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Merging multiple VOB files into one .m4v using OSX

George Jetson

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I encountered this issue recently, so I thought I'd pass along my insight to other mac users. Some of the Fanedits are made specifically with the idea of burning a DVD/BD. This results in a VIDEO_TS file comprised of multiple VOB files and other goodies. In the specific example I went through, there were 4 VOB files each 25 mins or so in length. If you were burning a disc from this, no problem there are files in the folder telling your burn program how to exactly arrange those files for a seamless final product 100 mins or so in total length.

However, I'm not a big fan of physical media, so I prefer to convert all of my purchases and acquisitions into an iTunes friendly format such as .mp4 or .m4v and shove it onto the NAS. So, when confronted with multiple VOBs, what to do? Handbrake will only recognize one VOB as a standalone "title" so unless you want to start up each file after the stops manually, that's no good.

First you have to merge the individual VOB files into one .mkv container. I used MKVToolnix for Mac. It was foolproof. You just click on the first VOB file of the sequence and it merges all of the other constituent parts automatically as long as they are in the same folder. It even merges them in the correct sequence, very nice. Once you have your .mkv container you can convert it to whatever format you want using your favorite converter like Handbrake or iFlicks2. That's it; not as simple as downloading an .mp4 or .m4v in the first place, but other than the conversion time from mpeg-2 to H.264, its pretty painless.
 

Kal-El

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So... this is a how-to rather than a question, right? :-D
I got a bit confused at the end :p
 

George Jetson

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Kal-El said:
So... this is a how-to rather than a question, right? :-D
I got a bit confused at the end :p
Hi Kal-El, yes, it's a how-to convert a DVD fanedit to an iTunes format instead of burning a physical disc. I'm sorry if I didn't make the steps clearer.

1.) Launch a program that can merge separate files into a single .mkv file (MKVMerge, MKVToolnix, etc).
2.) Open the VIDEO_TS folder that has the .VOB files from the fanedit download.
3.) Click on the large VOB file that is numerically first in the series. e.g. VTS_02_1.VOB (1.07GB) in the series VTS_02_2.VOB, VTS_02_3.VOB, VTS_02_4.VOB, etc.
4.) MKVToolnix does the rest by loading the .VOB files in order; 1.VOB, 2.VOB, 3.VOB, 4.VOB and then merges them into one big .mkv file (in the example it would be called VTS_02_1.mkv). Other programs may require you to manually "merge" each file in sequence. Using "merge" instead of "add" is crucial.
5.) Convert the .mkv file into an .mp4 or .m4v using Handbrake or iFlicks2 or whatever.

Even though this is a file conversion tip, it probably belongs over in the Mac sub-forum.
 

ssj

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interesting, and welcome, george son of jet!

if i understand you correctly, you want to create one continuous file out of two or more distinct video pieces on a single disc image—for example, the feature fanedit plus a 'making of' featurette.

(although another interpretation of what you're describing is that you feel handbrake might divide up a feature into 25-minute segments? i've never had that problem with handbrake—it always cranks out a continuous video file that connects related VOB pieces. handbrake handles this "under the hood," so to speak, making the mkv merge seem complicated.)

but what if the two videos have different dimensions? the feature might be 720 x 304, but the featurette might be 640 x 480. that might lead to a strange dog-cat hybrid, if the program doesn't choke. i haven't tried it. . . just anticipating a problem here.

like you, i prefer not to deal with physical media, though i respect that other members of the community prefer burning fanedits to disc.

what i do:
use handbrake to crank out mp4s of the feature and featurettes, each a separate file, and place these related files into a single folder. not only do i not have to worry about mismatched image dimensions, but if i want to watch just the featurette, i don't have fast forward through an entire movie to get where i want to be.
 

George Jetson

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ssj said:
interesting, and welcome, george son of jet!
....(although another interpretation of what you're describing is that you feel handbrake might divide up a feature into 25-minute segments? i've never had that problem with handbrake—it always cranks out a continuous video file that connects related VOB pieces. handbrake handles this "under the hood," so to speak, making the mkv merge seem complicated.)......

Thanks ssj, it's the latter. What I didn't check was if there was an embedded "featurette" in the original VIDEO_TS folder as a smaller .VOB file. I was wondering why Handbrake wouldn't just treat the VIDEO_TS file like a DVD or BD. When I did the MKVmerge, I ignored that file completely, but I could have used the "append" feature to tack it back on to the .mkv container. I wonder how the muxing of the .mp4 would be affected and if it would upconvert it?

I tried a second VIDEO_TS folder that contained only a main feature. By clicking on the VIDEO_TS folder as the "source" for Handbrake it did crank out an .mp4 of the 110 minute movie in 5.5 hours. That's okay if you want to fire and forget for an overnight run I guess. The MKVmerge takes 2 or 3 minutes and then iFlicks2 takes about an hour to make an .m4v.

When I rip my own BDs I always archive an .mkv as a back up; so I don't mind having the extra file generated by this method. For most situations, it is probably more convenient just to let Handbrake plod along with one click ease. The MKVmerge may sound involved, but it's really quite easy.

For joining files, I use MP4Tools. I joined the two parts of Northwest Passage so I didn't have the break at the disc capacity limit. Worked like a charm. You can insert a chapter break wherever you want. There specifically is a warning about files of different characteristics, so I don't know if it would work for the featurette appending example.

I sometimes miss having the physical media in a case with cool artwork on the sleeve. I'm glad the faneditors here also provide those options. I travel a lot for work, so for my purposes having multi-device and anywhere access are the overriding factors.

Thanks again for clearing up the Handbrake issue for me.
 

ssj

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cheers, man. may your worlds of compression and fanedits exist in harmony!
 

petersonlee

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Personally, I use Joyoshare Video Joiner. It's an across-platform and easy-to-use audio and video merger program. It has the ability to merge multiple VOB files into a single M4V file without quality loss. Also, it well supports many other formats and allows customizing parameters of file format.
 

That One Guy

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This thread is from 2014. Since then Handbrake has been updated and has a "scan folder" option for selecting source that will recognise a dumped DVD and correctly allow you to convert the full feature to an mp4 with no further effort required :)
 
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