Using Handbrake to Encode DVDs for the Roku

Update 2014-04-27 10:00 PM: See also Using Handbrake to Encode Blu-Rays for the Roku

In a previous post, I noted that I use ffmpeg to convert DVDs to MP4s which will play on my Roku.  I recently encountered two problems with this approach.  First, the resulting MP4s only include a stereo audio track, so are highly sub-optimal for surround sound systems.  Second, for a yet-undetermined reason, Plex (my current preferred media client) will transcode the videos rather than play them directly.

To solve both problems, I have changed from ffmpeg to Handbrake and I am following the encoding guidance of Rokoding.  Specifically, since most of my source material is DVDs, I use the 480p Original settings.

Just in case the Rokoding site disappears, I have reproduced the 480p DVD Settings below in a slightly modified form.  These instructions apply to Handbrake 0.9.9.

In Handbrake, start with the High Profile preset and then make the following changes:

  1. In Output Settings:
    1. Set Container = Mp4
    2. Ensure Web Optimized is checked
    3. Ensure Large File Size and iPod 5G Support are unchecked
  2. In Picture:
    1. If the movie is widescreen or hard letterboxed, set Anamorphic = Strict.  If the movie is 4:3, set Anamorphic = None and ensure Keep Aspect Ratio is checked.
    2. Set Cropping = Automatic.
  3. In Filters:
    1. Set Detelecine = Off
    2. Set Decomb = Fast
    3. Set Deinterlace = Off
    4. Set Denoise = Off
    5. Set Deblock = Off
    6. Ensure Grayscale is unchecked
  4. In Video:
    1. Set Video Codec = H.264 (x264)
    2. Set Framerate (FPS) = Same as source
    3. Set Constant Framerate
    4. Set Quality = Constant Quality of RF:19
    5. Set Optimise Video = Use Advanced Tab instead
  5. In Audio:
    1. Create two audio tracks.  The first audio track will have:
      1. Source = AC3 5.1 (which is what you should have ripped from your DVD)
      2. Codec = AAC (faac)
      3. Bitrate = 160
      4. Samplerate = Auto
      5. Mixdown = Stereo
      6. DRC = 1.5
      7. Gain = 0
    2. The second audio track will have:
      1. Source = AC3 5.1
      2. Codec = AC3 Passthru
  6. In Subtitles, keep everything empty.  I do not handle subtitles.
  7. In Chapters:
    1. Ensure Create chapter markers is checked
  8. In Advanced:
    1. Set Adaptive B-Frames = Optimal
    2. Set Adaptive Direct Mode = Automatic
    3. In x264 Encoder Options, set it to b-adapt=2:rc-lookahead=50:direct=auto
    4. The rest are as default:
      1. Set Reference Frames = 3 (Default)
      2. Set Maximum B-Frames = 3 (Default)
      3. Ensure CABAC is checked
      4. Ensure 8×8 Transform is checked
      5. Ensure Weighted P-Frames is checked
      6. Set Pyramidal B-Frames = Normal (Default)
      7. Set Motion Est Method = Hexagon (Default)
      8. Set Subpixel Motion Est = 7: RD in all frames
      9. Set Motion Est Range to 16
      10. Set Partition Type = Most (Default)
      11. Set Trellis = Encode Only (Default)
      12. Set Adaptive Quant Strength = Middle
      13. Set Rate Distortion = Middle
      14. Set Psychovisual Trellis = Leftmost Setting
      15. Ensure No DCT-Decimate is unchecked
      16. Set Deblocking = 0 (Default), 0 (Default)
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