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Convert Your Entire Movie Library From VOB To MKV

Written by Mr. X on Thursday, 17 May 2012. Posted in Home Entertainment, PC

Convert Your Entire Movie Library From VOB To MKV

If your like me and have been building your digital movie library since the age of DVD, you most likely have the majority of your movies encoded in a multi-file .VOB set. VOB, like many other formats, is just a container that houses digital video encoded with an MPEG-2 codec. While I may eventually replace these standard-def movies with high-def formats based on the more modern h.264 codec, the time has come to update all those VOBs to a single file container format.

Additionally, part of the driver behind me taking on this major conversion project (I have a lot of movies...), is that Boxee Box seemes to experience a delay between VOB files when playing a movie. Sometimes the delay is short, sometimes long, but its a delay non the less and my guess is it's due to loading the next VOB file in line for movie playback.

Why MKV?:

Because MKV is the best and most flexable container format available today, hands down.

What exactly is MKV?:

MKV or (Matroska video) is a digital multimedia container format, primarily used for video. It is not a video codec itself, but rather an envelope that contains the video, audio, subtitles, etc, all in one file. One of the huge advantages of MKV is its flexability to support many different encoded video formats, audio, and subtitles all in a single file. Much cleaner that that multi-file VOB mess.

Luckily, there's and easy tool to make short work of the process. It's called mkvtoolnix and it will repackage the MPEG-2 encoded video from a multi-file VOB container format, to a single file MKV container. And it's available for just about every OS out there. To install on Widows, just run the installer found here, mkvtoonix Windows installer. If you followed my guide to setup a Flawless Cloud Media Server then you'll want to use the Linux based version.

Note: .mkv file format is not DLNA compatible!

[UPDATE]: in Going trhough a new project I discovered that PLEX will convert your MKV files to MPEG-2 on the fly for DLNA streaming. Definately test first before converting, if DLNA is your primary distribution method. http://www.plexapp.com/getplex/

To install mkvtoolnix for Linux:

  1. Run:
    wget -O - http://www.bunkus.org/gpg-pub-moritzbunkus.txt | sudo apt-key add -
  2. Add the following line to /etc/apt/sources.list:
    11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot"
    deb http://www.bunkus.org/ubuntu/oneiric/ ./
    deb-src http://www.bunkus.org/ubuntu/oneiric/ ./ 
    
    12.04 "Precise Pangolin"
    deb http://www.bunkus.org/ubuntu/precise/ ./
    deb-src http://www.bunkus.org/ubuntu/precise/ ./  
    
  3. Now run:
    apt-get update
    apt-get install mkvtoolnix mkvtoolnix-gui
    

 Once you have it installed, you can start adding movies to the queue to convert.

  1. Open mkvmerge gui (name it installs under) and click the "Add" button in the upper right corner.
  2. Browse to the VOB files for the movie you want to convert and click on the first VOB file in the list, then click "Open".
  3. Uncheck all but the first AC3 audio track. (I have learned that it is best to remove all the other audio tracks that are not needed. The first audio track is generally 5.1 english)
  4. Rename the output file to [movie name].mkv, and save the file to a seperate temp location outside of your movie library. Since I have Boxee set up to scan my movie folder hourly, I don't want it picking up the new movie files before I have deleted the old VOBs and before I delete the VOBs I need to check and make sure the convertion processed ok.
  5. Next click "Add to job queue" and repeat the steps above for the rest of your movies.
  6. Once you have your all the movies you want to convert added to your queue, go up to the top menu and click on "Muxing" then "Manage jobs".
  7. Review and click "Start"

I did an initial sample test and I was able to convert 26 movies in about 53 minutes. The process is pretty fast since we're not re-encoding the movie, but rather re-packaging it into a different container. Make sure that you test each file for playback and audio before deleting any of the original VOBs, you don't want to end up with a bad MKV encoding and no back up. I also tested one of the newly converted VOB to MKV files all the way through Boxee to ensure it was happy with the converted file as well. Once you are ready, you can begin copying the new MKV files into the root of the original movie folders where the VOB files are and delete the VOB files (if you have .nfo or other information files in the same folder, you'll want to move those to where the MKV file is). In my case, I copied the MKV to /share/movies/9/ and deleted the folder /share/movies/9/VIDEO_TS. Boxee should pick up the new MKV when it rescans the directory.

Were you able to convert your VOBs to MKV? Hit me up in the comments.

About the Author

Mr. X

Mr. X

Mr. X is a technology enthusiast.

Comments (3)

  • Tom

    Tom

    24 May 2012 at 18:07 |
    Great article, I've been a huge fan of MKV for a long time. I'll try mkvtoolnix on my PC media center and also on my Mac and let you know how it works.
    Any suggestions for MKV conversion software?
    I like and have been using MakeMKV for over a year. It's freeware and is supports Windows, Linux and Mac OSX.
  • httpimpin

    httpimpin

    03 June 2012 at 15:57 |
    Hey Tom, glad you liked the article. I have been using Handbrake ( http://handbrake.fr/) for a while now. It makes it easy to convert various video formats using the h.264 codec, and you have the option of saving the file as .mkv or .mp4. It's available on the 3 major OS platforms, but differs from mkvtoolnix in that it will actually be re-encoding the video to h.264 rather that just repackaging it in the mkv container format.
  • Rob

    Rob

    08 August 2014 at 04:52 |
    How do you set this up to convert vob to mkv on win7?

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