I am using the current version of Handbrake on a Mac. I am in the process of taking my entire DVD library and ripping them to use in my Plex library. However, with several hundred DVDs, I want to be sure that I get the settings right from the outset so that I don't have to re-rip all my DVDs in a few years. Basically, I want high-quality DVD video/audio without just having an exact copy of the DVD. I have determined HandBrake is probably my best method, but I'm a novice with regard to the settings. File size isn't overly important, but I'd like to keep it under 2 GB if feasible. What settings should I be using to get the high quality DVD rips that I'm looking for without going too crazy with file sizes? Should I be using MKV or MP4, and why? I have a Plex media account, so I'm not really concerned about playing the video on iPhone/iPad, as it is my understanding Plex will make that possible regardless of the video format.
Any help is greatly appreciated.
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Plex, ideally it would not be noticeable to the average watcher that we're watching a compressed version. I know the only way to get 100% quality is to rip the entire DVD, I'm just looking for something that will produce a comparable video.
Also, one thing I keep noticing is on the tests I've done with HandBrake thus far, in the details section on Plex they're identified as SD every time. However, some of the movies I've downloaded way back are identified as 720P. How do I get 720P with HandBrake when ripping from DVD?
Thanks again for all the help anybody can provide!
I use the standard settings with the "Normal" profile. In the Audio tab I set DRC to 1.5 with "Stereo" AAC. (Some folks prefer the more complex audio but "stereo" works for me as I use the speakers in my TV and not a "home theater".) In the Video tab I set Anamorphic to "None" so it will display properly on all devices (even those that don't play nicely with the Anamorphic flag).
As jagabo correctly states: DVD is SD, not HD. Handbrake's quality settings may be tweaked a bit and that may give you a bit better image if you're playing the video on your 720 or 1080 screen but don't hold your breath.
I hope I do not confuse you or anyone with this post. I hope to give some insight and I have a question myself to the other members with something you mentioned.
Suggestion or thought to the OP. You were saying either MKV or MP4. They are just containers of the files inside but one of the major differences that I have come across (and could be wrong so please chime in if I am) is subtitles. If you want to "choose" to have the subtitle or not (at different times) with MP4 you do not have a choice it is either burned in or not. With MKV you can turn them on and off as you choose.
You mentioned using AAC with Plex. I have been using Plex myself and like it especially since they have a native app on the Samsung Smart TV's to link with there Plex server. Also, one thing to think about. You said you do not want to have to re-rip in a few years and that you will only be doing in stereo. Do you think that you may upgrade to a surround sound system or soundbar with subwoofer? If so you may want to at least go with Surround or Dolby ProLogic II. Anyone have a suggestion as I am insterested also (I do 5.1......for future also)
Question for the more knowledgeable is that I have been having some issues with AAC with Plex decoding for the TV (no problem when playing through PC). I have been researching and is it easier to handle AC3? Is AC3 a more widely accepted, versatile, and easily decoded/trans-coded than AAC?
Hope this helps, and if AC3 is better hope that info helps too, if I/We found out one way or the other.
Last edited by HyNrgy; 10th Mar 2014 at 00:47. Reason: more clarification of AAC vs AC3 question
I've only used the PC version of Handbrake, however......
The x264encoder is capable of generally "transparent" quality at around CRF18. Losing quality when re-encoding is true, but whether it's a quality loss you can see is another. Generally, it's not. If you use the "Film" tuning it should also help retain some more fine detail especially if you use higher CRF values (lower quality). I would also use Anamorphic none, which resizes to square pixels however......
A 16:9 NTSC DVD has a resolution of 720x480. When resizing to square pixels (anamorphic none), Handbrake resizes to something like 720x404. That could potentially rob you of more fine detail than the re-encoding. For PAL it's worse, where a 720x576 16:9 DVD is still resized to around 720x404. The alternative is to increase the width rather than reduce the height. So for NTSC you'd end up with something like 854x480, and for PAL, 1024x576. Naturally there's more video to encode so you'll also end up with larger file sizes at the same quality, but resizing "up" should give better results than resizing "down". Except Handbrake only resizes down. Unless the Mac version is different. Vidcoder resizes up. Does it have a Mac version? If not you might want to find an alternative to Handbrake. Or use anamorphic encoding. It won't be a problem when playing the encodes using a computer but not all standalone players will display it correctly.
(Anamorphic encoding doesn't resize to square pixels. It encodes the video as-is and then it's the players job to resize the picture to the correct aspect ratio on playback, just as the original DVD video is resized to the correct aspect ratio on playback)
The Handbrake High Profile preset uses the default x264 settings which are fine. It also sets High Profile, Level 4.1. It's pretty common for devices to support High Profile, level 4.1 these days. It won't be a problem when using a computer for playback.
The general idea re-encoder settings would be to pick a CRF value you're happy with in respect to quality (CRF18 with the original AC3 multi-channel audio should still produce file sizes within your target of 2GB, at least on average), then use the slowe4st x264 speed preset you can stand. I generally use either "medium" (the default), or "slow" but it's personal preference. Pick an appropriate Tuning (none, film, grain) and you're good to go.
Unless you want to delve into the art of de-interlacing, leave the Decomb filter at it's default setting. It does a pretty good job. I'd also select a constant frame rate output, same as source.
If you know a video is purely interlaced you can disable the Decomb filter and set the de-interlacing filter to Bob. If the video is 29.970fps interlaced (NTSC) the output should be 59.940fps progressive. For PAL the output would be 50fps progressive. De-interlacing to 59.940fps/50fps should give you a much smoother output than de-interlacing to 29.970fps/25fps. The x264 encoder is frame rate aware, so de-interlacing to "full frame rate" doesn't actually increase the total file size all that much, but the output will look much smoother.