Over the last while I’ve come across multiple situations when trying to watch a movie on my PS3, whether it was incompatible file types, Cinavia protection or lack of subtitles, I had to find answers.
While all of the answers are out there, I’ve never come across a simple complete guide giving me all the information I need in one place. So that’s exactly what I’ve decided to create. This guide uses just two programs, both free, for everything you need to do. I’ve made it as simple and quick as possible.
I should mention I didn’t create or come up with many of the tips below; they’re stolen from forums, blogs and sites around the web. I would give credit, but I’ve pieced this all together over the last few years. I really have no idea where most of this advice came from. Sorry if I’m ripping you off.
If you have any questions, or need to know something I’m not covering here, just drop them in a comment below and I’ll see what I can do to get you sorted.
Note: Everything in this document is for a Windows machine only. I would include Mac tips as well, but I’ve never found the software I need for OSX. When it comes to video on the PS3, I’m a PC.
How to Stream Video from your Computer to PS3
This is actually the shortest part of this guide, because I have a very simple solution: don’t do it.
While you can stream from your PC to your PS3 by using Windows Media Player, PS3 Media Server, Nero or any other streaming app, the problem is simply reliability and network speed. Despite having wired connections (or wireless N) I’ve often ran into buffering and network errors.
If you’re anything like me you only download 720p or 1080p quality, it’s just too much data to consistently transcode and stream 12 gig on the fly over 2 hours. Yes, technically it can be done, but you can save yourself a lot of headache by using a USB stick.
How to Play Video on your PS3 from a USB Drive
Firstly you need to get a USB stick with 16gig storage or more, and the stick has to be formatted with the FAT32 file system (technically you can use an external hard drive, but you’ll need to create FAT32 partitions, google it if you don’t know how). After that it’s just a few steps to play your video:
- Drag any compatible file to the stick from your computer (the PS3 will not play MKV’s; advice for those is found below).
- Plug the stick into the front USB ports (where you’d plug in a controller).
- Browse to the stick under the Video section of the PS3 main menu.
- With the stick highlighted hit the Triangle button, and select “Display All”
How to Play an MKV on your PS3
The majority of HD videos you will get these days are in the MKV format. The PS3 will not play an MKV natively, and the files are too large to fit on the FAT32 file system (FAT32 is limited to 4gig for a single file). Don’t worry though; there is a simple solution for this:
- Firstly, download mkv2Vob: http://www.mkv2vob.com/showthread.php?tid=1 and install it.
This program converts MKV’s into AVCHD’s. In normal speak: this turns the MKV into a format read as a Blu-ray by your PS3. It also splits the file up into chapters, getting around the FAT32 file size limit. Just like a Blu-ray you’ll never know when you move from one chapter to the next, to the viewer it’s seamless.
How to use mkv2vob
When you start the program the first thing you want to do is head to the configuration tab. You can change the configuration as you see fit, but I would start with your setup exactly as you see here:
What you need to know:
- If you do not have a DTS sound system you must check “Always Transcode DTS” on the right side. Failing to do so could damage your current speakers.
- I leave the transcoding codec as MPEG-2 (Fast), it’s technically not as good as X264, but you really can’t tell the difference (I’m using a 52” 1080p plasma). If I’m fine with it, I’m sure you will be as well.
Once you have the configuration setting setup click on the Add File tab (Add Directory is only needed for easily adding multiple files with subdirectories).
Set the Destination Directory to whatever you want, and then click browse to find a source file. Once you’ve picked one, clicking on Add File will start the process.
Protip: If you set the destination directory as your USB stick you can skip the 5-10 min it takes to copy the final video to the USB stick after the program runs. If you do this you need to open the USB stick after the program completes and move the AVCHD sub-folder out of the folder named with the video title to the root of the USB stick. Since you’re just moving and not copying this only takes a second or two.
The program will only transcode video if it needs to, if not it will skip straight to muxing, which typically takes less than 5 min (obviously depends on the speed of your CPU). If it does have to transcode it will typically take anywhere from 10 min to an hour.
Once you see the lovely “completed” Status head to your destination directory. In it you’ll see a folder with the name of your movie. You must open that folder to see the subfolder named AVCHD.
This is what you copy to the root of your USB stick.
NOTE: This AVCHD folder must be on the root of the USB stick, and can’t be named anything but AVCHD. This means you can only have one AVCHD folder per USB stick. If you want to add multiple videos to one AVCHD you can use the program multiAVCHD. Unfortunately the program take forever to run, I’ve found it easier and less time consuming to just add files one at a time.
Once it’s copied find the USB stick plug it in to the PS3 and find it under the Video section. When using AVCHD’s you don’t need to pick “Display All”, just hit X on the USB stick, and X again when AVCHD pops up. Your video will start in about 5 seconds.
When using mkv2vob TSMuxer Crashes (mkvtoolnix)
When the TSMuxer crashes it typically means the video is fine, but the muxing was done in a way mkv2vob doesn’t understand. Don’t worry though, you’re only going to have to do one more quick step before you can use mkv2vob. So stop and close mkv2vob if you haven’t already and download mkvtoolnix: http://www.bunkus.org/videotools/mkvtoolnix/win32/
You’re looking for a file named something like: mkvtoolnix-2.2.0-setup.exe the numbers will change as it’s updated, but you want the –setup.exe. Download that and install it.
After it’s installed go to your start menu and run mkvmerge GUI from the mkvtoolnix directory. You’ll see this window:
Click on Add and find your mkv file you need to fix. You’ll see it populate the box, something like this:
Now in the Tracks, chapters and tags box you need to select each line (one at a time), click on Extra options in the box below and set Compression to None.
By doing this on all tracks you’ll stop the program from transcoding/compressing (we’re going to use mkv2vob to do this, no need to do it twice), and will simply re-mux the mkv. Once you have all tracks set to Compression – None click on Start muxing. The process should take less than 5 min.
When it completes with no errors, you’ll find a new mkv file in the same folder as the old one with (1) added to the end of the name. Simply run that file through mkv2vob and you’re good to go.
How to Hardcode Subtitles to an MKV
This is actually dead simple, just use mkv2vob. (You can learn how to use it above under the section: How to use mkv2vob)
Make sure the .srt file is named EXACTLY the same as the video (except with the .srt extension in place of the .mkv) and is in the same folder. Once you’ve done that make sure “Always Encode Subtitles” and “Load Subtitles from File” are both checked in the configurations tab, and you have your languages set.
When you add the file the subtitles will be added, you can toggle them on or off (or change languages) using the standard Blu-ray menu (hit triangle while the movie is playing).
How to Hardcode Subtitles to an MP4 or AVI
.mp4, .mpg, .avi … these are all just containers. Here’s the very basic example: Your video is like your dinner. You start with raw ingredients (like a DVD rip) and then you mix and compress those into one meal. You can cook your meal in many ways, in video these cooking methods are things like: MPEG-2, Divx, Xvid, X264.
Once your meal is cooked, you need to put it in a container to serve/store it. You could use a plate, Tupperware or Ziploc. In the video world these containers are extensions such as: .mp4, .avi and .mpg. If you have a program which will allow you to simply change containers, you don’t need to re-cook the video.
Luckily we already have a program to do this. All you need to do is follow the steps for: When Using mkv2vob TSMuxer Crashes (mkvtoolnix). When adding your file you’re just going to add the .mp4 or .avi instead of an mkv. Follow every other step and the program will create an mkv for you.
Then follow the steps above for hardcoding subtitles to an MKV, and you’re good to go.
How to Bypass Cinavia Protection
Believe it or not mkv2vob does this for you. As long as you don’t have “Always Transcode DTS” checked, it will remove Cinavia protection for you. Obviously you’ll only ever need to do this for when you back up movies you already own. I would never condone illegally downloading videos off of the internet, especially of sites like demonoid, isohunt or thepiratebay
In my experience this feature works around 90% of the time. For the other 10% the only solution I’ve found is to play the video on my computer through VLC at the same time as the TV, and use sound from the computer. Not really a solution I know, but that’s the best I have for you.
UPDATE: How to Watch MKV’s with FLAC Audio
I’ve gotten some comments asking about getting an error when trying to use MKV2VOB with an MKV encoded with FLAC audio. I have an answer, but you might not like it (it’s more than a couple steps). The problem is that the PS3 doesn’t support FLAC, and neither does MKV2VOB. To play this video you need to convert the audio to something the PS3 can play, to preserve the quality you’ll want to go from FLAC to AAC (the apple codec used by iTunes).
To do this you need to follow these steps (sorry for no pictures on this one, but it’s an update so don’t look a gift horse and all that):
- Install MKVtoolnix
- open MKVExtractGUI (not pictured above, but it’s in the same MKVToolnix folder in the start menu)
- Drag the MKV into the now opwn MKVExtractGUI
- Select the audio stream (it should say FLAC on it somewhere)
- Click extract and save the extraction somewhere you can find it
- Convert the FLAC to AAC (to do this you’ll need to get some audio conversion software. I have never done this using a free app personally, but this MIGHT work. I haven’t used this program, I’m not vouching for it but it’s what I would try first in your shoes: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Video/Encoders-Converter-DIVX-Related/MediaCoder.shtml. This should convert it straight to AAC. If you use something else you can convert to WAV and then import into itunes, which will convert it to AAC (check your iTunes conversion settings, lots of guides out there if you google it).
- Now open MKVMerge GUI
- Add your MKV (or drag it into the top box)
- Drag in the converted audio track
- in the chapters box, uncheck the FLAC audio
- You don’t want to re-encode the video (to save time) to follow the steps above to turn off compression in the extra options for your video stream.
- Hit the Start Muxing button
- Add your new MKV into MKV2VOB and use it as you normally do.
That should do it for you. In the future try to avoid downloading (or encoding) MKVs with FLAC audio. When downloading look for AAC in the filename somewhere.
That’s it guys, again post any questions of comments you have below. Enjoy