Adding Chapters to Videos Using MKV Containers

Posted by gmendoza on August 4, 2010 under Tech Tips | 4 Comments to Read

If you would like to add chapters to your video files, such as XviD, x264, OGG, etc., simply use the Matroska multimedia container format.

For those of you that have never created Matroska files, visit the Matroska website to find the right software for your platform. If you’re using Ubuntu Linux, install the mkvtoolnix package from the repositories. It contains all the tools you need to start working with MKV files.

sudo apt-get-install mkvtoolnix

The easiest method of creating your chapter definitions is with any text editor, using the following format. Feel free to change the name and time values accordingly. Save the file anywhere you can remember, e.g. chapter.txt.

CHAPTER01=00:00:00.000
CHAPTER01NAME=Chapter 01
CHAPTER02=00:05:00.000
CHAPTER02NAME=Chapter 02
CHAPTER03=00:10:00.000
CHAPTER03NAME=Chapter 03
CHAPTER04=00:15:00.000
CHAPTER04NAME=Chapter 04
CHAPTER05=00:20:00.000
CHAPTER05NAME=Chapter 05

If you want to create a chapter file from an existing DVD, dvdxchap is a great tool for the job if you’re using Linux. It’s part of the ogmtools package. For more info, check out the OGMtools project web site.

Installation and three examples of how to use the tool are below.

sudo apt-get install ogmtools

dvdxchap /dev/dvd > chapter.txt
dvdxchap ./VIDEO_TS/ > chapter.txt
dvdxchap video.iso > chapter.txt

mkvmerge is the only tool you need to create an MKV file. In the following examples, your source video file is called video.avi, and your destination file is video.mkv.

A simplified version of the mkvmerge syntax is as follows.

mkvmerge video.avi --chapters chapter.txt -o video.mkv

I typically like to set my default language to English, and also turn off header compression for all tracks since some players don’t play nicely with compression enabled. The syntax and example output is displayed below.

mkvmerge video.avi --default-language eng \
--compression -1:none --chapters chapter.txt -o video.mkv

mkvmerge v4.2.0 ('No Talking') built on Jul 28 2010 16:47:39
'video.avi': Using the AVI demultiplexer. Opening file. This may take some time depending on the file's size.
'video.avi' track 0: Using the MPEG-4 part 2 video output module.
'video.avi' track 1: Using the MPEG audio output module.
The file 'video.mkv' has been opened for writing.
'video.avi' track 0: Extracted the aspect ratio information from the MPEG4 layer 2 video data and set the display dimensions to 712/416.
Progress: 100%
The cue entries (the index) are being written...
Muxing took 30 seconds.

That’s really all there is to it. Now any media player that supports MKV chapters will allow you to navigate them. My favorites are VLC, Mplayer, and my Western Digital media player, the WD TV Live Plus.

Verify the contents of your MKV using mkvmerge or mkvinfo.

mkvmerge -i video.mkv
File 'video.mkv': container: Matroska
Track ID 1: video (V_MS/VFW/FOURCC, XVID)
Track ID 2: audio (A_MPEG/L3)
Chapters: 13 entries

mkvinfo video.mkv
+ EBML head
|+ EBML version: 1
|+ EBML read version: 1
|+ EBML maximum ID length: 4
|+ EBML maximum size length: 8
|+ Doc type: matroska
|+ Doc type version: 2
|+ Doc type read version: 2
+ Segment, size 1325519138
|+ Seek head (subentries will be skipped)
|+ EbmlVoid (size: 4029)
|+ Segment information
| + Timecode scale: 1000000
| + Muxing application: libebml v1.0.0 + libmatroska v1.0.0
| + Writing application: mkvmerge v4.2.0 ('No Talking') built on Jul 28 2010 16:47:39
| + Duration: 5004.680s (01:23:24.680)
| + Date: Thu Aug 5 00:26:03 2010 UTC
| + Segment UID: 0x81 0x4b 0xc4 0xf1 0xf4 0x5b 0x6d 0xda 0xc5 0x40 0xc1 0x03 0x3f 0x36 0x0f 0xd9
|+ Segment tracks
| + A track
| + Track number: 1
| + Track UID: 1318207700
| + Track type: video
| + Lacing flag: 0
| + MinCache: 1
| + Codec ID: V_MS/VFW/FOURCC
| + CodecPrivate, length 40 (FourCC: XVID, 0x44495658)
| + Default duration: 40.000ms (25.000 fps for a video track)
| + Video track
| + Pixel width: 480
| + Pixel height: 416
| + Display width: 712
| + Display height: 416
| + A track
| + Track number: 2
| + Track UID: 3206714560
| + Track type: audio
| + Codec ID: A_MPEG/L3
| + Default duration: 24.000ms (41.667 fps for a video track)
| + Audio track
| + Sampling frequency: 48000
| + Channels: 2
|+ EbmlVoid (size: 1099)
|+ Chapters
| + EditionEntry
| + EditionFlagHidden: 0
| + EditionFlagDefault: 0
| + EditionUID: 585228242
| + ChapterAtom
| + ChapterUID: 4059317607
| + ChapterTimeStart: 00:00:00.000000000
| + ChapterFlagHidden: 0
| + ChapterFlagEnabled: 1
| + ChapterDisplay
| + ChapterString: Chapter 01
| + ChapterLanguage: eng
| + ChapterAtom
| + ChapterUID: 3065648262
| + ChapterTimeStart: 00:05:00.000000000
| + ChapterFlagHidden: 0
| + ChapterFlagEnabled: 1
| + ChapterDisplay
| + ChapterString: Chapter 02
| + ChapterLanguage: eng
| + ChapterAtom
| + ChapterUID: 2388361707
| + ChapterTimeStart: 00:10:00.000000000
| + ChapterFlagHidden: 0
| + ChapterFlagEnabled: 1
| + ChapterDisplay
| + ChapterString: Chapter 03
| + ChapterLanguage: eng
| + ChapterAtom
| + ChapterUID: 1448933008
| + ChapterTimeStart: 00:15:00.000000000
| + ChapterFlagHidden: 0
| + ChapterFlagEnabled: 1
| + ChapterDisplay
| + ChapterString: Chapter 04
| + ChapterLanguage: eng
| + ChapterAtom
| + ChapterUID: 1319721142
| + ChapterTimeStart: 00:20:00.000000000
| + ChapterFlagHidden: 0
| + ChapterFlagEnabled: 1
| + ChapterDisplay
| + ChapterString: Chapter 05
| + ChapterLanguage: eng
|+ EbmlVoid (size: 101)
|+ Cluster

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Comments

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  • MKVHelp said,

    MKV is so flexible that has quickly become the preferred file extension for high definition video on the Internet (though WebM, AVI, VP8 are also pretty popular, but the HD effect just not as favorable as MKV). because of MKV natively supports features like alternate audio tracks, multilingual subtitles and chapter points, as well as rich metadata authoring including cover art, ratings, descriptions and more, I think there must be a trend to rip Blu-ray movie to MKV format for keeping BD extra elements.

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  • Gerben said,

    Thanks for this tip!

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