Future Apple HTPC & Storage Questions!

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Bazzy, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. Bazzy macrumors regular

    Jun 8, 2009
    Hi All,

    Please bear with me - I really am quite a tech noob & not that savvy! I plan on getting a Mac Mini HTPC sometime in the future to integrate with a HDTV etc.

    I currently have a UMBP 17" i7 2.66. I also have a very large collection of SD quality DVD's - (hundreds of them) that are simply taking up too much space.

    I thought I should begin transferring them to a hard drive slowly so I can slowly get rid of the DVD's. Trouble is, every- time I burn a disc to my UMBP, it takes around 8GB of space!

    I know that there are some die hard Movie & HTPC folks out there who also have hundreds (if not thousands) of movies on their HTPC & would like to ask, how did you all manage to fit them all in if each takes up so much space? For example, a 2TB HD would be filled up with around 250 movies if I am correct? If one had say 1000 movies, would the only option be to have 4 2TB hard drives?

    Is there a way to "compress" the data so that one can fit more movies on a HD whilst keeping quality (picture & 5.1 sound) or is that a bad idea?

    I am just so lost & confused & am wondering how long it would take to transfer so many movies to a hard disk!

    Also, what sort of hard disks should I buy so that I can use & connect them easily to a future Mac-Mini HTPC?

    Finally, what does one do about HD/Blu-ray movies as I understand they can take up to anything between 17GB- 30GB for an average movie!! How does one deal with this sort of size & storing on a HD? Any HD would soon get filled up & one would soon have dozens of external HD's to deal with would they not? I feel this is very important as one will have ever increasingly levels of HD/Blu-Ray content.

    I really wish to move away from "physical' media & wish to store & existing stuff as well as cater for future movies/content so as to streamline everything & make for a easy, integrated, no hassle solution.

    Once again, very sorry for such novice level of understanding but I am wondering how all you tech experts handle this situation!

    Many Thanks,

  2. MacDane macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2010
    Use MakeMKV to make the copy of your DVD, then Handbrake to convert it to an iTunes (and storage) friendly format. There are several options for getting the metadata (cover, synopsis etc) right.

    If you do a search on the forum, you will find a lot of threads about the best way to go about mass converting, which settings to use in Handbrake etc. I use the "Apple TV2" preset in Handbrake, which uses 1.5-2 GB per movie, including a 5.1 and a stereo soundtrack. Movies created with this preset also works great with Iphone4 :)
  3. d21mike macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2007
    Torrance, CA
    I did something very similar to the prior post. I spent a lot of time converting 180 movies (DVDs). And I am very happy with the results. Really exactly as I was hoping for. However, as it turned out I almost never watch 90% if them. Maybe about 10 are movies that I like to watch over and over. These are the movies on my iPhone and iPad that I mainly watch on trips. I have 3 AppleTV's around the house tied into my Mac Mini so I have really nice access to them. However, since ATV2 I now have Netflix and it is really nice. A lot of the movies I ripped are available on Netflix and also some are in HD, so even better then my rips. I also have Netflix on my iPad so I can watch them on the road. And Netflx is 7.95 per month. However, there are some movies that are my favorites and I am slowly buying them from iTunes in HD so I can have those stored on all of my devices. And Netflix does not have everything. I really like Waterworld and it was on Netflix (in HD) but now it is no longer there so I glad I have a copy but it is not in HD.

    Just want to share my experience. It takes a lot of time and disk space to create your own library of movies.
  4. MacDane macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2010
    True. I converted about 600 DVDs and sometimes I scroll through them and find that most of them I don't care about.

    Still, the easy access to them has also made me watch several movies, I would never usually have bothered with. Lazyness, I guess...

    I live in Denmark, and unfortunately, we have no (legal) access to Netflix.

    My primary reasons for starting the project were to get rid of the physical discs and make the media easily available for all the family. So I decided to include everything, instead of just converting the good stuff. It was a lot of work, but I think it will worth it eventually. We did the same thing with the music five years ago, and apart from the problems that arise with a 50000+ tracks collection, I love it.
  5. Bazzy thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 8, 2009
    Hi! Just checked my apps & I have Handbrake, MacXDVDRipper Pro, Mac The Ripper, Rip It, VLC. Perian, Toast Titanium & Flip4Mac - Do I still need MakeMKV or will any of the mentioned also work?

    I think I had better take things real easy & slow - I have never used Handbrake or done this before & have very limited knowledge of these things!

    Can you refer me to any relevant threads or guides that can help a novice learn & go through things step by step? I went through all the pages but there seemed to be a few differing opinions & things a little scattered!

    I think I will just start by starting to convert my DVD's to a HD so the long task can begin - I will want to display on both a large screen (55"-65") HDTV as well as say an ipod touch & ipad. What settings should I use for the conversion so that stuff will still look good on a HDTV as well as the other portable stuff?

    For the HDTV watching, I must keep the 5.1 / Surround Sound in place as well as English subtitles!

    Many Thanks!

  6. unkn0wnsoldier macrumors regular


    Jul 4, 2009
    Fountain, Co
    I'm failing to understand the point of using makemkv, then handbrake. Handbrake can encode to h.264 and mp4 directly from DVD. It seems makemkv is a time-consuming, unnecessary step.

    I always use the appletv 2 setting with subtitles selected, and I'm happy.
  7. slothrob macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2007
    MakeMKV is just one way to quickly get the content off the disk so that you can queue up a list for Handbrake to transcode overnight without swapping disks.

    I use the same aTV2 setting in Handbrake, and choose subtitles as well, but they don't appear on the aTV2. Is there a trick to them?
  8. MacDane macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2010

    Hmm... usually they're burned in when I use Handbrake. I think you can choose the soft subs via the main menu (hold the centre button for a couple of seconds). It's the menu where you select chapters and soundtrack.

    I'll try to experiment a bit with the subs later today.

    Re: Getting started with MakeMKV.
    Visit makemkv.com and download it. There's an online help on the site to get you started. I know you can use Handbrake for the ripping as well, but I prefer ripping in MakeMKV and then transcoding several movies in Handbrake overnight.
  9. Bazzy thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 8, 2009
    Hi Again,

    Can anyone help me out with the questions on my last post please?

    Also, I keep reading that a Windows HTPC is way better than a Mac Mini option - may i ask, in what way & what advantages/benefits/features does it have/offer over a Mac-Mini one?

    Is it possible, feasible & practical for a Mac Laptop user to have a PC based HTPC? Do the two work well with each other or is it a hassle? I ask as I am assuming that not everyone who has a Mac computer (& whom might be interested in a HTPC) might automatically go for the Mac-Mini option?

    Due to my novice level & because my laptop/main computer is a Mac that I kind of feel I "Have To" then also have a Mac-Mini HTPC if I want things to work/function easily & properly. Can having a Mac Computer & a Windows HTPC co-exist together peacefully?

    What sort of external HD's should I get to transfer my stuff over? There are so many different types that I am lost! I keep reading beyond my level about things like mirrored, RAID, NAS, Drobo etc which has me stumped. I do not want to spend months transferring to external drives only to then find out later, I have done so on inappropriate or not the best suited ones! I would prefer an option that gives me lots of flexibility & options so should things change/adapt in future, I can cater for this as best possible!

    Does one then just connect these external HD's to the back of a Mac-Mini? Say I end up having about 4 x 2TB ones - do I just stack them together & connect each one individually to the back of the Mac Mini?

    Sorry to ask so many questions but I feel like I have opened up a Pandora's box & walked into a Lion's Den both at the same time!

  10. B.A.T macrumors 6502a

    Oct 16, 2009
    You're onto the right idea of getting rid of physical media. I recently did what you want to do with a smaller library and it is very liberating once the project is complete.

    1) Start with your 600 dvds and figure out which dvds are essential and make a stack. Then make another stack of movies you might want to watch in the next two years. Look at both stacks, anything that is available via a streaming service you would pay for goes to the bottom. Get rid of any movie you won't watch in the next two years! Start ripping.

    2) Consider using Plex. It plays any format you throw at it, streams media to any mac or ipod/ipad/iphone in your house (does not require ATV2) and has some television station plug ins.

    3) Buy a 2tb hard drive, fill it up with content and start using your HTPC for a few weeks. In that time you will figure out what works best for YOU in regards to storage and you won't spend hundreds of dollars on a storage solution that isn't best suited for yourself.

    4) Good luck and enjoy.
  11. From A Buick 8, Jun 19, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2011

    From A Buick 8 macrumors 68040

    From A Buick 8

    Sep 16, 2010
    Ky Close to CinCinnati
    You need to make a few decisions up front and they go for it. Yes if you rip the DVD and do no compression it will take a lot more storage. If you strip away all of the fluff and just save the movie ( not the DVD menu , extra's and extra audio tracks) most are around 4 to 6 gigs.

    You can then run something like Plex or XBMC on the Mac Mini, Plex or XBMC will match or exceed anything you can use on a windows computer.

    On the Mac use a program like Mac The Ripper or RipIt to rip the DVD to your hard drive and then use something like DVD2OneX to strip out the movie only and you are done.

    Or you can stay within the Apple wall and use the Mac mini to store and stream the content and use an appleTV connected to each TV ( this is what I have done except using an iMac instead of the Mac mini)

    Still rip the DVD using MTR or Ripit ( I now prefer Ripit), and use Handbrake to convert the the Apple friendly format of .m4v ( use the apple TV preset with foreign Audio Search on ).

    Then use a program like iDentify (again my fav) to tag and move into iTunes.

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