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Saturday
Dec102011

Tutorial: Backing up your Blu-ray Discs

We have been talking about this for a while now and we finally had time to put this tutorial together. Its a 25 minute video that walks you through the entire process. We are also including a list, with links, of the software that we used in the process:

Bill in Madison WI has a couple more tips that will make your rips playable on iPhones and iPads without giving up quality.

  • I've done some testing and found that if I use the AppleTV 2 setting with AAC first and AC3 second, the files can sync to iPhone 4 and iPad, no problem.  If the tracks are flipped so that AC3 is first and AAC is second, iTunes says the file can't be played on that device and refuses to copy it over.  For the most Apple compatibility, you may not want to flip these tracks like this.
  • There is no reason to flip the tracks.  On your Apple TV 2, if you go to Settings > Audio & Video > Dolby Digital and set that to "ON" instead of "AUTO", it will always play the 5.1 track, even if it's the second track on the file.

 

 

Reader Comments (20)

I'll have to try MetaZ. I've been using Identify to tag the videos after handbrake. Got it on the app store.

December 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike S

Thanks Ara, great video. I was unaware of MakeMKV, it looks awesome. Do you ever shrink the movies again for use on iPhone, iPad, etc.? If so, I assume you transcode the original .mkv file? How does iTunes deal with multiple copies of the same movie (only differ by size)?

December 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

You make it look to easy. I don't own a blu-ray drive for my PC or Mac at this point nor do I have the space or money to store HD movies. I have been reading the threads at AVSForum for a while and alot of them make it seem so complicated.

I will have to try Bill's tip for the audio tracks and playback on the iPhone/iPad.

Thanks for the tutorial.

Scott

December 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScott

I have been using MakeMKV for a while now. I have a couple hundred Blu-Rays ripped to my unraid server.
They do take up a good bit of space (20GB-35GB). I have a 16TB server that I stream to my BoxeeBox. The Boxee can play the full quality MKV with zero problems. Some discs do have trouble ripping, but the MakeMKV team does a good job of updating. The program is amazing!! Anyone looking for a simple, expandable and reliable home server, Check out Unraid. You can built a 2TB-48TB server. Thanks Ara for the video.

December 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Livings

Great job Ara. A coffee is on the way.

On a funny note, I was watching it full screen on my Mac and at one point I wanted see the window you have covered up and I tried drag it out of the way. It didn't work.

December 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTom in Sebring

Thanks for the "How To" video. I have been ripping DVD's since I saw your first Rip DVD video. My brother was curious how I got all of my movies into iTunes. I just sent him to your website! As an FYI, for us PC users, I have been using MetaX for my meta data. It costs $9.95 but saves me a lot of copy, paste and retyping. Thanks for all the educating that you do.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames in Cincinnati

Very interesting!

So does MakeMKV actually handle breaking the encryption (AACS and BD+) on Blu-ray movies? That's pretty wild if they're offering that for free!

One thing that has me confused though - it's nothing about the process - but I'm curious as to why you are transcoding and shrinking the file size so much? I mean, you're winding up with Blu-ray backups that are smaller than a DVD! I can't imagine the full video quality survives, and the lossless audio clearly does not! It looks as though the initial MKV that comes out of MakeMKV is able to retain the full video and audio quality. So I'm just wondering, why not use those so that you can have maximum A/V quality? Is it simply because you are using an AppleTV 2 as your means of connecting to your HDTV/projector?

Speaking strictly personally, I enjoy making backups of the full Blu-ray disc. I like to retain 100% of the video and audio quality, but I also like to keep disc menus, special features, and yes, even BD-Live! I know, I know - I probably seem crazy. But I just like to have the full disc experience available.

I'm on a Windows 7 setup. For my backups, I use SlySoft AnyDVD HD. It costs money if you want to keep it fully up to date though. AnyDVD HD is for breaking all of the encryption. One really nice thing in AnyDVD HD is that it also works for HD DVD. I bought a lot of HD DVD titles when they went on clearance, so I was happy to be able to backup those as well!

With AnyDVD HD, you simply right click on the icon in your Windows system tray. You'll see an option that says "Rip to image". AnyDVD HD lets you select several options to remove annoyances such as "forbidden" controls, BD-Live, Region codes, adverts & trailers, titles shorter than a selected length in minutes, and you can even simulate a connected 3D display so that you can rip the 3D version of 3D Blu-rays without a 3D capable PC!

When you use "Rip to image", you can create an ISO image file. Depending on how you choose your options, you can remove some annoyances, or create a perfect 1:1 copy of the disc. You can even choose to keep the disc copy protection intact for a literal 1:1 disc copy! Why would you want to keep the copy protection? Well, there are a few titles - Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is one example - where part of the BD+ protection tells the disc to go out to a server when it first loads to grab new trailers and to allow you to watch a streaming movie. If you remove the copy protection, these features fail to load. Most people probably don't want that stuff anyway. But at least there's a way to keep it with AnyDVD HD if you want to!

Playing ISO files is easy. SlySoft offers Virtual CloneDrive for free, which is a program that mounts ISO files to a virtual disc drive. So far as the computer is concerned, you've just inserted a physical disc!

You can use the playback software of your choice. I went with ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5, which costs $99. The main reason I went and paid for TMT5 is because it's the only current playback software that still supports HD DVD!

Of course, with perfect 1:1 disc copies, each Blu-ray takes up a lot of space! About 35-45GB per movie! To store all that data, I use a pair of Synology DS411j NAS servers, each with four 3TB drives, for a total of 24TB of network attached hard drive space. Hard drives are crazy expensive right now, but luckily, I got my eight 3TB drives back when they were $120 a piece, so the drives and pair of DS411j servers only cost about $1600 total.

To get all the metadata, I use MyMovies, which is free. What I really like about MyMovies, vs something like the very popular MediaBrowser, is that MyMovies has separate data for specific disc releases. For example, Troy and the Director's Cut of Troy are two separate titles in MyMovies that you can select and add individually. Most other metadata services only list the movie once - which is fine if you're cataloguing downloads, but not as specific if you're backing up actual discs.

For connecting to my HDTVs and for the user interface, I just have some small, silent mini-ITX HTPCs. There are other options such as the Boxee Box or Popcorn Hour for ISO playback. But I just found the price and capability of having a full HTPC for each screen to be comparable and worth it. I just use Windows Media Center, which offers a nice, slick interface and there are plenty of easy ways to skin and customize it if you want to. MyMovies and TotalMedia Theatre 5 integrate seemlessly into WMC - and AnyDVD HD and Virtual CloneDrive just run in the background - so it all works quite nicely! Plus, with a full HTPC for each display, it's easy to bring in any other services that I might want to use. When it only costs around $400 to build a nice, small, 3D-capable, powerful HTPC, it's hard to justify using any other set top device that limits your options.

My method costs more, but there's no transcoding or loss of quality or special features. I dare say the ripping process is faster because of that. And I get very disc specific metadata with MyMovies. If you don't have a large library of titles, you can certainly just use hard drives or external USB drives for storage. But 1:1 Blu-ray backups take up A LOT of space quickly! I think having a NAS setup is the way to go. Best of all, I can have different movies running on three different screens in my apartment! But all of the files are stored on those central NAS servers. By the way, Wireless-N Wifi seems to work just fine - although I do only have 950 square feet to cover ;)

Just an option and alternative to the great info that Ara provided! I think most folks will fall somewhere in between the highly compressed versions that Ara is using and the completely 1:1 versions that I'm using! Thankfully though, whether you're PC or Mac, compressed or 1:1, using loads of NAS or just a single hard drive, there are options for you!

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob H.

I can confirm that Bill in Madison WI's tip works on the iPad 1 and iPhone 3Gs. Couldn't tell you awesome it is to get such a high quality video on multiple devices.

It allows FF, RW and Chapters in Windows Media Player. FF, RW and skip x secs in WMC but only one audio track. VLC see's and plays both audio tracks.

I will soon have a friend test this out using WMC and xbox to see what options and abilities it has on that platform.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScott

I do the exact same thing as Rob H! works great! But I don't have a 24GB NAS :( Ive got a server with 6-1TB drives in a RAID 5 config (areca RAID controller) which comes out to 4.5TB of usable space and a Drobo S (esata->usb3) with roughly the same amount of space as a backup for my RAID. Too bad hard drive prices are high right now, i'm needing to upgrade.

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

@Mitch

Heh - look at us with our ridiculous, inefficient setups, all in the name of convenience and "cool factor", eh?

lol

Happily, hard drive prices are starting to creep back down, I see. Several 3TB drives under $200 again, and a few external 3TB drives for around $160 now. So getting back to where they were before all the unfortunate floods and disasters :(

I'm starting to think that I really should go ahead and make some sort of redundant storage setup. I just have my eight 3TB drives in "basic" on my twin NAS servers for maximum storage space. I figure that if a drive goes down, sure, I've lost 75 or so Blu-ray rips. But I've got the physical discs, so while it's a bit of a pain and a time suck, it's not the end of the world! The discs themselves are my redundancy! :p

I'm not sure if I want to do a RAID setup though. It'd mean redoing all my volumes, which would be a pain in and of itself. I'm thinking what I might do is just make redundant backups onto external hard drives and keep those offline. Not a perfect solution by any means, but possibly the fastest, easiest and cheapest - once the hard drive prices are back down, that is ;)

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob H.

First of all, Love the video. Thanks Ara.

What should I use for meta data on a windows 7 pc? I looked at My Movies but that seems so complex and convoluted with the "points / pricing and having to create an account.

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris in California

Thanks for the video , looks like a very in depth way of putting the content on the computer . I personally use one called dvdfab i find this program very good , reliable and very simple to use , please check it out .This is not spam just want to know what you think of dvdfab . Thanks i enjoy your show very much.Catch you later.

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGary from Australia

@Chris

If you don't like MyMovies, give MediaBrowser a try. So long as you name your movie files/folders according to their structure, the loading of meta data is automatic. Really slick interface and very flexible for all types of files and formats. Since I'm purely using physical discs that I own, MyMovies works a bit better for me. But most Windows users seem to prefer MediaBrowser for its easier setup and interface ;)

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob H.

OK, so first let ,me thank Ara for posting this tutorial. I had never heard of MakeMKV and it turns out to be an outstanding piece of software for ripping both Bluray and DVD. It even worked on some DVDs that I had not been able to rip with the old DVD Decrypter/DVD Shrink apps. Having said that, I did run into some issues that took an amount of trial and error to resolve and I thought they may be worth sharing with other folks heading down this path. By the way, I'm a PC user so the comments that follow may or may not apply to the MAC.

MakeMKV

You need to pay special attention to the audio tracks you are ripping. I found that choosing Lossless (where available) sometimes screwed up the Handbrake output - creating audio that judders, especially if this was one of several audio tracks selected.

Also, the way audio tracks are presented is confusing. It often appears as if there are subcategories, e.g. a DD track as a subcategory of a Lossless audio track. You might think that unchecking the Lossless track will also effectively uncheck any (indented) subtracks, but it doesn't seem to work that way. You should just check the actual track you want - generally I have had success when I just select a single DTS track.

Ara commented on not having much success with the Forced Subtitle options. I have been experimenting with this on Ronin which has one section where the dialog is all in French and English subtitles would be much appreciated. I have not be successful either, having produced a couple unplayable MKV files in the attempt. I'll post again if I figure out how to resolve this.

A final point on MakeMKV - the evaluation copy is free for 30 days. Amazingly, the 30 day clock seems to reset every time I restart the program - hope the authors are not reading this.

Handbrake

Maybe I was just stupid but the biggest mistake I made with handbrake was to assume I could get away with the same settings I had been using to transcode my DVDs - WRONG! I produced several unplayable files before I figured it out - dah!

If you produce a file (I'm creating MP4s) that could be greater than 4GB in size, you MUST check the "Large File Size" option. This all has to do with 8 bit vs 16 bit headers - check the handbrake FAQ for details. Apparently, handbrake defaults to 8 bit because 16 bit headers aren't supported on some devices.

On the Video tab, I just use the Normal profile - no tweaking of file size, etc. and it seems to work fine for me. I tried the Apple TV 2 profile too (even though I'm a PC user) and it seemed to yield pretty much identical results.

On the Audio tab, I prefer to just choose one format. AAC (faac) seems to work with everything - I'm not pumping this to a high end audio system, just an HDTV with a decent soundbar. I've also tried AC3 Passthru and this seems to work too for the one movie I've tried. Again, I don't tweak other settings such as bitrate because I couldn't tell the difference on my system.

Serving it Up

My Samsung TV doesn't support DLNA (nor does the ROKU box I have attached to it for Netflix - come on ROKU, get your act together - the new ROKU 2 doesn't either) so I can't access my networked copy of my video files which I store on a WHS box. However, it does have an HDD USB port and allows video playback from connected media, so all my movies are copied to a WD 1 TB Passport drive. This works great except for 2 things. 1 - The TV's media player does a crappy job of listing the movies - it's tough to search for a specific title; 2 - there is no meta data option so you need to know which move you want to play because you're not going to get any help in choosing it.

Now, if I want to watch my movies on a PC (especially a Windows 7 PC with Media Center), the story is entirely different. A couple of folks have mentioned the Media Browser extension for Media Center. In my book, this is a MUST HAVE. It's free (so far) and it serves up an incredible UI experience, comparable to iTunes on your iPod. It grabs all the metadata you could want from the internet in the background and does a good job finding the right data, even if you mis-title your movies. If you're a PC user with Windows 7, you need this app!

Final Thoughts

I'm indebted to Ara for launching me on this journey and describing the key elements, and to Chris for alerting me to Media Browser. My DVDs and Blurays are now instantly accessible and well organized.

Thanks to Ara and Braden for the great podcast - keep it up guys, a Caf-Pow is on its way!

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMalcolm in Colorado

OK, so first let ,me thank Ara for posting this tutorial. I had never heard of MakeMKV and it turns out to be an outstanding piece of software for ripping both Bluray and DVD. It even worked on some DVDs that I had not been able to rip with the old DVD Decrypter/DVD Shrink apps. Having said that, I did run into some issues that took an amount of trial and error to resolve and I thought they may be worth sharing with other folks heading down this path. By the way, I'm a PC user so the comments that follow may or may not apply to the MAC.

MakeMKV

You need to pay special attention to the audio tracks you are ripping. I found that choosing Lossless (where available) sometimes screwed up the Handbrake output - creating audio that judders, especially if this was one of several audio tracks selected.

Also, the way audio tracks are presented is confusing. It often appears as if there are subcategories, e.g. a DD track as a subcategory of a Lossless audio track. You might think that unchecking the Lossless track will also effectively uncheck any (indented) subtracks, but it doesn't seem to work that way. You should just check the actual track you want - generally I have had success when I just select a single DTS track.

Ara commented on not having much success with the Forced Subtitle options. I have been experimenting with this on Ronin which has one section where the dialog is all in French and English subtitles would be much appreciated. I have not be successful either, having produced a couple unplayable MKV files in the attempt. I'll post again if I figure out how to resolve this.

A final point on MakeMKV - the evaluation copy is free for 30 days. Amazingly, the 30 day clock seems to reset every time I restart the program - hope the authors are not reading this.

Handbrake

Maybe I was just stupid but the biggest mistake I made with handbrake was to assume I could get away with the same settings I had been using to transcode my DVDs - WRONG! I produced several unplayable files before I figured it out - dah!

If you produce a file (I'm creating MP4s) that could be greater than 4GB in size, you MUST check the "Large File Size" option. This all has to do with 8 bit vs 16 bit headers - check the handbrake FAQ for details. Apparently, handbrake defaults to 8 bit because 16 bit headers aren't supported on some devices.

On the Video tab, I just use the Normal profile - no tweaking of file size, etc. and it seems to work fine for me. I tried the Apple TV 2 profile too (even though I'm a PC user) and it seemed to yield pretty much identical results.

On the Audio tab, I prefer to just choose one format. AAC (faac) seems to work with everything - I'm not pumping this to a high end audio system, just an HDTV with a decent soundbar. I've also tried AC3 Passthru and this seems to work too for the one movie I've tried. Again, I don't tweak other settings such as bitrate because I couldn't tell the difference on my system.

Serving it Up

My Samsung TV doesn't support DLNA (nor does the ROKU box I have attached to it for Netflix - come on ROKU, get your act together - the new ROKU 2 doesn't either) so I can't access my networked copy of my video files which I store on a WHS box. However, it does have an HDD USB port and allows video playback from connected media, so all my movies are copied to a WD 1 TB Passport drive. This works great except for 2 things. 1 - The TV's media player does a crappy job of listing the movies - it's tough to search for a specific title; 2 - there is no meta data option so you need to know which move you want to play because you're not going to get any help in choosing it.

Now, if I want to watch my movies on a PC (especially a Windows 7 PC with Media Center), the story is entirely different. A couple of folks have mentioned the Media Browser extension for Media Center. In my book, this is a MUST HAVE. It's free (so far) and it serves up an incredible UI experience, comparable to iTunes on your iPod. It grabs all the metadata you could want from the internet in the background and does a good job finding the right data, even if you mis-title your movies. If you're a PC user with Windows 7, you need this app!

Final Thoughts

I'm indebted to Ara for launching me on this journey and describing the key elements, and to Chris for alerting me to Media Browser. My DVDs and Blurays are now instantly accessible and well organized.

Thanks to Ara and Braden for the great podcast - keep it up guys, a Caf-Pow is on its way!

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMalcolm in Colorado

Thanks for the breakthrough tutorial on backing up blu-rays! I have been backing up DVDs and I'm now confident about starting on the few blu-rays that I have.

My HTPC

First of all, I seriously considered the Apple TV but decided against it because my primary Use Case doesn't match their Apple's scenario. I loved the "thin" pricing, but not the thin functionality. I learned that they focus primarily on on video rental and secondarily work with iTunes on a networked computer. I'm almost exclusively interested in backing up and cataloging my commericial DVDs and my horde of DVD+Rs (I used to have DirectTV/Tivo and I offloaded movies from the hard disk to DVD+Rs). That collection alone will keep me off the street for a long while!

My experience is that when my Use Case doesn't match Apple's scenario, there's some long-term tension.

Ultimately, I went for a more conventional HTPC (Mac mini) with Plex as my software. Prior to Ara's lesson, I had been Handbraking the movies and feeding the mp4/H264's to Plex. Now I know that I like MakeMPV better!

I heard Ava's show on the MacCast; since then I've done a couple of dozen disks (both commercial and DVD+R) and now have enough experience to describe the differences between Ara's process and mine.

I didn't know it at the time, but a big advantage of Plex over AppleTV/iTunes is that it can play MKV files directly. This really streamlines the process and improves the final product, at the expense of file size.

Encoding Step

I've decided to be inclusive rather than exclusive. I take nearly all the video tracks (except for annoying ads) and I keep all the audio tracks except for languages that I don't understand.

* If there is more than one video track, MakeMPV will automatically generate a separate .mkv file for each one. I organize all the files for a DVD into a subfolder folder within its category and label each file (e.g., BTS, interview, etc.). At playback time, I can view the catalog by folder and then pick the file in the folder I want to watch.

* If there is more than one audio track in a file (e.g., main Dolby Digial file and a Director's commentary), Plex presents a popup menu of audio tracks at playback time. I can choose the audio I want to listen to. If I bypass the popup and just play the movie, it will go ahead and play main soundtrack. But I like having the supplemental audio!

Same deal for subtitles as audio tracks: I retain the English subtitles (if any) and Plex presents a pop-up menu of subtitles at playback time. I prefer the original language with English subtitles, so I check to be sure this material is encoded in the MakeMKV job. I usually need to manually choose this combo at playback time.

Storage

Plex uses an old-fashioned client-server design. The server is known by the unfortunate acronym of "PMS" (It's obvious that they are engineers, not marketers.) Using PMS, you identify as many "watched" folders as you like; PMS will scan them on a 24/7 basis and automatically update the catalog when it spots a new file. When PMS finds a new file, it automatically downloads the metatata/cover art so that the catalog is current. Each folder (e.g. Sci fi, Horror, Drama) has subfolders for each movie.

iOS devices

Plex standardly works as a HTPC hooked to a HDTV with an HDMI cable. Optionally you can buy an app for your choice of cell phone/tablet. I have the app that works on the iPhone/iPad. I use it to browse the catalog, operate Plex via wifi, and choose to watch the movie on either the HDTV or the iOS device. This is where you chooe the audio and or subtitle. [When I started, I found that the iOS device does not play subtitles properly, but the HDPC does.]

Comparisons

MakeMKV produces a file that's about twice as big as my mp4/H264 files done via Handbrake. Since it isn't compressed, MakeMKV runs alot faster than a Handbrake job and it does retain all the audio and video quality of the original. When I started, I had trouble streaming all that data without stuttering, but I learned how to reposition the router to get a better signal and also I can't have the little Mac Mini trying to encode a movie while I'm streaming another one! It's just last year's model, so its really sweating. If some films don't stream without stuttering, then I have the option of doing the Handbrake run, as Ara described. But the primary file for me is the mkv file, not the mp4. The HDTV always plays back w/o issues.

Thanks so much for the MakeMKV tip and video! This deserves a good cup of Joe!

January 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Any changes with the process due to Apple TV generation 3 and the ability to do 1080p video? I had just started to back up my blu-ray disks when it was announced. Are you encoding to 1080p? I know that the Apple TV (Generation 2) will play the 1080p content so is there any changes to the process?

Also is there any applications that can play 2 videos in side by side windows? Converting the mkv files I've used Handbrake and Elgato's Turbo.264. Both work and look good but wanted to do a real side by side of a movie to really compare.

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

HI Jonathan,

I am indeed encoding at 1080p now. Everything else was left the same. I just increase the picture size to 1080p as my final step.

Ara

April 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterHT Guys

Handbrake now has a setting for the Apple TV 3. Works great.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbeansrdone

Has anyone else found that Handbrake and Make MKV are suddenly no longer backing up discs? Neither application can find a valid source. Handbrake actually contains a message that it won't decrypt DVDs (no longer looks for external libraries that might do the job) and Make MKV previously worked for all DVDs, then DVDs within the set Region, but doesn't seem to work at all now.

Haven't needed to backup a Blu-ray lately, so I can't speak for that function in Make MKV.

These seem to be very recent changes and I'm wondering what everyone is using to backup, now.

March 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGrant

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