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Thread: Anything Your Digital Media

  1. #1

    Anything Your Digital Media

    So I had pretty much given up on my home media serving plans with Microsoft's sabotage of Windows Media Center. It was always on the verge of being great but never got there. Then they killed it. I was aware that there were alternatives but none of them really seemed to be as easy to access around the house as WMC. For some reason I decided to start playing around with Plex.

    Now I had already ripped most of my DVDs about ten years ago using a combination of AnyDVD and Handbrake to make high quality MP4s. I decided to install AnyDVD on my current computer and rip the ones I've acquired over the last decade. Of course most of the video I purchase now is on blu-ray. I happened across a video about ripping 4K blu-rays a few months ago and so I recently revisited the topic.

    What I found was an Asus drive is said to be the best to have because it's considered the most future proof as far as being "UHD Friendly". I bought it for $75. The one I bought did not come with any sort of blu-ray playing software, a must if you want to play blu-rays out of the box, so I had to figure out this ripping thing in order to get any value out of my purchase.

    I did try my version of AnyDVD first. I had paid for a lifetime license ten years ago but the company got shutdown and then basically reopened under a different name. I was unable to get my copy, with the HD license, to do anything productive so I disabled it. I already had MakeMKV so I opened that. Figuring MakeMKV was actually the hardest part for me. Not because it was difficult but because I was looking at my blu-rays the same as DVDs. MakeMKV is like the combo of AnyDVD and Handbrake. It can read the disc and you tell it what pieces of the disc you want to rip and it makes an MKV file with those parts. It's absolute genius. The resulting file is a perfect copy of your film anywhere from around about 20-40 gigs with whatever audio and subtitle tracks you choose to include. I did convert one film with Handbrake to about 5GB and that took a couple hours. I found a recipe for optimal settings that looks like it reduces size about 90% and I may further process these rips depending on space later on.

    There were a couple other things I did. There is a modified firmware updater that downgraded my drive from 3.03 to 3.02. That was necessary to allow a feature called "Libredrive Mode" that allows the device to read the raw data off the drive which is the key to ripping UHD discs. I did some DLL updates to VLC that I don't even think were necessary. I haven't had a problem playing an MKV file but no luck directly playing a disc. I think I did try playing a full blu-ray backup and that did work.

    Although I haven't had any problems playing these MKV files on two different smart TVs, Plex has some annoying things.

    One thing I found a workaround for was if I have two different versions of the same film, it will often lump them under one film with no distinction nor obvious way to choose one or the other. I have found that if I delete the alternate version through the Plex interface, which means I need to actually make a copy of it because it will physically delete that file, and then put it back in the alternate's folder I can then get it to recognize it and catalog it properly. I think I can find a better solution but I haven't found one that works online.

    Second, and I don't have this working yet, is a film broken into two files will not play more than one of the files and might not even play the first one first. I used to use a program named YAMB to split and join MP4 files but for some reason it doesn't work right on my current machine (it may if I want to thumbdrive things over to an older one). Online solutions like adding tags on the file names don't seem to work. I know there are other ways to join the files but I also know there must be a way to get Plex to behave properly.

    With Plex and MakeMKV being full featured and free at the moment, not to mention ridiculously easy to use, as well as hard drive space being so cheap I don't see any reason not to rip your physical media to make accessing them throughout your home incredibly easy and enjoyable. Did this read like a paid advertisement? Also, I'm guessing I'm not really telling many of you things you don't know!
    "I would rather claim to be an uneducated man than be mal-educated and claim to be otherwise." - Wookie 03:16

  2. #2
    I'm still waiting for HDD prices to go down so that I can replace the last one I lost. I've been waiting for about six years so I expect the prices will go down any minute now. When that is done I might start thinking about buyng a Bluray drive and physical media again.
    Sorry for the lousy German

  3. #3
    Okay, so I finally found the correct syntax for naming files that are split parts of a film so I have that corrected.

    I forgot to mention one of the biggest reasons to digitally convert your media is to protect your physical copies. I tried several times to rip my 4K copy of Blade Runner but kept coming up with a data read error. The disc will most likely play fine but it's only been played once. Some tiny speck of dust or a minute scratch must be preventing the rip from completing. Frustrating but I am pretty unimpressed with the 4K disc anyway so I'll be fine with the standard blu-ray rip. From now on the first stop for each of my discs will be the PC, though.
    "I would rather claim to be an uneducated man than be mal-educated and claim to be otherwise." - Wookie 03:16

  4. #4
    Funnily enough, I couldn't get my Monty Python's Flying Circus DVDs to play in commercial DVD players. But the rips work just fine. All hail copy protection.
    Sorry for the lousy German

  5. #5
    I always use this program to store my videos

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