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 works, too.
* There are no restrictions where to play the file. There are no region-based restrictions. You have control over the content you've paid for.
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 files.
Why MKV is better than AVI?
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 compression format.
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 favorite device.
* 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 and Linux
* Functionality to open DVD discs is free and will always stay free.
* All features (including Blu-ray decryption and processing) are free during BETA.
Downloading Page: http://www.makemkv.com/download/
General information about MKV: http://matroska.org/