Questions & Help With Handbrake / Make MKV?

jlee14

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Apr 14, 2013
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Hey guys, I recently purchased an extra hardrive and am in the process of turning it into a NAS for my family and I to enjoy. I am interested in ripping all of our blu-rays and storing them on said drive. After some research it appears the easiest way to do it is to use make mkv to put the bluray in the mkv container and then use handbrake to shrink the file to a manageable size. I guess my question is- what am I giving up in terms of quality when using handbrake? What should I put for the settings to maintain a relatively indiscernible difference compared to the original mkv? Also, the first few rips I have done appear to be slightly grainy, has anyone had this experience? Thanks for any replies.
 

randomizer

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Yes, Make MKV does a raw copy of one or more of the video and audio streams into the MKV container.

I'd say you could probably compress a main title with one or two audio tracks down to 5-6GB without significant quality loss (maybe even 4GB if the source is on the small side), providing that you are willing to wait for a few hours. Use the Constant Quality option with an RF value of 20-22 and without changing anything else you should get pretty solid video quality. The RF scale is logarithmic, so a small change can have a noticeable impact. As a general rule lower is better, but at some point you'll end up with a larger output than your input. I wouldn't go lower than 18 or higher than 24. If you plan to use mobile devices, you may need to encode using the H.264 Baseline profile (and you may need to go with a higher RF to keep the bitrate in check). Otherwise I'd probably stick to the High profile.

For audio you may want several tracks depending on how many devices you plan to play back on. If you have a home theatre system capable of decoding Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio then you'll probably want to keep those using passthrough unless they take up too much space. You'll want at least one other more widely compatible option if you use other devices.

If you have many devices, you may want to look at http://www.mediabrowser3.com/ or https://plex.tv/. With these you can just encode a single high quality source and let the media server encode on the fly to something that the client can play back (if this is required).

EDIT: I've created an example of the difference between an original frame and one from a video compressed using RF 20 with a couple of other video settings slightly tweaked, and a single FLAC stereo track (I would only use this on my PC with headphones... actually I would probably just pop the disk into my PS3 :)). Compressed file size is 4.2GB. Encode took about 3h 20m on an i7 920 without hyperthreading enabled.

Raw: http://i.imgur.com/dyHeN0R.png
Compressed: http://i.imgur.com/HyZqaIw.png

Of course single frame comparisons aren't everything.
 

randomizer

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There is always a compromise between 3 primary factors when you're encoding video: quality, file size and encode time. You've given an indication of what you want for the first one (although "indiscernible" is subjective), but you have not stated what sort of file sizes you're looking to end up with, or how long you're happy for the encode to run. Handbrake uses x264 under the hood, which has a dizzying array of options to play with that will affect all three factors, as well as compatibility with certain devices (which can in turn affect file size because of limits placed on the use of more fancy compression methods).
 

jlee14

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Apr 14, 2013
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Hey thanks for the reply! I meant "indiscernible" as in I would have to play the compressed version along side the original to be able to pick out any sort of differences. Encoding time is not a problem for me as our library is not too large and I have a decent PC. File size is not TOO much of an issue- I know straight bluray rips can be from 20-40gb range. I would be comfortable staying around 10gb a film if it preserved enough quality. Sound doable?

Edit: Also, is my reasoning correct? Is the function of Make MKV essentially to decrypt the bluray and plop it into an mkv container? There should be little to no quality loss- correct? Hence the larger file size?
 

randomizer

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Jul 24, 2006
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Yes, Make MKV does a raw copy of one or more of the video and audio streams into the MKV container.

I'd say you could probably compress a main title with one or two audio tracks down to 5-6GB without significant quality loss (maybe even 4GB if the source is on the small side), providing that you are willing to wait for a few hours. Use the Constant Quality option with an RF value of 20-22 and without changing anything else you should get pretty solid video quality. The RF scale is logarithmic, so a small change can have a noticeable impact. As a general rule lower is better, but at some point you'll end up with a larger output than your input. I wouldn't go lower than 18 or higher than 24. If you plan to use mobile devices, you may need to encode using the H.264 Baseline profile (and you may need to go with a higher RF to keep the bitrate in check). Otherwise I'd probably stick to the High profile.

For audio you may want several tracks depending on how many devices you plan to play back on. If you have a home theatre system capable of decoding Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio then you'll probably want to keep those using passthrough unless they take up too much space. You'll want at least one other more widely compatible option if you use other devices.

If you have many devices, you may want to look at http://www.mediabrowser3.com/ or https://plex.tv/. With these you can just encode a single high quality source and let the media server encode on the fly to something that the client can play back (if this is required).

EDIT: I've created an example of the difference between an original frame and one from a video compressed using RF 20 with a couple of other video settings slightly tweaked, and a single FLAC stereo track (I would only use this on my PC with headphones... actually I would probably just pop the disk into my PS3 :)). Compressed file size is 4.2GB. Encode took about 3h 20m on an i7 920 without hyperthreading enabled.

Raw: http://i.imgur.com/dyHeN0R.png
Compressed: http://i.imgur.com/HyZqaIw.png

Of course single frame comparisons aren't everything.
 
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