Should and Can I convert 300-400 Xvid/AC3 720p films to my Apple TV?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by alexjholland, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. alexjholland macrumors 6502


    May 3, 2011
    Bali, Cambridge, Sydney.. anywhere.
    I have, over four-five years, built a collection of 300-400 films in Xvid format with AC3 5.1 sound, mainly in 720p, on a 4Tb hard drive that I network share to my Xbox 360 and PS3.

    My home setup has evolved to 100% Apple now and I have finally got their entire range, by buying the Apple TV, which has swiftly become my main entertainment device.

    If I was starting today, I'd be looking at building my collection in a format my Apple TV can play with full 5.1 and 720p too, as that is where all my other media is too - including films I've purchased from the iTunes store.

    Shifting my movie collection over to iTunes would cease fragmentation and all media I own would be in one place: loaded onto iTunes and playable via my Apple TV. That would be great; and a lot cooler than having to switch to a games console when I want to play those films, then back to Apple TV for films I've purchased.

    - Can I convert from Xvid 720p/AC3 5.1 to a format the Apple TV will stream in 720p/5.1, with no loss in quality?

    - Can I batch my films; and how long might it take, either per film or for 300/400? (I'm using a 2010 iMac i7 with 16GB RAM).

    - What kind of functionality would I have with all my films loaded into iTunes? Cover art? Synopsis?

    - Have you guys done this? Is it worth it? Any other implications or thoughts?

  2. 2010mini macrumors 68040

    Jun 19, 2013
    You can convert to itunes format very easily. There are some very good video converters out there. Subler, iFlicks, ivi to name a few.

    You might also want to look into plexconnect
  3. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502


    May 3, 2011
    Bali, Cambridge, Sydney.. anywhere.
    Thanks, my concern is around the 5.1 aspect. That sounds like it could be troubling?
  4. rayward macrumors 68000

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX

    I am by no means an expert, but I have created (over four-five years :) ) a library of similar size to yours. The difference for me is that I started out going "all-Apple", so I transcoded my ripped movies straight into Apple-friendly formats.

    You might want to try a couple of test cases in Handbrake, and see how you get on. Load a movie or two, and transcode them to the ATV 3 preset and see if you like the result (just make sure to check the "Web Optimize" box to speed up streaming). It can handle 5.1, but not DTS (audio is downgraded to Dolby Digital, I believe). You can batch in Handbrake as far as the eye can see, and you can add new jobs to the queue on the fly. You can queue up multiple jobs from the same source (for dual-resolution encodes for ATV and iDevices). Once Handbrake has spat out the resulting file, it's free to be tagged and loaded while Handbrake rolls smoothly on to the next one.

    Transcoding a full 30GB BD rip to 1080p takes my iMac 3-5 hours, depending on the length/complexity of the movie. It's very processor-intensive so, while Handbrake does run completely in the background, I tend not to do too much other than surf/email while it's chewing on a job. Usually, I load the queue with jobs and then set it running overnight. I can still tag and load movies into iTunes while Handbrake is running, as well as watch content streamed from my iMac on my ATV, but "proper" applications are going to be fighting Handbrake for processor time while it's running.

    As for cover art etc., as long as you tag your files appropriately you will be fine. Handbrake will preserve chapter markers but none of the metadata, so you will have to re-tag your movies. I use Subler, which pulls down the info from the iTunes store (ex. chapters titles - which I get from Chapter DB) , so you get the appropriate cover art and Apple's Content ID. If your source file was already tagged, you can use Subler to copy the metadata directly from your source file - which takes a scant few seconds.

    There are far better experts on Handbrake than I in this community, and there may well be tweaks to the settings to minimize / eliminate any loss of resolution from your original. I am happy with what I see from my ATV 3 preset rips, though, so I just use that.
  5. DaPhatty macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    While my library isn't as large as yours, I, too, found myself wanting to bring my library into the Apple ecosystem once we went 100% Apple. I've done LOTS of research on the subject and while I haven't perfected the process of converting my files, I found THIS blog post by Russ Brooks to be THE most helpful resource with regards to understanding what is actually a monumental task.

    Once you've read through that blog, have a look at the software that people have already suggested. Personally, I use:

    MP4Tools - Converts video files into MP4/M4V format. (MP4Tools also supports pass through for any video files that are already in a similar container which drastically reduces the conversion time.) The paid version of MP4Tools can watch a folder for new content and will automatically convert new files into MP4/M4V format. You'll have to create a profile that automatically tells MP4Tools what video, audio, and subtitle options you want your resulting MP4/M4V to have before this feature will work.

    Identify 2 - I use this for adding Metadata to the MP4/M4V files. The paid version will automatically add your files to iTunes once the metadata is injected. The only drawback, you cannot fully automate the scanning process. You must manually add the files into Identify to perform a scan. I have found this to be an acceptable roadblock since not all files are detected properly during the initial scan. I suggest you avoid the Mac App Store version of Identify 2 as there is always a significant delay when patches are released due to the Apple approval process. Using the direct download version will make it possible for you to get patches as soon as they are available. (You cannot patch the Mac App Store version with the direct download version.)

    Hopefully this information is helpful to you. Good luck in your endeavor!

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