Media on The Move

I have a large quantity of .mkv films stored on a big NAS box sitting in the corner of the room, which has the advantages of being able to play films on a number of devices around the house. From an MacMini connected to the projector using XBMC to the little Nano box connected to the TV in the bedroom. So a little bit of investigation needs to be done so that they can be played on iOS devices that I also have, so they can be taken on the move with me a little easier. Don’t get me wrong a quick transfer to the MacAir and play the with XBMC is simple enough, but as light as it maybe, there are sometimes you just don’t want to take a laptop with you.

The problem here is the .MKV is a container format that does not use the defined Public APIs so therefore Apple will not approve the App, causing the writer to use software to decode and not being able to make direct calls to the hardware. But what you do find inside the .MKV is a MP4 stream which can be played by the iOS device just fine with hardware acceleration.

So the resolution to the problem is to use an application to extract the audio and video streams from the MKV and save them out to an MP4, the process should be lossless as all we are doing is copying the streams into another container format. Not only should it be lossless but as it’s a copy not a re-encode the time taken and CPU cycles required will be minimal.

So using something like Subler you can quickly remix your MKV files to MP4 drop the output into iTunes and then Home Share to you iOS device or ATV, or move them to your iOS device for watching on the move. Your going to need Perian as well to complete the audio side of things here.

Subler and Perian are not approved Apps so your settings will most likely stop you from running it with a simple double click, simple enough to resolve, browse to the file location hold down the CTRL key and click, select Open from the drop down, then select Open from the popup, once this has been done the 1st time you can run the App the same way as you do anything else.

The interface is fairly intuitive, but as I’m writing about it anyway heres a couple of pointers to get you started.

  • Open the MKV by clicking on File then Open, browse to the one you want and then click open.
  • Add Metadata and Artwork if required in the bottom half of the window
  • File, Save As, select the location, rename the file if you like, file format from the drop down list “Movie-MPEG4” will give you a .MP4

A few seconds later you will have your new file ready to import into iTunes and use in the same way as you do any other video content.



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