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Discussion Starter #1
I've been poking around a few threads here, and a few other sites as well, to try and wrap my head around the best way to go about this. I currently have a modest 100-150ish physical DVDs, Blu-rays, and UHD Blu-rays. WIth my basement being newly finished, I would really like to digitize my library for easy access to my movies without getting out the discs. (Call me lazy, I guess).

I've been trying out Plex the past couple days to get a feel for the interface and test the streaming quality. As a temporary fix, I just ripped one blu-ray via MakeMKV on my home office Mac-Mini and imported that to Plex to play in my basement. I have hard wired gigabit internet at the computer and at my TV, and playing through Plex on ATV4k was smooth. Perhaps there's a better software though that could even read .iso files? With me only having my CX and my ATV4k sources, I would need a method that's available through one of those two sources though. I'm not interested in viewing my movies outside the house or on any device(s) other than my TV and/or ATV4k.

That being said, before I make the plunge further into this, I'd like some more feedback.

I've read about NAS boxes and external HDDs for large capacity storage and I think I generally understand. Is that the best route though? Can I just buy a box and a couple hard drives and go from there? Or even a docking station with a couple HDDs and map it to my home office machine? I don't want to really cheap out, but I also don't want to unnecessarily spend more than I need with what I'm trying to achieve.

And as far as ripping discs go.. is MakeMKV what's most recommend? It seemed popular from what I read. I need to figure out the best settings to make sure that a program like Plex reads the file properly and doesn't perform any transcoding as I want to make sure I maintain 1:1 (remux?) quality when I rip the discs.
 

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You don't get 1:1 unless you rip to Iso or to a directory structure

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Discussion Starter #3
You don't get 1:1 unless you rip to Iso or to a directory structure

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I thought I’d read that MakeMKV (and .mkv) files we what you wanted to use to get uncompressed video files but without the extra menus and such. I’m only interested in ripping the main video file.


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I thought I’d read that MakeMKV (and .mkv) files we what you wanted to use to get uncompressed video files but without the extra menus and such. I’m only interested in ripping the main video file.


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Not sure about Blu-Rays, but I used CloneDVD and AnyDVD to digitize my DVD collection.
Their forums are here if you're interested. They have software for Blu-rays too.
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I thought I’d read that MakeMKV (and .mkv) files we what you wanted to use to get uncompressed video files but without the extra menus and such. I’m only interested in ripping the main video file.


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You're correct as long as you have MakeMKV settings to not convert the audio/video.

Also I just have to point out that the DVDs and Blu-Ray discs are already "digital" so no "digitizing" is needed. It's just converting to a different media format. :)

As for storage, a NAS is one way to go, pretty simple. Many can also run Plex server if you need that. I don't have any experience with Plex as I have HTPCs at each of my displays and just use Kodi as a front end with direct file access to my NAS shares.

I have seen ATV users talking about a product called Infuse that seems to be well liked. Again, no experience there for me but might be worth looking into.
 

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I think Plex is a great way to go if you're just starting out especially. Plex and Emby are really pretty equal options for a media server and have amazing examples and tutorials all around the web.

One tip I'll offer that you already seem to be doing...check a couple of your rips early. I had spent a couple months off and on ripping almost all of my 200+ DVDs and about 8 seasons of TV show DVDs using Handbrake...only to realize I had a convert set that was changing all of my audio tracks to stereo! So even though I selected the 7.1, 5.1, etc they were all modified by the preset I was using. :-( Then when I thought I found the right preset to do my audio as passthrough it turned out that one was using the option to burn the subtitle track directly to the video (you couldn't turn subs off any more). At least I found that after only re-ripping two movies.

I didn't discover the audio issue immediately because I was only viewing the movies on my laptop of phone as I'm still working to set up my home media streaming through the house more. But when I figured it out I had some very choice words for myself. :p

Then in the process of solving all that I also learned that the m4v format does not support DTS which I somehow missed in my early research.

So I'm actually going back through now and working out all the details for how I want these via MakeMKV and starting again from scratch. At least now i'm working off a 16-core Ryzen 7 3700 and internal drive and not just my laptop with a USB drive!
 

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I've read about NAS boxes and external HDDs for large capacity storage and I think I generally understand. Is that the best route though? Can I just buy a box and a couple hard drives and go from there? Or even a docking station with a couple HDDs and map it to my home office machine? I don't want to really cheap out, but I also don't want to unnecessarily spend more than I need with what I'm trying to achieve.

And as far as ripping discs go.. is MakeMKV what's most recommend? It seemed popular from what I read. I need to figure out the best settings to make sure that a program like Plex reads the file properly and doesn't perform any transcoding as I want to make sure I maintain 1:1 (remux?) quality when I rip the discs.
I use MakeMKV to rip my discs, and you're correct, the quality of the mkv file should be 1:1. You can customize and leave out unwanted audio and subtitle tracks so that the file size is smaller, but there's no compression. I always rip using MakeMKV first so I have a lossless master file, and then use Handbrake (which is lossy) only if I need a different format or a smaller file size.

I'd recommend the Nvidia Shield TV Pro and a USB hard drive as a starting point, and just ripping everything you have to mkv at first. Even a cheap 4TB drive holds a lot of discs, and you can connect two hard drives directly to the Shield Pro and upgrade as you go. The Plex server runs on the shield in the background, and the shield plex client can access and play the files on your main TV without transcoding and without any network bottlenecks.

Once you're ready to go NAS, it's just a matter of making sure your home network is fast enough, and either pointing the plex server on your Shield TV to the NAS storage, or running the plex server from your NAS directly.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I’ve heard of Handbrake but am not familiar with it, yet. How do you recommend reducing file size without losing quality?

I assume maintaining mkv file format? But what about the Video Encoder? Or the Constant Quality RF? I’ve been poking around the settings a bit to understand what’s there (and if any of the presets are worthwhile?) but any tips are much appreciated.


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I wouldn't waste time ripping DVD's or Blu's. Time consuming for sure. Plus dvd quality isn't that great anyway.

Are your discs super obscure or all mainstream?

Do you subscribe to streaming services, if so are many or most of your movies found on streaming services like Netflix? If so, even more reason to avoid the HOURS of pita ripping.
 

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I’ve heard of Handbrake but am not familiar with it, yet. How do you recommend reducing file size without losing quality?

I assume maintaining mkv file format? But what about the Video Encoder? Or the Constant Quality RF? I’ve been poking around the settings a bit to understand what’s there (and if any of the presets are worthwhile?) but any tips are much appreciated.


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It's impossible to reduce file size without also reducing quality. The question is how much quality you lose and is it noticeable to you? If you have a 42" TV, you may not notice at all but in a few years you get a projector and a 120" screen and suddenly that movie you converted looks like crap. Personally I don't think it's worth the time, disk space is relatively cheap so just keep the original. Having said that, I have downsized some older movies, especially some comedies and other types were picture quality is really not a priority. Keep the major epic/action types like LOTR, Star Wars etc at maximum quality for sure though! :)

Haven't used Handbrake myself but I'm sure there are some online guides out there that should give an idea on what the best settings are.

While I'm rambling on here, I'll also mention I ripped all of my Blu-Ray movies and have them online via a NAS but I fine I really rarely watch many of them, too much new stuff to view! :) But it is nice to have them available I guess.
 

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I wouldn't waste time ripping DVD's or Blu's. Time consuming for sure. Plus dvd quality isn't that great anyway.

Are your discs super obscure or all mainstream?

Do you subscribe to streaming services, if so are many or most of your movies found on streaming services like Netflix? If so, even more reason to avoid the HOURS of pita ripping.
Strong disagree :) I don't begrudge anyone who doesn't think its worth the hassle, but for me, having physical media with backups that I own and control is well worth it. You're absolutely correct that its a time consuming pita, but I've ripped 300+ discs (all my blu rays and about 2/3 of my DVDs) and having them all on demand in an organized media library is fantastic. I also found that I'm watching movies I've owned for years but not watched because I never flip through my giant DVD binder. Discs get damaged over time, too, so having 1:1 backups is an added bonus, and being able to pack the discs away in a closet is a space saver.

Even for DVDs, as long as its not an action movie and has a decent transfer, the quality is surprisingly good, even on a modern TV. My non anamorphic Blade Runner DVD sucks of course, but something like Rounders or Super Troopers is totally fine.

Streaming picture quality is improving for sure, but I know what I'm getting with my ripped discs, and I'll watch blu ray over streaming 100% of the time if I can. And streaming service fatigue is real - I've got Netflix, Prime, Hulu, Disney, HBO, Starz, and Peacock, costing close to what I used to pay for cable, and I still have to pay to rent the movie I want half the time anyway. So if its a choice between a ripped DVD and a $4 rental, I'll usually just pull up the DVD.
 

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It's impossible to reduce file size without also reducing quality. The question is how much quality you lose and is it noticeable to you? Personally I don't think it's worth the time, disk space is relatively cheap so just keep the original. Having said that, I have downsized some older movies, especially some comedies and other types were picture quality is really not a priority. Keep the major epic/action types like LOTR, Star Wars etc at maximum quality for sure though! :)

Haven't used Handbrake myself but I'm sure there are some online guides out there that should give an idea on what the best settings are.
This exactly. Disc space is cheap and getting cheaper all the time, and plex does a great job with transcoding on the fly for devices that don't support mkv, so I hardly use Handbrake at all anymore.
 

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Based on the current cost of storage vs the current average cost of electricity, it will cost you MORE to re-encode and reduce the file size than to buy larger hard drives. Crazy, but true. I ran the numbers a while back.
 

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I’m ripping discs using MakeMKV as I type this. I’ve ripped 1500+ discs in the last 8 years using Plex as my server. I usually use Plex as the player on dozens of different devices.

Mlknez said you don’t get 1:1 ripping with MakeMKV which is partially true. You don’t get a duplicate experience of putting a disc in a player this way with Menu’s to navigate. To get the Menus, you would need to rip to .iso and the player support for iso’s is much more limited. I don’t know if ATV supports iso?

With MakeMKV, you DO get 1:1 in video and audio quality including HDR10, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

If you want lossless audio, ATV4k does not bitstream lossless codes like Dolby TrueHD, DTS MA, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. I don’t have an ATV, but I think it processes the audio as PCM. However, I’ve read many guys are happy playing their rips with ATV. Probably the most popular device that bitstreams audio is the Nvidia Shield. I’ve also used an Odroid N2.

You also have no reason to reduce the video or audio file size using handbrake unless you wanted to play these files on devices that don’t support Plex direct playback, like phones, tablets, and some streaming devices. Then you would need a Plex server powerful enough to transcode the stream.

If you only want to play ripped Movies in your theater, you don’t necessarily need a server running 24/7. You could just connect a USB hard drive to your current computer and rip your media to that and just turn on the computer whenever you want to watch a movie. Do this for awhile to further get your feet wet and see what you like and don’t like about it.

Then you could think about if you want to go with a Server or NAS, etc. The comment about using a Nvidia Shield Pro with an attached hard drive as your Plex server and front end is a good one. Once you have the Movies ripped to a hard drive, you can copy or move them anywhere else if you change your system.

It will take some time to rip your current library, but once that is done, it’s not much time to rip new additions.

Consider backing up your rips to a different Hard Drive. Once you have ripped dozens or hundreds of movies, if that hard drive fails you don’t want to re-rip them… at least I don’t.
 
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Discussion Starter #15
Very much appreciate the feedback, everyone. As @garnuts said, I may give it a try just ripping to an external HDD via USB for now, and plug it in when we want to watch something. It may be a good way to test it further and also it saves me the $200 (for now) of buying a Shield Pro, or even more if I were to by a Server or NAS.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
When it comes to HDDs for movie storage - what are people's recommendations?
Browsing around I see a lot of support for Seagates over WD. Both the Barracuda and the IronWolf. The IronWolf looks like it's a NAS drive, so I don't know if that's different than a typical HDD? If I'm going to simply dock them via USB, will a NAS specific HDD work? Thinking I should look at a HDD in the ~10TB range.
 

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When it comes to HDDs for movie storage - what are people's recommendations?
Browsing around I see a lot of support for Seagates over WD. Both the Barracuda and the IronWolf. The IronWolf looks like it's a NAS drive, so I don't know if that's different than a typical HDD? If I'm going to simply dock them via USB, will a NAS specific HDD work? Thinking I should look at a HDD in the ~10TB range.
When I started out, I just used what I had on hand, a couple $100 2TB-4TB WD portable drives. When those filled up, I got a $180 10TB external WD desktop drive, which uses AC power and lives in my AV cabinet permanently. No strong feelings about WD, I just went by price. I now rip my discs to the 4TB and then plug it into the shield directly to copy to the big drive. This ends up being much faster than transferring giant files over the network, especially when one network error means you have to start over with copying a 30GB file. Once the 10TB fills up, I'll use the 4TB as a second storage drive on the shield, and then upgrade again when that fills up, probably to a dedicated NAS.
 
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As far as HD's, I'm not brand loyal either. I also buy on sale, my sweet spot is $15 or less per TB. It seems the last couple of years I bought mostly WD. I've not found the need for NAS HD's, even in my server running 24/7.

I got this 14TB WD drive for $190 on sale twice last fall/holiday season.

4K UHD's will fill your HD twice as fast as BD, so keep that in mind. I rip both the BD and UHD versions of movies. If you are going to watch a 4K UHD/HDR movie on a device that does not play that natively, then that device or 'player' has to do HDR to SDR tone-mapping (conversion), which many devices don't do well if at all. Such as watching a 4K HDR movie on a 1080p TV. That way, if I'm watching remotely or on a device that cannot direct play the UHD version, I'll can play the HD version so my server has to do less transcoding video/audio and I don't have to worry about tone-mapping.

If you're not going to watch your 4K rips anywhere other than on capable devices, then you wouldn't need to consider ripping the HD version. I figure I can always delete the HD version any time in the future, but it's easier to rip both versions at the same time.
 
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