Apple TV and MKV

ThomasBarron

Standard Member
Afternoon guys and girls!

As a start, apologies if this is in the wrong forum, this seemed the most logical place.

Basically, I have a number of TV series' which are currently in MKV format, which I'm told is the best format for having high quality, but with a low file size?

The issue is that I'm a devout Apple fan! As such, my Apple TV and iTunes doesn't play MKV files.

Currently, if I try to convert an MKV file to say MPEG4, the file size goes from 70MB up to around 300MB, and I lose quality. To me that sounds like an oxymoron.

Any opinions on ideas? Please remember that it MUST play on Apple TV. Thanks again guys.

Oh, and I welcome the idea of hacks for both iTunes and Apple TV.
 

joelk2

Distinguished Member
jailbreak the apple tv, install xbmc (i believe plex will also work)

works a treat, i was running one like this for a while.

also you wont need to have itunes running to be able to play the files and if you have a nas drive with the films on then you wouldnt even need your mac on.

There is a specific AppleTV part of the forums albeit not very straightforward to get to.

http://www.avforums.com/forums/apple-tv/
 

next010

Distinguished Member
You can avoid hacks by repackaging the H.264/MKV into H.264/MP4 you are not changing the codecs just the container so there is no quality loss, Rebox.net will do this for you (Windows only) and then stream through iTunes, you can use the MetaX application to add the metadata to the video that is otherwise missing in AppleTV.

As stated you must hack the AppleTV to run XBMC if you want to plays the files without conversion plus you do not need to add metadata XBMC does this for you, although you don't state if you have an ATV1 or ATV2 the process is different for each generation.
 

instigator

Active Member
You can use Handbrake to convert your hd mkv files to appletv, iTunes and iPhone format...

You can get smaller files sizes down converting 1080p to 720p that look fantastic... The default appletv 720p setting is ok but I notice jaggy shading in shadows so I bump the quality setting from the default 20 to 18 and it looks amazing...

You can then sync or copy your movies to any device....
 

Solentmancub

Standard Member
Guys,
I have an Apple TV1 and i have used a linux hack i downloaded from somewhere and used a 'patchstick'.
I have managed to keep the apple OS and have managed to point XBMC at my NAS box full of MKV movies.
When I play them I get full volume hiss ( Like pulling the aerial out of a TV). Anyone know why?
Also I used handbrake to rip some of the 500Gb of MKV movies into MPV files and I can play the movies. But they are in a 'letterbox' format that is as wide as my TV but 4" are missing from the top and bottom, I am a novice with XMBC. The MPV movies are full screen in ITUNES played on the ATV1 but I don't want the agony of file transfers via ITUNEs! The MKV format would save me hours of hell!
 

next010

Distinguished Member
You should check the audio settings in XBMC make sure it's downmix for AC3/DTS is enabled, I don't have ATV1 running AppleOS anymore but if it has HDMI audio controls make sure it's set to 16-bit.

Also the ATV1 cannot handle HD x264/MKV videos (some can work depending upon the bitrate) as it doesn't have the decoding performance unless you stick a CrystalHD card inside it. The audio issues you could be seeing are as a result of that with the CPU maxed out trying to decode the video.

Also try updating to a nightly build of XBMC if available.
 

Solentmancub

Standard Member
@ next010 Thanks for the advice. I will get the crystal HD Card I am guessing that's graphics? My ATV 1 is networked not wireless.
To be honest I have read about nightly updates but have no idea what they are or do?
What is your ATV1 running and do you recommend it? I hate Itunes.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
XBMC nightly builds are the latest versions of XBMC, the one you download is like a year old official release.

If you do not care at all about iTunes or Apple OS on the ATV and just want XBMC only use Crystalbuntu instead, it is a custom linux OS for the AppleTV which gives you;
* much better performance and much more stable
* native CrystalHD support
* use of the USB port
* 1080p display output
* Airplay support
* Automatic updates, the developer auto updates it and uses stable nightly builds of XBMC
* Can run from USB flash drive or be installed onto the internal HDD of the AppleTV

If installing on the internal HDD then it will erase the HDD, the only way to back up the AppleOS is to use ATVCloner software (Mac only) or swap out the IDE drive for another.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
If you selected the run from USB drive option it has to download the OS to the USB flash drive while running from the AppleTV (you also need the ethernet cable plugged in) this will be a very slow process, not all USB flash drives are equal and can be quite slow.
 

Solentmancub

Standard Member
I managed to get the download and ran the stick this morning, it failed after 10 mins. It was looking at the crystal website but there was no lights on the network port at all. is there a better way of getting this update? Fortunately my apple TV is in tact and work and yes its backed up! BTW its an IDE drive which is a bummer as my spare drive is sata and 60gb, rather break that lol.
Will try again tonight
 

next010

Distinguished Member
I'd give it a try again with a different brand USB drive, the ATV can be funny about flash drives or you could have just caught the download server at a bad time, my own ATV1 is still working and contacts the server for updates so it's still up.

If you still have problems try asking over on the developers forums, it really should be a automated process. It does tell you when to remove the patchstick and reboot the ATV at the end, it doesn't auto reboot into XBMC.
 

Flashy

Well-known Member
You can avoid hacks by repackaging the H.264/MKV into H.264/MP4 you are not changing the codecs just the container so there is no quality loss, Rebox.net will do this for you (Windows only) and then stream through iTunes, you can use the MetaX application to add the metadata to the video that is otherwise missing in AppleTV.
Sorry to roll this back a bit, but only just noticed this post.

I originally gave up adding DVD rips to iTunes, because of the length of time Handbrake took to convert them on my four-year-old laptop (one two hour film took six hours to re-encode...).

Would I see a speed benefit from using Rebox, assuming it will just change the container and not need to re-encode all video? If so, I'll happily start the project again. Again, sorry for rewinding a bit here.
 

bpsmith

Well-known Member
Rebox'ing a file only works if the original is within the tolerances that iTunes and iThing's allow. Otherwise it's a conversion required.
 

Flashy

Well-known Member
Thanks, but now I'm even more confused. :)

How would one know the original rip is within the tolerances? I've no rips any more, as I deleted the few I'd done to save space, so would be starting from scratch if I did it again. If going from nothing, presumably it's possible to rip in such a way that a lengthy conversion would be avoidable?
 

instigator

Active Member
Flashy said:
Thanks, but now I'm even more confused. :)

How would one know the original rip is within the tolerances? I've no rips any more, as I deleted the few I'd done to save space, so would be starting from scratch if I did it again. If going from nothing, presumably it's possible to rip in such a way that a lengthy conversion would be avoidable?
If your deleting movies to save space why don't you just convert them with handbrake to 720p files? Save an enormous amount of space and you really can't tell the difference...

So a 30gb mkv file is then a 1.5gb video that plays on anything and everything....
 

bpsmith

Well-known Member
I have been doing some conversions using IVI, as discussed in another thread, and even 2.5GB 720p TV stuff is coming out at around 1.4GB. Not a bad saving overall and makes streaming around the house that much easier.

Some of the 1080p Disney stuff I have done for my Son still looks superb on my 40" LED. Very difficult to see the difference, and a fraction of the file size. Helps a lot when the original is better quality though I must admit.
 

Flashy

Well-known Member
Sorry, should have been more explicit. Ripped a few DVDs to try it out, with a view to buying a large external drive to house everything on if I was successful. Then the combination of the price of hard drives going up and the time Handbrake took put me off. Was never planning to save everything on my laptop with its 160GB drive.

If your deleting movies to save space why don't you just convert them with handbrake to 720p files? Save an enormous amount of space and you really can't tell the difference...
This ties in to what I said earlier, and in other threads months back – Handbrake just takes too long on my ageing laptop, which is why any advice on how to avoid re-encoding whole files would be hugely welcomed.
 

instigator

Active Member
Flashy said:
Sorry, should have been more explicit. Ripped a few DVDs to try it out, with a view to buying a large external drive to house everything on if I was successful. Then the combination of the price of hard drives going up and the time Handbrake took put me off. Was never planning to save everything on my laptop with its 160GB drive.

This ties in to what I said earlier, and in other threads months back – Handbrake just takes too long on my ageing laptop, which is why any advice on how to avoid re-encoding whole files would be hugely welcomed.
You could always set it to batch encode a few movies each night? This way it's encoding while you sleep...
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Rebox is only for compatible pre-existing converted files that use a different container (e.mkv instead of m4v)

The only way to avoid conversion is to use Plex or XBMC on the AppleTV. Plex transcodes the video server side in real time and XBMC decodes locally.

The ATV2 does not handle DVD's all that well so Plex is probably the safer option as the Plex server running on your PC will transcode on the fly into H.264 video so it plays on the ATV2, however you will have to jailbreak the ATV2 to use Plex.
 

Flashy

Well-known Member
I'm aware of the limitations of iTunes and Apple TV. What I don't understand is how (or whether) Rebox could help me, when I have an older PC with a processor not quick enough to make converting using Handbrake worthwhile.

Working on the premise that I've ripped a DVD and have an mkv file, will Rebox make it iTunes-compatible in less time than Handbrake?

You could always set it to batch encode a few movies each night? This way it's encoding while you sleep...
Thanks. Had considered that, but when one two-hour film was going to take six hours-plus, it seemed a little silly to be only doing one-and-a-half films while I slept. :)
 

next010

Distinguished Member
I'm aware of the limitations of iTunes and Apple TV. What I don't understand is how (or whether) Rebox could help me, when I have an older PC with a processor not quick enough to make converting using Handbrake worthwhile.

Working on the premise that I've ripped a DVD and have an mkv file, will Rebox make it iTunes-compatible in less time than Handbrake?
No as I said Rebox only works on H.264/MKV videos and repackages them into H.264/MP4, the video stream is in a format (H.264) that already works with iTunes.

MakeMKV is a ripper only not a converter, so when you rip DVD's your getting MPEG-2/MKV and Rebox is useless with such files.

The only way to speed up your encodes would be
1) Use a fast preset on another x264 encoder, Handbrake is optimized for quality and not speed but x264 can be tuned to encode quickly at the cost of image quality. Staxrip has a 2-pass film fast preset which may work.

2) Use one of the quick encoders, like Cyberlink MediaEspresso this encoder just forgets about quality altogether and goes for maximum speed. The end results may or may not be to your liking also if you have a recent enough GPU that will accelerate the conversion process.
 

witters

Member
Just use MP4Tools to convert. It's free and takes less than 1 minute for a 1gb file. Import into iTunes and you're done. Far better than Handbrake which takes 15 minutes or so.
 

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