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Old 2008-05-14, 07:05   Link #1
TheFluff
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MKV Ordered Chapters: User's Manual

Recently an MKV feature known as "ordered chapters" or "ordered editions" has become increasingly common. The purpose of this thread is to clarify some common concerns about said feature.

Q: Why use ordered chapters?
A: Ordered chapters, when combined with MKV segment linking, provides an easy way to save a lot of diskspace and improve video quality for TV anime. This is not because ordered chapters compress video or anything. Instead, ordered chapters allows you to encode the opening and/or ending sequences of a series into a file of their own, and then have the OP/ED automagically inserted into each episode at the appropriate places. This saves space, because instead of encoding the OP/ED into every episode, they are only encoded once, so the main episode can be made smaller. It is particularly true because opening themes in particular tend to have a lot of high-motion content that doesn't compress very well. In some extreme cases I've seen, cutting out the OP of an episode reduced the filesize by about 25%.

Q: What do I need to do to get it working properly?
A: Not much. Install the CCCP, put the linked files together in one folder, play the main file (usually the episode itself, not the OP/ED), and it will look and behave just like an episode encoded in the standard fashion. If you've installed Haali's splitter separately, go to its settings, go to "input" and make sure "try to open linked files" is set to "yes".

Q: What about other players or operating systems?
A: Unfortunately this feature (which is a part of the MKV standard) is not yet implemented in any other splitters than Haali's. This means that if you try to watch linked files in (for example) MPlayer or VLC, they will just play whatever the file contains, without inserting content from other files.

Q: Can I rename the files?
A: Yes. The linking is done by something called a Segment Unique Identifier (SUID) and not by the filename, so feel free to rename the files. However, remuxing the file will change the SUID and hence break the linking, so don't do that.

Q: But that sucks, I want to change the subtitle font and remux!
A: Well actually I lied about "no remuxing", it can actually be done, just not with mkvmerge. Instead you will need to use Haali's GDSMux (comes with the CCCP as well as with the standalone splitter package). How to do it:
1) Use mkvinfo (comes with the mkvtoolnix package, if you have mkvmerge you have this) to find out the SUID of the file you want to remux. It should look something like this:
Code:
Segment UID: 0xa2 0xa6 0xa2 0xa7 0x45 0x22 0x6b 0x85 0x85 0xd4 0x75 0x5e 0x6c 0xf4 0x67 0x60
Remove the "Segment UID:" part and all the "0x", and note it down somewhere.
2) Use mkvextract to extract the chapters XML file.
3) Start GDSMux. On the Input tab, rightclick and hit "Add source". Add the MKV file you want to remux and whatever files you want to change.
4) Go to the Chapters tab and hit "load from file". Load the .xml file you just extracted.
5) Go to the Global options tab and paste the Segment UID in the appropriate field there.
6) Select an output file using the button at the bottom.
7) Hit start.
8) Wait.
9) Profit.

Q: Does this feature increase CPU usage?
A: No. It might increase file load time slightly but unless you have 300+ MKV files in the same folder it's highly unlikely to be much of a noticeable problem.

Q: I don't like this. Is there any way I can put it back to normal?
A: Yes, it's possible but a bit complicated. Basically, what you need to do is:
1) extract the chapter files
2) find out where the split points between different files are
3) split the main file into multiple files (around the split points) using mkvmerge
4) append files to each other with mkvmerge so that everything is in the right order in one file.

Q: This is relevant to my interests and I would like to know more!
A: See this page.
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17:43:13 <~deculture> Also, TheFluff, you are so fucking slowpoke.jpg that people think we dropped the DVD's.
17:43:16 <~deculture> nice job, fag!

01:04:41 < Plorkyeran> it was annoying to typeset so it should be annoying to read

Last edited by TheFluff; 2010-11-17 at 14:22.
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Old 2008-05-14, 12:28   Link #2
WanderingKnight
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Quote:
Q: What about other players or operating systems?
A: Unfortunately this feature (which is a part of the MKV standard) is not yet implemented in any other splitters than Haali's. This means that if you try to watch linked files in (for example) MPlayer or VLC, they will just play whatever the file contains, without inserting content from other files.
Major bummer for me.

I seriously hope this becomes supported on mplayer before it gets too popular.

Unlike most of people, I like watching the OP and ED each episode.
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Old 2008-05-14, 12:41   Link #3
TheFluff
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Write a (perl) script that uses mkvtoolnix to read SUID's and parse chapters and then automatically mkvmerges the OP/ED into each file. I may or may not do this later on in my copious spare time.
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17:43:13 <~deculture> Also, TheFluff, you are so fucking slowpoke.jpg that people think we dropped the DVD's.
17:43:16 <~deculture> nice job, fag!

01:04:41 < Plorkyeran> it was annoying to typeset so it should be annoying to read
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Old 2008-05-14, 12:52   Link #4
WanderingKnight
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That's a nice idea, but it's just extra work without the benefits the ordered chapters would provide. What I'd love is to see this great feature supported under mplayer. I guess begging to the development team is in order.
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Old 2008-05-14, 14:01   Link #5
Kyuusai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
Major bummer for me.

I seriously hope this becomes supported on mplayer before it gets too popular.

Unlike most of people, I like watching the OP and ED each episode.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
That's a nice idea, but it's just extra work without the benefits the ordered chapters would provide. What I'd love is to see this great feature supported under mplayer. I guess begging to the development team is in order.
As another person who almost always watches the OP and ED, It kind of burns for me, too. It feels like people expect every one to use Windows (or just assume every one uses it, which is almost as bad).

On the other hand, I can completely understand why it's come to this. Using Kurenai as an example (since hey, it's the show that made the splash by coming out in split files), the main episode content takes up 175 megabytes in 1280x720, but the OP takes up another 100 megabytes! (Its lovely ED comes in at a svelte 17 megabytes, but that's neither here nor there.)

With data rates like that, I'm OK with putting the cart ahead of the horse this way so long as the pressure it puts on others to catch up is successful.

In the meantime, we really aren't affected too much. Just loading the OP, episode, and ED files into a playlist in MPlayer or VLC is pretty close to seamless. The exception is that if you do this any episode-specific content will come in between the OP and ED, regardless of where it's supposed to be. The only way this normally affects us is that it means the next episode preview comes before the credits, which bugs the crud out of me, but I can live with for the time being.

No telling when MPlayer and VLC will catch up, but please, every one... beg.
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Old 2008-05-14, 16:08   Link #6
Dark Shikari
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There appears to be a patch for chapters in the MKV container on the ffmpeg-devel mailing list; I'm not sure if this includes ordered chapters support.
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Old 2008-05-14, 17:02   Link #7
Elafy
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Hi!

Talking about Kurenai, and since it's also my first time with split files, I' m trying the "But that sucks, I want to change the subtitle font and remux!" thing.

I'm stuck at 4) with the XML chapters file. When I try to load it, an error occurs: GDSmux tells me that the "XML Parser failed".

Any idea where's this coming from?
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Old 2008-05-14, 17:42   Link #8
SohKai
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Just as a correction, BSS' Kurenai isn't the first to do this (unless the raw was like this?). SHS-FoSu have been doing this since the start of Alison and Lillia.
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Old 2008-05-14, 17:52   Link #9
martino
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SohKai View Post
Just as a correction, BSS' Kurenai isn't the first to do this (unless the raw was like this?). SHS-FoSu have been doing this since the start of Alison and Lillia.
Another correction. That wasn't the first either... (Although I'm not sure myself where the first correction came from or who was first, which doesn't really matter anyway.)
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Old 2008-05-14, 18:21   Link #10
TheFluff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elafy View Post
Hi!

Talking about Kurenai, and since it's also my first time with split files, I' m trying the "But that sucks, I want to change the subtitle font and remux!" thing.

I'm stuck at 4) with the XML chapters file. When I try to load it, an error occurs: GDSmux tells me that the "XML Parser failed".

Any idea where's this coming from?
Actually I made a slight lie in the OP for the sake of not writing a wall of tl;dr. If nothing links TO the file you want to remux, it is safe to change the SUID (i.e. remux the usual way with mkvmerge GUI). In the BSS case, it is indeed safe to do this because while the episode itself links in the OP and ED, the OP and ED do not link in anything else.

That said, if you want to do it the proper and guaranteed-to-work-in-all-cases way, post a link to or paste (in spoiler tags) the XML file so we can have a look at it.
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17:43:13 <~deculture> Also, TheFluff, you are so fucking slowpoke.jpg that people think we dropped the DVD's.
17:43:16 <~deculture> nice job, fag!

01:04:41 < Plorkyeran> it was annoying to typeset so it should be annoying to read
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Old 2008-05-14, 18:53   Link #11
SeijiSensei
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As another member of the Linux/mplayer crowd, I won't be happy to see this become a trend soon, either. I don't have any real bandwidth limits so I'd just as soon torrent the complete files. Why not release shows both ways? Releasing versions that only people using the Haali splitter on Windows can watch easily seems a bit unfair.

I realize this is a part of the Matroska specification, but it seems a bit premature to move entirely to this system until the player software that supports chapters is more widespread. I'm not trying to revive old arguments about H.264 vs XviD or MKV vs AVI where there were valid reasons to switch concerning file sizes, picture quality, and support for multilingual content. From TheFluff's description, ordered chapters currently offer a benefit to people with limited bandwidth or disk space who happen to be using a player that incorporates Haali. For the rest of us, having the option to download complete episodes should still be supported.
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Old 2008-05-14, 19:17   Link #12
martino
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
I realize this is a part of the Matroska specification, but it seems a bit premature to move entirely to this system until the player software that supports chapters is more widespread.
Problem is that mplayer's MKV splitter hasn't had much work done to it for a while AFAIK. Why? Because there was no need for it as far as their developers were concerned (my guess). If more of these files become available, someone will see the need and actually try to code what is needed to support these features. If there is no need, it doesn't get done unless certain individuals feel compelled to do so (which obviously hasn't happened, as opposed to Haali's case). Isn't that how things generally work?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
From TheFluff's description, ordered chapters currently offer a benefit to people with limited bandwidth or disk space who happen to be using a player that incorporates Haali. For the rest of us, having the option to download complete episodes should still be supported.
Saves fansubbers time (apart from encoders) to actually have to shift karaoke/credits/whatnot every episode which can be a tedious process. Saves bitrate, since the opening and ending theme can take up to 30% of the whole file's bitrate. Now, if you don't have to include them you are saving yourself a pretty nice amount, which you can put towards decreasing the overall size, while still increasing the video quality of the episode (unless it's overdone in some way or the other where it may cause a negative effect). Furthermore, the animation there doesn't usually change (please, dare anybody start with ending credits because it is a very silly argument mainly in regard to fansubs). Most of these are actually from a fansubber's viewpoint, however you have to take into account that most of them do what is simpler and more appropriate for them. It's just like how things work whether one likes it or not.

And with regard to the rest, it's not like you can't view the file at all on *nix/mac systems. If you care about the opening and ending so much, you can always watch it as you'd usually would (just that you'll have to keep in mind when to open/close the opening and ending files during the episode), or even create a playlist which may do something similar like the chapters do under proper playback circumstances. Also considering that most people don't watch the opening and ending each time, it's more of an issue related to effort I'd say.
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Old 2008-05-14, 19:44   Link #13
WanderingKnight
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Quote:
And with regard to the rest, it's not like you can't view the file at all on *nix/mac systems. If you care about the opening and ending so much, you can always watch it as you'd usually would (just that you'll have to keep in mind when to open/close the opening and ending files during the episode), or even create a playlist which may do something similar like the chapters do under proper playback circumstances. Also considering that most people don't watch the opening and ending each time, it's more of an issue related to effort I'd say.
I understand your point, but that doesn't change the fact that we feel a little left out when it comes to these sort of things, simply because we made the choice not to bow down to Microsoft. We can't do much when it comes to companies who put a lot of money in producing games or other types of proprietary software which only work on Windows, but at least we have a channel of communication a little bit more open with the fansubbing world.

It's not that I'll get angry at the fansubbers that implement this, it's just that it's a natural frustration from being left out, that's all.
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Old 2008-05-14, 22:17   Link #14
Elafy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFluff View Post
Actually I made a slight lie in the OP for the sake of not writing a wall of tl;dr. If nothing links TO the file you want to remux, it is safe to change the SUID (i.e. remux the usual way with mkvmerge GUI). In the BSS case, it is indeed safe to do this because while the episode itself links in the OP and ED, the OP and ED do not link in anything else.

That said, if you want to do it the proper and guaranteed-to-work-in-all-cases way, post a link to or paste (in spoiler tags) the XML file so we can have a look at it.
I've just given a little try to MKVmerge GUI on BSS' episode.

It works if you remux it without changing its content. It also works when you replace the .ass file by another .ass file.
But if you disable any track, or if you add a subtitle track and don't disable the original one, it doesn't work anymore.

Well, this is enough for my needs basically. But I'm still interested in the "proper and guaranteed-to-work-in-all-cases way". So I've posted the chapters xml file here.
It's been extracted from the episode file using MKVextract GUI 1.6.3.
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Old 2008-05-14, 22:43   Link #15
Daiz
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MKVExtract GUI doesn't extract the XML chapters properly, you should use it through commandline to get the proper chapter file.
Code:
mkvextract chapters filename.mkv > chapters.xml
Here's the proper XML chapter file as spoiler, copypaste and save as XML in case you need it:
Spoiler for [BSS] kurenai 06 XML chapters:
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Old 2008-05-14, 22:46   Link #16
TheFluff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elafy View Post
It works if you remux it without changing its content. It also works when you replace the .ass file by another .ass file.
But if you disable any track, or if you add a subtitle track and don't disable the original one, it doesn't work anymore.
Yeah, one of the basic rules with linking is that all the linked files need to be encoded with the same settings and have the same number and type of tracks, or the decoders will become horribly confused.
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17:43:13 <~deculture> Also, TheFluff, you are so fucking slowpoke.jpg that people think we dropped the DVD's.
17:43:16 <~deculture> nice job, fag!

01:04:41 < Plorkyeran> it was annoying to typeset so it should be annoying to read
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Old 2008-05-14, 23:34   Link #17
Elafy
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It works better using command line indeed.

Thank you for your help Daiz and TheFluff.
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Old 2008-05-15, 02:56   Link #18
Alleluia_Cone
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I'm another Mac user that is somewhere close to disillusionment regarding this latest 'trend.' All of it seems very sloppy to me, while adding a healthy dose of confusion. I've always hated these developments which seem to compromise exclusivity for moderate technological gain.

In any case, is there anyone who can explain to me in simple terminology how I can recombine an episode that has been dissembled already? Say, for example, Kurenai Episode 6?
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Old 2008-05-15, 04:14   Link #19
martino
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFluff View Post
Q: I don't like this. Is there any way I can put it back to normal?
A: Yes, it's possible but a bit complicated. Basically, what you need to do is:
1) extract the chapter files
2) find out where the split points between different files are
3) split the main file into multiple files (around the split points) using mkvmerge
4) append files to each other with mkvmerge so that everything is in the right order in one file.
That's how you have to do it.

So split main file at 00:21:09.851. Will give you two files, 001 (episode) and 002 (preview). You append 001 on the opening, then ending on 001, and 002 on the ending. Also I think you'll have to check "No chapters" when appending the files... or not. /me looks at Fluff
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Last edited by martino; 2008-05-15 at 04:35.
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Old 2008-05-15, 05:11   Link #20
Elafy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martino View Post
That's how you have to do it.

So split main file at 00:21:09.851. Will give you two files, 001 (episode) and 002 (preview). You append 001 on the opening, then ending on 001, and 002 on the ending. Also I think you'll have to check "No chapters" when appending the files... or not. /me looks at Fluff
I've tried this.
The splitting goes well, but MKVmerge refuses to append the files. It says "the formats do not match".

Talking about Kurenai 6, I'm not sure there is an easy way to recombine it...
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