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I want to rip DVDs(MPEG2) to MKV using Handbrake for viewing on PC, and currently i am not sure about the settings of the x265 encoder. Can anyone suggest the optimal settings for:

  • CRF : 19 ? 23 ? 25 ?
  • 8-bit or 10-bit (Main or Main10) (Has 10-bit any advantages for low-res like DVD ? )
  • Encoder tune - none / SSIM / Grain ?
  • bframes or other parameters ?
  • CFR or VFR ?

Also i am open to any suggestions for tuning of an other parameteres. I have searched by google but all guides are not specific enough for the case of DVDs.

The resolution is 700x574 , source MPEG2 bitrate is 3Mbps

Additional question - are there any good guides for general parameter tuning x265 like bframes ? Thank you very much.

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Summary response for summary question :)

  • CRF 20 will look really nice
  • 8-bit (no advantages over 10-bit)
  • No tuning. Grain tuning is for grainy source (old content). SSIM is for testing.
  • No additional parameters needed.
  • VFR (same as source)

I could really, really, reallly go down the rabbit hole with a more detailed answer, but I'll leave it at this for now.

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What does optimal mean to you? Smallest size and time to finish an encode does not matter? If so then pick the H.265 MKV 576p25 profile (apparently you have PAL content) set "optimal for source" under dimensions to not stretch or modify the picture in any way. Set the refresh rate to "same as source". CRF 20 should be good enough for most DVDs, you will know when you compare a CRF 17 encode of the same source and cannot make out the difference, if you can try the numbers in between or going even 3 steps further down. 10-Bit won't hurt, but won't benefit much either regarding picture quality, if it would and you're doing lots of filtering, you could even go with 12-Bit (I have it available on Ubuntu, the choice of filters though is limited and won't improve picture quality dramatically I'd say, nor would it justify changing the subsampling if it is availabe). Change the preset from slow to slower if you have no problem waiting for the encode to finish, this is one of the more important settings as it controls all the other setting depending on the profile, level and picture size. Disabling bframes was only imporant for older devices which had trouble decoding H.264 streams with bframes, since you said you care mostly about the result when watching H.265 content on a PC this shouldn't be of any concern.

Simply put, if the resolution is not greater than 1080p60 and playback on current mobile devices is not considered to be important then I choose H.265 with slow or slower on Main10 and 4:2:0 subsampling. That's optimal regarding of what most desktop computers can handle today, some may require video acceleration though to display noisy 1080p 60fps content (e.g. performers dancing in front of big LED displays). That's may experience so far and I never touch the encoder tune setting, I expect the default to be good enough when I'm already throwing this much CPU time at it that the tune may be negligible.

  • With optimal i mean a balance of quality vs size and encoding time. For example if an setting improves quality without much storage or encoding time i consider that setting optimal. – Sidias-Korrado Jul 7 '17 at 7:53
  • To put it in simple terms: you control the bitrate/size with CRF, with the preset you control how much effort the encoder can spent to compress content (thus making better use of the bitrate but also slowing down the encoder). The difference between 10-Bit or 8-Bit should be negligible regarding encoding speed so CRF20 and preset slow should be a good starting point. I converted a stack of DVDs last fall, it took way longer than x264 but resulting quality and size were worth it, I used several computers though. – LiveWireBT Jul 7 '17 at 8:14
  • Oh, this one is important: check for interlaced content, this is quite common and you should apply the best deinterlacer available, this will slow encoding down, but also minimize nasty artefacts the best way possible, ffmpeg as several filters, but handbrake only offers decomb, the "standard" selection seems to do the job well. – LiveWireBT Jul 7 '17 at 8:36
  • A thing about 10-bit encodes that wasn't mentioned elsewhere in this Q&A, is that they give smaller files at equal perceived quality, and produce encodes that are less likely to introduce banding, which is a typical problem with 8-bit encodes at lower bitrates (which re-encodes of DVDs and BRs are). The reason, as I understand it, is that with a 10-bit gamut, estimations, discarding of info, and inherent rounding errors introduced by the compression are, by nature of the wider gamut, less perceptible (or even less wrong?). 10-bit encodes have been a favorite among Anime fans for these reasons. – DanielSmedegaardBuus Oct 26 '18 at 12:45

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