Encoding Audio/Video For Apple TV 3 - AVS Forum
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello all, long time lurker, first time poster. I have several questions regarding some issues I'm having getting media files to stream to my Apple TV. I've done some searching here, and had some successes, but the failures are getting pretty frustrating!

Not sure what information is pertinent, so I'll give a full list of what I'm using up front:
MacBookPro5,1 - OS X 10.6.8
iTunes 11.0.1 (12)
Apple TV 3 (Model MD199LL/A)
Haier TV (Model HL32R-B)
Alesis ProActive 5.1 (Model S-0068A)

Connections are as follows, MBP and AppleTV on WiFi, AppleTV Into the television with HDMI, and the TV Analog Stereo audio out into the Alesis, which is configured for 2.1 output from the analog input. (Not a great setup by any means but pieced together from various gifts, so it'll do for now).

Software I've been using:
Handbrake
Subler
VIDEO Tools (MP4Tools, MKVTools, etc..)


I have a pretty large library of videos, movies and TV shows. I ripped my entire DVD collection back when I first got this laptop, and I did some experimentation with format and the like, I'm now trying to get everything Apple TV compatible if possible.

What I have is this:
.MKV file with (according to Subler or MP4Tools) h.264 video, AC-3 5.1 sound, ASS/SSA Subtitles.

What I need for the ATV is a .M4V file with h.264 video, AAC 5.1 or AAC Stereo, and SRT Subtitles.

The issue is that whenever I feed the MKV into Subler or MP4 tools, the output file WILL NOT PLAY on the Apple TV. I get an error that says "An error occurred loading the content." For whatever reason, the only way I can get these media playable is if I re-encode the video, using either Handbrake or the h.264 option on MP4Tools. Now, I don't mind re-encoding my old .ogm/divx/ogg experiments, but it doesn't make sense that I would have to re-encode h.264 video? I should just be able to pass them through. Also, these files play just fine with QuickTime and directly in iTunes.

I had initially thought it was an issue with the audio tracks, but because all the re-encoded video's work, and none of the passthrough videos work, regardless of the audio track configuration, I'm assuming now that it's a video issue. Any reason I'd have to do this? It seems wasteful and I'd rather not lose even more quality in the video track.

Also, I'm aware of the many kludges (Like Air Video) to stream different video formats but I'd like to consolidate if possible.


The short version: why do I have to re-encode h.264 video to stream to my Apple TV 3?
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:45 AM
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Try IVI, it does the whole repacking existing H.264 video into m4v containers better than Subler (usually). You have to select the video pass-through option.

For non-OSX software MKV2MP4 for Windows also handles this well.

Subtitles are another matter, last I checked Apple does not do ass/ssa/srt subtitles, they have their own peculiar way of doing subtitles. Some sort of timed text/closed caption format, subtitles have to be converted into this format for iOS devices to recognise the subtitles, see how IVI handles it first.
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll give it a shot, thank you. I've had no issues with multiple subtitle/audio tracks so far using subler, just this strange thing where some h.264 video won't play without being re-encoded.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alx330 View Post

Try IVI, it does the whole repacking existing H.264 video into m4v containers better than Subler (usually). You have to select the video pass-through option.

For non-OSX software MKV2MP4 for Windows also handles this well.

Subtitles are another matter, last I checked Apple does not do ass/ssa/srt subtitles, they have their own peculiar way of doing subtitles. Some sort of timed text/closed caption format, subtitles have to be converted into this format for iOS devices to recognise the subtitles, see how IVI handles it first.

I tried this software out, it gave me a playable file. One thing I noticed that might be key to my issue: I checked "enable passthrough" in the conversion settings. In the main window, under the "passthrough" column, it said "NO - 16 Ref frms" It converted the video (only took about 5 minutes) and the video played without issue.

Funny thing, though, is I dropped the same original file in again, and the passthrough column said "yes," Not sure what changed, maybe it's a device setting that changes back after the encoding queue is done?

Sorry for the dumb questions, just want to figure out what it is that I'm missing. I though h.264 was h.264 regardless, I guess there's more to it than that?
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Old 02-10-2013, 03:03 AM
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H.264 is a huge specification, it covers mobile devices, media players, internet streaming and TV broadcast etc so not all devices implement all of the spec.

As to why IVI warned you about the file first time around but not the second I honestly couldn't tell you, I do know that 16 ref frames is not recommended, most x264 encoders will not generate that kind of video with their stock presets. So if your videos were generated with that then that will cause problems on some platforms.
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Old 02-10-2013, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alx330 View Post

H.264 is a huge specification, it covers mobile devices, media players, internet streaming and TV broadcast etc so not all devices implement all of the spec.

As to why IVI warned you about the file first time around but not the second I honestly couldn't tell you, I do know that 16 ref frames is not recommended, most x264 encoders will not generate that kind of video with their stock presets. So if your videos were generated with that then that will cause problems on some platforms.

I'm learning that now. I guess I thought that h.264 was much simpler because virtually all of the blog posts, forum posts, and articles regarding encoding video for Apple TV say something along the lines of "if it's h.264, you're good to go. Select Passthrough".

However, that "16 Ref Frms" error did send me down a google search rabbit hole, and I think I've figured out my problems. Using "Media Inspector" I analyzed the differences between the files that worked and the files that caused errors. It turns out, the files I'm having issues with are encoded with High@L5.1 Profile/Levels, which the Apple TV 3 cannot play. ATV Specifies High@4.0 to be the max (though most of what I have that works is High@4.1). Some more searching and I see that while you can sometimes change the profile header and have no issues, if the video actually uses features of the profile/level, you'll still have issues (as specified by Subler).

So that's it, I think. Looking at how to change the Profile/Level now, but it looks like that's hit or miss. I'll probably have to re-encode some of these videos at least to make them playable on the Apple TV 3. (Considering my hourly wage and the time I've spent working this out, it might ave been cheaper to just buy a Roku or something that can play these files natively lol.)

Regarding the iVI Passthrough option, that looks like what I initially suspected. That feature is set based on the devices selected in preferences, but is not "refreshed" when the preferences are changed. You have to make the change, then re-drag/drop the file into the window. However, selecting for JUST the Apple TV 3, it specifies that my videos can be passed through, even though that isn't correct.

Anyway, lots of info to sort though, and thanks for the help.
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