A few days ago I posted about an excellent tool called Another EAC3To GUI that can be used to create an mkv from either a Blu Ray or HD DVD disc. Today I will look at a slightly less direct method that is actually the method I use currently using two of my favorite tools, Clown_BD and MKVMerge. Just like AEAC this method is used for Blu Ray or HD DVD discs, and not DVDs. Clown_BD only works with unencrypted discs, so you are required to have software such as AnyDVD HD or DVDFab Passkey running in the background. There are two main reasons why I use this method over AEAC or MakeMKV, 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. Once you get the hang of it it is actually not that difficult, so let’s take a look at this method.
Files To Download:Clown_BD – I would recommend you download the “Clown_BD, eac3to, tsMuxer Package” (second download link) as it has all the additional apps that you need. MKVToolnix Java – needs to be installed for BDSup2Sub to work BDSup2Sub – Only needed if you do not download the Clown_BD package eac3to – Only needed if you do not download the Clown_BD package tsMuxer – Only needed if you do not download the Clown_BD package MediaInfo (Optional)
Really not much to do here. Extract Clown_BD to a location of your choice, install MKVToolnix, install Java if needed, install MediaInfo if needed, and if you are not using the Clown_BD package extract BDSup2Sub/eac3to/tsMuxeR to a location of your choice.
The purpose of using Clown_BD is really to utilize eac3to to demux the audio/video/subtitles through the Clown_BD UI. I won’t go into too much detail about how to use Clown_BD since I wrote a wiki about, but instead will just look at a few screens.
- In Step 1 I keep “Force Subtitles” and “Network Media Tank Audio Options” checked. Force Subtitles just means that Clown_BD will automatically select all subtitles of your designated language for processing. The reason why I want to choose all subtitles (English in my case) is because I am using Clown_BD to search for forced subtitles. There may be multiple English subtitle tracks but not all of them (or any for that matter) will include forced subtitles. Network Media Tank Audio Options allows me to create a secondary AC3 audio track. I have the “Use tsMuxeR” option checked so I can test out the outputted video before going to MKVMerge, but this is not necessary if you prefer to skip this step.
- After choosing the playlist, in Step 3 I choose Chapters, the 1080p Video, and the HD Audio track. Since “Force Subtitles” was selected in Step 1 all English Subtitles should already be selected. For “Output Audio Format” I choose “Unconverted” (this will give me the original HD audio track) and “AC3″ (this will create a secondary AC3 track). In many discs you will already see an AC3 track included as an option in the Audio section. However, there is a chance that this track is not for the main movie but instead for extras such as directors commentary. Ticking “AC3″ ensures that I get a correct AC3 track from the main HD Audio. I keep “Movie Output Format” at “TS”, although for the purpose of this guide it is irrelevant.
- Once Clown_BD has finished running, you should be left with all the demuxed files. If there are forced subtitles you will be able to see this as the subtitle (sup) file will have the word “FORCED” in the filename. If you have no need for subtitles (forced or otherwise) you can just skip to the MKVMerge section. Otherwise, head to the BDSup2Sub section.
If you want to keep subtitles in mkvs unfortunately there is an extra step that needs to be done. There are several reasons for having to do this. First, Blu Ray subtitles are in SUP/PGS format. Currently this format is not supported by MKVMerge (to date the only program I have seen that supports adding SUP/PGS subtitles to mkvs is MakeMKV). Secondly, there is very limited support amongst playback devices for mkvs containing SUP/PGS subtitles (XBMC being one of the only ones I have come across). By using BDSup2Sub you can convert these SUP/PGS subtitles to IDX/Sub, which is the subtitle format used in DVDs and generally more supported. If need be you can also adjust the position of where the subtitles appear.
When you first run BDSup2Sub you will see a very simple UI.
To add the subtitles you want to convert simply click n’ drag the subtitle file from Windows Explorer over the BDSup2Sub UI. A Conversions Options box will appear. Ideally there should be no need to adjust any of the settings. HOWEVER, it turns out that if you are using a Popcorn Hour media player there is currently a bug where hi resolution (i.e. 1080p) SUB/IDX subtitles cannot be displayed inside an mkv. To get around this you need to convert the resolution of the subtitles to 480p (NTSC).
Once done with the Conversion Options you will now see the actual subtitles appear. The top screen shows the subtitles as is and the bottom screen shows the subtitles reflecting any changes made in the Conversion Options. One challenge you may encounter is how to figure out which subtitle file you want in the case where there are multiple subtitles. There is a thread over on AVSForum that lists out the correct track to use for forced subtitles. Otherwise, it is just trial and error. For one movie, 2 forced subtitle tracks appeared (see below two screenshots). You can see by the second screenshot that the subtitle appears to be some sort of director’s commentary, so I went with the first subtitle track.
Second screenshot, appears to be director’s commentary
There are several other settings that you can adjust. One setting in particular that some people may find useful is the “Move all captions” option as shown below. With this you can adjust where the subtitles will appear on the screen.
Once done making any changes, go to File -> Save/Export and click Save.
You should now see an idx subtitle which can be used with MKVMerge.
It may look like a lot but it is actually very easy to do and takes under a minute. Also, keep in mind that if you are only looking to grab the forced subtitles this process only needs to be done if forced subtitles are present. About 95% or more of the movies I own do not contain forced subtitles.
So now that we have the main video, main audio, secondary AC3 audio, and forced subtitles (if applicable), it is time to bring it all together with MKVMerge. First you just need to click n’ drag the audio/video/subtitle files into the “Input tab”
For whatever reason, if the video file is AVC/h.264 MKVMerge cannot determine the proper frames per second, and a message box will appear.
To assign the correct frames per second (which is 23.976 for Blu Ray), make sure the video track is highlighted, go to the “Format specific options” tab, and manually type in 23.976 for the FPS field. Another option mentioned by robp is to just select “24000/1001″ (24000/1001=23.976) from the pull down menu.
Click n’ drag the rest of the files. Although not necessary I like to edit some of the details of each track. For example, by highlighting the DTS audio track and going to the “General track options” tab I can label the track, assign what language it is, and even set it as the default track. If for whatever reason you decide you don’t want a track included you can simply uncheck the box next to the track.
The last step is to go to the “Global” tab. Under “File/segment title” you can enter in the title of the movie. Under the “Chapters” section you can import the Chapters.txt file created by Clown_BD and assign a language. Once done just assign the Output filename and click the “Start muxing” button.
When MKVMerge starts the muxing process a Status box will appear showing the progress of the mux.
When all is said and done you should be left with a single MKV file, which you can then use MediaInfo to confirm the details.
I realize that after reading this it may seem like a rather intensive process, but honestly after running through a few times it is very easy to get through and only requires a few clicks. This process works the best for me because it allows me to get multiple audio tracks, adjust the resolution on any forced subtitles (for the PCH), and yet maintain the original Video/Audio. The great thing is that many of the tools highlighted here can be used in different ways. For instance, lets say you have an mkv that you want split up into smaller file sizes. All you have to do is simply click n’ drag the mkv onto MKVMerge, go to the “Global” tab, and set up the “Enable Splitting” option. This comes in handy when I am trying to make small clips for testing purposes. Another example would be if you had an mkv that had tracks you wanted to remove. Once again, simply click n’ drag the mkv onto MKVMerge, uncheck the tracks you don’t want (such as extra subtitles), and click “Start muxing” to create a new mkv without the unwanted tracks. Even if you don’t follow the exact process I just outlined, hopefully this will start to give you some ideas of what each software/utility is capable of and how you can use in many different ways.