Friday, March 1, 2013

Re-framing The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray Part 2: The MKV

First, I assume you have a legitimate copy of The Dark Knight Rises (DKR) on Blu-ray. I'm not writing these guides to encourage bootlegging or theft. Give people their just dues. 

A Matroska file or MKV is simply a video and audio container for your computer.  It is meant to be a simple universal file type that can contain almost any format of video or audio possible.

Here are the tools you need to create one:

Makemkv ( - To rip the Blu-rays to a MKV
Handbrake ( - To crop the blu-ray and re-encode

You might also want: 

VLC ( - To play back the MKV, if you don't have the software for playback
Mediainfo  ( To see what the files you create contain. 

It is important to note that all these tools and programs are on both Windows and Mac but Part 3, where we will build the new Blu-ray, is Windows only.

Install all the programs. Load the Blu-ray into your blu-ray drive.

1. Run Makemkv. Once the disc is inserted , Makemkv should auto scan the drives on your computer. In the Source drop down select your Blu-ray drive. It should read DARK_KNIGHT_RISES for the label.

Click on the Blu-ray to Hard Drive icon. Wait for Makemkv to scan the Blu-ray's Titles

2. There should be 3 Titles. Unselect the first and the third, so that only the second one with a size of 36.0 GB/16 chapters is selected. Expand the Title. Make sure you have DTS-HD Lossless selected (it is unslected by default). Unselect all other language and subtitle options and enter a output directory on your local computer.

Click on the Make MKV button on the left. Depending on your drive speed and computer performance; this can take anywhere from 20 mins to a hour to rip.

3. So you should have a MKV about 35 GB in size. Open Handbrake. Click on Source and File and open the MKV that you created. The profile on the left should be regular/normal. On the Output Setting pull down select MKV. Under Destination create the name/path of the new file. On the Picture tab under Size go to the anamorphic pull-down and select none. Set the width to 1920 and the Height to 800 (this will give you 2.40 aspect ratio). Under Cropping set the Top and Bottom to 140. All of this will give you a center 2.40 aspect ratio that matches the 35mm scenes.

4. In Handbrake select the Video tab. Leave the codec as h.264 and Framerate as same as source. Click on Avg Bitrate and enter 26000 (26000 kbps) which is roughly the same bitrate as the original Blu-ray. Check 2-Pass Encoding and Turbo first Pass. Use Constant Framerate unlike this picture.

5. Select the audio tab. The default audio source should be the Engligh DTS-HD MA soundtrack. On the drop down next to it select DTS-HD Passthrough.

6. Click start. This will take a few hours.

7. To view the new MKV open it in VLC. You can check you file's attibutes by downloading a programs called mediainfo.

If the goal is making a Blu-ray using a 50GB disc you are fine. If you are using a 25GB disc you have to change the bitrate of the video in Handbrake to about 15000kps so the final size of the MKV is about 21 GB. This will important in Part 3.

For The Dark Knight you run into a little problem. Handbrake supports DTS-HD MA passthrough but not Dolby True passthrough. So if you want Dolby True, you will need: MKVToolnix ( and MKVextractgui2 ( 

8. Install MKVToolnix and take mkvextractgui2 and put it into the MKVtoolnix folder. Put the original IMAX MKV (from MakeMKV) of TDK into mkkextratgui and extract the Dolby True soundtrack.


9. Run mkvmerge GUI (mmg.exe). Pop the Handbrake 2.39 MKV into mkmerge keep the H.264 video checked but unselect the audio track. If it gives you an error about not knowing the frame rate, highlight the video file, click on the Format specific options and make sure the FPS is set to 24000/1001. Pop in the Dolby True soundtrack extracted from the IMAX MKV into mkvmerge (you can also do the Dolby Digital if you want). So you should have the AVC video checked, then unchecked audio track you created in Handbrake and the checked Dolby True. Set the Output filename and click on Start muxing. You should have a MKV with the new video and Dolby True soundtrack. Here is an example off the finished (I put the AC3/Dolby Digital in there as backup for the True soundtrack):

  Continued in Part 3

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