General WDTV Groups > Audio and Video Conversion

Converting DVDs to MKV

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I have a problem. I want to convert a bunch of my tv show collection dvds to MKV. I have already converted them to separate VOBs with DVDfab 5. The files are, of course, huge. I want to convert them for two reasons. One to save space, and the other so that WDTV can navigate them better. Problem is, every time I convert them the quality is crap. It seems there has to be some way to make a one hour tv show which is 2 gigs on a vob into a 700mb MKV. I want to do this so that there is no massive visual loss in quality. A very slight loss I can understand. Has anyone had really good luck with this? Crunch time is not an issue as I have a spare PC I can dedicate to the project. Also, what about progressive vs interlaced? Should I make the MKVs progressive?


DVDFab will also convert it to a Xvid.mkv file fairly quick in the DVD to Mobile section. The Xvid files should look good if you are going from vob files. The files will be half the original size, and in an mkv container so they play nice with the WDTV.  I use the 2 pass. You can keep the 5.1 channels of audio and just keep your sound quality. On my computer it takes about an hour to an hour and a half to process the video. 

There are lots of different ways to approach this of course, but this is the technique I've developed over the last couple of months with satisfactory results.

I first rip the DVD into a separate video folder for each episode. That can be done either with a combination of DVD Decryptor and DVD Shrink (both free) or DVD Fab.

I then use Handbrake to convert these files. My settings are H.264 codec, crop automatic, anamorphic loose. I recommend the use of detelecine and decomb filters to address interlacing or related issues. If the original video quality is decent you shouldn't need to use de-block or de-noise. I use constant quality at 62% which gives me a good balance of compression vs. quality even played back on a 50" tv. I've had success in some case going lower (58%), but I've yet to find a good reason to go higher than that. I usually include the 5.1 soundtrack and any commentary tracks. The rest of my settings all come from the AppleTV preset in Handbrake.

On my fairly wimpy machine a 45 minute show takes about 100 -120 minutes to encode, but a quad core would do it substantially faster. File size ranges for 600MB - 1GB depending on the amount of action in the show which is probably about a third to half of the original file size.

I just tried a program called MakeMKV  ( which seems to work pretty well to convert DVD's to .mkv files.

FWIW, I've been converting a couple of DVD-Video rips to MKV / H.264 using Handbrake also.

I used the Film preset with some modifications: turned down the bitrate from 1800 to 1500, and increased ref frames from 3 to 5. The output is around 1.8GB per 2 hours or so. I'm very pleased with the result.

I start the encoding at night before going to bed, and let Handbrake hibernate the computer when its done. Simple :-)


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