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Ultimate Blu-ray Disc (3D) Ripping Guide

Update 2016

  • I have found a simpler way for converting the subtitles and encoding half-side-by-side 3D video, check this update.
  • This suckers are stealing my title and images.
  • If you find this information useful, you can support by donating on this link.

Purpose of this guide

The purpose of this guide is to share the knowhow of video encoding so you can create a backup copy of your own Blu-ray Discs and watch your movies on a wider range of devices that doesn't support or have a Blu-ray Disc drive using almost only free/libre software.

This guide does not encourage, support or endorse piracy in any way, we are not responsible in any way on what anyone can do with this information, all the information here is provided "as is", without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and noninfringement. In no event shall the authors or copyright holders be liable for any claim, damages or other liability, whether in an action of contract, tort or otherwise, arising from, out of or in connection with this guide or the use or other dealings in the guide.

Format goals

  • MKV AVCHD - format for most Smart TVs.
  • M4V AVCHD - for iTunes / Apple TV 3.
  • MKV AVCHD SBS 3D - for SBS compatible hardware, software and Smart TVs.

Yes, there are plenty of tools that can achieve the same goals with a single click, but this guide is designed to give you full control over every single step of the encoding process, achieve higher quality, get smaller and more compatible files, use the best tools available and almost 99% free/libre software, no unwanted extras included in the files, but most important, this guide will show you techniques that are bullet proof and 100% tested, the encoded files will work great on any Smart TV, Apple TV, XBMC, Stereoscopic Player, PowerDVD, etc. showing perfect results and quality.

System Requirements

  • Windows: I'm running all this software on Windows 8.1 x64 on a MacBook Pro Retina, sadly, almost all of this software only runs on Windows.
  • A Blu-ray Disc Drive: I'm using a USB External Blu-ray Disc Drive, there are plenty of those in Amazon
  • OS X: For those who want to have an iTunes / Apple TV Compatible format.
  • Free disk space: at last 50GiB

Source

The Blu-ray Disc title I'm using for this guide is "Thor: The Dark World (2013)" which is a 3D Blu-ray I own.

Software Required

Steps

To convert a Blu-ray Disc into a MKV or M4V video file we have to do the following steps:

  1. Install all the software necessary.
  2. Extract all the desired tracks.
  3. Encode and convert all the tracks one by one.
  4. Video Encoding
  5. Audio Encoding
  6. Subtitles OCR
  7. Join all the encoded and converted tracks into a single file (mux or remux).

System Preparation

First, we need to have all the necessary tools for video encoding, demuxing and muxing correctly installed.

  1. Install AnyDVD HD to have unencrypted access to your Blu-ray Disc.
  2. Install HandBrake.
  3. Create a folder to store all the free software that doesn't require installation, for this guide I'm going to use the folder c:\brdsoft.
  4. Add the c:\brdsoft to your system path:
  5. Right click on the bottom left corner of Windows 8.1 to access the menu and then click "System":
    Windows Menu
  6. On the "System" window click on the "Advanced system settings":
    System
  7. On the "System Properties" windows, click on the "Environment Variables" button:
    System Properties
  8. On the "Environment Variables" windows, edit the "PATH" on the "User variables" list and add the path where you'll put the software with a ; at the beginning ;C:\brdsoft:
    Environment Variables
  9. Click on the "Ok" button and close all windows:
    Edit Env. Variables
  10. Uncompress the eac3to327.zip file into the directory:
    Files
  11. Uncompress the SubExtractor1031.zip file into the directory.
  12. Uncompress the suprip-1.16.rar file into the directory.
  13. Uncompress mkvtoolnix-amd64-6.8.0.7z into directory:
    Files
  14. Create a folder for your rip, in this guide I'll use: C:\bdrip:
    Folder

Demuxing

  1. Check which drive letter identify your Blu-ray Disc, mine is D::
    Drive
  2. Using your Command Prompt, go to your rip directory.
    Dir
  3. Type eac3to D: to list all playlist tracks on the disc:
    Playlists
  4. Now let's check the playlist information by typing eac3to D: 2):
    Playlists Info
  5. Now let’s see which tracks to extract from the disc, you have to choose which fit your preference, typically you'll choose the chapters track, the main video track(s), the original audio track, the audio track that is on my native language, the original subtitles, the subtitles in my native language.
  6. To extract my desired tracks I type the following command:
    eac3to D: 2) 1:chap.txt 2:left.h264 3:right.h264 4:en.dts -core 7:es.ac3 9:en.sup 11:es.sup
    This command tells eac3to to extract (demux) form the D: drive, from the 2) playlist, the 1: track as a chapter file, the 2: track as a left eye H264 video stream, the 3: track as the right eye H264 stream (which is not an standard H264 stream but an AVC Stereo stream), the 4: English audio track on DTS Core format (core means 5.1), the 7: Spanish audio track on AC3/Dolby format, the 9: English subtitles track, and finally the 11: Spanish subtitles track:
    Playlists Info
  7. The extracted file tracks should look like this:
    Demuxed Files

IMPORTANT: Write down the length of the track and the frame rate, we will use this values later, in this guide the track length is 1:52:03 and the frame rate is 24p /1.001 (29.976).

Note on Video: For this guide I'm using a 3D movie, there is nothing to worry about, the main difference between a 2D and a 3D is the extra video track for the right eye, if you don't want to create a 3D movie you can ignore the extraction of this track.

Note on Audio: Most Home Theater Systems support Dolby Digital up to 5.1, Apple TV 3, Logitech Z-5500 and Z906 Speaker Systems doesn't support more than 5.1, that's why we are not using the 7.1 DTS audio track but the 5.1 core track, but is up to you to use DTS 7.1 instead.

Video Encoding

For most Smart TVs and Apple TV

  1. For encoding we will use HandBrake, but first we have to give HandBrake a video format that can understand, HandBrake can't encode a H.264 file directly, so we have to mux the file into an MKV container, open mmg.exe on the C:\brdsoft\mkvtoolnix folder.
    mkvtoolnix
  2. Drag your left.h264 track file into the mkvmerge GUI window:
    mkvtoolnix
  3. After dragging your track, mkvmerge GUI will automatically define an output file name for your video, just click on the "Start muxing" button and wait until it finishes:
    mkvtoolnix muxing
  4. After muxing, click the Ok button and close mkvmerge GUI, then, open HandBrake, and drag the left.mkv we just created to the HandBrake window.
  5. Because we want a very compatible file, we will select the Apple TV 3 preset from the presets on the right. HandBrake automatically decide how to crop the video, this is useful but sometimes isn't accurate, I'll fix the crop option to keep the removal of the letterboxing but not the left and right pixels, and after that I'll make sure the video width is 1920:
    HandBrake Picture Tab
  6. Now, knowing my video isn't interlaced, I'll disable any filter on the filter tab:
    HandBrake Filter Tab
  7. Knowing my video track run at 23.976fps I'll set that value and select Constant frame rate, this is mainly because sometimes HandBrake doesn't know how to handle frame rates, then enable the Fast decode check box to make it friendly with more devices, and finally on x264 Tune set it to Film, you can choose a more convenient tune depending on your content, for animated movies "Animation" works best:
    HandBrake Video Tab
  8. IMPORTANT: Since we don't have any audio, subtitle or chapter included (we are only encoding the video track), let's disable any option on the tabs, also, we will use MKV as our output format so it can be remuxed later:
    HandBrake Extra Tabs
  9. Then press the Start button and wait for the encoding to finish.
  10. After the video encoding is done, we do the audio encoding.

3D SBS Video Encoding

Check the updated instructions in the update.md file.

Audio Encoding

This step is easy, but first let's understand why we have to encode the audio tracks, first is the compatibility factor, AC3/A52/Dolby is the most supported digital audio format out there, DTS is not, second, Apple TV can't handle DTS, and third and most important, recoding the audio save a lot of disk space.

The most common audio formats on Blu-ray Discs are DTS and Dolby, and the most common audio channel configurations are 5.1 and 7.1, eventually mono and 6.1 (Star Wars for example). eac3to is mainly an audio encoding tool and it really shines at that, we are going to encode audio with this tool, if you are a truly audio enthusiast and really want a super-human-ear-quality-audio you should check how to enable superior quality decoders into eac3to.

In this case we have two audio tracks, en.dts is the English DTS 5.1 audio track which was extracted from the "DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1" audio track, and es.ac3 is the Dolby 5.1 Spanish audio track.

First let's encode the English audio on the Command Prompt using the following command:

eac3to en.dts en_encoded.ac3 -448

DTS to AC3 480

This command tells eac3to to encode the en.dts track into a Dolby audio track en_encoded.ac3 with 448Kbps audio quality, the quality you use is at your discretion but from my personal experience with many digital/optical audio speakers systems I can tell that there is not a significant perceptible difference in quality going beyond 448Kbps, but it is a significant hard drive space wasted, so the decision is up to you.

Now let's encode the "es.ac3" audio track on the command prompt with the following command:

eac3to es.ac3 es_encoded.ac3 -448

AC3 640 to AC3 480

That's all with the audio encoding, the original English audio track uses 1.18GiB (1,268,183,720 bytes) and the reencoded audio uses only 359MiB (376,506,368 bytes), that is 3.36 times less (70.31%) than the original, same thing with the Spanish audio track, from 512 MiB (537,866,240 bytes) to 359MiB (376,508,160 bytes) 30% less.

Fun fact: "eac3to" encode Dolby audio using "Aften", which is a free/open source library for Dolby encoding, the name "Aften" came from "A Fifty-Two ENcoder", Dolby is also known as a A52 audio format.

Subtitles

Check the updated instructions in the update.md file.

Remuxing

Now that we have the video and audio tracks encoded we join them together, this action is commonly known as muxing or remuxing, for that task we use mkvmerge GUI, open mmg.exe which is located on your C:\brdsoft\mkvtoolnix folder.

We haven't prepared our chapters track, first select Chapter Editor tab on the mkvmerge GUI window, then drag the chap.txt file into the tab.

Subtitle Drag

Now is up to you naming your chapters as Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc. You can also name them as the chapter name it has in the disc box (Some music concerts have chapter names) or leave it as is.

After naming your chapters save your chapter xml file by clicking on the "Chapter Editor->Save as" menu, I use the file name chap.xml.

Subtitle Drag

Remux for most Smart TVs and preparing for Apple TV

This MKV file will include an arrangement of the tracks in the following order:

  1. Video: left-1.mkv (the one encoded with HandBrake)
  2. English Audio Track: en_encoded.ac3
  3. Spanish Audio Track: es_encoded.ac3
  4. English Subtitles: en.srt
  5. Spanish Subtitles: es.srt

Now, select the Input tab on mkvmerge GUI window and drag one by one in order each file into the mkvmerge GUI window and then uncheck the Global tags track, it has to look like this:

Mux List

Now let's specify some details on each track, set the language of the audio tracks and subtitle tracks:

Audio Track Lang

Subtitle Track Lang

Set the subtitle encoding to UTF8 on each subtitle track:

Subtitle Encoding

Set the chapter track, click on the Global tag, on the Chapters file browse and select the XML chapter file we made before chap.xml:

Chapters

IMPORTANT: Set the output file name, it is highly recommended to name your file with the movie title as it appears on IMDB, with the name of the movie and the year, in this way media player, media centers and other video software an lookup information about your movie on the internet, XBMC and iFlicks do it in that way, I'll name my file "Thor - The Dark World (2013).mkv".

Then click the Start muxing button:

Muxing

And we are done, here are the final file specs:

Name.........: Thor - The Dark World (2013).mkv
Size.........: 3.80 GiB
Duration.....: 01:52:03.384
Resolution...: 1920x800
Codec........: AVC High@L4.0
Bitrate......: 3 858 Kbps
Framerate....: 23.976 fps
Aspect Ratio.: 2.40:1
Audio........: English 448 Kbps CBR 6 chnls AC3
Audio........: Spanish 448 Kbps CBR 6 chnls AC3
Subs.........: English, Spanish.

For Apple TV and modern iOS devices

To create a M4V file compatible with Apple TV 3 and most modern iOS devices we process the MKV file we just created in the previous step with the commercial app iFlicks 2, to avoid video re-encoding by this app always use X264 High Profile, Level 4 when encoding video. In this guide I'll use the Thor - The Dark World (2013).mkv we just make in the previous step, check the following video on how to use iFlicks 2:

How to use iFlicks

iFlicks 2 automatically create the stereo version of each Dolby audio track, it adds all the necessary metadata, cover, and remux the movie as a M4V video ready to be used on iTunes or any modern iOS device.

Here are the final iFlicks 2 file specs:

Name.........: Thor - The Dark World (2013).m4v
Size.........: 4.07 GiB
Duration.....: 01:52:03.370
Resolution...: 1920x800
Codec........: AVC High@L4.0
Bitrate......: 3 953 Kbps
Framerate....: 23.976 fps
Aspect Ratio.: 2.40:1
Audio........: English 164 Kbps VBR 2 chnls AAC LC
Audio........: English 448 Kbps CBR 6 chnls AC3
Audio........: Spanish 164 Kbps VBR 2 chnls AAC LC
Audio........: Spanish 448 Kbps CBR 6 chnls AC3
Subs.........: English, Spanish.

MKV for Side-by-side 3D File

Let's open mkvmerge GUI again and repeat almost the same steps as in the For most Smart TVs and preparing for Apple TV step with one small difference, the video track, so this MKV file will include an arrangement of the tracks in the following order:

  1. Video: sbs.h264 (the one encoded with X264 and AviSynth)
  2. English Audio Track: en_encoded.ac3
  3. Spanish Audio Track: es_encoded.ac3

So just as in the For most Smart TVs and preparing for Apple TV step, set the language on all audio tracks, DO NOT INCLUDE SUBTITLE TRACKS, subtitle tracks don't work well on Side-by-side 3D because when the movie is shown it blends both sides of the video, so you will see the half subtitles on each eye, you can create a 3D subtitle with 3DSubtitler and include them when muxing the video, but again, the result don’t work very well, this is mainly because when you are watching a 3D movie (stereoscopic movie) your eyes are focusing on the main subject on each scene, when you try to read the subtitles your focus point changes, this is very exhaustive to your eyes, I'll not recommend using subtitles but is up to you.

IMPORTANT: Some media players can read the 3D information from the MKV file, 3D is in fact Stereoscopy, so let's set this setting selecting the video track, clicking the Format specific options and then choosing side by side (left first) option.

Muxing SBS

Then set the file name, in this case I will use the [Thor - The Dark World (2013) SBD-3D.mkv] file name so I'll know that it is a 3D movie, finally click the Start muxing button.

And we are done, here are the final file specs:

Name.........: Thor - The Dark World (2013) SBD-3D.mkv
Size.........: 3.78 GiB
Duration.....: 01:52:03.360
Resolution...: 1920x1080
Codec........: AVC High@L4.0
Bitrate......: 3 839 Kbps
Framerate....: 23.976 fps
Aspect Ratio.: 16:9
Audio........: English 448 Kbps CBR 6 chnls AC3
Audio........: Spanish 448 Kbps CBR 6 chnls AC3

Results

On XBMC

XBMC

On QuickTime OS X

QuickTime Lang

QuickTime Chap

On iTunes

iTunes

On Windows and OS X

OS X

Windows

SBS On VLC Windows

VLC

SBS Interlaced on Stereoscopic Player Windows

iOS

On iOS

iOS

iOS

iOS

iOS

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