forget to read the instructions!)

Specifically:

What HandBrake Is, What HandBrake Isn't
https://trac.handbrake.fr/wiki/IsIsnt

Containers
https://trac.handbrake.fr/wiki/Containers

Audio and Video Encoders
https://trac.handbrake.fr/wiki/Encoders

For more info the rest of the user guide can be found here:
https://trac.handbrake.fr/wiki/HandBrakeGuide

Hope this helps!
Ironically we hid all of that information not only on the website but also under the Help menu of all three platforms gui's.

Should have made it more obvious.

Good find.
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