Playing Matroska (MKV) video files with the free RealPlayer wouldn’t ordinarily be possible. Why? RealPlayer does not have its own built-in support for MKV.
However, there is a quick and reliable solution. We’ll explain how to play Matroska files perfectly with RealPlayer.
WHY DO YOU NEED A MKV PLAYER?
As a container format, MKV has the capability of handling virtually unlimited streams of digital media. In addition to multiple tracks of audio and video, an MKV file player can read subtitles, chapter points, menus, and other information called metadata encoded in the format. One example is a sports event or a music concert where multiple camera angles are being sent simultaneously for users to select from in real time while viewing. Even 3D video that requires the synchronized playing of two matching, but slightly offset, video streams to create the stereoscopic effect can be a Matroska file. These powerful features open new creative possibilities for content producers and ultimately, the enjoyment of users.
IF IT’S NOT BUILT-IN, HOW DOES REALPLAYER BECOME A MKV PLAYER?
Although RealPlayer is not a native MKV file player, MKV is open standard software. That means its underlying computer code can be used freely by anyone, including developers of digital media products. Open standards also simplify legal matters for companies wishing to incorporate the MKV file extension in their products.
As with most digital media, this is complicated territory. In simple terms, Matroska can be added-on to the other file formats RealPlayer already supports making it a MKV windows media player. Then MKV files can be played. It’s somewhat similar to installing or updating the Adobe Flash Player in your web browser so you can watch FLV videos online.
Adding MKV is done with a Codec Pack. This software allows RealPlayer to recognize, open, decode, and play Matroska files. In the case of Matroska, the recommended product is the Combined Community Codec Pack (CCCP.) Oddly enough, Matroska did make their own MVK codec pack, but discontinued development because they considered the CCCP version to be much better. The CCCP codec pack is a free mkv player download.
HOW TO INSTALL CCCP AND TURN REALPLAYER INTO A MKV VIDEO PLAYER
Although MKV can run on Windows, Mac, Linux, and other operating systems, CCCP is only for Windows. The Combined Community Codec Pack link above takes you directly to the page where you can download CCCP. If you have any questions, particularly about installing, go to their main page and scroll to “Installation Instructions.”
Other codec packs running on your computer could cause conflicts. A special program from CCCP called Insurgent (available through the same link to download CCCP) will check through your system and advise of any problems, and what to do about them. Some codec packs may need to be uninstalled.
USING REALPLAYER AS A FREE MKV PLAYER
For testing, I downloaded the full version of the short movie “Sintel” in the MKV file format at 1080p HD. “Sintel” is available under the Creative Commons Attribution license, free for everyone to distribute, learn from, or re-use.
To find the video look for “Sintel.2010.1080p” in your system’s download folder. You’ll see “MKV File” under the type column, with a size of 1,144,950 KB. Select “Open with” to be sure you’re pointing at RealPlayer, not another program. RealPlayer immediately opens the Now Playing window, automatically setting it to the full 1080p resolution and begins to play “Sintel.”
The visual quality was stunning and the sound excellent. Watching and listening to the movie was smooth and clean, with no apparent dropped frames or blocking artifacts – those little squares you sometimes see when digital video isn’t working quite right. I played “Sintel” on a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo machine and was impressed with RealPlayer as a MKV video player. It displayed the 1080p video beautifully.
REALPLAYER AS A MKV PLAYER
There are two drawbacks to fully exploiting RealPlayer’s capabilities with MVK. First, Mastroska videos cannot be saved in the RealPlayer Library as other clips – so you’ll need to look for those files as mentioned above. Second, you can’t access RealPlayer Converter to change an MKV file into another format, such as MP4. This is unfortunate if MKV is the only format the video is available in and you want to transfer it to a smart phone or other device.
Given the overwhelming advantages of being able to play MVK content on RealPlayer, these problems are minor and may be resolved in the near future by RealPlayer engineers.
There is a general problem, not confined to RealPlayer, on converting Matroska to other formats. Many of the special multiple video, audio, subtitle, and metadata features contained within an MKV file may well be lost when converting to another format. If you have a simple video and audio program, you’ll probably be fine though.
Let me know if you have questions about playing Matroska files using RealPlayer. I’m happy to help.