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Converting a DVD image to an MKV using Handbrake

Handbrake is a free software Conversion which will convert practically any source video file into a format which can be played on virtually any device. It has a number of presets which take the hard work out of knowing how to configure codecs and comes with a very simple and easy to use interface although a command line interface is available too.

In this guide, AnyDVD has been used to rip a DVD image and remove the Region and Copy Protection.

Handbrake Step 1

Handbrake Picture Settings

  1. Select the Source. As a DVD image has been used here, (Reservoir Dogs.iso), Handbrake automatically selects what it thinks is the main movie in the image you wish to convert. Some DVD's have multiple videos on such as the main movie, interviews with the cast etc. but Handbrake picks the longest of these and this is usually the right one.
  2. On the Right hand side, select you preset, in this case HighProfile/Film. This will then configure all the settings for the encoding video that you need.
  3. Add in the name of the output file under the Destination
  4. Select your format. Not every device can play the MKV format so if you aren't sure, select AVI as this has a greater range of compatability.
  5. Make sure Anamorphic is set to Strict as this also produces higher quality files.

Handbrake Step 2

Handbrake Video Settings

1. Select the Video Tab. If you have selected MKV as you File Format, the presets will select H.264 as your Video codec. This produces the highest quality output as it currently has the best compression.

2. Next, select the Avg Bitrate. The default for the High Profile/Film Preset is 1800 but find what works for you best with your storage needs and quality you are willing to accept. The above example has been changed to 1500.

Handbrake Audio Settings

Handbrake Audio Settings

1. Select the Audio Tab
2. DVD's can come with multiple Audio Tracks for the same film, usually in a number of different languages. Select the Source from the drop down menu to you to ensure you have the correct audio track.
3. If you wish to have the highest quality Audio, Select AC3 which takes the original Audio track from the DVD. The Audio settings can be changed to MP3 and a bitrate selected. Do not reduce this to below 128Kbits

Handbrake Step 4

If you are only converting the one file, click on the Start button at the top of the handbrake window. If however you are converting more than one file, you can start batching these up in a queue. Each Movie will take a few hours to encode, and it's not a bad idea to kick this process off and run it overnight.

If you do wish to convert more than one file at this stage, Click on the Add to Queue button. You can then repeat steps 1 to 3 with your next movie.

Handbrake Encode Queue

By clicking on the Show Queue button from the main menu, it will bring up the above window here. You can re-order the jobs in your queue if you wish and then just press Encode to begin.


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