MKV and 2007 Macbook Anxiety - What do i need for my ATV.

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by ClemsonDV, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. ClemsonDV macrumors member


    Mar 31, 2012
    I have an old Macbook I use as my media server, but its seen better days. Obviously an HTPC or something new would fix most of my issues. But money is tight. I currently have PLEX running on my ATV and Plex Server running on my server and it works ok, but it buffers and exhausts my computing power on some larger files.

    My issue is decode/transcoding MKV files which are most of my movies/tv shows. FFMPEG eats up %150 of my processor and then it craps out and buffers. Here are my questions:

    1) Is there a better way/easier way to change my files from MKV to something else. I mean i have near 1000 files about 1.5 TB of MKV movies and tv shows. MP4 is an option obviously, but I don't know how to easily do a convert.

    2) Is PLEX the best tool? I know XMBC and other ATV tools are available, but Plex did work ok for a while. Do any of the other plug-ins tax the processor less?

    3)What size processor and RAM would i need at minimum if I make HTPC for converting/streaming my files?

    Probably have more questions, but those are the big 3 right now. Thanks.
  2. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    If you have an ATV2, you can jailbreak it and install XBMC. Then use the Macbook as just a network streamer. XBMC uses the ATV2 to do the decoding instead of your computer.
  3. proximo, Jul 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012

    proximo macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    I used iFlicks to convert many hundreds of .avi and .mkv files to itunes compatible m4v files. All the source files were under a single directory. Just point iFlicks at the source directory and tell it where to put the output. Come back a day or so (maybe 2 or 3 days with a 2007 macbook) later and everything is in m4v format and properly tagged. Drag the output directory to itunes and now you can stream them to ATV.

    I played around with jailbraking my previous ATV2 and testing XMBC and Plex but if all you want to do is watch a bunch of existing files on your ATV, spending the time to convert them to itunes once is by far the least amount of hassle and the resulting files are guaranteed to work with apple products for the foreseeable future. You should be able to stream these files easily from your 2007 macbook without it breaking a sweat.

  4. LucidX macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2004
    Check out this recent thread:

    Here is what I wrote regarding mov conversions:

    MKV can be a little confusing, but converting it to MP4 can be relatively painless and quick if you use the right tools and options AND you do not need to change the codec.

    Background Info
    MP4, MOV and MKV are all container files. Think of them like a lunch box. Within these go your video (with it's own codec) and audio, think of these to be your lunch that goes in the lunch box. If you have a device (in this case ATV) that can ingest the codec but not the container than you should not re-encode it. You should use the "PASS THROUGH" option which takes the codec (h.264, xvid, etc.) and puts it in another container (MP4). Re-encoding it would take the codec and re-process it (in this analogy it would first take apart your sandwich and then re-assemble it before putting in the new lunchbox) so you want to avoid this if the codec is compatible with the device you wish to watch it on. Passing through the codec takes only as long as re-copying the file to the hard drive, whereas re-encoding it can take many hours to days depending on the file size and options.

    Quicktime 7 Pro

    - Install the necessary software

    - Open the MKV file in Quicktime 7 Pro

    - It may take a few minutes to open, depending on the file size/run time (you will see the progress above the play button) - perian is working in the background to get quicktime to read the mkv

    - Once the file is open and you can play it in Quicktime 7 Pro go to - FILE --> EXPORT... (drop down menu)

    - In the 'EXPORT' dropdown menu select "Movie to MPEG-4"

    - Click 'OPTIONS'

    - In the video Format dropdown menu, select 'PASS THROUGH'

    - You may set your own audio/streaming options to your liking, then click "OK"

    - Click "SAVE"

    - The file will then save your new video file in the MP4 container without re-encoding the original video component saving substantial time & processing.
  5. ClemsonDV thread starter macrumors member


    Mar 31, 2012
    I guess its too much to ask for something to not use FFMPEG so heavily. It taxes my out of date processors like WHOA when streaming MKV. But mp4 seems to be the best container especially since AirVideo likes that one. I will try that.

    I would just love to shovel all my seasons of shows and movies into some application and let it go for a couple days or weeks. My anxiety comes from doing everything one by one and it taking forever (like with Handbrake...MKV to iPad 2 format).
  6. Sweetfeld28 macrumors 65816


    Feb 10, 2003
    Buckeye Country, O-H
    I installed iVl, which was suggested in the linked forum above. It does a pretty good job with MKVs, AVIs seem to take longer to process.

  7. proximo macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    iVI has a passthrough mode for container files that already have h.264 encoded video streams (like most mkv). All it has to do is remux the video and audio into an iTunes compatible m4v container so it takes much less time. Most AVIs are not h.264 encoded so they require reencoding (iVI uses Handbrake under the covers) which takes much longer.


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