Originally Posted by mayhem13
I'll be watching closely Scott and maybe following your lead if all goes well. As i mentioned earlier, i'm really happy with the standard def library and playback i've got going now via ATVs and i'll hold a while more to see if a 1080p ATV surfaces soon. Some folks have abandonded streaming BD and purchased Sony 400dic BD changers as an alternative.
Well I completed my first test. I decided to aim high and start off with a movie (Iron Man) which has forced subtitles, since that adds additional complexity and I wanted to find out just how much of a headache that would be. Steps (described at a really high-level) were as follows:
1) I had previously ripped the movie with DTS or DD (I forget which) audio track (not lossless as I didn't previously have a receiver that was optimized for that and I knew that would add even more complexity, as well as filesize). I used MakeMKV to rip the movie originally, selecting the English forced subtitles. That probably took about an hour to rip and resulted in a file approximately 25GB in size.
2) Then, because of the fact that Handbrake can't process the Blu-ray subtitle format, I had to use MKVextract to demux the subtitle tracks out of that. That gave me .sup files. I believe that took no more than 10 minutes. The rule of thumb is that the smallest file should be the forced subtitles. In this case, I had two identically-sized small files.
3) Then I used BDSup2Sub to convert those two .sup files to .idx/.sub (VobSub) files. That ran pretty much instantaneously. That process also allowed me to see at exactly which times in the movie those subtitles came into play, and I could read what they would say. I was able to use that to confirm that both of my small subtitle files appeared to be identical (not sure what that was all about). So for my next step, I only needed to make use of one of them.
4) The next step was to use MKVmerge to remux that newly formatted subtitle track back in with the .mkv file. I wasn't sure whether I needed the .idx file, the .sub file, or both, but MKVmerge made it easy for me, because when I went to add a file, it didn't "see" the .sub file, only the .idx file, so I chose that. If memory serves, remuxing the files only took about 5 minutes.
5) Finally I used Handbrake to convert the .mkv file to an MP4 (.m4v) file that an ATV2 could play "out of the box." Because I want to experiment with various quality settings, I only converted a small portion of the movie (10 minutes). I chose a timeframe where the forced subtitles would come into play. For my first test, I just used Handbrake's built-in Apple TV 2 preset, which downscales the 1920x1080 source file down to a 1280x720 file (technically, it was like 1280x528, because of the black bars present since this was a 2.40:1 (or so) formatted movie). The built-in Apple TV 2 preset uses a CF setting of 20 (that's a quality level you can set - the lower the number, the better the PQ theoretically, and also a faster encode time, but at the cost of a larger filesize). In this case, Handbrake's Apple TV 2 preset is supposed to automatically generate two audio tracks: One AC3 passthru track, and one mixed-down track, so as to provide compatibility with the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 as well (since they can't decode AC3 passthru). The AC3 passthru track is desirable for when hooking up your ATV2 to your A/V receiver. Because of some bug or another, it was only defaulting to create a single audio track, so I manually told it create the additional track. On the subtitle tab, I selected the VobSub subtitle track, and told it to "burn in" the subtitle, which means that during the encoding process it will actually merge the subtitle info with the video info. This means you can't turn off the subtitles when watching the movie, but in the case of forced subs, you wouldn't want to do that anyway, and burned-in subs should theoretically provide better cross-platform compatibility for these files.
So how long did it take Handbrake to convert 10 minutes worth of the movie into an ATV2-friendly 720p file using my new (refurbed) Intel i7-2600 desktop w/8GB of RAM? 5 minutes 47 secs. If that rate stays relatively constant, that would mean that a 120 minute movie could be converted in approximately 70 minutes. Obviously, you have to add in the time for the initial MakeMKV rip, and potentially added time (listed above) to demux/convert/remux forced subtitles. I could speed up the MakeMKV ripping time by purchasing a BD-ROM drive with faster read speeds. Anyways, I'm very excited about this. Note: The added steps/apps required to demux/convert/remux the subtitles seemed a bit overwhelming at first, but it was actually quite easy. Of course, it would be ideal if MakeMKV and/or Handbrake would handle these steps, but for now I think I can deal with it when needed.
I still have to try out different Handbrake settings to see what I like best, but my biggest dilemma now is whether I should stick with out-of-the-box ATV2 (and iPhone 4 and iPad 2) compatibility, or if I should turn it up a notch and keep the movies at 1080p (but still convert them with Handbrake so as to get the filesizes down to 7GB or less). If I go that route, I can still play them on the ATV2 via XBMC (or Plex, or aTV Flash), and I can *hopefully* play them on the next-gen ATV, whenever that comes out (I'm personally skeptical that there will be a new ATV released this year). The reason I mention converting the 1080p movies to a size below 7GB is because I'm assuming that should be plenty big to maintain a high degree of picture quality at 1080p, while also remaining within the buffer storage size of the ATV2, so that I should be able to reliably stream them over WiFi.