Letter Soup: MKV Converting/Remuxing for PS3 Playback

This post is targeted primarily at the geekier amongst us. Those of us who have spent some time downloading possibly from bittorrent and have run across the HD format of choice for online content MKV. Also known as the Matroska container format. This format appears to be ideal for large High Definition video but has yet to catch on with the home theater market and the console manufacturers for various reasons. This means you can’t play these files on your home console. In this case we are looking to play them on a PlayStation 3.

So we have to ask ourselves what formats does the PS3 support and how can we get these files in to this format with a minimum of fuss? The Playstation 3 user guide isn’t a bad place to start. Here is what it has to say about what can be played through “Video”:

The following types of files can be played under  (Video).
  • Memory Stick Video Format
  • – MPEG-4 SP (AAC LC)
  • – H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile (AAC LC)
  • – MPEG-2 TS(H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, AAC LC)
  • MP4 file format
  • – H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile (AAC LC)
  • MPEG-1 (MPEG Audio Layer 2)
  • MPEG-2 PS (MPEG2 Audio Layer 2, AAC LC, AC3(Dolby Digital), LPCM)
  • MPEG-2 TS(MPEG2 Audio Layer 2, AC3(Dolby Digital), AAC LC)
  • MPEG-2 TS(H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, AAC LC)
  • AVI
  • – Motion JPEG (Linear PCM)
  • – Motion JPEG (μ-Law)
  • AVCHD (.m2ts / .mts)
  • DivX
  • WMV
  • – VC-1(WMA Standard V2)

We see some interesting options in the list. Mainly H.264 and/or DivX seem to be the prime candidates. The problem is you would have to convert and recompress. Knowing that the video we are working with is all ready H.264(My file names told me so, you can use VLC or any number of other apps to check) our most likely suspect is the AVCHD format. This format is new and is a derivative of the Blueray Disc format which of course is supported by the PS3. So all we’re looking at is a change of container, a remuxing, to something the PS3 can read the video out of. So far the best/easiest tool I’ve found for getting this done is tsMuxer from SmartLabs.

Download tsMuxer here.

Then there are just a few easy steps to make this happen. The first is adding your file to the queue.

  • Click “add”
  • Browse to your file
  • Click “ok”
  • If there are subtitles or audio tracks you want to exclude simply uncheck them.
  • Select “M2TS muxing”
  • Click “Start muxing”

For a 2GB one hour 720p episode it takes 3-4 minutes to remux to the M2TS file. You can then transfer these via USB to your PS3. I’m still working on a way to move these quickly over the network instead of by sneakernet. Enjoy your HD content!