Optimizing DVD Encodes for HDTV (Handbrake, ATV Choices)

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by wrongrobot, May 28, 2013.

  1. wrongrobot macrumors newbie

    wrongrobot

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    Nov 23, 2007
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    San Francisco
    #1
    Hey gang
    I've been around and around on this one for awhile, and thought i'd take a stab at asking the community their opinions on the optimized settings to use. The issue is that I have been using an EDTV since 2005 and just upgraded to a proper HDTV, and am having trouble determining how to change my encoding and streaming workflow accordingly. I was previously using HB's ATV2 preset (in the last year, I was no longer using custom settings as I got good results from the preset) and streaming to the 42" plasma via the ATV2.

    Watching that content on the 55" LG LED HDTV I'm now obviously aware of a substantial reduction in viewing quality. The issue is, what to do to optimize going forward, understanding that everything I have to date will be compromised.

    I've done a few tests: First, I started using the ATV3 preset. However, I didn't see any noticeable differences when ported to the 1080p screen. They look about the same as the previously encoded stuff using the ATV2 preset. As a second test I picked up an ATV3, and ran both versions of the file using that device (the ATV2 older encode and the new ATV3preset encode) and again, no noticeable changes.

    So stepping back:

    1. Is there a value in using an ATV3 instead of the ATV2, when viewing DVD encodes on a 1080p HDTV? I understand the resolution limitation of the DVD is not going to change. But I was wondering if there were any other reasons to use the ATV3 instead. For example, we are streaming more HD content through Netflix, Hulu and iTunes, so my assumption was that the ATV2 was pushing them down to 720p while the ATV3 would allow them through at full 1080p. However, I now wonder if they push this content at 720p and call it HD... I guess I'm questioning if I need to keep the ATV3 at all. Unless I start pulling encodes from Blu-Ray in which, I assume, the ATV's native 1080p through-put is valuable?

    2. What are the optimized HB settings when pushing to a 1080p set (in my case 55")? And if, as per above, there would be a difference between the ATV2 and ATV3 in terms of content quality, which for each device? I have so far experimented by dropping the RF to 19 on the ATV3 preset.

    3. In order to get the best streaming quality to the HDTV I would need to start encoding full 1080p content from BD, correct? I've read some of the recent exchanges with dynaflash that seem to suggest that this might not always be the case.

    At this point, I don't have a BD player for the Mac so I haven't encoded any of my BDs.

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. wrongrobot thread starter macrumors newbie

    wrongrobot

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    San Francisco
    #2
    I'm getting the sense this is orphaned because it sounds too TL;DR-eque, like I didn't read the FAQs. One of the reasons I chose to write it up is that I see a hole in the content so far, both here and on the HB forums: the threads talk a lot about optimizing encodes in the ATV2 days, and they talk about processing Blu-Ray encodes, but I see very little addressing how to maximize the ATV3, and how to get the best image quality (at the expense of file size) out of the DVD encoding, as limited as it's native rez is. I've read some users pushing down as low as 16.5 RF depending on the film.

    I just thought perhaps there was some more current thinking, since the ATV3 (and soon after, the ATV3 presets) came out over a year ago.
     
  3. mic j macrumors 68030

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    Mar 15, 2012
    #3
    What is the substantial viewing quality reduction you have become aware of?

    I view on a 65" Mits using an aTV3, transcoded dvd's & BR's using the HB aTV3 preset (RF=20) and am quite satisfied with how everything looks. If I had to finger any difference between the BR and a HB transcode, there may be a very slight softening. And frankly, if I don't sit around thinking about it, I don't notice it.
     
  4. wrongrobot thread starter macrumors newbie

    wrongrobot

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    #4
    Hm. Well, I see a softness and a fair amount of artifacts on the encodes, as compared to the 'HD' resolution of streamed content from the itunes Trailers, itunes HD rentals, Hulu, Netflix original content.

    Previously, playing these encodes on a 720p set they looked just fine.

    I'm going to begin to experiment with BR encoding as well, but I wanted to see what people are doing as far as optimizing the normal DVD encodes.

    mic j, did you upgrade from an ATV2 to an ATV3 or just get an ATV3? It would seem to me, if nothing else, that pushing BR encodes at 1080p would make the ATV3 valuable, rather than pushing 720p downscaled BR encodes. But I note in your response you are burning down to 720p. Why is that? Wouldn't you want to be encoding those MKVs at full resolution? I know I'm veering into the BR encoding process debate I've read a fair amount about already. Curious about your personal reasoning.
     
  5. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

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    #5
    Encoding from DVD I would not expect you to see a difference. Your source content is 480p at best, it is what it is. You can tweak settings a bit but using the ATV2 or the ATV3 preset will give identical results from a DVD.
     
  6. mic j macrumors 68030

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    Mar 15, 2012
    #6
    Freakin, is right on the money.

    Not sure where you are getting I am downscaling to 720p?

    Believe me, if I could easily work with uncompressed mkv's, I would. I used to do that with a different media player. But I think the quality difference is so slight (between mkv and HB created mp4) that the aTV interface/iTunes file management system makes up for any slight quality loss. As I said, I really don't notice the quality difference unless I really dwell on it. I do notice the ability to stream iTunes movies/tv shows, music, my files and a very fast visually attractive UI. For me, and it's a personal choice, that far outweighs the slight quality reduction resulting from mp4 compression.

    Also, I do not see any "artifacts", which I assume you mean pixelation, in my encodes using the latest HB release.
     
  7. aarond12 macrumors 65816

    aarond12

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    #7
    Heh... Might you mean un-transcoded MKVs? Video stored in MKVs is compressed.

    Wasn't there a tool that would allow remuxing MKVs to M4Vs without transcoding? That would eliminate the transcoded data loss.
     
  8. mic j macrumors 68030

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    Mar 15, 2012
    #8
    You are correct. I was referring to mkv's whose contents have not been transcoded. Sorry for the lack of clarity. There are multiple tools that will remux mkv to mp4. My favorite is Subler, MP4Tools is another one I am aware of. The caveat is that the mkv must use the h.264 codec. That pretty much limits the ability to remux to mp4's to BR's and some torrent files. DVD's use the mpeg2 codec and cannot be remuxed to an mp4. Another consideration is that streaming a remuxed mp4 can be problematic when using wifi, due to the high bitrate. It is most successful with wired (ethernet) systems. Transcoded mp4's have a lower bitrate and are very easy to stream over wifi.
     
  9. aarond12 macrumors 65816

    aarond12

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    #9
    All correct and good points for the newbies here who don't know about video compression. :)
     
  10. wrongrobot thread starter macrumors newbie

    wrongrobot

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    #10
    thanks for the notes.
    I think what threw me in mic J's comment was the note about 'transcoded DVDs and BRs'...

    To clarify, mic j, would you say that the transcoded DVDs, with their standard definition source content, look a bit blurry, but your HB-converted full 1080p BR transcodes look good?

    :::

    I'm waiting for a BR player from Amazon and then I'll begin playing around with BR transcoding. I recognize the entirety of my transcoded collection today will look compromised on the new screen. I'm just researching the highest quality burn settings for DVDs, and then of course, moving into proper BR transcodes.

    For now i've begun transcoding DVDs at RF19 using ATV3 preset... I need to test dropping down to 16 or so, but haven't yet.
     
  11. dynaflash macrumors 68020

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    Mar 27, 2003
    #11
    Imo rf 16 is waaaay to high for dvd. Generally rf 19 - 18 is considered visually transparent to a dvd source. Just my .02
     
  12. mic j macrumors 68030

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    Mar 15, 2012
    #12
    No, what I am saying is that my BR's (which have been ripped to MKV) have a very slight amount of "softness" compared to the MKV that I used for the HB transcoding.

    Keep in mind this is all very subjective stuff and subjective visual quality can be greatly influence by viewing distance, screen size and source quality (which really does vary a lot) to name a few. Oh, and then there is the mind...which may be the greatest variable. My recommendation is to try a few things out, follow Dynaflash's guidance (he's da-man!), and then make your own judgements. Don't get hung up on theoretical HB settings and specsmanship. Also, don't use what you see on computer screen as a source for judging quality. Judge it on what you will actually be watching it on. If you can find a way to play the mkv and mp4 and have someone switch between them without you knowing which file type is playing that would be great! You might be amazed by what you find out from doing that.
     
  13. slothrob macrumors 6502

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    Jun 12, 2007
    #13
    DVDs are going to look soft, or blurry compared to BRs, so their transcoded video will, as well. You won't get around that transcoding them.

    Have you tried comparing the trancoded DVD to the DVD played through a DVD player, instead of to a 1080 video? The transcoded video should compare well to the DVD.
     
  14. StinDaWg macrumors 6502

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    Apr 5, 2012
    #14
    I agree. crf 16 is a waste of bitrate. Even "the scene" doesn't use anything lower than 18.
     
  15. wrongrobot thread starter macrumors newbie

    wrongrobot

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    Nov 23, 2007
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    #15
    Thanks gang
    You validated all of my expectations about how it's supposed to work.

    I'm starting my first BD transcode today, and I've been keeping with 19RF on the DVDs in the meantime.
     
  16. SuperMatt macrumors 6502

    SuperMatt

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    Mar 28, 2002
    #16
    I noticed that the default preset for DVDs on handbrake goes much faster than the Apple TV 2 preset. I have an Apple TV 2 hooked to an HDTV, but am I really going to get a much better picture from the ATV2 preset as opposed to the Handbrake default?
     
  17. dynaflash macrumors 68020

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    Mar 27, 2003
    #17
    Yes.
     
  18. SuperMatt macrumors 6502

    SuperMatt

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    Mar 28, 2002
    #18
    Thanks. I will wait the extra time for the encode then!
     

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