ATV/iTunes/iPhone sweet spot

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Michael CM1, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    I'm trying to encode movies using HandBrake for the best playback on all three devices (iTunes on a Mac). I want to do so with the AC3 audio so a $1,000 sound system isn't wasted on plain stereo audio tracks. I experimented with this first using The Mask of Zorro. It plays back fine on iTunes, works on my iPhone, but the ATV just sits there and stares at me when I try to play it back.

    As best I can recall, I encode at 960kbps, h.264, AC3+Surround audio, 640 pixel width, .m4v extension. So if anybody knows the sweet spot for all three methods of playback, I'd LOVE to hear it. I dream for the day when we can import movies like we do audio. I dream for a day that will never happen, I know.
  2. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
  3. macfaninpdx macrumors regular

    Mar 6, 2007
    Here is my sweet spot (shown in attached images). I give up a few pixels in resolution to be able to move movies to my iPhone. They are much larger than need be on the iPhone, but at about 2GB/90 minute movie, it isn't too bad.

    Note: I didn't show the Chapters tab, because I don't change anything here.

    To get to these settings, I start with the iPod High Res preset. Then I do the following:
    1. Switch the audio codec to both AAC and AC3
    2. Turn on 2-pass and Turbo First Pass encoding
    3. Up the bitrate to 2500
    4. Change Anamorphoc to strict from the Picture Settings button.
    5. Up the audio bitrate to 160
    6. Turn on Autoselect subtitles and check Forced only
    7. Remove the "vbv-maxrate=1500:vbv-bufsize=2000:" from the Advanced section.

    Then of course I made my own preset from this, so I don't have to re-do it every time. I find the quality matches that of the AppleTV preset, and you get the added bonuses of the addittional AC3 audio, and you can transfer it to your iPhone.

    Attached Files:

  4. Michael CM1 thread starter macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    Macfan, I'm giving your settings a test on Batman Begins. I may scream at the bitrate once I see how much space it takes up (it's why I was at 960 to begin with), but I do have a couple of big hard drives with some decent space. I do think I'll kick that down a lot for TV shows, especially comedies.

    So you're saying this works on the iPhone? I thought there was some max of 640x480 video, which is why I shrunk it to begin with. I think my setting was based on some combo of the iPhone/iPod default setting.

    For the person who asked about the width, it varies between films. Standard 4:3 stuff is 480, while widescreen is smaller to varying degrees.

    Will post again once I try this all out. Fingers crossed!
  5. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Jun 20, 2007
    The new iPods and iPhone can handle 720x480 with anamorphic encodes. I do like he says, but I use a bitrate of 2000. I don't see a difference between 2000 and 2500 other than file size.
  6. macfaninpdx macrumors regular

    Mar 6, 2007
    While it should be true that the above settings will allow movies to transfer fine to your iPhone, I just tried in my own library to transfer the above movie to my iPhone and it would not copy (nor did any error message come up.. !). I am not entirely sure what went afoul, but I do not believe it is the resolution. Have you had a chance to try the above settings yet?

    Also, I noticed in the video tab screenshot that I posted above that I forgot to turn on the Anamorphic Strict setting before I captured the snapshot.
  7. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    afaik none of the iPod family supports Strict Anamorphic, Just Loose Anamorphic. I only have a 5G to test on, but I am fairly sure thats what we have found.

    [Edit: it appears that I am totally wrong, at least the iPhone and iPod Touch should support strict anamorphic .... carry on]
  8. Michael CM1 thread starter macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    I tried the exact settings on Batman Begins, got a 3GB file that wouldn't work with Apple TV. It worked in iTunes, but for some ungodly reason it won't play in iTunes. WTF kind of software does ATV use? Windows Media Player?

    I guess I'll look back and see what frickin' crap I can change. I know I'm going to jack the video bitrate down to 1500. Sometimes I wonder if Apple really tries with ATV.....

    EDIT: Well, I didn't read the part where you started from the iPod High-Rez preset. I'm trying it again and actually doing everything you said. ARRGH!! :)
  9. Michael CM1 thread starter macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    Well, I got the video to work on the ATV, but no audio! Interestingly, an iMac G5 won't play the Dolby Digital audio track, but a MacBook Pro will.

    Anyway, if anybody knows how to solve the audio problem on ATV, I'd love it. I'm updating the firmware and hoping that fixes it. They REALLY need a new remote if they want this thing to take off. If you can't switch audio sources and subtitles, WTF good is it for anything other than literally just playing??
  10. macfaninpdx macrumors regular

    Mar 6, 2007
    The :apple:TV will play Dolby Surround audio, and pass through AC3. The newer version of Handbrake (0.9.2) will allow you to encode a movie with both tracks. This way the mac and iPhone will use the Surround track, and the :apple:TV can pass through the AC3 track to your stereo.

    If you only encoded with the AC3 track, then it will only be available to be passed through, and hence none of the afore mentioned devices will have audio.

    When you say the sound doesn't work, how did you encode it? Did you have your stereo equipment on and connected via the optical audio out? Does it show that it is getting audio from the :apple:TV?

    Also, there may be a menu setting in the :apple:TV to determine what to do with digital audio out. Check there...
  11. Michael CM1 thread starter macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    Woot. I think I have it all fixed. I got Batman Begins to play on both computers, my iPhone, and ATV. The ATV audio problem was from changing the video input. Can't have something with optical audio cable on Video 2, gotta be on Video 3. Sounds really good and looks better than DVD even at the 1500 bitrate setting, which saves SO MUCH ROOM. Thanks for the help!!!

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