Wednesday, 22 April 2015

experiments with Blu-Ray vs DVD to H.264 conversion

Aside from Apple not formally supporting Blu-Ray on their systems, there's the extra faff when converting them to a digital image to add to iTunes. I've got a Blu-Ray reader/writer (which looks just like the Apple ones). Despite being faster and USB 3 enabled, there is the lengthy extra step to process a Blu-Ray. It goes:
  • Use MakeMKV to pre-process the Blu-Ray into MKV format
  • Use Handbrake to squish it to digital streaming H.264 compressed format
  • Use MetaZ to add the tagging information to copy it to iTunes
I used the topical controversial frolicsome black fable* 'Die Blechtrommel' from Günter Grass as a comparison test, because it's one of the few movies I have as both as a DVD and a Blu-Ray (they were in the same packaging).
Die Blechtrommel
The original image converts to a MKV with German dialogue and carried over English subtitles at around 29 Gigabytes. Compressing it with Handbrake to H.264 quality RT20 takes it to 9.6 Gb. The MakeMKV + Handbrake process to do this takes about 35+25 minutes.

A straight Handbrake DVD extraction to H.264 takes about 15 minutes, including adding the burned in English subtitles. It's about 1.3Gb.

- best quality: 30Gb, 35 minutes to convert
- high quality: 10Gb, 60 minutes to convert
- good quality: 1.3 Gb, 15 minutes to convert

For me it illustrates the trade-off between quality and simple ability to view. I'll still mainly stick with a 'utility' view that I'd rather watch the movie than see every last grain of sand captured during filming.

* 'whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history' : Grass, left, as described for his Nobel literature prize - here with David Bennent who plays Oskar Matzerath, the boy who stopped growing and film-maker Volker Schlöndorff

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