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Video formats - ripping to fileserver

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May 29, 2012 3:08:52 PM

Hi All,

Hope I've chosen the right forum...

I've set up a fileserver at home, and one of the things I'd like to set up is a media store to allow films/TV and music to be served all over the house and to Android phone (well, Galaxy Note - so, phablet). For the latter, I'm more likely to be transferring films/music onto the local storage for consumption when away from the home network - watching films on trains, for example.

So, the questions:
- What is the best video format to save to? Ideally, I'd like open source and lossless (using FLAC for audio)...
- What is the best way to rip DVDs and BDs to the fileserver? Are there DRM issues that I need to contend with? (Note that, from a legal point of view, this should be fine as I own all the DVDs/BDs in question and they are strictly for my own use.)
- Having chosen a reference, lossless format for storage, is there another format (and converter) to consider for preparing BD films for playback on the Note (1280x800 screen)? (16GB onboard storage and a 32GB microSD, so size is not the primary issue)

Cheers - Adam...

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May 30, 2012 11:16:18 AM

I don't want this thread or posts to be deleted so I can only really give you general advice. Hopefully it's still useful.

I think the best video format is somewhat debatable. The fact that you are streaming on a WAN may mean you want lossy rather than lossless or you have potential to watching your machine buffer rather than play the stinking file.

The quality of avi and mkv these days is pretty outstanding. I think most people would say MKV is a better format but more devices support avi than MKV. A PS3, for example, does not support MKV playback. If all your devices support MKV I'd just go for that.

I don't think ripping content from physical media you own is legal in all countries. There are a variety of tools available tools to rip DVD content. I'm sure there are others that will also do Blu Ray. What I will say however is that producing good rips from media generally requires user interaction; I don't think you can fully automate the process. So if you have a significant amount of physical media you may want to consider getting a digital copy in another way.

Can't really answer your third question I'm afraid. I've only got experience with local network streaming.

However you might want to rethink what you are doing anyway. The implication of what you are doing is providing a public facing media server. Whilst I'm sure you are perfectly capable of setting up the security correctly, you are potentially serving media to others without being licenced to do so and that could result in legal action against you from MPAA / RIAA et other bozos.
May 30, 2012 3:15:20 PM

Hi Rusting In Peace,

Thanks for the answer - I was just beginning to despair of getting anything!

I think I've misrepresented my position: I will not be offering a public-facing media server. Streaming will *only* occur over my own gigabit LAN, and will not be available outside that network (which is pretty seriously secured). Any media played on the Galaxy Note will be physically transferred to the phone itself (probably on the microSD card) and played from local storage.

I've done a little more reading since posting this, so I know now that DVDs are compressed lossily anyway - what I'm looking for is a reference video container that will act as backup and can be streamed over gigabit ethernet, plus a recommendation for (potentially) a different container that can further compress (lossily if necessary) and software to resize 1020p video to 720p (so the phone doesn't have to do the scaling). A recommendation for a good Android player would be great, but I'll trawl the Andriod fora for that!

NB: I'm in the UK - "personal use" ripping of media I own is now (finally) completely legal (Digital Economy Act 2010).

Any more info you can give would be great, because I'm struggling to get my head around it all...
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May 30, 2012 4:55:32 PM

PS: OK, so the ripping is legal but breaking the encryption itself is still a 'grey' area...

And rightly so, after all, these big movie companies and their stars struggle for every penny they get; if removing my ability to utilise something I paid for is the price that must be paid to stop these evil pirates from funding terrorists and drug dealers, then so be it. Won't somebody think of the children?
May 31, 2012 2:07:22 PM

I use xvid encoded media in an .avi container, my phone, PCs, XBOX360 plays it all.

The program avi.net does a quick and simple job of encoding. DIVX is decent also but I find that the newer versions are much more buggy than the old ones, especially the player, so don't use that anymore.

xvid encoding looks like divx to a player so they are compatible with anything that plays divx files.

Although I have not encoded anything over DVD quality with that program, don't know how it does with HD movies.
June 1, 2012 12:49:22 PM

Oh sorry I totally misunderstood.

Can't the Note just access a network share?
June 3, 2012 4:39:59 AM

adam-the-kiwi said:
- What is the best video format to save to? Ideally, I'd like open source and lossless (using FLAC for audio)...


There are not many video codecs that provide completely lossless compression while still being compatible with many devices. Those that do are not very storage-efficient. The x264 encoder (which is a H.264 implementation) technically supports lossless compression, but in effect it actually just outputs an uncompressed copy of whatever the source is. In other words, your 20GB Blu Ray main title just blew out to 60GB and looks the same, apart from the stutter caused by your HDD thrashing to bits to read all of the data.

I personally like H.264 as it is highly configurable and is designed to be used on a wide range of devices (it is used for high-capacity commercial Blu Rays and is quite common on mobile devices as well). You can make the output look as good or bad as you want. I compressed a 20GB 1080p source down to a little over 4GB (still essentially 1080p, except that it's missing the black bars in the video itself, so it's 1920x816) and I have to flick back and forward between the same frame on both copies to pick the difference. The days of laughable MPEG2 compression are thankfully over.

Audio is another thing entirely. FLAC is a good option, but the MKV container also supports a straight pass-through for most common audio streams. It's really up to you in this case.
!