Handbrake Setting for converting DVDs

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Loquita, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. Loquita macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2011
    First, sorry if this question is too much of a repeat of previous questions on the same topic. I've browsed the forum, and many are asking similar things, but I seem to be having a quality issue.

    I'm converting my DVD collection to view on :apple:TV2. Using MacTheRipper or OSEX to rip, and then Handbrake to convert the video folder (if output is frm MactheRipper) or VOB files (output from OSEX). Using AppleTV 2 preset in Handbrake, with no tweaks.

    Problem: I'm noticing a significant loss of picture quality in the M4V files that Handbrake creates using this preset vs. viewing the actual DVD on my big screen TV. Major bummer here, as I've already converted well over 100 movies, and this will mean major re-doing.

    From what I've read here, the best thing to tweak for a fix is the RF, which is at 20 for the :apple:TV2 preset. So, how far should I tweak it? 18? 16?

    Is there some other setting I should adjust? Picture quality is of primary importance to me here. I don't mind getting additional hard drives as I need them.

  2. Scarpad macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    I find that a RF of 18 produces at least for me a video that is 98% the original, there will always be a slight loss, but it should look prettty good.
  3. JRoDDz macrumors 68000


    Jul 2, 2009
    The lower you set the RF the bigger the file size and slower the encode. I would go down 1 notch possibly most is 2. Any more and you will get a file size that is enormous. (Why encode in for first place, if your file will be as large as the original?)

    Pick 2 out of these 3:
    1. Size
    2. Quality
    3. Speed
  4. davidoloan, Mar 24, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
  5. davidoloan, Mar 24, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
  6. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    How long is it taking you to rip one movie from start to finish?

    Because I've been using a few different pieces of software at it's been taking about 30 min tops for a 2+ hour movie converting directly to either mp4 or m4v. I have over 900 movies to rip - and while I would LOVE to have 0% degradation - I don't have that time to spend on this "project" and many movies (comedies, etc) I don't really care if it's MINT quality - I just want Great quality... and so far everything has looked great on my 55" led-lcd ripping at 2000 kbps.

    I'm only ripping my dvds. I'm keeping blu-rays. The dvds will get sold and/or donated when I'm done...
  7. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    Depends how bothered you are about this, of course, but remember that if you get rid of the originals the general opinion seems to be that you don't strictly speaking have the right to keep the digital copy either... (Yes, I know the whole thing is a bit of a grey area anyway). Not saying I disapprove, just pointing it out in case you didn't know.
  8. VTMac macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2008
    Not sure if you realize this but in most cases you are likely ending up with a file size larger than you started with. Obviously that isn't going to add any quality. It's just going to make the file pointlessly large. Further, it sounds like you are trying to get a loseless copy. If that's the case why not just skip handbrake altogether and rip with Ripit, MacTheRipper, etc. to plain VOB files and play those directly. That will give you better quality and most likely smaller file size than you have now.
  9. davidoloan, Mar 25, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2011

    davidoloan Suspended

    Apr 28, 2009
    I wasn't going pointlessly large. I encoded some video at each decreasing number until I was getting the blacks and contrast that was acceptable. I can see the difference at RF11.

    But I am interested in what you said about VOB files. I am currently using K9copy and Handbrake on Ubuntu for my ripping and encoding. I am ripping to .iso.

    Is a VOB the same as an iso that iTunes and the apple TV can read with no loss in quality from the DVD? I will have to find out more or maybe you can let me know if I understood you wrongly. I am not too worried about how big files are. 2TB is good value today.
  10. davidoloan, Mar 25, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2011

    davidoloan Suspended

    Apr 28, 2009
    I may be wrong but 5 mins on mroogle suggests the Apple tv2 doesn't natively play vob files.

    I do want as close to a "like for like" dvd / apple tv file. Sometimes my RF11 files are bigger than the iso but I don't think I am adding quality to the iso. I do think at this number I can't see any inferiority compared to the dvd so it works for me.

    I presume the size is a by product of the encoding process.
  11. Loquita thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2011
    Thanks for all the responses. I tried an experiment, encoding the same movie (Star Wars) at various RF rates, ranging from 18 all the way down to 10. I didn't notice much of a picture-quality difference among them, and certainly not enough to justify the increased file size and encoding time.

    However, even the RF 10 version, when compared side-by-side to the actual DVD, was dramatically different. I chose one particular frame to compare - a close-up of an actor's face. Viewing the DVD, I could almost count the individual hairs in his eyebrows. In the RF 10 file, I could see that his eyebrows were grey, and which way the hairs ran, but the detail just wasn't there.

    So for me, that's a huge loss in picture quality. (Not that I'm generally into counting eyebrow hairs! :p) Many of my DVDs I don't care that much about; I just want to watch the movie and enjoy the story. But for others, especially Sci-Fi movies, or ones with dramatic landscapes, etc, the picture quality is a big deal for me.

    All of which leaves me wondering... what now? :confused: Is there some other program besides Handbrake that I can use to create DVD-quality files from my DVDs, so that I can stream them on my :apple:TV2?

    I wish I could just stream the VOB files - that would be easiest.

    Oh, by the way for samcraig, the time to rip a movie start to finish depends on different things for me, including whether I'm using MactheRipper or OSEX for the initial rip, and of course how long the movie is. Generally speaking, once I have a single VOB file for, say, a 2 hour movie, it was taking me 2.5 to 3 hours to encode it with Handbrake using the AppleTV2 preset with no tweaks. I'm using a 2009 MacBook. However, 2 days ago I found that Handbrake has a version for 64-bit machines (which mine is), and that appears to dramatically reduce the encoding time. I've also read that if I start using the CLI version of Handbrake instead of GUI, it's much quicker. I don't feel quite brave enough yet to attempt Handbrake without the interface, but I may get there at some point.

    So... anyone have any better suggestions for DVD-quality files than Handbrake? Or is there some other attribute besides the RF that I could tweak to get more detail in the picture quality? I know most are saying that there's no real difference, but to me, it's a huge difference, depending on the movie. In fact, it's dramatically different enough that even my honey, who has poor eyesight :cool: noticed that the Handbrake-encoded files don't look as good as the DVDs. And so if someone with poor eyesight can notice the difference... :p ... you get the idea! :eek:

    Thanks again.
  12. The Mad Hatter macrumors 6502a

    The Mad Hatter

    Oct 12, 2004
    I'd like to ask a question for OP.

    When you are doing your image comparisons, what are you playing them on (and through)?

    The reason I ask is because if you are using 1080P LCD (for example) what is doing the up-conversion of your 480P sources (mp4, DVDs, etc.)? Is it your TV itself, an A/V receiver or the DVD player? More info is needed.

    In my case, everything runs through my Yammy receiver (which has a NICE conversion chip), and upsamples the ATV2's output (720P) to my Sammy LCD very well. It looks just as good as when I play the actual DVD, and I use RF20 on my DVDs (22 for my Blu-rays).

    YMMV, but what ever is doing your up-conversion makes a BIG difference in your final output.

    Just my 2¢
  13. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    I'm using WinX DVD Ripper for the Mac...

    Takes me on estimation 30 min for a 2 hour movie ripping at 2000 kbps. Is there a difference between the mp4 that gets created vs the original DVD - yeah. But for the movies I really want the greatest quality (few) I am either keeping the dvd - or will rip at a much higher bitrate.

    Incidently - I am NOT using the Apple TV preset on the program... just ripping to mp4 (it's a tab) and setting the bitrate.

    I wanted mp4's instead of m4v's because my tv can also play from a HDD and I wanted both options without re-coding...
  14. emaja macrumors 68000

    May 3, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    If this is going to be the standard by which the quality is judged, nothing short of the DVD will satisfy you.

    As previously mentioned, you can pick two of the three options - size, speed, or quality.

    You are ALWAYS going to lose something in transcoding. If you are not happy with a RF of 10, where the file sizes are probably larger than a 1:1 rip, then you are frankly being too picky.

    Myself, I use an RF of 20. I know it is not perfect, but for streaming to the kids' room on the ATV, it is more than acceptable. I use the DVDs on the main family TV.
  15. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    m4v and mp4 are the same, you can just change the extension, you do not need to re-encode.

    m4v allows 5.1 dolby digital (AC-3) and chapter markers. You change a file back and forth between mp4 and m4v and it will not lose these "bonus features" of m4v
  16. Loquita thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2011
    Aha. Ok, this could be the issue. Our TV is an analog 54" Sony, probably about 8 years old. Not digital. We haven't made the jump yet to HDTV - big purchase and all that. :( To get :apple:TV2 to work with it, I'm using an HDMI to component video converter box.

    The DVD player, on the other hand, is plugged directly into the back of the TV, in a separate input. So the DVD info is being processed by the DVD player and/or the TV. The files I'm streaming through :apple:TV2 are all going through the HDMI to component converter before hitting the TV.

    It never occurred to me that it could be an issue. :eek: Given that most people are saying that there's a small loss in quality, but acceptable, and given that to me it seems like a huge difference, I was feeling that something else must be going on.

    Sounds like the only way I'll have of checking this theory is to invite myself over to someone's house to has a large screen HDTV with my computer & :apple:TV in tow... :rolleyes:

    So... could the converter box be making a difference?
  17. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    FWIW I struggle to see any difference between my ATV preset HB encodes of DVDs and the original on my 42" LCD at normal viewing distances, so your experience seems atypical and I'd put money on the converter being the issue. Strictly, the only way to compare the original and rip fairly would be to have them both fed into the same display via the same type of input (e.g. HDMI). However, as you suggest you'd get a decent comparison just by running the ATV directly into a TV without the converter. With the converter in between, you're bound to be getting some degradation of the image.
  18. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Nov 6, 2009
    My rips actually look better than the original DVD...for reasons very similar to why yours look worse: ATV is connected directly through HDMI while the DVD player is componant (i.e. non-digital). :)

    The ATV preset gives me generally amazing imagery on my 42" LCD HDTV.
  19. SFStateStudent macrumors 604


    Aug 28, 2007
    San Francisco California, USA
    I have to agree that the ATV presets are pretty good as they are, I haven't used anything else since getting my Apple TV 2G. It looks great on ATV, iPad and iPhone 4...:cool:
  20. rmb7984 macrumors regular


    Apr 1, 2008
    Tampa, FL
    OP - Why don't you compare the DVD to your encode on your computer screen? I think you'd have to use DVD player.app for the DVD, and iTunes or Quicktime for your .m4v, but at least you'd be using the same hardware in both cases. It may help you determine whether the decrease in quality is related to your TV setup.
  21. VanneDC macrumors 6502a


    Jun 5, 2010
    Dubai, UAE
    Mad Hatter has a good point there. I did a very similar image comparison between at the time i was using a Mac Mini Core 2 duo with 1.88ghz and the GMA 950 inside it(dvi). Siting that next to both identical 42 inch plasmas and running the same file on a PS3 (hdmi)

    there was a world of difference. The GMA950 was so crap compared to the PS3 and only cos its colour reproduction and upscaling was tons and tons better than the Mac mini.

    keep in mind this was exactly the same file.

    so yeh, be thoughtfull about what is doing your upscaling.
  22. pip74 macrumors newbie

    Apr 16, 2011
    I've found it quite difficult to find out how to get stuff from a DVD to a usable digital format with as little loss as possible because most people assume there is no point in transcoding if you don't want to reduce file size. Not true!
    I'm sure there are lots of good reasons. I have one - and I really would like someone to just tell me the settings to use!
    Please believe me that I really don't care one bit about file size or speed and do care 100% about quality.
    Any help much appreciated!
  23. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Nov 6, 2009
    Then don't transcode. You will maintain 100% of the quality. Play back your DVD files directly from your rips.

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