Handbrake 0.95 Test: iPad Preset

I started testing out the newest iteration of handbrake: 0.95. The new version comes with new presets for the ipad and the new Apple TV. I started with the iPad setting. As always I deselected the “Large File Size” box and selected the “iPod 5g Support” box. I also added a pass thru AC3 audio track in addition to the preset Dolby stereo track.

As you can see the resolution is quite a bit higher than my old iPod preset (870×368 for the new preset vs 720×304 for the old). But the file size is a lot smaller. The smaller resolution file (based off an iPod preset I used in 0.94) is 1.9 GB, but the new one is 1.5 GB, with no real difference in quality. I scanned through the movie and did not notice any differences in compression artifacts, etc… The higher resolution is nice for large screens. Obviously, it looks great on small screens as well.

I have so far tried this on my latest gen iPod Touch, iPhone 3GS and the iPad. It will not work on older iPod video devices, they are stll limited by a width of 720 pixels for video playback.

I played from the 3GS to the new Apple TV via Airplay, and it looked great. I could see some compression artifacts in the background of darker scenes, but generally it looked as good as my other ripped files.

Later I will test some video with the new Apple TV 2 preset.


Settings for Handbrake 0.94

Ever since the latest version of Handbrake came out, I have been searching for the right settings. I had what I thought were the perfect settings for version 0.93. My initial attempts with 0.94 were not so great. So, I spent some time doing trial and error. I stared out using Apple TV Presets as the base, but was never able to get a video that would load on my iPod. It would play on the iPhone 3Gs, but not an iPod.

My 0.93 settings look great on Apple TV and work on both my iPhone and iPods. My goal was to recreate the same results with the new version of Handbrake. I changed tactics and started using the iPod Touch Preset as a base.

All of these tests were done with the iPhone & iPod Touch Preset as a base. in all of them I raised the resolution to a width of 720.

60%, 720 width- works on ipod and iphone. Decent on Apple TV. Some noticeable artifacts.

70%, 720 width, 5g support- Good on Apple TV, works on iPod. Large file size. 180 minutes=3.5GB

65%, 720 width, 5g support- Good on Apple TV, works on iPod. 180minutes=2.5GB

The front runner so far is the ipod preset with 65% constant quality. I will do a couple of test rips between this setting and the 0.93 settings.

Searching for the Perfect Handbrake 0.94 Settings

{Updated with more test settings. These are not scientific, but more of trial and error process.}

After Handbrake released it’s newest update, I had some issues. I went back to the previous version so I could continue the march toward finishing the rip of my entire DVD library. But I have also been testing out new settings.

I have one simple requirement, that it look good on the Apple TV and work on my iPod and iPhone. By good I mean almost as good as an SD DVD. And the file size should be smaller than a DVD.

The results have been baffling. Not because of Handbrake, but because I discovered what others may have already known. The iPhone 3Gs can handle higher quality video than the iPod Touch. I have never been able to load video with wider than 720 pixels onto my iPod (or even my iPod 3G from before). When using the Apple TV preset in Handbrake ( something I thought required in the new version if you want watchable video for your Apple TV) you must always turn off the “animorphic” setting which allows the video to be wider than 720. If you are ripping a 4:3 aspect ratio video you must limit the resolution to 640×480, or the iPod won’t play it.

But today’s results were intriguing.

These settings are built using the Apple TV preset in the 0.94 version of Handbrake.

Apple TV Preset, No changes: Good on Apple TV, Worked on iPhone 3Gs, Did not work on iPod

Removed “Large File” check: OK on Apple TV, Worked on iPhone, Did not work on iPod

Removed “Large File” check, No “animorphic”: Not good on Apple TV, Worked on iPhone, I had trouble with the iPod but don’t know why.

Removed “Large File” check, No “animorphic”, added iPod atom: Not good on Apple TV, Worked on iPhone, I had trouble with the iPod but don’t know why.

Left in “Large File”, Set to 65% constant quality, No “Animorphic”: Average on Apple TV (Some obvious artifacts) Not compatible with iPod

Left in “Large File”, Set to 70% constant quality, No “Anamorphic”: Good on Apple TV, No go on ipod. But file size significantly larger

If my goal was just good looking video on the iPhone and Apple TV, I would just continue to use the base Apple TV preset. But 0.93 allowed me to rip video that looked good on all 3 of my devices, as well as my wife’s iPod Nano. trying to limit the Apple TV preset was getting me nowhere. I was ending up with large files that still didn’t work on my iPod.

So, I decided to change approach. I fully expected this to fail, because the forums for Handbrake are all abuzz about how the h.264 codec is now different than what the Apple TV expects. And if you don’t select Apple TV as a preset you will get “blocky” video. The Apple TV preset turns off a new setting which fixes this issue. But, I decided to use the iPod Touch preset a a base.

iPod Preset:

Constant quality at 60%, 720 width: Works on ipod and iphone. Decent on Apple TV.

I was surprised. I was sure that the “blocky” video would be back. But I saw decent video that worked great on my iPod. But the video isn’t as good as the 0.93 version rips. So, I am still working.

I have ripped another test clip with similar settings at 70% constant quality, but the file size sugests a 180 minute film will weigh in at 3.5GB. I have not had time to check the quality yet. I am going to try another test at 65% to see if the file size can drop a bit. Ideally, each movie would be under 3GB.

Hope to update again soon.

[Update Comparing Settings]

Did 0.94 Break Handbrake?

Handbrake, a nifty video ripping program that has always been amazing, just released a new build- 0.94. This new version has all kinds of great new features, and claims faster encodes. You can even preview your rips before you take the time to rip them.

Sounds like a lot of great improvements, and I was very happy to see them. But then I read this:

Constant quality encoding
No more looking for the perfect bitrate for a source–HandBrake is migrating to quality-based encoding. This means that instead of telling encoders to use a specific size and vary quality to meet it, we tell the encoder to vary size to meet a given quality level. Overall quality improves, since bits are spent only when they are needed, and are saved when they are not. While this means output size is somewhat unpredictable, the results in picture quality speak for themselves.

Color me skeptical, because I had found settings that delivered great results using the variable bit rate target of 2000. I have never had great results from the constant quality settings. I understand what they are trying to do, but my results didn’t lead me in this direction.

I think it’s a bit wrong headed. If I know that my machine can only do a certain bit rate, I can set the target there, and know that it will always be able to play on the device. But with constant quality, if I set it too high it may produce a bit rate that won’t play smoothly. But I am not a programmer, and I am just thankful this program is being developed.

So, being a dutiful follower, I upgraded to version 0.94, and tried my old settings. The result was ugly, chunky, compression artifacts in the video. I then switched to the new constant quality settings (using the base Apple TV settings as a starting point- turned off animorphic resolution, large file size, and turned on deinterlace), and that got rid of the chunks, but the compression artifacts at 60% (the default) cannot be ignored when watching on my Apple TV. So I tried 100%, which resulted in a 17GB file size. Then I tried 80%, which iTunes could not open for some reason, but resulted in a 5.5GB files, more than double my normal 0.93 files.

Since then I have re installed build 0.93 and gone back to the old encode settings that worked so well for me. I have to re rip about 7 movies I tried using the new version on. I am so close to being done ripping my library, I hate to be slowed down.

Does anyone have setting that work for the new 0.94 build of handbrake? Ones that deliver great looking video (as in DVD quality look) on an Apple TV but are still playable on an iPhone? (I used to use a VBR or 2000 with an iPod atom, deinterlaced, with forced subtitles on. No animorphic resolution. I limited the width to 720, which was required for use on the iPhone.) Has anyone gotten this to work well for this application? I feel like this version has taken a step back in quality of end product.

Update: Some usable settings for 0.94.