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DVD Ripping & Converting Questions

 
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Dubwars
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:07 am    Post subject: DVD Ripping & Converting Questions Reply with quote

I must say first, I'm guessing some or all of these questions have been asked somewhere around the Internet, but I'm going to throw them up here and see what your opinions are on the topic. If you've answered this before and don't feel like doing it again, don't worry about it.

This is how I have backed up all my DVDs so far:
Mac Mini running Parallels - Windows XP running DVDFab
I always run the "DVD9" setting in DVDFab in hopes of ripping the DVD at 100% quality without any loss.

Well as you probably know, ripping them all at the DVD9 settings typically generate larger file size. I've been reading this forum and also the Handbrake forum in search of a conversion method that will reduce my file size without losing any quality in the movie.

Here lies the problem: When reading on the Handbrake forum, and reading what other users are posting for their settings, how do I really know if they even know what they're talking about? I really don't want to convert 100 movies only to find out I did it the wrong way, or I could have done it better.

Another question I've thought this is possibly comparable to digital graphics and digital photography. Being that I'm a graphic designer, when saving files in Photoshop for instance, and you're using a JPEG extension, they give you the ability to save your file on a scale of 1 - 12 in terms of quality. Now this may be controversial and debatable, but most will tend to say that saving at 10 is perfect, being that saving at 11 or 12 only increases the file size and there's also no visual difference that the human eye can really detect. Does this scenario also apply to converting movies? Are their settings you can lower (ex: constant quality percentage) that will generate a smaller file size but the quality change will be undetectable to our eyes?

To wrap these questions up, I'm basically looking to convert my collection in order to save file space, yet I really don't want to lose quality. Time isn't really that big of a deal, but at the same time, I don't want to be converting a single movie for 6+ hours. That would take me forever to convert the 100 I already have.

If you want to, feel free to post your settings you used in Handbrake and any other info or reasons why you decide to use what you use.

Thanks guys for any help!
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Wedge
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:30 am    Post subject: Re: DVD Ripping & Converting Questions Reply with quote

Dubwars wrote:
This is how I have backed up all my DVDs so far:
Mac Mini running Parallels - Windows XP running DVDFab
I always run the "DVD9" setting in DVDFab in hopes of ripping the DVD at 100% quality without any loss.

My workflow is nearly identical, though I substitute a Mini for my MacBook Pro and VMWare Fusion for Parallels.

Dubwars wrote:
Well as you probably know, ripping them all at the DVD9 settings typically generate larger file size. I've been reading this forum and also the Handbrake forum in search of a conversion method that will reduce my file size without losing any quality in the movie.

When doing lossy conversions of any type, you always lose some quality. Always. The big question is -- are these losses acceptable/perceptible for your needs in terms of file size? Lossy compression is always a delicate balance between quality and file size, and there's no perfect answer for everyone.

Dubwars wrote:
Here lies the problem: When reading on the Handbrake forum, and reading what other users are posting for their settings, how do I really know if they even know what they're talking about? I really don't want to convert 100 movies only to find out I did it the wrong way, or I could have done it better.

Hah! Unfortunately that's just how it goes. Handbrake is extremely powerful and flexible, allowing millions of different combinations of settings. I dove in to the forums looking for "good" settings as well, and I think I found some that work for me and my needs. I'll share them further down.

Dubwars wrote:
Another question I've thought this is possibly comparable to digital graphics and digital photography. Being that I'm a graphic designer, when saving files in Photoshop for instance, and you're using a JPEG extension, they give you the ability to save your file on a scale of 1 - 12 in terms of quality. Now this may be controversial and debatable, but most will tend to say that saving at 10 is perfect, being that saving at 11 or 12 only increases the file size and there's also no visual difference that the human eye can really detect. Does this scenario also apply to converting movies? Are their settings you can lower (ex: constant quality percentage) that will generate a smaller file size but the quality change will be undetectable to our eyes?

Depending on what you're using in Handbrake, this analogy can apply perfectly. I don't recall precisely where I read it on the Handbrake forums, but when using Constant Quality at percentages above 65 or 66%, you end up with file sizes that are larger than the original source. You're really not gaining anything by recompressing at that size/quality other than a different file format.

Dubwars wrote:
To wrap these questions up, I'm basically looking to convert my collection in order to save file space, yet I really don't want to lose quality. Time isn't really that big of a deal, but at the same time, I don't want to be converting a single movie for 6+ hours. That would take me forever to convert the 100 I already have.

The simple fact of the matter is you will lose quality. It's the nature of the beast when it comes to lossy compression. You have to ask yourself, how much are you willing to lose? Personally, I'm willing to use some fairly aggressive settings as my eyes and ears can't detect a huge loss in quality from these settings, and I love the flexibility of the files I get from them.

Dubwars wrote:
If you want to, feel free to post your settings you used in Handbrake and any other info or reasons why you decide to use what you use.

Here's my primary settings. I got these from nightstrm on the Handbrake forums. I viewed most of his posts as very realistic yet informed. He seemed to have a goal of very good (but not perfect) quality, yet retaining compatible files (i.e. Apple portable devices, AppleTV, and Plex), and moderate file sizes.

Start with the Universal preset (it's under Apple). Turn on Detelecine and Decomb (default) in the Picture Settings. In the audio section, bump the DRC of the AAC track to 1.5. Save this preset, making sure Use Picture Size is set to Source Maximum and Use Current Picture Filters is checked.

I generally make a second copy of this preset with just one AAC channel, and the AC3 disabled. Useful if I want to save a little space for an older movie that has no discrete 5.1 or unimportant sound quality in general.

When I'm going to encode a file, I vary the CQ slider from its default of 59% either up or down. In the case of recent, high quality encoded action movies, I usually bump it up to a high of 61% to 62%. For older TV shows, or simply stuff that I want to sacrifice a little video quality on, I may drag the slider all the way down to 56%. Most of the time however, I leave it on 59%. Perceptually, it's certainly not as good quality as the source, so you may want to permanently use a bit higher - somewhere in the 61% to 64% range. IMHO, Constant Quality creates unpredictable file sizes, but very nice and predictable visual results.

What I really like about this preset is that it's flexible in both its input and output. I can throw a poorly encoded 1980s TV show, with telecined/combed sections and the various picture filters will take care of it (without damaging quality to DVDs without any combing or telecining). I can also easily throw in a well transferred to DVD action movie, and all I have to do is bump the quality slider upwards a bit. The files it creates are iPhone/iPod compatible (uses the AAC channel, hence the 1.5 DRC for headphone use), AppleTV compatible (including discrete 5.1 for AppleTV), and compatible with Plex (Plex 8.1 and newer auto switches from AAC to AC3 when it detects both and you have a digital receiver).

For me, the file sizes are about what I want. Last night I encoded the movie Twister. I left it at my default 59% with AC3 and AAC tracks. The resulting file size was 1.67GB. It's decent quality. Not perfect, not as good as the DVD (though the DVD was surprisingly mediocre to begin with), but good enough for my needs and much smaller than the 7.17GB source rip. Since the original DVD transfer wasn't super sharp, I didn't bother increasing my CQ slider at all.

My only concern is a lack of subtitle support. It's not really the settings fault, it's just Handbrake. I'd love to see the mp4 style subtitles that Apple includes in iTunes purchases. I rarely use soft subtitles, but I'd love to have the option.

One last word of advice - don't encode all your 100 movies before you know what works. Pick one movie that has a difficult scene or two, and batch encode a barrage of different settings, and sit down and compare them. Don't look at stills, look at the scenes in motion. Get other people to watch them, see what they think. At some point, pick some settings, and just go for it.
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Dubwars
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! I would have never expected such a thorough response! Thanks for all the information you shared! I'll have to give these settings a try later on today when I can sit down with my collection. Thanks for taking the time to answer though!!!

Anyone else have their $0.02 to offer?
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Smithcraft
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd pretty much agree with what Wedge said. Lossy compression is lossy compression. Also, movies are different. What might work fine for one movie, might not work well for other movies. One problem that I have is with the effects of fire on walls and such. In the movie the flickering will look natural, however in my encodes it seems to turn out rather blotchy. More like someone is flipping a switch on a light....

For my workflow, I'm using Windows XP(playing with Win7 currently), AnyDVD HD to remove the protection schemes, and DVD Decrypter to copy the disc. I could use AnyDVD's ripper, but it doesn't give you as much information about what is going on as DVD Decrypter does. I have DVD Decrypter set to just copy the files. I don't think it has a DVD9 limit or anything like that.

Once that's all done, I pass the DVD rips over to the Intel mini for processing with Handbrake. It looks like the current favorite preset at the HB forums is AppleTV with 62% constant quality, and I have decomb is set to the first setting. I use AC3 passthrough for the audio, on each track that I choose to use. Previously I used the Universal preset with a target bit rate of 1500, but I've been noticing that it's not quite that good on some content, so it looks like a few programs might be put back through the process.

SC
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tales
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dubwars wrote:
Wow! I would have never expected such a thorough response! Thanks for all the information you shared! I'll have to give these settings a try later on today when I can sit down with my collection. Thanks for taking the time to answer though!!!

Anyone else have their $0.02 to offer?


Both replies above are great! Remember one thing, If you convert your movies you can't burn them on a DVD-R. Video_TS folders are best to copy DVDs.

It takes time to convert from Video_TS folders, to MP4 give or take 1.5 hours a movie. I only have classic rock videos on my mini HTPC, so i keep them uncompressed on my LaCie mini HD & Hub.

HB is great, but not worth my time to convert my movies. With the prices of external hard drives so low, you can keep the TS folders on an external HDD & they will play in Front Row or Plex

Just my 2¢
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Dubwars
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tales wrote:
HB is great, but not worth my time to convert my movies. With the prices of external hard drives so low, you can keep the TS folders on an external HDD & they will play in Front Row or Plex

Just my 2¢


That was always my initial intentions when I started to backup my movies. I wasn't going to compromise the quality. As I started to fill up my HD though (only have a 500 GB external right now, looking for 1 TB soon) I started to investigate the compression more.

After reading everyones' suggestions, which I appreciate, I think it's safe to say that it's a gamble with every movie since they're all different. Being that there's no sure shot way for every movie, I think it'd be best to just suck up the fact that my movies will have large file sizes and continue ripping them the way I have.

Thanks again everyone.
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Smithcraft
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not really a gamble. You can always aim for a higher setting, and it will be overkill on some movies, and just right on others, and possibly not good enough for a few. As I mentioned, I never saw that one issue with reflected/ambient fire lighting until I came across a movie that had it. Well, I first saw it in the DVD for The Future Is Unwritten, but then I checked the DVD and it was just a crappy transfer(Thank You Sony!).

I think it's also beneficial because you can change some movies from having to play multiple V_TS rips, to just playing one file. Which is very nice if you happen to have multiple multi disc movies.

SC
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[Desktop] Intel mini - 2.16Ghz 2GB 60GB HDD - Newer miniStack v2 500GB - 10.5.8

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