Chris McMichael

Converting Your DVDs and Blurays to MP4s

Lets face it, keeping around physical copies of movies on disc is no longer a thing we do these days. Hollywood, for whatever reason, still seems to think it’s a thing. Death to physical movie discs will be in our near future as our future progresses in the direction of streaming. Until we reach that point, we are stuck with physical movies discs. I decided to convert all of my physical movies discs that I own to MP4s.

Here is my process:

1) Download a copy of MakeMKV

MakeMKV copies the movie contents from a disc and transfers the video to an MKV file. MakeMKV allows you to select the audio and video tracks from each video segment on disc. The program is free to use. Though, I highly recommended spending the $50 as it’s a great piece of software. If you are OK with your movies being stored in a MKV file, then don’t read any further. I like keeping all of my movies in a single format which is my personal preference MP4. Next we will need to install ffmpeg in order to convert our MKV video file to MP4.

2) Install ffmpeg

To install ffmpeg on Mac OS, simply install homebrew and run the following command:

# Basic install
brew install ffmpeg
# Or for the complete set of libraries run the following
brew install ffmpeg --with-fdk-aac --with-ffplay --with-freetype \
                    --with-frei0r --with-libass --with-libvo-aacenc \
                    --with-libvorbis --with-libvpx --with-opencore-amr \
                    --with-openjpeg --with-opus --with-rtmpdump \
                    --with-schroedinger --with-speex \
                    --with-theora --with-tools

If you are using a Debian based OS:

apt-get install ffmpeg

For all other OS’s or to manually compile visit the downloads page ffmpeg downloads.

3) Converting the MKV file to MP4

Now that ffmpeg is installed, lets convert our MKV video to MP4. Before doing so, I would like to mention a couple gotchas I’ve discovered when converting video files. First off MP4 files support most if not all of the major audio formats in existence (as does MKV). Keep in mind that certain audio formats might not work on all hardware devices. e.g - AppleTV does not support DTS. Be sure to read up on what your hardware devices support. I personally watch most of my movie using VLC.

Ffmpeg currently does not support copying TrueHD or LPCM into a MP4 file. This may change in the future, but you will need to transcode your audio formats when converting these types of video to another audio format. TrueHD is literally just a wrapper around AC3. MakeMKV allows for the extraction of the AC3 portion of the audio track so TrueHD should never be an issue unless you absolutely want your movie to contain that audio format.

Make sure that the video filename that you are converting does not contain square brackets, single quotes, percent sign, or double spaces as ffmpeg has been known to break on such characters contained within the filename.

Here is the basic command for converting your video file:

ffmpeg -i Movie_Title.mkv -acodec copy -vcodec copy Movie_Title.mp4

The above is telling ffmpeg to copy all of the audio and video tracks from the MKV file and put them into the MP4 file. It is a pretty simple task. I have a bash script I wrote which can be found here. This script converts a folder of videos files MP4. Copying the contents from one container to another is faster than transcoding and will generally have a larger file size. Transcoding takes a ton more time to convert but will create a smaller file size.

4)Tag your video file

For those of us (me) who love to tag things, check out identify. iDenify tags your MP4 file with movie metadata including movie cover art. MKV files also support metadata tagging though I’ll wait for a GUI app to come out instead of manually tagging. Hope this article was useful. Enjoy!