Video on Touch: Thoughts on Handbrake

Discussion in 'iPod touch' started by aidanpendragon, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. aidanpendragon macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 26, 2005
    #1
    As a newcomer to video on iPods, I've been experimenting with Handbrake. Much of the specifics on MR's guide to "ripping video to iPod" relates to 5G iPods, older versions of Quicktime and Handbrake, and is outdated (although the general procedure is good). The Handbrake forums themselves are too complicated.

    With some useful advice from others here, I've run a few tests, and have some thoughts & advice to share (EDIT: This is all starting from the "iPhone" preset, and playing with settings from that):

    -Bitrates: 1000kbps bitrate seems to deliver very good quality on the Touch. In fact, it puts my TV and eMac to shame. Higher bitrates = higher file sizes. I was doing 2000kbps, but cut file sizes almost in half - at little/no quality loss - by going down to 1000kbps.

    -H.264 vs. Mpeg-4: I'd say use Mpeg-4. The advantage of H.264 is apparently that it's a newer & higher-quality encoder. However, Mpeg-4 (single pass) already looks excellent to me. Worse, H.264 files can take three times as long to encode. Worst, H.264 files, at the same bitrate, are larger than Mpeg-4s, at least in my tests. If Mpeg-4 looks great and takes less time and space, why not stick with it?

    -1- versus 2-pass: Many say doing a 2-pass encode for Mpeg-4 will make it look even better. Importantly, 2-pass does not make the filesize any bigger. It may take 50% longer or more to encode, but still not as long as H.264. Speaking of H.264, if you are using it, most say it doesn't benefit from a 2nd pass.

    This is all info based on my experiences. Your mileage may vary; in particular, if you have an Intel Mac, encode times are much shorter than with PPCs, making H.264 more feasible in that regard.

    Still, I hope all of this is useful - particularly if (like me) you're going to batch-encode lots of TV episodes and want the settings right first.
     
  2. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

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    #2
    Have you tried lower bitrates? At 480 x 320, even 500 kbps H.264 looks great on the Touch. You'd then get twice the number of movies than at 1000 kbps. The optimal bitrate will of course vary from person to person (I've heard of people using even less than 500 kbps.)

    For MPEG4, 2-pass is definitely recommended as a general practice, unless time is really an issue for you. It does deliver better image quality, although if you are encoding at a really high bitrate, the difference is less since both ways will deliver high quality results.

    If you want lower bitrate encodes though, then 2-pass should make a noticeable difference. In fact, I would guess that at 1000 kbps for 480 x 320 resolution, none of these parameters are going to make a big difference (codec, 1-pass or 2-pass, etc.)

    For H.264, 2-pass is not generally necessary, the improvement is much less than with MPEG4. H.264 is a newer codec and apparently compensates for higher complexity scenes better. That is probably why your H.264 encodes are a little bigger. If absolute file sizes are important to you, then you could just knock down the bitrate 5% (or so) to compensate.

    Intel Macs can encode with H.264 at faster than real-time- my MacBook does around 38 FPS. I just go with that, although it may turn out 2-pass MPEG4 is faster even with the 2nd pass.

    PPC Macs encode H.264 really slowly, I don't think the HandBrake H.264 encoder is very optimized for PPC. I'm almost certain that even 2-pass MPEG4 will be faster for PPC.
     
  3. Ninden macrumors member

    Ninden

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    Location:
    Rochester, New York
    #3
    Hmm, for bitrate I've been using 960 kbps and the quality is just fine. I've heard some say they've dropped to 600 kbps and still maintained 'good enough' quality. Granted this is iPod only, not tv capable encodes.

    Which is actually another great point. Ask yourself this, "Am I really going to ever want to put this on a TV for multiple people to watch?" In theory it'd be great to be able to watch everything on a tv if the chance arose, but space is limited. Keep it to 480x320 if you can, rather then 640x480.

    I've heard H.264 is better, and having the latest MacBook Pro, Handbrake screams through the ripping process so that's what I use. A test of 2 passes versus 1 resulted in a much longer encode time, with only minimal space reduction and quality gains. I know Mpeg-4 is faster, but I don't know about filesize as I haven't tested it.
     
  4. squeeks macrumors 68040

    squeeks

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    #4
    rendering using the iphone preset works well ive found
     
  5. aidanpendragon thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Yeah, I have an eMac (G4), and where Mpeg-4 takes maybe a half-hour and 2-pass takes 45 min, H.264 takes 2.5 hours for the same file.
     
  6. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

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    #6
    Final file size by itself is irrelevant anyway, its quality vs. file size that's important (encoding time is also another parameter.)

    When you enter a bitrate in HandBrake, it's actually only an average or target bitrate. Ideally the encoder will allocate more or less bits depending on the complexity of a scene (static scene is easy, action and moving camera is hard). So your final file size and actual bitrate will be off a little- and that's a good thing if the encoder is doing its job.

    A 2-pass encode allows the encoder to get a sense of complexity of all the scenes, so then it can do a second pass and encode and hit your exact bitrate or file size target. But that's really only important if you want to encode a movie to burn on CD- you don't want to exceed 700 MB, but you want to get as close to 700 MB as possible for max quality. That's not really an issue with encoding for a portable media player- approximate length is good enough.

    Yeah, I also have an eMac (1.25 GHz) and get the same results. For PPC, any benefit to H.264 is largely rendered moot by encoding time, since a 2-pass MPEG4 is faster.

    Another thing you can do is rip a bunch of DVD's via MacTheRipper to your HD, and then cue up multiple encodes in HandBrake. Let it run overnight, and when you wake up you'll have 5 or 6 movies all done for you (even with 2-pass encoding).
     
  7. aidanpendragon thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Exactly what I'm doing - but a good suggestion for others to see.
     
  8. Roessnakhan macrumors 68040

    Roessnakhan

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    #8
    I use H.264 @ 450kbps with a 480 width and it looks perfect-o.
     
  9. fishcube macrumors 6502

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    Sep 13, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa
    #9
    I tried using handbrake for Finding Nemo DVD, and it gives me error saying "make sure you have put in a Non-copy protected disc" How do I know which movies are protected or not? And why are some movies copy protected?

    I also tried the first Harry Potter movie, same error ??

    SK
     
  10. Roessnakhan macrumors 68040

    Roessnakhan

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    #10
    That's weird all my DVDs have worked without error (with exception to the 2nd Disc of Lawrence of Arabia - but that wasn't a copy-protection problem, it just kept stopping encoding.)
     
  11. ivi7 macrumors 6502a

    ivi7

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    Sep 17, 2007
    #11
    I've used handbrake. I prefer isquint which is free. But overall I think Quicktime Pro does a pretty decent job thought its awfully slow.
     
  12. TomB88 macrumors member

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    Sep 18, 2007
    #12
    Handbrake doesn't remove the CSS copy protection encryption that comes on DVDs. As it says when you first load up the program, you have to use third party software to remove that. I made the same mistake when I first used it!
     
  13. fishcube macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Then what 3rd party software is the best for doing this? I don't want anything that will hurt the DVD itself.
     
  14. infectbda macrumors member

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    Jul 19, 2004
    #14
    I like the default preset for iPhone in Handbrake, but I think they should have two, one for widescreen content and another for full screen content.
     
  15. RumMunkey macrumors 6502a

    RumMunkey

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    Nov 3, 2006
    Location:
    Canada
    #15
    OH MY GOD! Why didn't I think of this? I feel like an idiot! I'll usually rip from 1 disc overnight, but if I rip disc images (or TS Folders) first, I can set multiple sources in the batch queue?

    Damn! You just tripled my rippping productivity!

    Since I'm posting... for stuff I'm not fan-boyish over I have a preset that's more or less governed by file size (Around 110 MB for a 30 min TV show up to around 660MB for a 2 hour movie). This gives me a "good enough" quality for my portable device (iPod). You can see a little bit of artifacting, but it still looks WAY better than most of the low-bitrate crap my satellite provider crams out over their bandwidth.

    Stuff I am fan-boyosh for gets adjusted per my "geek out" factor. Also, I'll up my limits for mostly dark movies or movies with a lot of movement.

    It's like cooking..... little adjustments to taste depending on the dish.
     
  16. aidanpendragon thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Try MacTheRipper. The MR guide to DVD-on-iPod is outdated (for the Touch) re. specific settings, but the general procedure is the same.

    It's nice to take a break from the (legit) screen angst for a thread that's helpful to people!
     
  17. fishcube macrumors 6502

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    Iowa
    #17
    Ok, I used AnyDVD and have started Handbrake. It's now encoding and shows a black box showing percentage done, is this nromal?

    I ended up choosing 1000 bitrate, mpeg4, 2 pass.

    SK
     
  18. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

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    Dec 17, 2003
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #18
    LOL, it's nice to know I made a difference in someone's life today. ;)

    Also, HandBrake on Mac will decrypt DVD's. I think on other platforms it doesn't, but not sure why the difference.

    It may not work for all DVD's though, which is why it's nice to have MacTheRipper as a backup. And also to use MacTheRipper to rip a bunch of movies first, then encode in batch via HandBrake.
     
  19. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

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    Aug 6, 2006
    #19
    1000kbps is absolutely excessive. waste of space.

    and a small screen can never put a big screen with higher res support to "shame"
     
  20. rorschach macrumors 68020

    rorschach

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2003
    #20
    It took me roughly 25min to rip my "Little Miss Sunshine" DVD (which is about an hour and 40 minutes) in Handbrake.

    I exported used the FFmpeg encoder, turned off 2-pass encoding, and set the bitrate at 600kbps.
     
  21. fishcube macrumors 6502

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    Iowa
    #21
    I did 1000kbps because Handbrake suggested for ipods. For the next movie I'll put it at 600.
     
  22. aidanpendragon thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 26, 2005
    #22
    Umm, thanks for pronouncing my opinion about my experiences with my devices incorrect. In fact, the Touch is LCD; my TV and eMac are CRT. Shows looks much clearer on my (digital, LCD) Touch than on my (tube, analog, SD) TV. And a side-by-side of the same content on my Touch and eMac has the Touch looking better, clearer, with better contrasts, etc.

    Let's keep the comments a little more productive. If 1000kbps is too much, what do you use?
     
  23. parrotheadmjb macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    #23
    The best DVD ripper for xp is DVD fab. In handbrake I use h.264 @ 700kps & 320X240 resolution it looks almost the same as h.624@ 1.5mps with a 640X480 resolution but the latter takes longer and uses MUCH more space with little more quality
     
  24. aidanpendragon thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 26, 2005
    #24
    More data: with Mpeg-4 @600kbps and 2-pass, I definitely see some artifacting that's not there in a 1000kbps 1-pass.

    So, all I have left to try is H.264 at 600kbps. If the file size is significantly smaller than Mpeg-4 at 1000, I might go with that despite the much longer encode times.
     
  25. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

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    Dec 17, 2003
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #25
    Interesting, as will be your comparison rip with H264. For me, 500 kbps 1-pass is good to very good quality- not perfect, but not really noticeable with normal viewing distance, etc.

    The file size will be smaller, even if H.264 goes slightly over 600kbps in actual encoding. When I view my files file info while playing in Quicktime, I find the actual reported data rate is 640 to 650 kbps (which includes my audio which I set to 128 kbps.)
     

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