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post #1 of 15 Old 03-15-2020, 05:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Advice on file format when using PC for films

Hi all, I started a similar topic elsewhere but never received a single response. I figured perhaps it was really not in the right area so my search for answers continues. I had hoped to one day build a theater PC, specifically for streaming and/or network playback. I have already started the project of ripping disks in attempts to prepare for this, but then realized that playing back disks that have been ripped into the native file structures do not always play well when using VC player and other softwares. Then I started thinking perhaps it was better to save them as ISO? So not really knowing what the best method is I saved them as both native ripped and ISO backups - and now I've filled up a 3gig drive and still a hundred+ of movies to go!



What are your suggestions for format, and playback methods? What is normal, and also what are other various options pros and cons?

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post #2 of 15 Old 03-15-2020, 06:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcosphoto View Post
Hi all, I started a similar topic elsewhere but never received a single response. I figured perhaps it was really not in the right area so my search for answers continues. I had hoped to one day build a theater PC, specifically for streaming and/or network playback. I have already started the project of ripping disks in attempts to prepare for this, but then realized that playing back disks that have been ripped into the native file structures do not always play well when using VC player and other softwares. Then I started thinking perhaps it was better to save them as ISO? So not really knowing what the best method is I saved them as both native ripped and ISO backups - and now I've filled up a 3gig drive and still a hundred+ of movies to go!



What are your suggestions for format, and playback methods? What is normal, and also what are other various options pros and cons?
I recommend ripping to MKV only the streams you require. Benefits are you end up with 1 file, easy to play back no menus to deal with etc. Benefits of an ISO is you retain all the menus but most stuff won't play ISOs without mounting.
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post #3 of 15 Old 03-15-2020, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by marcosphoto View Post
Hi all, I started a similar topic elsewhere but never received a single response. I figured perhaps it was really not in the right area so my search for answers continues. I had hoped to one day build a theater PC, specifically for streaming and/or network playback. I have already started the project of ripping disks in attempts to prepare for this, but then realized that playing back disks that have been ripped into the native file structures do not always play well when using VC player and other softwares. Then I started thinking perhaps it was better to save them as ISO? So not really knowing what the best method is I saved them as both native ripped and ISO backups - and now I've filled up a 3gig drive and still a hundred+ of movies to go!



What are your suggestions for format, and playback methods? What is normal, and also what are other various options pros and cons?
I have my entire collection of movies (over 1500 and counting) and TV shows converted to mkv files. My server is currently at 163 TB with 113 TB used. All of my DVD, Blu-Ray, and UHD Blu-Ray movies are 1:1 rips with no compression other than what's used on the original discs, hence the large amount of storage required. I also have a massive music library in flac format. I understand that converting the videos to mkv files may actually strip out certain features present on the disc (I forget what they are at the moment), but they work fine on my 7.1 surround system and 65" 4k HDTV. I tried using isos for playback ages ago but ran into issues with them freezing and stuttering. I converted a movie to mkv format and it played without a hitch. There are a number of apps that will play mkv files and most of them are free (i.e., Kodi, MPC-BE, VLC Media Player, and so on). I use JRiver Media Center for playback because it incorporates madVR and also allows me to catalog and play my extensive music library.

PCs pretty much suck for streaming. You'd be better off with a dedicated streaming box like a Roku or Nvidia Shield. The Shield is the next best thing to a standalone HTPC and does many things even better. I have Plex set up on my unRAID server and also have it on my Shield so I can access all of my movies and archived TV shows from the server and play them via the Shield. Right now I have both a Windows 7 HTPC , a Windows 10 HTPC, and a Shield in my primary Home Theater setup. I use the Win 7 HTPC with WMC for recording and the Win 10 HTPC with JRMC for movie, video, and music playback from my server. I use the Shield for streaming from Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus. Streaming apps available for a PC to use any of these services leave a lot to be desired. Use the right tool for the job.

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post #4 of 15 Old 03-16-2020, 01:53 PM
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I use iso's exclusively for years with zero problems. File structure rips are ok but containing them inside an iso is better for various reasons. I believe the source is THE most critical component involved in playback. It doesn't matter how fancy players, PC's, software, displays, etc. are, if the source isn't all it's supposed to be. I've never believed in having to modify the source because something is incapable of using it without modifying it. To me, that's ridiculous and the internet is filled with supporters of this approach. Rather, the other way around - Leave the source unaltered, as intended and produced and if your particular component is simply unable to deal with it... find another component that is! There are plenty that do a perfect job. Some cost while some are free. They may require slightly more hands on setting up (once), but the end result runs circles around the 'easy' approach such as mkv's. It's like anything else in life. You only get out as much as you've put into something.

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post #5 of 15 Old 03-17-2020, 08:21 AM
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Whether you use iso's or mkv's is mostly a matter of personal preference. When you convert to mkv you aren't modifying anything except perhaps stripping out certain components which may or may not affect how you play back the audio or video (someone explained what was missing from the mkv file a while back but it wasn't anything that affected playback on my setup). You can pick and choose which aspects of the file to retain when you convert it (i.e., language, subtitles, and soundtracks). Iso files give you more flexibility and contain all files contained on the original disc, such as extras and trailers and other assorted video clips. The mkv file just contains the main movie or any single clip that you wish to extract from the original source disc. However, you can also extract each individual video clip as a separate mkv file if you like so you can have all of the extras along with the main movie. You just have to select them manually for playback instead of from a menu. I don't generally watch the extras on a disc more than once so keeping everything in an iso file just takes up additional space on my server. I also hate having to wade through menus just to play the main movie. I just select the mkv file and playback starts immediately. I can always play from the original disc if I want to view any extras.

I have a wife and four grandkids and I have to keep things as simple as possible for them. All they need to do is scroll through the library and pick the movie they want and it starts to play. They would never be able to mount an iso file and have to figure out how to play the movie, especially my wife. The kids could probably figure it out eventually but my wife is utterly clueless when it comes to computers and technology in general. i like mkv files because they're more convenient without sacrificing any image or sound quality.

There is no right or wrong way for doing this. It just all depends on what features you want access to.
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post #6 of 15 Old 03-17-2020, 10:03 AM
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Some players auto mount iso's. Fwiw, if you use a player for an iso that has no mounting mechanism of its own, you can set one up once for it. There is no difficulty for playback for the naïve. It's the same as using an mkv or any other container. You press enter (play) on an iso title, and it plays. You can also just play the main movie only from an iso and auto skip the various other features some consider a burden depending how you set up your player(s) to handle iso's. Some provide 'skip to main movie' settings and others that simply can't handle menus have no choice but to bypass menus and play the main movie part of the title only. Yes, a complete 1:1 iso contains more data than a stripped out custom version of a title such as an mkv. Given the size and prices of hard drives, the savings difference is minimal and the impact this savings has once you cannibalize a perfect back up of your original disc is great. The OP will have to digest these responses.

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post #7 of 15 Old 03-17-2020, 10:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brazen1 View Post
Some players auto mount iso's. Fwiw, if you use a player for an iso that has no mounting mechanism of its own, you can set one up once for it. There is no difficulty for playback for the naïve. It's the same as using an mkv or any other container. You press enter (play) on an iso title, and it plays. You can also just play the main movie only from an iso and auto skip the various other features some consider a burden depending how you set up your player(s) to handle iso's. Some provide 'skip to main movie' settings and others that simply can't handle menus have no choice but to bypass menus and play the main movie part of the title only. Yes, a complete 1:1 iso contains more data than a stripped out custom version of a title such as an mkv. Given the size and prices of hard drives, the savings difference is minimal and the impact this savings has once you cannibalize a perfect back up of your original disc is great. The OP will have to digest these responses.
Let me ask you, brazen1... out of all of the PC-based players in your signature, MPC-BE\HC, PotPlayer, PowerDVD 19, DVDFab Player 3&5 and KODI 19 videoplayer, which one most effortlessly handles ISO playback of all varieties?
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post #8 of 15 Old 03-17-2020, 11:11 AM
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None of them in my experience. Each fills a void of another thus why I use so many for my diverse collection.

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post #9 of 15 Old 03-17-2020, 11:30 AM
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None of them in my experience. Each fills a void of another thus why I use so many for my diverse collection.
You realize that you just made my point as to why mkv files are so much easier to use. You only need one player, not an entire collection. All of my mkv files will play in a single player, and there are lots of players to choose from and most of them are free. You don't need to pay for PowerDVD or AnyDVD HD or DVDFab. MakeMKV is free while in beta and decrypts everything for you, although I would encourage you to support the author and buy a license. It's still a drop in the bucket compared to what those other apps cost.

No need to automount anything. Just double-click the file on your hard drive or select it in a media center library and it just plays, regardless of how diverse the source material is.
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-17-2020, 12:02 PM
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… and how do you play menu iso's, especially 3D iso's? You seem to think that everyone only cares about the main movie only. Myself and the O/P are different. We want to play our entire 1:1 disc rip, not a portion of it. We also want a complete 1:1 backup of our physical disc should anything happen to it. Automounting an iso washes no need for mounting an mkv. Even if it doesn't mount, it's easy to automate for players that simply can't handle it on their own.

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post #11 of 15 Old 03-18-2020, 05:43 AM
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… and how do you play menu iso's, especially 3D iso's? You seem to think that everyone only cares about the main movie only. Myself and the O/P are different. We want to play our entire 1:1 disc rip, not a portion of it. We also want a complete 1:1 backup of our physical disc should anything happen to it. Automounting an iso washes no need for mounting an mkv. Even if it doesn't mount, it's easy to automate for players that simply can't handle it on their own.
Like I mentioned previously, you can rip each individual video clip as an mkv file and access them from a folder instead of a menu. MakeMKV will rip each video clip on a disc in a single operation. You can only play one clip at a time so it's only a matter of how you want to access the particular clip you wish to view. If you want to rip it for archiving purposes as a backup then iso format is the way to go. You don't "mount" an mkv file. You simply play it by double-clicking on the file or opening it from your favorite playback app. I've never dealt with 3D movies so I can't address that. Not sure why you even brought that into the conversation since the OP never mentioned it either.

I'll say it again - there's no right or wrong way to do this. It's all a matter of personal preference. MKV vs iso format debates have been going on in this forum for as long as I can remember so it's nothing new.

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post #12 of 15 Old 03-19-2020, 06:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Excellent points all of you! Sorry if I hit a nerve in some LOL. So my thoughts on ISO are similar - too much trouble. So lets say I decide to go MKV, should I take all my rips/ISOs and convert with a software like handbrake? And, now that I hypothetically have all MKV - what's this about no menus?

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post #13 of 15 Old 03-19-2020, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by marcosphoto View Post
Excellent points all of you! Sorry if I hit a nerve in some LOL. So my thoughts on ISO are similar - too much trouble. So lets say I decide to go MKV, should I take all my rips/ISOs and convert with a software like handbrake? And, now that I hypothetically have all MKV - what's this about no menus?
Just mount the ISO and use MakeMKV to extract the movie into an MKV, no need to convert with Handbrake. The resulting file will just be a point, click, watch type thing with no menus.

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post #14 of 15 Old 03-21-2020, 04:37 AM
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Just mount the ISO and use MakeMKV to extract the movie into an MKV, no need to convert with Handbrake. The resulting file will just be a point, click, watch type thing with no menus.

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You don't even have to mount the iso. MakeMKV can extract the main movie directly from the iso file without having to mount it. I wouldn't use Handbrake unless you intend to reduce the file size. MakeMKV doesn't re-encode the file like Handbrake does. Either program can strip out the individual clips from the iso file, but you do lose the menu in the process. If you're extracting a single clip (i.e., just the main movie) there's no need for a menu anyway. If you want to extract every clip as an mkv file then simply label each clip to match the menu selection from the iso. It's a little more work but if you want the clips as mkv files then it's worth the effort. You can select the file you want to play from within the folder containing the mkv files for that movie. A menu is nothing but a list of shortcuts to each clip on the disc so having them labeled in a folder is essentially the same thing.

I highly recommend just ripping one or two discs to see if you like the way things work. You may decide that you prefer iso's for the menus, but it's all a matter of personal preference. Try it both ways and see what suits your needs.
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post #15 of 15 Old 03-21-2020, 12:54 PM
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You don't even have to mount the iso. MakeMKV can extract the main movie directly from the iso file without having to mount it.
I didn't realize that, thanks for the info

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