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  1. Hi all, I am about to start setting up a home media server in my home, to serve all the rooms in my house with movies, tv eps, music etc...

    I would like your advice and tips on this project having never done this before. I am not new to computing just new to encoding etc.

    I was considering using PLEX as my media server as it seems very versatile and I can use it anywhere via an app if required though this project is really only for my home.

    I was also considering using handbrake encoding to MKV and maybe now HEVC H265 profile?

    File size is not that important, high quality video and audio is the prioroty but within reason given how much storage this will take as I have 1,000s of movies to encode from DVD and Blu-ray.

    Also any advice on if I should use PC or MAC and what hdd's/system would you recomemend... I will obviously need it to be upgradeable for file storage and maybe with some built in backup should the worst ever happen?

    Look forward to your help guys,

    Many thanks.
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  2. Back-up only movies, videos that are rare or you have some sort of attachment to them, not all of them. Then you do not need to encode them.

    If encoding, for every device than perhaps 720p, CRF 18 for BD or CRF 17 for your DVD's seams a solid choice. SD resolution might not be encoded, data rates are not that big, streaming problem might be caused by audio anyway (to portable devices). You might need just simple AC3 etc.

    Hardware is getting more powerful, your NAS could encode videos on the fly like Synology etc.
    For streaming - you can just share files, using smb, without needing a dedicating streaming software like Plex because that needs to be on both devices. Sharing file is pretty straightforward.
    Even if receiving devices get stronger lately I still can see problems for the future with audio formats more that video formats (licenses, apps cannot play them well or at all)
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  3. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
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    You might try Vidcoder instead of Handbrake. It uses Handbrake's encoding engine.
    You can encode directly from DVDs, So multiple optical drives will help.
    BDs, better to rip them to a HDD first as direct encoding may wear out the optical drives faster.

    H.264 is my choice, with AC3 audio. Less encoding power involved and faster than H.265 encodes.
    If you want higher quality, but larger filesizes, try MakeMKV.

    I reduce my BD's to about 8GB and DVDs to about 2GB. Multiply whatever size you choose
    times your 1000 videos and that will give you an idea of the size needed for your storage drives.

    A multicore CPU will also greatly speed up MKV/H.264/H.265 encodes.
    I personally wouldn't use a Mac.

    But others here may have better suggestions.
    And welcome to our forums.
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  4. Member
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    +1 to _Al_'s suggestion to leave the files unencoded. Current display technology (UHD, HDR) is beyond the capabilities of Blu-Ray and will show additional artifacts added by encoding to a smaller size. In addition, HDD storage is at an all time with 4TB (and larger) drives running less than $30/TB. Considering 30 to 40 complete Blu-rays per TB and you're looking at a storage cost of less than $1 per movie. DVDs are a fraction of that cost with 125 to 200+ movies per TB.
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  5. Originally Posted by mav2k View Post
    I was considering using PLEX as my media server as it seems very versatile and I can use it anywhere via an app if required though this project is really only for my home.
    Plex Media Server is great. I have also heard great things about Kodi but I have never used it so I have no opinion and I don't know about remote access to Kodi.

    Originally Posted by mav2k View Post
    I was also considering using handbrake encoding to MKV and maybe now HEVC H265 profile?

    File size is not that important, high quality video and audio is the prioroty but within reason given how much storage this will take as I have 1,000s of movies to encode from DVD and Blu-ray.
    Start with the file format. I prefer MKV but id or tagging is easier with MP4. MKVToolNix aka MKVMerge is an indispensable app when dealing with MKVs.

    Let's talk encoding Blu-ray first.

    Playback through Plex is an issue. Plex has to do a lot of transcoding depending on how the file is being played back.
    Examples:
    Remote play to fit bandwidth.
    Codec/format not supported by the playback device.
    Use of subtitles (Plex has to burn the subtitles into the video before sending)

    HEVC doesn't transcode quickly enough on current PC's to stream (I have a 12 core Broadwell Xeon that proves that) so for the Plex server, I would stay with AVC encodes for now. (I have learned this the hard way and am currently changing any files in my Plex server from HEVC to AVC.

    I, like you, have 1000's of movies so this file size question is the real issue. I don't have the disk space to keep 25 to 50 GB per movie. My current standard is to a program name Ripbot264. Ripbot264 is the only program I have found that lets you set the output file total size. Handbrake will let you set average kilobits per second but the file size will vary with length of movie and size of audio.
    I set Ripbot264 to make a 3700 MByte file (equal to 4 Gigabyte HDD space or 4 Gigabyte thumb drive) with AVC and the core of the 5.1 or 7.1 audio on passthrough.
    My reason is streaming. My understanding is that currently streaming video from Netflix/Hulu/Amazon averages 5 Megabits per second. That is 4.39 Gigabytes for 2 hours.

    DVD's were smashed down to 8 GB (or less) using MPEG2. You really can't hurt the quality anymore. I just put them in Handbrake and set the CQ for 18 or 20 with AVC.


    Originally Posted by mav2k View Post
    Also any advice on if I should use PC or MAC and what HDD's/system would you recomemend... I will obviously need it to be upgradeable for file storage and maybe with some built-in backup should the worst ever happen?
    Data corruption is going to become your greatest enemy. This project is not inexpensive just from a labor/time/electricity/hardware perspective. A video file is worthless if corrupted and recreating them takes finding the original disc and going through encoding again.

    I run separate servers from what I use to encode. I personally would recommend just biting the bullet and setting up a FreeNAS/Plex Media Server. This is going to take server grade hardware (there are plenty of cheap obsolete SuperMicro servers on eBay that will handle this like a champ). I run a 30 TB FreeNAS/ZFS/Plex server and a 12 TB Windows 10/ReFS/Storage Spaces/Plex Server on 2 obsolete Supermicro chassis.

    I would stay on PC for this as MAC people always seem to be looking for good freeware to do this stuff with.

    Hope that helps and makes sense.
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