[Matroska-users] Create .mkv

Ivan Kowalenko ivan.kowalenko at gmail.com
Mon Nov 5 12:25:47 CET 2007

On Nov 4, 2007, at 16.12, June Landis wrote:

> I would like to create .mkv video files.  I have tried several  
> methods.  Please link me to a program that will accept .wmv video  
> files and convert them to .mkv, I hope I can find a way to get a  
> program for free.

Last I was aware, I don't believe that the Matroska standard supports  
Windows Media codecs. You will be required to convert the audio and  
video data to something a bit more standard, like MPEG-4/H.264 (AKA:  
AVC), Theora, MPEG-2, and the audio to MP3, AAC, AC3, Vorbis, or  
something of the like. This will be rather processor intensive, and  
will take a while, depending on the length of the video. In the  
process, due to the nature of lossy compression, you will also lose  
quality (though the amount of quality lost is dependent on the  
quality of the source video and the bitrate of the target format).

Furthermore, I believe the standard upon which Microsoft has  
developed the Windows Media container (ASF) has been thoroughly  
closed, and developers have been forbidden from developing anything  
that could read or write to it, though work-arounds have been found  

As far as recommending free programs, it has been years since I've  
used Windows, so I'm afraid I can only give you open sourced tools I  
am aware of. VLC is capable of converting WMM8 and below to various  
standard codecs (though not to MKV directly), but I advise against it  
since you have relatively little control over the final quality of  
the video. The MPlayer/MEncoder suite should be able to read Windows  
Media 8, and with a few add-on DLLs, it should (theoretically) be  
able to read Windows Media 9 as well. MEncoder, however, has a  
somewhat daunting looking command structure, but is very robust and  
allows for a high degree of control over the output file. Again,  
MEncoder has no native support to encode directly to Matroska, but it  
should be a cinch to go from AVI to MKV (the most common transition,  
actually). Be forewarned that MEncoder/MPlayer is a command-line  
application and has no graphic interface. There are a few projects to  
create graphic interfaces for the two programs, but I'm not aware of  
the ones for Windows. Another thing to be aware of is that Windows  
Media files are very proprietary, and that as yet, without using  
Microsoft's code, nothing can read Windows Media 9, and even the  
projects that can read WM9, the support and functionality is somewhat  

Once you get your video into a standard container using standard  
codecs, the standard Matroska Tool (as linked to in the Matroska  
Downloads page) should do the job quite nicely, easily, and freely.  
If you're not running Windows, the MKVtoolNIX package is very robust  
and should be just as capable as the graphic interface (though I  
recommend crafting your command in a text editor before execution).

> I bought River Past Video Cleaner pro and when I try to output  
> to .mkv it always asks to down load the community codec pack.  I've  
> done this 6 times and I don't know how to satisfy River Past Video  
> Cleaner pro.

I'm afraid I have never heard of that program before, and I am unable  
to give you advice, as I am unable to run it.

>   I just want to create .mkv video files.  I have adobe premiere  
> and  I know how to use it, but I can't figure it out in there either.

Adobe Premiere uses the Windows codec control system in Windows, and  
as such has no direct support for Matroska at all. In Mac OS X,  
Premiere uses the QuickTime codec control system, and it may be  
possible for a future plug-in to add this functionality, but at this  
time, that seems unlikely.

It may be possible to use Premiere as a stepping stone, however. If  
Premiere can go from Windows Media to a standardized audio and video  
codec (MP3 and MPEG-4 are the most popular, though AC3 and H.264 are  
recommended, especially for high definition content) within a  
standard container (say, AVI), then you can go from there and convert  
the resulting file to a Matroska file, complete with whatever  
metadata you wish to add.
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