Originally Posted by jritschel
I guess I'm one of the lucky ones in that I don't already have a large library of digital content. I'm just starting down the path of creating digital copies of my DVDs for playing on my computer and/or Samsung Blu-Ray 5500. I'm struggling with just ripping the movies from the DVD to a network drive (VIDEO_TS) and using a media server like TVersity or actually converting the DVDs to a format that is directly playable on my Samsung via a network DLNA drive (Buffalo LinkStation). Any suggestions about which would be better? Also, if I rip directly to a format that is playable by the Samsung, which format would be best and any recommended tools/settings for doing so?
4 things to consider here, and I'm no expert, so I might make a basic mistake.
#1 Audio Compression Format
If you care about good surround sound, keep the best original soundtrack on the disc... DTS is better than AC3 (Dolby Digital), but takes more space. DTS can be up to 1.5Mbps, whereas AC3 can be up to 640k. If you want decent surround but don't mind compressing it a bit, go 384k AC3. If you only want stereo and want to save the most space, go MP3. If you're keeping multiple tracks, consider keeping the main movie track as AC3/DTS, but using mp3 for directors commentary and stuff. For high def source, there are even higher bitrate audio formats, but the 1.5Mbps DTS is usually pretty damn good and takes a real sound-nut to notice anything better than that IMO.
#2 Video Compression Format
The original video on DVDs is mpeg-2, but there's lots of better compression techniques than that now - basically means smaller file for same quality. H.264 (aka mpeg4, avc) is the best, however not everything decodes H.264 yet. An alternative is Divx which is supported by more standalone dvd players, but if all you care about is your PC and the samsung, then stick with H.264. (There are free versions of h264 and divx called x264 and xvid, respectively). If you start doing high-def video (like ripping from HDDVD or BD) then you need a computer to decode/reencode it in a reasonable amound of time, and decent video card and/or computer to playback high resolution or it'll be jerky, but for DVDrips, you only need a semi-decent computer. My Samsung BDP has played back all the high-def I've thrown at it, so that's not as issue.
Matroska or AVI are your best bets. Matroska is certainly better, it allows a lot more formats to fit inside, advantages like multiple audio tracks, multiple subtitles tracks, menus, chapters, etc. Unfortunately Samsung doesnt support all that yet - however it does support multiple audio tracks, but not subtitles yet. AVI is more common for older stuff and older dvdplayers typically support divx in avi.
#4 Software for doing it.
There's so many options depending on how much you wanna spend (including 0) and how much control you want, and how much you want to be able to do, etc. A couple peices of software to consider are Handbrake, free from handbrake.fr
and AnyDVD from www.slysoft.com
, but so many more choices out there and you may need to use a combination of different software to get the desired results. It'll be a learning experience, but there are guides to help you.
I recommend VLC Media player from www.videolan.org
, it plays everything natively. For x264, especially high def, I reccommend Media Player Classic Home Cinema from mpc-hc.sourceforge.net
, it was the only free player I found that supported hardware decoding video cards... I have an older computer and it's not fast enough to decode 720p without being jerky and it would peg my computer cpu at 100%... but i have a video card with h264 decoder, and when I use mpc-hc, those files play great and cpu usage is low (20%). MPC-HC sometimes requires you install the right codecs and stuff yourself tho, so thats why I recommend VLC first.
Filesize & Quality
With xvid into avi, you can get near-DVD quality with ac3 under 2 gigs, or pretty decent quality under 1 gig with mp3. Obviously that varies a bit with the length of the movie and the bitrate of the audio track. With x264 into mkv, even smaller (or better quality for the same size). I'd reccommend the x264 into mkv unless you really want backwards compatibility or have a slow computer - especially for high-def or foreign movies where you may want multiple audio tracks and subtitles. For high def x264, you can get excellent 720p with AC3 around 4gigs, want amazing quality with DTS, double that.
DLNA Server Software
In my opinion the biggest downside of Serviio is how slow it is to navigate on my bdplayer compared with the Samsung PC Share Manager software, but the biggest downside of the Samsung software is that it doesnt automatically update when you add/remove files and takes forever to build it's first database (if you have lots of files - for me over a week) and shuts down its server when you're rebuilding. As to J River, I havent' tried it, but I just read a report of someone having their entire media library erased by using it, to me that means it isnt even worth the risk of trying. No idea about your buffalo thing.
One more thing about Matroska & Subtitles on Samsung. The Samsung can't play subtitles from inside the mkv (yet- hope they fix this in firmware) but it can play them if they are in a separate file. The author of servioo says in his next version he may make serviio automatically extract the subtitles and send them as a separate file to get around this problem with Samsung. So don't let the fact that Samsung wont play the subs keep you from putting them in your mkv, there will be some solution in the future, either samsung or serviio.