Why can’t my movies be as convenient as my music?
October 7, 2008 1:06 PM   Subscribe

DVDs and Blu Ray discs are such a pain with their ability to be scratched and the need to find where a disc is, is it in the right case, etc. I find myself often drawn to standard definition “on demand” movies on cable (free ones) instead of searching my own high definition or DVD movies. Is there a way to have the convenience of “on demand” and the quality of the original media?

We have sold off many of our DVDs with the intent of rebuying the movies on Blu Ray, but we still have about 100 DVDs and maybe 20 Blu Ray discs. What we’re looking for is a way to have those all perhaps ripped to a hard drive that we could then navigate to play the movies. I’m not interested in additional features, deleted scenes, commentaries, just the actual video itself (if I want the others I’ll grab the disc).

I know we can rip the standard def DVDs, but if I bought a Blu Ray drive can those discs be ripped at 1080p quality? If so, how much storage is involved, and what device will play it back at best quality with 7.1 surround sound? Do any media centers do HDMI?

We currently have in our house a 4TB Drobo (2.7TB actual storage space), and I have a Mac Mini that I know many people use as a media center; but if we can get this functionality we would not be opposed to buying Apple TV or some other device. We are a mixed PC/Mac household so software and hardware on either platform will work. Mostly we want easy-to-rip, easy-to-play.

Any suggestions?
posted by arniec to Technology (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure about ripping but Apple TV is a pretty brainless way of getting the video from the computer to the TV. It has an HDMI port but It only does 720p. The combination of Apple TV + a large video library (or, you know, the bittorrents) + VisualHub (a one click tool that will convert pretty much anything to anything else) is pretty nice.

My only problem with Apple TV is that it’s often very slow to respond to the remote.
posted by bondcliff at 1:23 PM on October 7, 2008

My buddy did beta testing for Vudu last year before it was publicly available. The guy still won't shut up about how awesome it is.

Not exactly what you are looking for but it solves the OnDemand/HD issue.
posted by pencroft at 1:25 PM on October 7, 2008

1) Inexpensive PC built around a motherboard with HDMI onboard.
2) Good torrent site offering x264 (up to 1080p) rips of movies.
3) Windows Media Center with Media Control plugin

A typical 1080p rip of a movie will run about 8GB in x264 format which is the only format they're really being released in at the moment. Ripping the movies yourself is possible, but there is a steeper learning curve and it will most likely involve purchasing a new computer anyways.
posted by ChazB at 1:35 PM on October 7, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah my goal is to avoid the pay-per-view pricing that OnDemand/Vudu seem to bring with them... I pay for the Blu Ray discs and DVDs so how can I leverage them for repeated use, not pay for a download...
posted by arniec at 1:36 PM on October 7, 2008

I know we can rip the standard def DVDs, but if I bought a Blu Ray drive can those discs be ripped at 1080p quality?

Yes. You can decrypt a Blu-ray disc just like a DVD using either AnyDVD HD (best option) or DVDFab (doesn't work on all BD discs, but DVDFab HD Decrypter will do every disc that the full DVDFab package can for free).

Here, approximately, is my work flow for processing a Blu-ray disc for backup. Note that Blu-ray structure editors are available to do something similar to DVD Rebuilder Pro but I consider that to be a waste of time as I only want the movie.

1)Rip BD to hard drive. Plan on having ~40 GB free for a single-layer disc and ~80 GB free for a dual-layer disc. This includes workspace to remux.

2)Use TsMuxeR (through the TsMuxeR GUI) to strip out the subtitle streams and secondary audio streams I don't want, append all segments of the main movie if they aren't all in one M2TS file, and demux the resulting streams to a new M2TS (you can mux to a regular old HDTV-type TS if you prefer) for the video and raw streams for the audio.

3)Use eac3to on the original segment(s) to extract chapter information to the familiar DVD Decrypter OGG chapters format.

4)Using DGIndex/DGDecode.dll for MPEG-2 sources, DGAVCIndex/DGAVCdecode.dll for H.264 sources, and simply remuxing to Matroska with eac3toGUI/using DirectshowSource for VC-1 sources, create an Avisynth file, applying cropping, deinterlacing (rare), IVTC (rare), denoising, etc. as required. Most BD sources I've seen are 23.97fps so no framerate conversion or decombing was required; eac3to can strip the 3:2 pulldown from VC-1 sources where appropriate.

5)Load the .AVS script in MeGUI and fire up the bitrate calculator; generally, a 1080p movie can be recompressed to fit on a DVD-9 using original AC-3 audio and H.264 encoded videos. Movies from dual-layer BD discs may require 2 DVD-9s to retain acceptable quality at 1080p. For PC playback I'll use all settings maxed out with a 2- or 3-pass encode; MeGUI also includes profiles for hardware compatibility, including DXVA acceleration for machines with more acceptable GPUs than CPUs. Typically, I'll then re-mux with original AC-3 audio to a MKV file (including the chapters file ripped in step 3) and have something that's a reasonable size to store on a hard drive, burn to DVD-9, etc.

6) (Optional) Before final muxing, encode director's commentary or alternate audio to AAC-HE at a low bitrate and convert any subtitles I want to keep in the final file to .srt with SupRip.

LPCM/DD+/DTS-HD/DTS Master Audio introduces some additional weirdness but if you have decoders for each installed you can use them, AFAIK. I had a concert Blu-ray disc that I took both 24-bit/48kHz 2.0 PCM audio and 5.1 PCM audio from and made FLAC files split on the disc's chapter markers, each of which played fine.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:37 PM on October 7, 2008 [4 favorites]

I should also note that you can use DGIndex or DGAVCIndex to check audio/video sync in the source, if you're uncertain about any delay.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:52 PM on October 7, 2008

Response by poster: Inspector.Gadget, that is a LOT of detail...and to be honest I think some of it is over my head as I'm not even sure what you're doing and how I would then get that on my TV... And I'm not sure what platform the programs you mention are on...Mac, Windows, Linux?
posted by arniec at 1:58 PM on October 7, 2008

arniec - Windows. A similar conversion MAY be possible on Linux, but AFAIK Apple does not yet support Blu-ray except probably as a dumb volume. I'll check back to this thread a few more times today so I'd be happy to explain anything you're unfamiliar with.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:43 PM on October 7, 2008

Let me summarize... no, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Ripping BDs is still hard. So don't.

Just download them illegally and feel okay about it because you have the disc. The most common HD files out there are 720p at 4--6GB and 1080p at 8--10GB. There aren't many that go beyond 8.5GB (what a DVD+R DL holds).

Use usenet instead of torrents and you won't be nearly as much a target for the MPAA, but your selection will be limited to whatever's flowing in that river.

For playback, I would suggest a PS3 except you seem to have a BD player already. It's really nice, and does a good job with network files except that it won't play a few SD divx/xvid files, and you need to convert .mkv files. That conversion is one-click with mkv2vob, but can occasionally take a while to churn.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:46 PM on October 7, 2008

What Xenophobe said.

But really, use MythTV to keep track of everything.

MythRIP will rip your DVDs now,and your BDs eventually, and record OTA HD as well, with the proper tuner, and once it's installed, mere mortals can understand it.

There's a new point release coming up in about a month or two, I think; I'd wait.
posted by baylink at 3:06 PM on October 7, 2008

I had a similar need but wanted an easy solution. I ended up buying a Mvix media player. It's basically a hard drive controller that hooks up to your TV. You buy any size drive, install it in the Mvix and hook it up to your TV via HDMI. What you put on it is up to you. I use DVDFab to rip my DVDs and put them on the Mvix. You can also hook up external drives to boost your storage capacity or stream files off your computer. The Mvix will play pretty much any video format you can throw at it, and if you rip full DVDs, they'll play just like the real thing, with menus and everything. It's not a blu-ray solution yet though, unless you rip them and save them in a Mvix friendly format.
posted by FreezBoy at 4:47 PM on October 7, 2008

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