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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple Pick of the Week
The macosxhints Rating:

[Score: 9 out of 10]
This week's Pick of the Week is likely to be a little bit contentious, as it can be used in ways that violate many copyright laws. However, this can be said of many worthwhile programs (ahem, iTunes) and products (iPod), but that doesn't mean those programs and products aren't worthy on their own merits. Such is the case with HandBrake. Although HandBrake has been mentioned in a number of hints, it's never been a Pick of the Week winner, until now.

HandBrake is a DVD ripper -- a tool designed to help you copy your DVD movies from their shiny silver platters to the shiny silver platters of your hard drive (by converting them to MPEG-4 format). Why might you want to do this? Any number of reasons, really. As one example, I find it much more convenient to travel with a few 700MB movies stored on my laptop rather than lugging around the jewel cases and the original DVDs -- after leaving a few favorite movies in a hotel once, I decided that there must be a better alternative. Another reason why you might want to rip your movies are to use them on devices that lack a DVD drive, such as an iPod or iPhone. Sure, you can buy any number of movies from the iTunes Store, but what about movies you already rightfully own?

This is where HandBrake enters the picture. HandBrake automates the process of transferring your DVD movices to your hard drive. Just insert a DVD, launch HandBrake, click a couple buttons, and then wait ... and (depending on the speed of your machine) wait some more ... and maybe wait just a bit longer. When it's done, you'll find a version of the movie on your hard drive, typically taking up much less space than would the original movie.

In the past, HandBrake hasn't been the easiest program to use, requiring a fair bit of knowledge about video settings in order to get a high quality transfer. But with version 0.90, that's no longer true. A new Presets drawer offers up 15 or so different ready-to-use settings. Want to rip a movie for your iPod? Choose iPod High Rez or iPod Low Rez then click Start. It's similarly easy to rip for the iPhone, PSP, PS3, Apple TV, or into any of many other formats.

Rip quality is also improved in this release, and the two movies that I ripped for the iPhone both looked great. HandBrake is multi-CPU aware, and it did a great job at keeping all four cores busy on my Mac Pro. Ripping a 1.5 hour feature took about 30 minutes, averaging around 70 to 75 frames per second. (When ripping DVDs, the more CPU horsepower you have, the better. My poor old 12" PowerBook G4 can barely push 10 frames per second.) You can also queue rips, so you could let a batch process overnight, though I haven't tested this feature.

HandBrake might not be able to process everything, but it's done a good job with the stuff I've thrown at it over the years. The latest release is easier to use, produces better-looking rips, and is completely free and open source -- well worth a look-see if you want your purchased DVDs available on your laptop, iPod, iPhone, or other similar device. (For even more on HandBrake, see this Mac Gems writeup.)
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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: SOX on Sep 11, '07 08:31:59AM

I tried this a few years ago and found it was abysmally slow. I wonder if that has improved. What's the output format? and does it deal with those newer disks that have deliberate bad sectors as a copy protection. These seem to show up a lot on disney disks, which are precisely the ones I want on my laptop for car and airplane trips with the kids.



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: Anonymous on Sep 11, '07 08:51:12AM

Yes, it has improved a lot. But dvd decoding and movie encoding are heavy processes for even modern CPU:s.

And, robg, for every copyright law you might break with Handbrake I will show you an equal in TextEdit. :-)

---
Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible - not to have run away.



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: tyip on Sep 11, '07 12:35:21PM

It does take a fast CPU. I usually start it before dinner or leave it running overnight.



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HandBrake - output format mangles your data integrity
Authored by: zahadum on Sep 12, '07 02:58:37PM
&t@ SOX:

sox asks what is the output format? ...

simple answer is: mpeg4.

complex answer: texas chain-saw massacre

The official position of the Handbrake devs is that they have no obligation to preserve all the original source material during the handbrake conversion process: if you want to keep _all_ of your movies components, then you should roll-up your sleeves & hack out the code yourself ... but first you will have to untangle what - by their own admission on their message boards! - is very messy source code!

Handbrake devs regard the Dubs, Subs, and Closed Captions -- let alone the Menus and Angles - as being only of 'marginal' significance to most people ... and certainly not a "priority" for them!

Bottom line: the "output format" from Handbrake bears only a passing resemblence to the "input format"!

If you want to do something as basic as to keep MULTIPLE soundtracks and languages and commentaries etc etc -- then you are S.O.L.

The haughty Handbreak devs simply THROW AWAY YOUR DATA! ... they dont even have the courtesy to save it as separate files so that you can manually paste the tracks back in to the mpeg4 container afterwards! --- alas, this same reckless contempt for data integrity also pervades the devs at MacThe Ripper.

I dont know which august school of computer science is teaching that source data can be treated like dirt - but whichever one it is, they should be found out & stopped before their graduates do further harm! .... just imagine if a dev at a bank or at airline or at hospital had the gall to tell their clients that the devs didnt care which data the users needed, they would just have to put up with whatever the devs deigned to give them! Any dev who spouted that kind of fatuous arrogance would not only be tossed out on his ear: he would probably be looking at the other end of a lawsuit! Yet in the opensource world, there seems to be two cultures: one culture is about unfettering the dev (so he can make the changes as he sees fit) and the other culture is about enhancing (not limiting) the choice of the end-user. Many times these two cultures can co-exist (sometimes peacefully, sometimes warily); however in the case of Handbrake, these two cultures seem to be at odds when it comes to fundamental principles of engineering hygine (data integrity) and engineering best-practices/etiquette (UML).

Anyways ..... the only people who seem to give you a fighting chance to keep *ALL* your data is the crew that makes 'CINEMATIZE' -- http://www.miraizon.com/products/cine2profeatures.html

This app is a commercial product ($100) so at least the devs there are _philosophically_ dedicated to the proposition that the prime aim should be to make tools that the _customers_ want ... not to be a private club that only serves the whims of the devs themselves.

BTW 1: The Cinematize folks say that they have NOT tested how their app (which _is_ based on quicktime) works with the El Gato Turbo264 hardware accelerator ($100).

BTW 2: Handbrake is _not_ a quicktime app, so it will not work with the hardware accelerators (like elgato or miglia's product) ....

... and the Handbreak devs say that they have no interest in (or responsibility for) creating a driver for hardware accelerators ....

should this indifference come as any surprise?! - that was a rhetorical question :-)

---
mailto:osxinfo _at_ yahoo.ca


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HandBrake does an excellent job - and is still in development
Authored by: makip on Sep 14, '07 12:21:52AM
I find your post very mis-informed.

Cinematise 2 Pro is a US$129.95 product, Handbrake costs nothing.
Handbrake is a encoding application with very flexible options offerered in a fairly easy to use manner.
Cinematise is intended to extract DVD content into seperated components for use in other authoring programs.

Can you show me where the Cinematise web site states I can use their product to produce a convenient "container" of my DVD movie encoded in a newer high compression / high quality format like h.264?

As far as I am aware, neither progam rips copy protected DVD's (I was surprised to read claims on this hint that Handbrake does - in earlier versions it claimed not to - and Cinematise certainly does NOT as is stated on their site). You need a program like MacTheRipper to extract the entire DVD content first, then you can process it with app like these.

Handbrake offers many encoding options. Limiting those options for basic users would the app less useful to a more knowlegable users. The presets are there for convenience and also the assistance of basic users.
Contrary to your reasoning, the support of third party encoding hardware (such as Turbo 264) is intentionally ommited form Handbrake, and will not be supported. This is because by their very design, hardware based encoders have fixed presents are not flexible - they are fast, sure - but fast at encoding files with a very limited range of parameters. The purpose the Handbrake application is to be flexible with an emphasis to high quality.

Most of the limitations you are harping on about boil down to one of two things:
1. the container output formats do NOT support them
2. the feature is intentially ommited as it's not the intended purpose of the program


Regarding reason 1, the open container format "Matroska" will be incredibly useful when it's adopted broadly. As stated on the project's homepage (www.matroska.org) it is not a video or audio compression format (video codec) rather it is an envelope for which there can be many audio, video and subtitles streams, allowing the user to store a complete movie or CD in a single file. From memory the handbrake developers do intend to include full sopport of the Matroska container format, it takes time to develop and should appear in a future release.

In the meantime, other free tools can be used to save subtitles.. but when faced with a foreign language file I generally just use handbrake to output english titles as permanent into the mp4 output file. Often known as "burning" the subtitles into the movie. I would rather use a container format, and I'm patiently waiting.. in the meantime "DVD" is the container format I am using for any precious DVD title rips. When support is available for a better container I will encode them then.

Maki

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HandBrake - output format mangles your data integrity
Authored by: ejtttje on Sep 16, '07 05:49:22AM

Oh come now, I think you're the one being a little arrogant to berate this tool for "throwing away data". That's exactly what it's *supposed* to do. You want to shrink a 4.7+ GB DVD down to ~700MB? Guess what, this is a lossy process! And you can lose less of the data you care about by completely dropping the data you *don't* care about.

I really don't see this argument of yours. Handbrake doesn't choose the which data to extract from the dvd... YOU DO. If you want the french track instead of the english track, then take the french track. What's the problem? If you want to retain every feature of a DVD, make a frigg'n disk image, because guess what, the only format that retains every obscure feature of a DVD is... a DVD! (I've never even *seen* a DVD that used the "camera angle" feature.) The HandBrake devs are right to concentrate on getting the "important" features first, and worry about fancy stuff like multiple sound tracks later.

And "later" is apparently "now" -- in case you haven't noticed, 0.90 supports selecting two sound tracks, and "basic" subtitle support (burned into image). So what were you complaining about again?



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: ryanfrank on Sep 11, '07 09:19:05AM

FABULOUS!!! Got turned on to this a few weeks ago (after purchasing an AppleTV)... I am able to store my DVD's in MP4 format in iTunes and stream to the apple tv...

Not too bad, I have used MP4Converter.. it was taking 30+ hours to convert 1 movie.. HandBrake does it in about 1.5 hours (at the most)...

Cannot say enough good about this app!



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: jcgavula on Sep 11, '07 10:14:41AM
To make the process even faster I use Mac The Ripper to dump the disc onto my hard drive and then use HandBrake to rip the video. It's easily 2x as fast...

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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: morespace54 on Sep 11, '07 10:54:52AM

Agree. That's what I'M doing too.

But that might have more to do with the speed of your DVD drive being slower (obviously) than your CPU.



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: DanFrakes on Sep 11, '07 11:42:59AM

For my Mac Gems review, I tested both approaches. It turns out that on several computers I tested, the combined MacTheRipper (to rip) + HandBrake (to convert) time wasn't really faster than using HandBrake by itself to rip and convert.

That said, MacTheRipper 3 (currently in beta) can read some of the latest anti-rip-protection DVDs better than HandBrake.

---
Dan Frakes / Senior Editor, Macworld / Senior Reviews Editor, Playlist



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: teacher24_70 on Sep 12, '07 07:37:45PM

I thought that you HAD to use Mac the Ripper to decrypt the commercial CD's. I've generally used Mac the Ripper to decrypt and save to the hard-drive. Then I use TOAST if I need to reburn to a backup DVD later. The only time that I've used Handbrake is if I needed to convert the decrypted file (after Mac the Ripper) to place on my iPod.

Am I misunderstanding the capabilities of Handbrake?

---
G4 Powerbook-12 inch
OS 10.3.9



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: ben_k on Sep 11, '07 03:42:51PM

to take the macthripper thing a step further, you can rip multiple titles to you hard drive (space willing), queue up all the conversions and walk away (or or come back in the morning). this is especially good when you have an entire TV series you wish to iPod



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: captainbonehead on Sep 11, '07 10:29:29AM

Handbrake has definitely gotten better in the last few iterations. I first started using it back in the .6x days, on a Pismo. Painful, but it worked. When I ran across a disc that it wouldn't rip, the developer was very interested, and would run tests and generate a new beta to try to fix it. With the latest version, with the fork remerged, I haven't found a disc that I couldn't rip, and it flies.



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: kuginomura on Sep 11, '07 11:09:03AM

to all those wondering about speed and compatibility, the latest version of HB is much faster (h.264 encodes in realtime or faster on my 2.0 intel imac) and so far i haven't had a problem with any DVD i've thrown at it.

in earlier versions the sound would often cut out halfway through a conversion..."angela's ashes" and "lion, witch, and wardrobe," to name a couple. this version of HB converted it fine.

it's also a very good app to rip DVDs with multiple episodes like anime or TV shows...just throw the various tracks into the queue and it will convert all those tracks into individual files. one of my favorite apps on the mac!



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: osxpounder on Sep 11, '07 11:42:52AM

Wonderful app. Allowed me to watch movies in the next room without lugging a DVD player around the house and messing about with all those cables again. Great hint.



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: mmp on Sep 11, '07 01:28:29PM

Will this work if I want to copy a Mac install DVD?



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: seika7 on Sep 11, '07 02:36:24PM

This is for DVD Video. You can make a disk image of a data DVD using Disk Utility.



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Tips for slower Macs
Authored by: Colin Jensen on Sep 11, '07 03:22:12PM

My G5 takes it's sweet time to rip a video. If I rip directly from DVD, it thrashes the DVD player for hours.

So don't do that. Instead create a new folder and use the Finder to copy everything from the DVD into the folder (takes half an hour to copy on my G5). Then point Handbrake at the folder instead of the DVD player -- no more thrashing.

Also Handbrake has a "queue" mode. So you can copy a DVD to hard disk, get Handbrake started, copy another DVD to hard disk, then queue that into Handbrake too. Overnight, Handbrake can process a half-dozen movies on my G5.



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Replace the ugly icon
Authored by: scottdb on Sep 11, '07 05:14:01PM
This is a nice app, but the icon is pitiful. Do yourself a favor and download these replacement icons.

http://samuraicoder.net/handbrake_replacement_icon


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Replace the ugly icon
Authored by: kuginomura on Sep 12, '07 08:44:42AM

handbrake's strange icon is part of the fun of the app. there's a sort of affection for that awful icon ;)



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: Taneashia on Sep 12, '07 10:34:47AM

I love this app. I've been using it for quite some time now. Although the processing can be a little on the slow side, it's a great tool to use when you are planning a trip on the road, especially with kids, because you can compress your DVD's to ~ 700 MB and then transfer the movie(s) to each kid's iPod. This keeps them occupied during the entire road trip.



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: robogobo on Sep 12, '07 04:31:45PM

I was using Handbrake before it was cool to use Handbrake.

(also check out Mac the Ripper and iSquint. They all have their place.)



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: ben_k on Sep 13, '07 02:38:27PM

no handbrake can decrypt the video, and convert it to mp4 at the same time, all in one... it's just faster or sometimes more convenient to rip it first with mactheripper



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HandBrake - DVD conversion made simple
Authored by: chisoxfan on Apr 18, '09 08:48:56AM

Help copy a TV series. The program will only read the first chapter. Then I go and Queue the other chapters as recommended, as per Handbrake website faq's. I would like to know how to get the other chapters to format into iTunes.



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