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Old 08-08-2014, 06:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Having a problem related to Handbrake

Not sure where to ask this question, so here's hoping.

I'm trying to prepare a BD-R/AVCHD of a ~4GB 720p video Mkv file (running time ~2hr 45min.) That's a pretty small file and I've found that running Handbrake at a relatively low quantization number can modestly improve SDVD image quality, so it seems worth a shot. As part of the project I'm also replacing the original 128Kb/s AAC track with an AC3 640Kb/s track (PCM derived).

My process is first re-render the original video file with Handbrake set for "high profile" "film" with "fast" rendering (file growth is OK) and quantization 16. The resulting file plays perfectly via VLC.

I then replace the re-rendered file AAC with the AC3 track using MkvMerge. This file also plays perfectly via VLC.

I then run MultiAVCHD set to either strict DVD/AVCHD (DVD-R target) or BD (BD-R target). The resulting stream files play perfectly via VLC.

I then burn the folder to the media using ImageBurn with verify. The resulting AVCHD or BD plays perfectly from the burner drive via VLC.

But when I try to play the disc (either format) on my Panasonic DMT110 BD player, the video freezes and audio stops a few seconds after they start, though the time count on the BD player display continues as though all was normal -- no error messages displayed. However, if I don't re-render the original video, otherwise following the same procedure, then the resulting disc plays normally on the Panasonic. The re-rendered file is near twice the size of the original -- final size on disc is ~8.2GB.

What's happening? Is Handbrake output in some fashion incompatible with retail BD players? Is there a workaround setting in Handbrake for this issue?

Last edited by TrevorS; 08-09-2014 at 06:23 PM. Reason: A few minor corrections and clarifications
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Old 08-10-2014, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
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I know Handbrake is a popular tool in the HTPC world, has no-one here used it to improve the PQ of a file before burning to disc? If you have, how did it go, any issues?
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Old 08-10-2014, 03:43 PM
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Well the problem could be in a few different spots, but my first guess is that your H.264 settings in HB are a little off. Are you using the presets, or advanced tab? If the latter, can you post your settings?

But more the the larger issue, I'm not sure if your project is a worthwhile endeavor. Without the use of additional filters, you aren't going to add any detail that wasn't in your original video or audio streams. Once they have been lossily compressed (H.264, and AAC) choosing a lower QP for video and a higher bitrate for audio will result in a larger file, but there won't be any additional detail in either. Subjectively you may find the picture to be "better" (most likely softer) but you are needlessly expanding the file size. The larger file size isn't indicative of more detail in the file, it just means you didn't compress it as efficiently as the first one.
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Old 08-10-2014, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
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The original AAC128 is being tossed. The replacement DD640 is converted from an LD PCM track and is far superior. I've learned that the hardware players do indeed have limitations that can definitely cause the problem I'm seeing, it's necessary to use a BD/AVCHD compatible profile and I don't see how to select one on Handbrake, the right pane options are all for file playing devices. I've clicked on the Advanced Settings and see nothing that gives any hints, so I've been using the settings I mentioned above, High Profile, Constant Quantization 16, Fast, Film. I'm currently giving Hybrid a try, it allows you to explicitly restrict the profile. It's appearing constant quantization is incompatible (at least at lower levels) whereas likely the constant rate mode could work.

I realize information that's gone is gone, but as I said, I've been able to achieve modest picture improvement with SDVD, and so I'm at least wanting to do an A B comparison and see if I can achieve a little of the same with this file. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work -- I just know this file is awfully small for a near three hour film and if I can reasonably do anything to help its picture I'm willing to give it a shot. I'm thinking these programs at lower quantization levels are able to do a little upscaling and chances are do a better job than the on-the-fly player or TV upscalers (they don't create detail either). Still, not that I know, just an impression from SDVD. The sticking point is I need the player to be able to play it so I can evaluate it on my TV screen, PC monitor is too small.

Last edited by TrevorS; 08-10-2014 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 08-10-2014, 07:10 PM
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The first thing that comes to mind is the number of Rrf/b-frames on the advanced tab. A lot of hardware players don't like higher numbers for those. But if you're sticking with the default profiles, I don't know what that translates to in ref/b-frames so that may or may not solve your problem.

As far as replacing the audio track with one from a different source, yes of course that could improve the quality. I misunderstood what you were saying in your original post.

With regards to the video, I still think you're wasting your time. At lower quantization levels, the encoder isn't doing more, it's doing less, and it isn't doing any scaling regardless of what level you've chosen. When you try and recompress a video that looks bad at a lower quantization level, what you're telling the encoder to do is encode that video (and all of its "badness") as faithfully as possible.(including all of the things that look bad) There is nothing going on in the encoder to try and improve the picture quality.

And subjective difference you see between the source and the original, in your scenario is due to the inherent loss of detail associated with a lossy compressor. (that is to say, any improvement you see is simply because you've recompressed the video again, not because you've found a particular setting that improves the picture)
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Old 08-10-2014, 09:29 PM
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I'm not that familiar with the AVCHD restrictions, but you need to use the vbv restrictions to encode BDMV-compliant streams. CRF mode allows unlimited bitrate fluxuations in order to achieve the selected quality from moment to moment, which isn't something media on an optical disc can handle, as the Blu-ray standard sets a cap of 40 Mbps. CRF mode doesn't behave well with vbv restrictions, though, so you get better results if you use two-pass encoding. Perhaps AVCHD has similar bitrate restrictions that cause choppy playback when your video violates them.

Depending on the level of grain and artifacts in the source, it's possible that RF 16 is exceeding the bitrate restrictions (and if the output is larger than the input, it's probably using that extra bitrate to preserve the encoding artifacts from the input as "details" in the output). Wikipedia claims that an AVCHD DVD-R cannot exceed 18 Mbps, and it seems quite likely that a live-action clip at RF 16 would exceed that without vbv restrictions.
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Old 08-12-2014, 01:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks fellows, I'm definitely in a learning mode and probably will be for awhile. I'm aware of the limitation that a request for additional detail can result in a more detailed display of the limitations rather than of the desired material ! I yesterday found that using Hybrid instead of Handbrake solves my problem of hardware player playability, but of course, that leaves the issue of what level of detail is actually helpful. I last tried 16 with a least "de-noise" filter, but I fear even that may have been undesirably damaging to the displayed depth/detail. This stuff is tough !
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Old 08-12-2014, 05:47 AM
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I just don't understand why/what you're trying to do. You can't improve a 4GB 720p video by re-encoding it with Handbrake. Preset fast will destroy picture quality in itself. Get a Roku or HTPC and call it a day.
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