With the introduction to mkvs out of the way, it is time to look at some of the very useful tools out there for creating mkvs. The first tool I wanted to look at is a free application called Another EAC3to GUI (also known as “the special sauce” in some circles ;-), but I will just abbreviate as “AEAC”), created by MikeEby. AEAC is an easy to use front end that uses many of the core tools available (such as eac3to, MKVToolnix, etc…) to create an mkv from either a Blu Ray or HD DVD disc. No encoding is done (although this feature may be added in the future), so you are left with a perfect 1:1 copy of the original disc. You can keep the original HD Audio track, only the core audio track, or even have the audio track converted to FLAC. AEAC will also search for forced subtitles, and if found add to the mkv. AEAC only works with unencrypted discs though, so you are required have software such as AnyDVD HD or DVDFab Passkey running in the background. The beauty of AEAC is the simplicity as it really is a single step process, all done from the GUI. Let’s take a closer look at AEAC.
Files To Download:Haali – I have read numerous reports of the latest Haali causing issues (dated 19-Dec-09), so I prefer to stick with the previous release which is dated 11-Jan-09. Another EAC3to GUI eac3to MKVToolnix Java – needs to be installed for BDSup2Sub to work BDSup2Sub MediaInfo (Optional) madFLAC (Optional) TotalMedia Theatre 3 Trial Platinum (Optional) Reclock (Optional)
- Install or extract to a folder files listed above (non optional files)
- For the Optional files:
- Although not necessary MediaInfo is a great tool for verifying the results of the created mkv file.
- If you want to convert the audio track to FLAC, you will need to install both madFLAC and TotalMedia Theatre. The reason why TotalMedia Theatre is needed is because there is no free DTS decoder, so without a decoder the FLAC file will only be made from the core audio and not from the DTS(MA) track. TotalMedia Theater comes with a decoder (ArcSoft DTS Decoder) which will be used to convert the DTS(MA) to lossless FLAC. You can let the TMT trial period expire as the decoder will still remain available for use (obviously don’t uninstall when the trial period expires)
- I don’t use FLAC so I can’t comment in detail about, but even though FLAC is lossless, when playing from a PC Windows mixer still gets its hands on the file before sending out to your AVR. Another symptom I encountered was that the volume when playing back a FLAC file would be much lower then all other files. To ensure that the FLAC file being sent out is untouched by Windows mixer, you can install Reclock which will allow for LPCM pass thru in WASAPI exclusive mode. For more information on how to set this up see this excellent guide.
Using Another EAC3to GUI:
When you first run AEAC you will see several different windows. If this is your first time running you want to get all the Options set up (only needs to be done once), so go to Tools -> Options
Once in the “Options” UI there are several settings that need to be set.
- For EAC 3To, BDSup2Sub, and MKVMerge simply point AEAC to where the respective .exe files are located (in my case I have everything located in my C:\Program Files directory).
- For “Stream File Types” there should be no need to change this as evo and m2ts are the file types for HD DVD and Blu Ray respectively.
- The “Default Language” is used for subtitle processing.
- Under the “Audio Options” section you just need to select what audio output you want (currently you can only select one option).
- “Shut down computer after batch runs” is self explanatory.
- When AEAC processes your disc, it uses EAC3To to pull out the necessary audio/video/subtitle/chapter files and store in a “working” folder. MKVMerge then grabs these files and muxes into a single mkv but all the working files are still left behind. If you want these files deleted after MKVMerge is complete, check the “Delete all work files after MKVMerge” box. Otherwise the working files will remain in the working folder until you delete manually.
- Finally, there is a field to specify where you want the final mkv to be output to, as well as an option to have the Output and Input (i.e. “working”) folder be the same location. MikeEby found that be separating the working folder and the output folder to separate drives actually reduced the amount of time it took to process the Blu Ray/HD DVD disc. If you have multiple local drives (or over networked drives although I have found with my setup doing anything over a network drive greatly increases the amount of time to process which is not ideal) I would definitely recommend setting up (you can specify the Working Folder by clicking on the “Advanced Options” button). Otherwise just tick the “Output folder same as input stream folder” box.
- In the “Advanced Options” section you would specify a “working file” location if you plan on using, as well as ticking off that the work file location is different from the output file.
- Although sticking with the default setting should be fine for detecting forced subtitles (i.e. 20) you can adjust how much smaller a subtitle file must be from all other subtitles to be considered a forced subtitle.
- The final two options should be self explanatory.
With the initial settings out of the way it should be smooth sailing from here. First go to the “Stream Path” and Browse to the movie you want to rip (make sure you navigate to the folder where the actual movie file is located, so for a Blu Ray that would be BDMV\Stream). Once done click the “Analyze” button and within a few seconds you should see all the other fields in the UI populate with data:
- Output File – denote where you want the mkv output to and what filename (the default filename is MyMKVFile.mkv)
- Results – This shows you a list of all available playlists to choose from. It is pretty easy to pick out the main movie based on the playlist duration. Simply choose the playlist you want to use. If you want to preview any of the files simply highlight the file you want to preview in the “Source Stream Files” and it will begin to play automatically in the player to the left of the “Results” box.
- Subtitle Position Inside – This is a feature I have not needed to mess around with. Depending on your setup (such as using a masking system) you may want to move where the subtitles are placed. If you even need to ask what a masking system is you are fine just sticking with the default 16:9.
- Batch Jobs – Once you are done selecting the playlist and making any other changes, you can add the job to the Batch Jobs by clicking the “Add Batch” button. Unless you want to add any other playlists (highly unlikely) once you have added the job you can now click the “Run All” button.
- For the advanced user, if you want to edit the EAC3To command line code directly, or if you want to pick and choose what video/audio you want selected from the playlist, click the “Command Line” button. The only drawback is that by using this method AEAC will only demux the selected files, you will need to manually mux into an mkv using a program such as MKVMerge.
- After clicking the “Run All” button a command prompt will appear and EAC3to will begin to work its magic. On my PC (Quad Core Windows 7) it takes approximately 30-45 minutes to process a movie.
Once AEAC is complete, you can confirm the details of the created mkv using Media Info. From the below screenshot you can see the Video (1920×1080 @ 23.976fps), Audio (DTS MA), Subtitles (forced) and Chapters.
Overall Another EAC3To GUI is a great tool that takes the guesswork out of ripping your Blu Rays into mkvs. MikeEby has a few other enhancements down the road that he is looking in to as time permits (possibly adding multiple audio track support, an option to encode the video to h264, etc…). The two items that have kept me from using AEAC full time are 1) Multiple Audio Track support (I like to include a secondary AC3 track because not all the players in my house such as the SageTV HD200 support HD Audio or downmixing to stereo) and 2) there is a bug with the PCH C-200/A-200 where hi resolution subtitles are not supported (I will discuss my workaround for this in the next post).
Check out my guide here on how to use Another EAC3To GUI to create a secondary AC3 track.