This site seems to be awesome and filled with lots of people who know their stuff. I've been doing some reading on the forums and haven't found any specific answers to a few questions I have. Go easy on me as I have no idea what I'm doing lol, these will probably be obvious to you guys but not me.
I will state my goals first in order to hopefully receive better answers:
I have built an HTPC that I would like to rip copies of Blu-Rays to my hard drive. It just has a regular DVD optical and I am looking at purchasing this one:
I am not particularly picky about the video being an exact copy of the 1080p original as I will be sitting about 15 feet away from a 60-65" screen.
File size is important as I would like to keep the total size around 10-15GB.
I would like to have 5.1 enabled sound (I do have a AVR with decent speakers and a subwoofer)
My HTPC has a AMD FX-6300 with a 650ti Nvidia Gfx card, so not top of the line by any stretch, I would like a solution that would take advantage of multi core CPUs and decent video cards.
I don't mind paying for a program if I need to...the consensus seems to be AnyDVD or DVDFab (I was looking at http://www.dvdfab.com/blu-ray-ripper.htm)
One probably stupid question I have is do I need blu-ray playback software (PowerDVD etc) as I don't really want the capability to watch the actual discs but to rip them to my hard drive?
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You don't need to suck up to us to get help. Hell, we have a guy who is a troll here and everybody knows he is a troll yet we still have members who cannot stop "helping" by posting serious answers to his questions, even though they admit that he ignores what he is told. Believe me, enough of our members are obsessive-compulsive about helping even outright douchebags that you don't have to tell us how great this site is to get help.
My limited experience is that Pioneer makes the best BluRay drives. Some others feel the same way. I'm sure that LG is OK though.
After you rip, you can use Handbrake (free) to encode to your stated size. I bought AnyDVD because their pricing is more straightforward. DVDFab is notorious for nickle and diming its users and it's often you buy something from DVDFab only to have them play the old "Oh you wanted to do THAT? Yeah, what you bought won't do THAT. You need an upgrade." game. DVDFab is fine otherwise. What I mean is that it is not always clear to newbies what versions of DVDFab will do what, so it's quite often that someone will buy a cheaper version of their software only to find out that the functionality they really needed isn't there until they pay more money for an upgrade with additional features. It's much more straightforward with AnyDVD to get the right package the first time. DVDFab does seem to update their software sooner than AnyDVD, so if you are one of those "This BluRay just came out today and I need to rip it now!" kind of people, you may do better with DVDFab. However, it is known that both programs sometimes can't rip newly released BD discs with new anti-copy protection and in such cases you have no choice but to wait for an update.
You do not need playback software for your goals, but not having it means that you can't check source rips very easily if something weird/wrong happens in your encodes.
There are several things to consider. The first order of business is to choose a decryption program. The one that most recommend (if price is not a concern) is AnyDVD HD. This program will not convert or compress for you, only decrypt and rip to the hard drive.
If you would prefer a free decryption program, there is a section within DVDFab that will work even after the trial for the Blu ray Copy section expires. This is called DVDFab HD Decrypter. It is not updated as often as the commercial section, so if you are planning on ripping new releases quite often, this solution might be frustrating.
MakeMKV is the third choice. It will not compress anything, but you do have the option to rip the entire disc or just the main movie. Ripping the main movie only, you'll get an .mkv file as output. MakeMKV is free while in beta, all you have to do is get the free beta key each month from their forum.
The next thing to consider is if you want the entire movie, including menus and extras in your copy. It is possible to compress the entire disc to fit your 10-15gb target using BD Rebuilder and a custom output size. You can also do a main movie only using BD Rebuilder and use this target size, and still have Blu-ray video format.
If you want a single file, instead of Blu-ray video structure, you will lose menus and extras. There are any number of programs that can be used for this conversion to an mkv or mp4 file, including Ripbot264, Handbrake, MeGUI and Vidcoder. I find Vidcoder to be very simple to use for this, and it can be set to a specific file size output. Most would recommend using it with a Constant Quality encode instead, and set the CRF to 18-20.
Your choice of a blu ray burner is ok. The LG drives are generally regarded as the second best choice available, with most preferring Pioneer.
How do you intend to play the movies from your HTPC? You'll need some kind of software for this, and if you keep the menus, you'll need a commercial player of some sort. DVDFab Media Player will let you play Blu-ray rips for free (you'd only have to pay for it if you intend to play directly from the blu ray discs in an optical drive). If you convert to mp4 or mkv, any number of free players would do...like Media Player Classic Home Cinema, VLC or PotPlayer.
Ha, I'll keep the compliments to a minimum then!
So the anyDVD for $100 would probably be my best bet?
Since primarily watching the physical discs isn't that important, could I download a freeware playback software for testing purposes? Any recs on that?
Thanks in advance
Another quick question, since makeMKV is free what are the benefits of purchasing AnyDVD and the like? Better decryption, ease of use, etc?
Like I said in the original post, I don't mind paying for stuff if needed.
Since I don't need the menus, bonus features, etc would using makeMKV and then Vidcoder (or similar) work fine for me?
DVDFab many years ago and just updated on top of that. In the old days, DVDFab was less concerned about monetizing everything they did. My experience is that if you do a completely fresh install of DVDFab, you can't get the free decryption to work at all any more once the trial date is reached. I can only state that this has been my experience so if someone tries anyway it works for them beyond 30 days, that's great, but if the supposedly free decryption only part stops working along with everything else once the trial ends, well, I warned you.
DVDFab HD Decrypter section of the program, since the trials had expired for the Copy sections. DVDFab HD Decrypter worked just fine to decrypt and rip both a DVD and a Blu-ray at this point in time.
I will admit, it is a bit confusing for a newbie to use DVDFab HD Decrypter, since clicking on that option does nothing. You have to hit the Try button, which will automatically put you into the Copy tab of DVDFab. And since the commercial sections are no longer functioning, you are automatically in the DVDFab HD Decrypter part of the program.
Last edited by Kerry56; 2nd Jan 2014 at 15:31.
AnyDVD HD gives fewer problems than any of the other options when decrypting. This is not to say that it doesn't fail now and again, when new forms of encryption appear, but you'll have fewer glitches when using AnyDVD HD on Blu-ray.
MakeMKV is not updated quite as quickly as the commercial version of DVDFab or AnyDVD HD. So you're faced with the problem of waiting for the program to catch up to encryption on new releases. If you are patient, however, it should work just fine for you. You can rip as an mkv then compress that with Vidcoder or one of the other programs I mentioned.
MakeMKV is not as convenient to use. You have to update beta keys each month. And it can be a little confusing on which title to select when making a main movie backup, but you'll get the hang of it quickly. I've never done a movie only backup with it when faced with a Blu-ray with seamless branching however. Since I own AnyDVD HD, I mostly use MakeMKV for testing, and most of those have been with the full Backup option.
The other question with MakeMKV is that Blu-ray decryption is free only while it remains in beta. If they ever release a full version of the program, Blu-ray decryption will be a pay option, with DVD decryption still free. MakeMKV has been in beta status for years, but there is no guarantee that it will remain so forever.
No one around here recommends using DVDFab for conversion, which is what that Blu-ray Ripper does. DVDFab misuses the term rip, as they have it describing their conversion program.
If you are going to use DVDFab, only use it to decrypt the movies and rip (transfer) the movie to the hard drive. Within the DVDFab program this means using the Blu-ray Copy section, or when that section's trial ends, you use the DVDFab HD Decrypter.
You'll get better quality conversions from the programs I've already mentioned, like Vidcoder, Handbrake or Ripbot264. And they are all free.
Yes, that is the section of DVDFab you would need to decrypt Blu-ray movies and get them to the hard drive. But it should be emphasized, decryption/ripping is the only function of DVDFab that is recommended. Don't try to compress with this section of DVDFab (from 50gb to 25gb size).
You'll also notice that DVDFab divides the various functions in their program and expect you to pay for each one. I dislike DVDFab quite a lot, and have never been impressed by their strategies to maximize income from their program, nor their upgrade strategies as they change versions of the program.
Their only saving grace is that their decryption does work, and they still offer a free section for decryption. Other than that, I don't have much good to say about them. Even in their description of this Blu-ray Copy section, they say: DVDFab Blu-ray Copy has the power to support both NTSC and PAL Blu-ray... Pinheads. There is no such thing as an NTSC or PAL Blu-ray.
Thanks again Kerry for the detailed responses.
I'll probably start with makeMKV and try out the paid solutions if I run into problems. I just want to eliminate the need for a stand alone Blu-ray player since I already have invested quite a bit of cash into my HTPC and want to have one "box" for everything without having to worry about scratching discs etc
Good to start with MakeMKV.
You may aslo use new DVDx 4.1 coming this month which offers free encoder to transcode MKV files (from MakeMKV) to many format, which I may suggest in your case keep MKV file but downscale video to 1280x720 to save space.
Current DVDx 4.1 version includes free MakeMKV 60 days but is not free istself.
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