Before creating your first Matroska file you should make sure your computer is ready to work with them. This requires both support for the Matroska container and the streams you'll be placing in it. For the container this means a Media Splitter. While Windows comes with support for some containers built-in, others like MP4 and MKV require the installation of a third party DirectShow filter for separating the various streams they contain. The Haali Media Splitter handles this job for MKV files (as well as MP4).
Video and Audio decoders
Once the video and audio is split from the MKV container it must be decoded by other filters. Depending on the software installed on your computer you may already have filters installed for the video and audio you'll be working with. If you don't, support is often available from the open source ffdshow project. In particular, ffdshow is a popular choice for playig AVC and MPEG-4 ASP (DivX, XviD, Nero Digital, etc,...) video, as well as AVC, and sometimes AC-3 audio.
Installing the Haali Media Splitter and ffdshow
You can find instructions on installing the Haali Media Splitter and ffdshow in our guide for Playing MP4 Files. Since Haali supports both MKV and MP4 the steps for installing are essentially identical. The ffdshow configuration steps will prepare your computer to decode just about any standard video or audio format you'll run across. After you complete the instructions you'll see a link to return here.
Now that your computer can handle MKV files you're ready to try making some. To begin with you'll need to download the mkvtoolnix software if you haven't already. This package includes both an information tool called mkvinfo, used to get information about the contents of a MKV file, and the muxing tool mkvmerge. Simply agree to the license and keep the defaults.
Next: Your first MKV file
Written by: Rich Fiscus