Like most people you have probably amassed a pretty good library of film over the years, but are now looking for a way to have them backed up in digital form so that should the physical disk get damaged you will still have a copy of the film. There are a few decent programs out there that are able to do the same function, but most of them have a price tag attached. MakeMKV is a shareware program that transcodes your bluray or DVD to MKV, that you are able to use for free for a 30 day trial period, that you can use as often as you wish within that period. If you like the, try before you buy, program then you can purchase it for £49.50 here.
MakeMKV does exactly as you would it expect it to do, and that is to rip your bluray or DVD to an MKV format that will be easily playable on most computers, when viewed with a decent media player capable of playing MKV’s like VLC, which for me is one of the best free players out there. The reason I like to rip to the MKV format, is because it’s an open and free format that has no patent or licences attached to it. It can also be played on any capable piece of hardware, and for bluray rips, doesn’t require that you have a bluray reader attached.
MakeMKV can also remove the protection on modern disks (check for updates to the program as the protection on disks changes from time to time) and can create a single file containing your film as well as any subtitles, audio etc that you may want to keep. The film that I used for this article was Batman Begins on bluray. It removed the protection with ease, and the outputted file came in at 16GB which is pretty good. You can of course use other programs to compress that even further, but disk space is pretty cheap these days and I prefer to keep the data to that size as I don’t want to lose any quality. If you find that you want to play the MKV file on a system that uses the FAT32 file system, like a Mac or Playstation, then you will have to split the MKV in to smaller chunks that are less that 4GB in size. This is because a FAT32 system won’t be able to open files larger that 4GB. I have written an article on how to split MKV files simply and for free using MKVSplit. Splitting then really doesn’t take long at all.
- Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8 or Intel-based Mac OS X 10.5 and above and Linux. There has also been an update for MakeMKV recently (11th November 2013), so the program now supports OS X Mavericks
- 512 MB of RAM, 1 GB recommended. MakeMKV will run on computers with low memory amount but conversion speed will be very slow.
- 10 MB of hard drive space for program files.
- Adequate hard drive space for converted content. Typical DVD movie takes 6 GB on hard drive. Typical Blu-ray movie takes 20 GB.
Right, lets crack on with the tutorial. First, download MakeMKV from here.
Place your DVD or bluray into the tray and open up MakeMKV. As soon as MakeMKV starts, it will automatically look for a disk and have it ready for you. Simply select the optical drive where the disk is located (bluray or DVD drive) and hit the green arrow.
The program will now start removing the protection on the disk enabling you to rip it.
Once that has finished (approx 30 secs to 1 min if that depending on your spec) you will be presented with the next window that will ask you what parts of the disk you want to copy. All of the boxes are checked by default, which means that the program will create a single MKV file that will include everything on the disk including trailers, multiple subtitles etc. All I wanted was the main title, so I unchecked all of the others (I hate adverts and stupid piracy warnings on products I have purchased) and only checked the biggest file which will be your film. You will notice that there are 2 identical file sizes of 22.5GB in the image below, I unchecked the one with 39 chapters and only selected the one on its own. Either one of those is OK to choose though.
Before you move on though, if you click on the arrow next to the title that you have selected to rip, it will present you with more information contained within that title, like audio and subtitles. Bluray subtitles and especially audio files are a lot bigger that DVD ones as the sound quality is far superior on a bluray than it is on a DVD. Now I don’t need to have subtitles in multiple languages, or additional audio in other languages so I will uncheck those as well. That now brings the outputted file down to 16GB instead of 22GB. As I said, the audio on blurays is bigger than the ones you’ll find on a DVD. For me that is just the main title and audio choices (I chose both 3/2.+1 and 5.1 so that if I chose to play it on a computer that had surround sound like my one at home, I can utilize the Dolby 5.1 system)
Now you are ready to rip, so hit the MakeMKV button on the right. As you don’t have a directory to place the MKV file yet, the program will create one for you.
Hit Yes, and it will start to rip.
The program is pretty memory intensive, but it won’t cripple you computer, but may, depending on your spec, slow it down as it’s working. If you only have a small amount of RAM then the conversion process will be slow. It took approx 35 minutes for my computer to rip the bluray that has 4GB of RAM currently. A DVD would be a lot quicker.
After a while, the program will let you know that the ripping process has finished and your file is ready to be watched.
The quality of the outputted MKV file is fantastic. There are no audio/ syncing issues and it is just as sharp as the original.
That’s pretty much it. As I said, the program is very simple to use and quick to navigate, and for sheer ease of use, you’ll be hard pressed to find a simpler transcoding program out there.
I have written another article similar to this for ripping DVD’s and blurays using DVDFab, which is a fantastic piece of software that has a lot more functionality than MakeMKV does, but it comes with a higher price (£75.00). It also comes with a trial period.
Hope that helps.