With ATV3 anticipation, should I keep my blu-ray mkvs or attempt a 1080p transcode?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by knemonic, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. knemonic macrumors 6502a

    Jan 14, 2009
    Hey everyone,

    It feels right that Apple may update their ATV line in a few weeks with 1080p because of the proposed iPad3 screen and rumors in past about studios submitting 1080p to iTunes.

    I am in the midst of beginning to transcode my blu-ray collection.

    Naturally, Handbrake can handle 720p fine with the ATV2 preset. But it is my understanding that that preset is designed specifically to work in Apple's requirements for the ATV2 (but I need 1080p in the future since I watch my movies on a 91" projector).

    So my question is, should I wait to see what the ATV3 ends up being and Handbrake to release a preset for the new 1080p ATV (that is, hold onto my mkvs for the time being)?

    Or should I attempt transcoding the mkvs to 1080p?

    My original plan was to make two versions for the time being, a 720p and a 1080p. But from what I can gather, simply changing the resolution in Handbrake to 1920x1080 does not really up the quality, since I would also need to decrease the RF as well, though I am not sure what is a good number. Hence my dilemma, should I wait for the ATV3 to come out to know its' limitations or can someone suggest a RF for my 1080p files that will be in the realm of usable on the proposed ATV3?

    Thank you in advance!
  2. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)

    Handbrake presets are based upon what :apple:TVs can handle. Since no one has an :apple:TV3 yet, no one knows what it can handle. You'd be guessing at best if you went ahead and based it on- say- the :apple:TV2 preset but at 1080 instead of 720p.

    My own guess is that the iPhone 4s 1080p is probably the balance of quality & compression Apple will choose. But with the rumor for March 7 or so, why not just wait, see if we get a new :apple:TV and then stand by while Handbrake hopefully rolls out updated preset for the new device (hopefully quickly).

    Along with 1080p, there's also the possibility for audio options besides DD5.1. For all we know, the next :apple:TV could go all out in capabilities to be able to go fully toe-to-toe with Blu Ray in both video & audio.
  3. knemonic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 14, 2009
    Yep, so what I am hearing is keep the mkvs.

    Makes sense and I agree with you, I just didn't know if I could start transcoding to 1080p now, since there are much smarter here individuals when it comes to Handbrake and it's abilities in transcoding for devices. I totally agree with you on Apple pushing the bar with 1080p content, if they wan't to destroy the TV industry, they are going to have to offer some slick capabilities with 1080p to completely kill blu-ray and trump what is currently out there.

    Will hold onto my horses then.

    Btw, from what I can gather, MakeMKV and the random, Blu-Ray ripper software on multiple websites (pavtube) seem to be the only available mac rippers, right? RipIt hasn't come out with anything yet?

    Contagion is giving me grief in MakeMKV, so I am a bit at a loss here. Almost attempted to run Parallels and use a Windows based ripper (since it seems like there are more available).

    Thank you for your advice!
  4. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    A 1080p mp4 is going to be rather large unless you want to use compression that will likely have some perceivable artifact. Personally, I am happy with good quality 720 mp4 files that usually run around 3-5 GB each but that really is a personal preference. I like that I can pretty much play these files on just about anything I have.
  5. knemonic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 14, 2009
    I completely understand. The problem is this, I have noticed a perceptible difference on my projector when I watch some 1080p content (though it was a little choppy, I did it just to see if there was any difference between it and 720p).

    Though the projector can only do 720p, I have always noticed when you put something better into a lower quality display/projector you end up getting a little better quality.

    Additionally, in a year or so, I may upgrade this projector to a 1080p, since 1080p at 100"s really makes a difference over 720p.

    I read on a website that really 1080p vs 720p is relevant on big screens, but really a waste on anything under 50"s or so, and unfortunately I agree with them. So in foresight, I would rather be have 1080p then have to transcode everything over into 1080p.

    My guess is that once Apple pushes for 1080p, Handbrake will eventually put out preset that gets the best out of their limitations though hopefully without any issues with artifacts.
  6. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    It is all about viewing distance regardless of size. 1080p might look better when downscaled because the compression artifacts are also downscaled. 1080p is definitely more future proof than 720. Handbrake presets be damned. For now keep the original mkv files if you can. Then when it is time to move on up to the big time, just extract the data streams (use something like MP4tools) and dump them into your container of choice. Not only is it unnecessary to re-encode the video (assuming they contain H.264 video), but such a step reduces quality in a substantial way.
  7. chiefpavvy macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2008
    This, though I would probably start encoding future content @ 1080 if the latest hardware (particularly Apple TV) would fully support it. I have hundreds of 720P encodes in the 5-7GB range each, quality is spectacular and I've no intention of redoing those. Agreed they are sufficient for most uses.
  8. AdrianK macrumors 68020

    Feb 19, 2011
    Baseline profile h264 offers a terrible quality:size ratio. I'm guessing Apple only chose it for iPhone because it's 'easier' on the hardware to encode/decode.
  9. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Adrian, not fighting against your comment, but I just don't see many iPhone 4s owners griping about the quality of their 1080p video. In general, it appears to be the opposite: gushing love for the quality.

    I'm sure the encoding could be better but that is a version of 1080p that Apple has endorsed directly... on iOS hardware... probably similar to what will be in the next :apple:TV. I'm definitely in the camp of hoping that Apple finally gets serious about the next :apple:TV and gives us something that can really go toe-to-toe with Blu Ray (in both video AND audio playback capabilities).

    And the iPhone 4s implementation could be viewed as the 1080p floor, meaning the new, dedicated device to hook to our TVs could be capable of far better playback specs than a phone (...hopefully!).
  10. AdrianK macrumors 68020

    Feb 19, 2011
    Oh, don't get me wrong, neither do I, I think it looks great. I'm just saying that I don't think it's what they'll use for iTunes 1080p.

    That's true. The premise of my previous statement was that the 720p content available in iTunes is different to what's recorded on the iPhone 4 (iTunes is 4mbps/High and iPhone is 10mbps/Baseline). I really should have mentioned that in my last post for some clarification, sorry about that.

    I'm definitely in that camp too! :D
  11. martinm0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2010
    I've been ripping my Blu-rays to 1080p m4v files for a little while now (have about 250 done). All in all, they look fine (there's always some amount of degradation from the original, specifically in the dark scenes with gradations of black and gray). I generally play them through the Mac Mini vs the AppleTV 2 as the ATV2 can't downconvert them smoothly enough for playback (as to be expected). My iPad 2, however, plays them perfectly and without issue.

    Recently I realized I really wanted the DTS soundtracks for these files and decided to go back and re-encode many of them as MKVs. The picture quality remains the same (using Handbrake for the conversions with same CQ settings), but I really like having full DTS passthrough in these files.

    Kind of a side comment to this thread, but I noticed no one had mentioned the limitation of m4v files and iTunes...:eek:
  12. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    In my opinion ... I wouldn't encode anything for the supposed *atv 3* until the device actually exists.

    Back when the original ATV was out and originally only supported 2 channel aac ...the rumor of the atv 2 (software, not hardware) came around supporting true 5.1 discrete sound. At hb we did all kinds of speculating on the audio, pages of irc logs showed everyones thoughts as to how 5.1 surround would be handled ... we guessed the most likely thing was aac six channel discrete (which is pretty much why that was included in handbrake) since aac decoding already existed in the atv and was officially part of the mp4 spec. So I did about ten movies in anticipation of 6 channel discrete aac goodness.

    However, Bam! AppleTV os 2 shows up ... with AC3 Passthru! Never saw it coming as at the time AC3 was not part of the official mp4 spec. However, mp4 allows for "private tracks" in which case you can really stick about anything in it. Whether its officially supported or not and whether any playback device / software can decode it. Of course now its an official part of the spec but mostly that was because apple offered it on a broad scale with a (semi) popular playback device for it to actually be useful. In fact at the time mac osx itself had a hard time passing through AC3 even though the lowly appletv handled it just fine. In fact it was so new, to get Handbrake to even produce a workable Atv encode with ac3 passthrough we reverse engineered the Intro movie when the appletv would boot up since it was the same track layout as the new iTunes HD (720) 5.1 content you could buy (it required a first aac track then the second ac3 track, or it wouldn't work).

    Moral of the story ... no one but apple knows what the apple tv 3's capabilities will be. Reading Apples tea leaves is a fools pursuit (especially with the AppleTV which is still a *hobby*). Personally, I am waiting to get my hands on one and hammer the heck out of it with as much as it can handle. In this way and only in this way will a workable setting be achieved.

    That said until then ... making encodes to possibly work right on the rumored product only costs time and cpu cycles. Just my .02
  13. nouniard macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2005
    Right now I'm trying to wait in order to hear more about HEVC (a.k.a H.265) which, according to Wikipedia, has a current time frame of:

    February 2012: Committee Draft (complete draft of standard)
    July 2012: Draft International Standard
    January 2013: Final Draft International Standard (ready to be ratified as a Standard)

    If anything, I'm want to see how well this new standard fares as it is supposed to be twice as efficient as H.264...meaning half the bitrate for comparable quality.

    It could also be a great way for Apple to deliver 1080p content.
  14. osohardy macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2009
    well, i dont think you can really make that comparison. The 4S is baseline profile at 24mbps. It's great quality because it is 'first generation' (encoded directly from source video obviously) and high bitrate. The itunes store is main profile 5mbps, maybe some high profile. What you get on the 4S, while great, is no way a representation of what you could use for streamable/downloadable movie content. They're going to have to come in at half the bitrate or better and use main or high profile features. A bluray is ~15-25+Mbps high profile, bit for bit much better than 4S. Maybe they can get an equivalent perceived quality to the 4S at some less than bluray bitrate...but how the 4S video itself is encoded is no way how it would be encoded for the store. Note that Apple already uses high quality masters for their 720p stuff--at least I hope they do--and while some of it looks great, there is also noticeable banding, blocking in dark scenes etc in some movies that are almost inevitable when re-encoding without using ridiculous bitrates.

    Good point, right now I also am storing in mkv until I see what the new ATV can do. Though for me I have a really really hard time distinguishing between HD audio and core, or DD/DTS from a bluray. I'm more OK with re-encoding audio than video. While you can get amazing quality at very low bitrates in handbrake, it seems you just can't banish completely some artifacting in dark scenes you mention. It drives me nuts because in general I find a 720p transcode to otherwise look fantastic (RF 16-18) and be very close to the disk perceptually.
  15. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    Wish list for AppleTV3

    -At bare minimum DTS core 1.5mbps support, especially inside an .m4v container... Also since DTS 6.1 Discrete CAN be on a DVD I think this would be an interesting use for it. though I don't think Apple will distribute movies with DTS on ANY level in comparison to Dolby Digital as Dolby Digital has been about delivering multichannel audio with size in mind, I'll talk about Dolby next.

    -Dolby Digital Plus: Netflix has it and Dolby seams to put it out that DD+ is great for broadcast use and bandwidth kept in mind. DD+ also supports 7.1 audio and very low bit rates.

    -Mkv container support with H.264 video tracks and AC3/DTS/DD+/DTS-MA/DD-HD/FLAC. This could be sort of a hidden support feature for BluRay rippers to enjoy their HD audio fix :D. The completely lossless codecs sound like a processing nightmare...I'm fine with DTS High Resolution but most BluRays go all the way to Master Audio. This point is a very maybe ish part

    -Bigger balls on the processing: The thing should be able to take any audio format it supports and send it down the pipe as L-PCM 1-8 channels for basically any surround decoder to handle.

    -1080p High Profile 4.1 support: I'm not as much as a video resolution geek (other than working with max res possible when editing) but its seriously pathetic that it does not support 1080p...the device is a media entertainment device and by todays markets standards 1080p should be no problem and ANY profile of 720p should work (albeit super high bit rate video).

    As for HEVC ("H.265"), Ive read a bit about it and it sounds about as insane as AVC did when I was making Xvid rips :D :D haha I remember how crazy I went when I realized how insane I could go with low bit rate with AVC on my first encode :p
  16. NightStorm macrumors 68000

    Jan 26, 2006
    Whitehouse, OH
    Had a pretty reasonable list until you got to this one. I can't see Apple wanted to add another container to their officially supported list. They seem pretty content with MP4.
  17. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 8, 2007
    Saratoga, CA
    You could also consider using a (gasp) non-Apple product to play the full resolution MKV's. I have had a WDTV Live box for a couple of years now and it does a great job playing my Blu-Ray MKVs. I devote about 1 TB of disk space to keeping the MKVs of my top 40 or so Blu-Rays.

    I also transcode them all with the ATV2 preset in handbrake to play on my ATV2, iPad, iPhone. That reduces the size by 5-10X. These still look great on my 52" LCD, but the full res. MKVs definitely have that extra Blu-Ray wow factor.
  18. obsidian1200 macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2010
    Albuquerque, NM
    I'd wait until we know what the max specs of the ATV3 will be (although you could guess and hope things work out) and handbrake or users devise an appropriate preset to fill those specs. Otherwise, you might end up wasting a lot of encoding time on files that you may not be able to use on the new device.

    Or, as Kevin mentioned, go for encoding 1080p and look to other devices currently on the market.
  19. patent10021 macrumors 68030


    Apr 23, 2004
    If you JB with SeasonsPass can you stream mkv from Mac to ATV2? This is the only reason why I'd JB.
  20. knemonic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 14, 2009
    Well, looks like we got our answer. Now we play the waiting game to get a Handbrake preset.

    I read somewhere that we could use subler and push through mkv to make m4vs, but my guess is that will pretty much duplicate the size of the original mkv, which are typically huge (I only have a terabyte left on my externals, and having 20 mkvs has already taken up a third). Frankly, I have no idea how people store and use mkvs over transcoded m4vs. The size of them must mean they are running a large mean raid. I have a single 3tb hd and I am already hitting the celling.
  21. obsidian1200 macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2010
    Albuquerque, NM
    Pretty much, unless you convert the audio down, which will save a little space. Plus, it's a hit and miss, since not all blu-rays use mpeg-4 video.
  22. newagemac macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2010
    I had pretty much given up on ripping and storing full mkv Blurays because of the storage problem. Especially after the price of hard drives went up. And now that iCloud supports movies and the Apple TV can download your iTunes movie purchases straight from the iCloud in 1080p, I'm not sure if I will ever buy another Blu Ray disc.

    Having the full Blu Ray rips is nice but managing all this is a lot of trouble. I'm thinking about just letting Apple handle all my storage problems. No hassles. No fuss. :D

    But the new ATV supporting 1080p means I won't have to transcode anymore after ripping. One less time consuming hassle. But then the storage problem still exists.

    Ah decision, decisions...
  23. CrAkD macrumors 68040


    Feb 15, 2010
    Boston, MA
    Unfortunately apples video prices are pretty unreasonable at least at best buy they have sales all movie and tv show prices are sky high and there isn't even any manufacturing involved like with blurays.
  24. atandon macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2012
    I don't think this is necessarily true. Most blu ray rips are h.264@4.1 (high)
    And the apple tv 3 only appears to support level 4 (high).
    So transcoding *may* be needed. Keeping fingers crossed.
    Sad part is that the iphone 4s supports 4.1 (high) :(

    But I completely agree with u that the convenience of having the cloud store the movies is huge
  25. newagemac macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2010
    Just thought of another reason to buy movies from iTunes instead of Blu Ray discs. Anyone who bought movies in 720p can now download those same movies from iCloud in 1080p without paying anything extra. So Apple is showing a willingness to upgrade the quality for you over time as they upgrade their own encoding methods.

    If you are ripping movies yourself, you would have to rip your entire movie library all over again whenever encoding standards improve to take advantage of higher quality at smaller file sizes. But if you buy from iTunes, you could potentially just let Apple handle all of that and just redownload whenever they offer the higher quality.

    That's already the thing I like most about iTunes Match. All the music I bought at 128kbps I was able to redownload at 256kbps. And if Apple offers a higher bitrate or smaller file size at same quality in the future (or lossless even), you can just redownload it.

    Sounds like a better way to handle things to me. More future proof and less hassle.

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