My Blu-Ray movie archival strategy

I’ll admit it; I love Blu-Ray movies. The huge improvements in audio and video quality over DVD are so tremendously worth it. However, playing Blu-Rays on HTPC’s can even be somewhat awkward. Even though I have my machine setup to automatically run Power DVD and start playing the disc after it’s inserted, it still kinda rubs me the wrong way. It’s one of the two things that can’t be done inside of Windows Media Center (Hulu Desktop is the other). Over the years, I’ve also been spoiled about having my entire movie library on the Drobo and instantly accessible without physical media (I also hate physical media). Hey, it’s a nice thing when you’re hammered at 2AM after a night of boozing and want to watch Heat at 150 decibels. Yeah, fuck you neighbors.

So here’s what I’ve been doing lately, and I’m pleased with. Rip the Blu-Ray movies into high bitrate WMV 9 video with WMV10 Pro 5.1 audio. There are pros and cons for every choice, but here’s why I chose this:

1) Media Center/Windows can natively handle both of these formats. No plug-ins or anything needed.
2) Can fast-forward and rewind natively; no need to skip in 30 second increments or jump backwards in 5 second hops. Can’t do that with any of the directshow stuff.
3) This is about the best combo for Media Center Extenders and xbox 360. Everything else is flakey on them.
4) 10 Mbps VBR WMV9 video looks pretty good. Great for casual viewing.

Now, the steps:
1) Use eac3to to rip the AC3 audio track to an AC3 stream. I guess you could try using other multi-channel formats, but I’ll stick with the AC3 5.1. eac3to is normally a CLI app, but there are a few GUI front-ends for it. I use the yr_eac3to_more_gui. Be sure to select the option to disable center channel normalization.
2) Use eac3to to rip the video to a MKV file. Don’t do anything super fancy here, just straight video to a MKV.
3) Fire up Windows Media Encoder and add the video file to the project. Select the correct profile and hit encode.
4) Convert the AC3 file to WMA10 Pro using dbPowerAmp or something similar. I usually do this ahead of time. Takes 8 mins or so.
5) Use Windows Media Stream Editor to mux the WMA file into the WMV.

5 steps isn’t too shabby at all — especially compared to some tutorials out there. Oh, it takes a long time to encode (about 4-5 hours on my rig). This is why you overclock and buy liquid cooled PC’s. Hot

Now for the pre-requisites. You’ll need the following software packages:
-Slysoft AnyDVD HD. This circumvents the retarded copy protection on BD movies. It is fucking pricey though (over 100 euros).
-eac3to (free download)
-eac3to GUI (not required but nice. free download)
-Windows Media Encoder.  (free download. be sure to grab the vista updates if you’re on anything later than XP)
-ffdshow & matroska splitter (free downloads). This allows Media Encoder to read the MKV file. Both are free downloads. Avoid any codec packs and just install them.
-something that installs with Windows Media Audio 10 Pro profile. This is generally included with commercial software, but I’m guessing it can be found somewhere on the net. I got it with dbPowerAmp which I bought eons ago. Great software then and still pretty good now.

That’s it as far as software. You will have to setup your media encoder profiles though. Use the Media Encoder Profile Utility for that. I generally shoot for 10mbps video and 98 VBR 16 bit audio at whatever the native AC3 rate was. I chose 10 Mbps because that’s right around the area where most media extenders and the xbox 360 top out at. People have reported issues at 15 mbps so I figure that 10 mbps gives us enough wiggle room. Plus, it looks pretty good.

If you have subtitles, there are a few more steps:

1) Extract subtitles to a .sup file using eac3to.
2) OCR the .sup file into a .srt file using supread
3) Convert .srt file to .sub file using Subtitle Workshop or something like that.
4) Make sure the name of the .sub file exactly matches the name of the WMV file and put it in the same directory.
5) Be sure to enable subtitles in WMP.

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About diqster

r to the hizzle
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3 Responses to My Blu-Ray movie archival strategy

  1. Unknown says:

    too bad you can\’t write a simple script to use CLIs to do it all magically

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