Using Compressor to encode HD movies for Apple TV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Number6, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    After not having a lot of success with using Handbrake (stuttering, macroblocking etc.) to encode my Blu-ray rips for the Apple TV I tried what jlasoon suggested in another thread. Going for Compressor with the Apple TV preset. I would really like to get the same quality for my movies that Apple delivers via the iTunes store (I purchased "Quantum of Solace" and thought it looked fantastic).

    There are some problems however. To get a movie in Compressor it has to come in a Quicktime container. I can get mkv's to open and export because I have Perian installed. But my own Blu-ray rips coming in from the Windows partition of my MacPro (using AnyDVDHD and tsMuxerR) are in .ts format and I cannot open them with Quicktime. Is there any way around this or do I have transcode the .ts into an mkv? That seems rather complicated.

    Another problem is the speed of encoding. I set up a virtual cluster using 2 instances, as that was recommended somewhere else if you're on a quad-core (which I am). I checked two-pass encoding to maximize the picture quality. However Compressor estimates over 12 hours to finish the encode of a 2-hour movie and that number is rising constantly! By that rate the movie will be finished in 2 days :(

    Does anyone here have any experience with the best settings for Compressor? Should I just abort the encode and uncheck two-pass or will that significantly degrade picture quality? Thanks in advance for any input...
  2. macrumors 68040

    Jun 20, 2007
    If you can get MKV's to work because of Perian, then just use Make MKV on the Mac to rip your blu-rays.

    As for Compressor, when you hit submit, are you sending it to your computer or a cluster?
  3. thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    Thanks for the links! I am sending it to my cluster but those two instances don't seem to do any good. The progress bar is at roughly 20% and it estimates to be finished in 70 hours! This is ridiculous, going at that speed I can manage one movie per week. I will cancel the encode now and try all 4 cores and no 2-pass. I am on a 2.66 GHz Quad-Core Xeon. Do you encode for Apple TV using Compressor and if so, what are your settings?
  4. macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2004
    Oslo, Norway
    When I encode from a QuickTime file (Sony xdcam HD) I encode close to real time on my mac pro. At least the 45min film in working on at the moment. I use 8 instances on my octo.
    Sounds like the original file is the problem somehow. But I'm not sure why I'm afraid
  5. macrumors 65816


    Jan 13, 2005
    Not sure why you are having HB issues I have the latest Snapshot and just use the apple tv preset, increasing the resolution to 1280 x whatever and the framerate to 24, I get perfect encodes everytime.
  6. macrumors 68000

    Oct 30, 2002
    San Diego, CA
    Make certain that your Compressor preset isn't using frame controls. Generally, you don't need to use frame controls for film-based material (i.e. DVDs). Frame controls are nice for de-interlacing and standards conversions but they can be VERY slow.
  7. thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    Frame controls were turned off and this time (with 4 instances running and no multi-pass) Compressor took "only" 8 hours. But now I am even more confused. On my desktop, which I set as my default destination, there is one AC-3 audio file and 3 documents that state something like "m4vTEMPdataRef6268757" after the movie title. But where is my encoded file???

    Sorry to sound like a complete noob but this is the first time I use Compressor and I just cannot figure it out.

    Regarding what Scarpad wrote about Handbrake: I am on the latest official version and SOMETIMES the encodes come out quite nicely. But there are always little defects like noise and macroblocking in complex or dark backgrounds. I got Dynaflash's advanced settings and hoped these would improve things but I actually got worse results than using the built-in Apple TV preset. The movie stuttered in several places. And even my best Haqndbrake encodes never look as good as what Apple delivers via the iTunes store.

    I am aware that Apple probably has better sources to begin with, but I think that some of the artifacts I am seeing could be avoided. Is anyone successful in recreating the iTunes HD experience? The images in this thread seemed quite promising...
  8. macrumors 6502

    Jun 1, 2006
    Orlando, FL
    Your audio and video files encoded, but the AC3 track failed the merging process with the video track. Look at your batch monitor under completed. You should see some information on your file, it should look something like this "Status: Failed - 3x crash HOST myServerName service down". Perian effects encoding of both audio and video through compressor. You might want to disable Perian and try encoding a 30 sec clip with AC3 sound enabled. The issue lies with your AC3 track. Get rid of it, or encode AC3 with Perian disabled.
  9. thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    Thanks for that tip. I disabled Perian and took a 5 minute clip with AC-3 sound that contained several scenes that Handbrake did not handle so well. After 2 hours and 50 minutes Compressor was finished with it...

    Well, the picture was beautiful and the files merged - but I could not hear any audio! I tried Quicktime X and Quicktime 7 both with and without Perian and I could not hear a thing :(
    Movie Properties showed me the existence of an AAC-Stereo track and a Dolby-5.1 track but I could not hear it. Do you ever encode Dolby 5.1 or do you just take plain AAC-Stereo? And the time factor still amazes me. I bought a MacPro to speed up my encoding (this is the area where Handbrake really delivers), but is this what I have live with if I want a better picture? Maybe you could share some of your experience using Compressor with us since you are obviously satisfied. I would really like to get this to work!
  10. Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    Whakatane, New Zealand
    I think jlasoon meant to try encoding *to* a clip with AC3 sound, not to use one as input. If Perian's disabled then QuickTime probably can't decode the AC3 in the first place.

    I would also suggest not feeding MKVs into Compressor directly; open them in QuickTime Pro first and save out to MOV (via Save As, not Export) and you should get better performance from Compressor.
  11. thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    Interesting. I didn't think of that. The option "include Dolby 5.1 audio track", which I turned on, lead me to believe that Compressor could handle such a track. So I assume that this only works if I have six discrete audio tracks and then Compressor would create a Dolby Digital track out of those? Since my sources are Blu-ray and HD DVD I would have to live with losing the 5.1 audio. Or is there a way to add it later?

    My clip was a .mov file saved out of Quicktime Pro. It started as an mkv file since I understand there is no way to get a .ts file into either Quicktime or Compressor directly.
  12. Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    Whakatane, New Zealand
    If you feed it six tracks then it'll encode to AC3. I don't know whether it can just mux in an existing track or not, and I'm off work until next week so I can't check at the moment either.
  13. macrumors newbie

    Oct 29, 2009
    How do you rip it and get it into a format that I can use compressor?
  14. macrumors newbie

    Oct 29, 2009
    ok so I have a .mkv that I made in makemkv but it wont play in Quicktime. I get the audio to work but it is just black and no video...I have Perian installed and don't know what else to do. I would really like to use compressor.
  15. thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    This is probably a problem with an unsupported video codec (even Perian doesn't play everything), but I am not an expert on that. In my experience Quicktime with Perian installed will open mkv's which contain either h.264 or VC-1 video streams. I had problems with AVC video streams so maybe you should start with a different source. As far as I know AVC is similar or close to the same as h.264 but I get a white screen when I try to play it. If I check the file in VLC, it plays.

    Anyway, if you have an h.264 source you should be able to save that as a .mov file (but you have to wait until the QT progress bar is full) and start experimenting with Compressor. I have to admit that I gave up on that, as I could not manage to add a Dolby 5.1 track to the file. If you have more luck, please post your results...
  16. macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010
    The only thing I can advise is to deal with video separately. Prepare your video file in Compressor. Audio – deal with it in windows using eac3to. Then use Subler in OS to merge your video, audio (ac3 and aac) and optionally subs into m4v. BTW any more luck with Compressor speed?
  17. thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    Thanks for the tip, Malimarek! That's quite a workflow but maybe I'll try it if I get back to Compressor. At the moment I'm thinking about this to speed up my encoding:

    Might be overkill just to get my movies all neatly organized on my AppleTV, but my MacPro just doesn't cut it with Compressor. At the moment I'm back to Handbrake...

    Btw, anyone has any experience with this Matrox Card? Is it worth it?
  18. macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2010
    Dreams of DVDFab

    I switched from pc to Mac about a year ago. I fire up the old pc just to use DVDfab. Hopefully one day it will come to Mac. It's great and has presets for pretty much every output you can think of! If you just rip a movie at first, you can always go back later and make multiple output copies in different formats. I don't understand why Mac ripping/encoding software can't be as easy. Most formats seems to encode in about 20min with AppleTV taking the longest at less than an hour (full length movie). And that's on an OLD windows machine with half the ram pulled out (bad stick).


    iMac - 2.8 Quad core i7 w/fcp-compressor
    MacBook Pro
    old Windows machine just to run DVDfab! :D
  19. macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2009
    I've had a little experience with it, have set it up many times for our customers (I work at a small Apple repair and sales shop), and I know the TD Garden here in Boston uses them in many of their production machines; we're the ones that set them up. It's unbelievably fast (faster than a 8x2.26 Mac Pro using CPU only), and really does give better looking results than Compressors 2-pass CPU-only algorithm as it claims on the website. For ~$500 though, that's a lot to invest in just organizing your Apple TV stuff.
  20. macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005

    Just wondering if you managed to buy this card?

    I'm trying one out right now and having issues (mostly stuttering). I'm using the original appleTV so i'm wondering if it just doesn't have the horsepower to handle the bitrate.

    BRates are 4, 4.5 and 5 using constant data rate.

    footage is 4:3 SD (my home movies).

    These videos look fantastic and play well on my mac pro.


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