I want to start ripping my Blu-Ray movie collection (currently around 130 discs), plus a handful of DVDs, to a HDD so I can play them back on my computer. It would be nice if they are also compatible with my Topfield TRF-2400 PVR - from the manual, it plays DivX (versions 3.0 - 6.0), XviD, VOB, MKV, MP4, and AVI. Keeping files compatible with MPEG4-TS is probably wise.
My goals are as follows:
(1) copy DVDs without compression, while converting the main-movie VOB files & subtitles into a single file.
(2) for Blu-Rays with 16:9 material, keep the entire image and compress it to around 15 GB.
(3) for Blu-Rays with 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 material (817 or 800 lines of picture) I would like to crop the centre 75% of the picture ie. 1440x810 pixels.
There might also be issues with anamorphic storage aspect ratios??
I don't want to keep the menus or extras, however a few movies are foreign-language so I'll want to keep the English sub-titles.
As for the audio, I only need stereo. Keeping the same codec, but downmixing to 2.0, would be great.
I have installed MakeMKV & Handbrake applications. The Blu-Ray drive arrives next week...
I have DVDFab 8, but DVD Copy has expired. All other options except HD Decrypter are available on a Trial basis.
I also have ImgBurn for DVDs. Let's assume I can rip DVDs to plain VOB files etc.
So, I'm curious as to the products & workflows for each of the 3 processes.
Can people please offer their suggestions - or links to existing posts which describe solutions.
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Make MKV is probably the easiest option for DVD, unless you have a media player that doesn't like mpeg2 video in an MKV container. If that's the case you can remux the MKVs as TS files with TSMuxer. I wouldn't use use vob files for the final format. They tend to be problematic, although DVDShrink can rip DVDs that way. You can prevent it from shrinking so it just rips, and you can re-author DVDs (a set of vob files or a single vob file per title etc) and rip at the same time. For DVDs with newer copy protection it needs something like AnyDVD running in the background decrypting.
If your media player ignores the aspect ratio in MKVs, pretty much every TV has an option to stretch the picture to 16:9, and they also have a 4:3 mode where they squish it to 4:3 and add black bars each side. The 4:3 option also overscans as a CRT TV would, so you don't see the crud down the sides. It involves setting the mode manually though. Aside from that, you can crop and re-encode and resize if need be.
I haven't used MakeMKV for ripping Blurays, but if it works it works. I've been using AnyDVD myself (not for ripping, just decrypting in the background) but it's no longer an option. I rip with the HD Streams Extractor under MeGUI's Tools menu, and convert from there, but whatever your prefer. Chances are with AnyDVD or DVDFab (whatever their equivalent is called) decrypting in the background you could open the video on the disc directly with Handbrake, as long as you don't mind the drive being busy until the conversion is done.
Programs such as Handbrake generally crop black bars when re-encoding. All you might need to do it check to make sure all the black is cropped. They all downmix audio to stereo and Handbrake (I'm pretty sure) will either mux subtitles into the output file or hard-code them.
For DVDs I tend to extract the subtitles and convert them to SRT format for hard-coding. DVD subtitles generally being fairly ugly. Subtitle Edit can convert subtitles to srt files but it involves using character recognition software, checking the OCR software is always getting it right, then spell checking the subtitles and making sure they're formatted correctly. For a few forced subtitles it's not too tragic, but I can't say it's my idea of fun. I prefer to hard-code English subtitles though as I'm never going to watch a video without them, and that way I know they'll always display. I got sick of "the subtitles aren't working" cries coming from the living room a long time ago.
Don't aim for a file size when re-encoding unless you really have to. Use x264's quality encoding method. The bitrate will vary quite a bit from video to video, but the quality will be pretty much the same relative to the source. CRF18 (or I think Handbrake calls it RF18) is roughly where the x264 encoder is considered to be "transparent". Lower CRF values = higher quality = larger file sizes. I tend to use CRF18 for 720p or lower and CRF20 for 1080p (higher resolutions can get away with slightly higher CRF values). Unless a Bluray is particularly noisy and particularly hard to compress, you should come in well under 15GM for the video most of the time. Now film is going away and digital is more mainstream, video is definitely getting easier to compress. Film grain requires a high bitrate to encode well. Not that it'll make your current movies easier to compress.....
Wow - so much information, and so quickly. Thank you!
I've now downloaded a few other tools, so I think my editing problems are all sorted.
At least 2 tools seem to offer cropping in a simple-to-use user interface, so cross-fingers I'll find success quickly.
I only have 6 foreign-language DVDs, so sorting out subtitles shouldn't be a headache.
I'll add to this post (if I remember..) once I have something new to report.
When you use MakeMKV for DVDs and Blu-Rays, the subs are saved in the .mkv container as VOBSubs (the original DVD foirmat) and are definitely playable on your PC via VLC or MPC-HC.
Keep in mind that .mkv and .avi are video containers and may contain a number of different video and audio formats that may or not not play on your PVR.
Finally, keep a copy of your RIPs as well as your re-encoded files if you like. It will take a bit of space, but RE-RIPPING 130+ discs again isn't going to be fun. I've posted before about a monumental brain fart moment when I deleted BOTH HDDs full of DVDs (~600) and had to RE-RIP them all in a frenzy to restore what I lost!
Well, 91 Blu-rays & 35 DVDs later, I finally have my collection on HDD. I couldn't use MakeMKV as it wouldn't recognise my external Sony Blu-ray drive, so I resorted to the following workflows:
Blu-ray: Using "DVDFab Passkey 8" to unprotect the disc and find the main playlist, "BDInfo 0.5.9" to find the M2TS files for the playlist, and plain old Windows Explorer to copy them. (This prevented copying the entire disc when I only wanted the main title. The drive read at 30 GB/hour.) Most discs had only one M2TS file; where there were multiple I used "copy /b <list> Title.m2ts" to splice them together. (Or, in the case of "Ted", make my own edit.) Sure is handy having a SSD as a target storage device.
DVD: Using "DVD Decrypter 188.8.131.52" to unprotect the disc, and use File mode & Splitting by Vob ID to make one destination VOB file.
Conversion: Using "Handbrake 0.10.5.0" to read the VOB or M2TS file. I later found out I could load an unprotected Blu-ray disc directly - which provides the languages for the audio tracks, and eliminates the need to manually copy source files. However, if there were read errors, I'd have to begin the process from scratch.
DVD Settings in Handbrake:
[Picture] Anamorphic=Loose, no cropping (for widescreen).
[Filters] Decomb=Default. Occasionally, Denoise=NLMeans+Ultralight.
[Video] H.264 codec; CFR; Quality=18; x264 Preset=Medium, Tune=Film or Grain, Fast Decode, Profile=Main, Level=3.0.
[Audio] AAC audio in Dolby Pro Logic II, Bitrate=160. Selecting the first best Audio track usually worked.
[Subtitles] Only a few foreign-language "arthouse" films required subtitles to be burned in - most were already in this state.
Additional Blu-ray Settings in Handbrake: Anamorphic=Strict, no cropping (for 16:9 titles); Quality=21; Profile=Main, Level=4.0.
The reason for my endeavour was to provide good-enough files for playback on the PC. My priorities were: MP4 container, stereo audio, burned-in subtitles for foreign languages, crop 2.35:1 titles to better fill the screen. For the last part, I settled on cropping down to 1600x900, so vertical "fill" went up from 74% to 89%.
I had a few 4:3 DVDs (PAL), so to make then 16:9 aspect ratio I cropped Top & Bottom by 72. (I think for NTSC DVDs it is 60 i.e. 1/8 of vertical resolution.)
I like Handbrake. I found its user interface to be generally easy to understand, and to provide most or all of the features I need. I think the Cropping tab could be simplified or extended - having to do the math manually is what computers are for. Would also be nice to allow the cropped frame to be enlarged (say up to 720p or 1080p) - although the authors state on their forum are dead against this. Otherwise, it did everything well, fast, good. I did use Avidemux for some fancier edits. I also tried many other tools before settling on the above.
Regarding my external Blu-ray drive (model SONY BC-5500S, bought on eBay for $50) - I found it OK but problematic. It was VERY fussy with disc cleanliness - even the smallest smudge, esp. near the inner ring, could cause it to not load, or fail during copying. (Thankfully I still have some Finyl solution from years ago.) It was more likely to fail if it was in use for some time i.e. running hot. If conversion was going to be an ongoing process, I'd consider purchasing an internal 5.25" drive, only about $30 more.
So now I have my movie collection on HDD. Bonus: the (PAL) DVD files play on my Topfield TRF-2400 (transferred using Filezilla), simpler than firing up the Blu-ray player.
Some stats: 91 Blu-rays reduced from 2400 GB to 440 GB. 35 DVDs reduced from 140 GB to 56 GB.
Encoding speed for 77 Blu-rays was: average 17.7 FPS, minimum 7 FPS, maximum 26 FPS.
Data rate for 91 Blu-rays was: average 740 MB/min, minimum "Ex Machina" 289 MB/min, maximum "Aliens 2" 1587 MB/min.