Using Handbrake to Encode DVDs for the Roku

Using Handbrake to Encode DVDs for the Roku

Update 2014-04-27 10:00 PM: See also Using Handbrake to Encode Blu-Rays for the Roku

In a previous post, I noted that I use ffmpeg to convert DVDs to MP4s which will play on my Roku. I recently encountered two problems with this approach. First, the resulting MP4s only include a stereo audio track, so are highly sub-optimal for surround sound systems. Second, for a yet-undetermined reason, Plex (my current preferred media client) will transcode the videos rather than play them directly.

To solve both problems, I have changed from ffmpeg to Handbrake and I am following the encoding guidance of Rokoding. Specifically, since most of my source material is DVDs, I use the 480p Original settings.

Just in case the Rokoding site disappears, I have reproduced the 480p DVD Settings below in a slightly modified form. These instructions apply to Handbrake 0.9.9.

In Handbrake, start with the High Profile preset and then make the following changes:

  • In Output Settings:
    • Set Container = Mp4
    • Ensure Web Optimized is checked
    • Ensure Large File Size and iPod 5G Support are unchecked
  • In Picture:
    • If the movie is widescreen or hard letterboxed, set Anamorphic = Strict. If the movie is 4:3, set Anamorphic = None and ensure Keep Aspect Ratio is checked.
    • Set Cropping = Automatic.
  • In Filters:
    • Set Detelecine = Off
    • Set Decomb = Fast
    • Set Deinterlace = Off
    • Set Denoise = Off
    • Set Deblock = Off
    • Ensure Grayscale is unchecked
  • In Video:
    • Set Video Codec = H.264 (x264)
    • Set Framerate (FPS) = Same as source
    • Set Constant Framerate
    • Set Quality = Constant Quality of RF:19
    • Set Optimise Video = Use Advanced Tab instead
  • In Audio:
    • Create two audio tracks. The first audio track will have:
    • Source = AC3 5.1 (which is what you should have ripped from your DVD)
    • Codec = AAC (faac)
    • Bitrate = 160
    • Samplerate = Auto
    • Mixdown = Stereo
    • DRC = 1.5
    • Gain = 0
    • The second audio track will have:
    • Source = AC3 5.1
    • Codec = AC3 Passthru
  • In Subtitles, keep everything empty. I do not handle subtitles.
  • In Chapters:
    • Ensure Create chapter markers is checked
  • In Advanced:
    • Set Adaptive B-Frames = Optimal
    • Set Adaptive Direct Mode = Automatic
    • In x264 Encoder Options, set it to b-adapt=2:rc-lookahead=50:direct=auto
  • The rest are as default:
    • Set Reference Frames = 3 (Default)
    • Set Maximum B-Frames = 3 (Default)
    • Ensure CABAC is checked
    • Ensure 8x8 Transform is checked
    • Ensure Weighted P-Frames is checked
    • Set Pyramidal B-Frames = Normal (Default)
    • Set Motion Est Method = Hexagon (Default)
    • Set Subpixel Motion Est = 7: RD in all frames
    • Set Motion Est Range to 16
    • Set Partition Type = Most (Default)
    • Set Trellis = Encode Only (Default)
    • Set Adaptive Quant Strength = Middle
    • Set Rate Distortion = Middle
    • Set Psychovisual Trellis = Leftmost Setting
    • Ensure No DCT-Decimate is unchecked
    • Set Deblocking = 0 (Default), 0 (Default)