Before we begin …
Verify your local laws!
This article is not intended to promote pirating Copyrighted Materials!
Laws, when it comes to copying Copyrighted materials, differ from country to country. It is your responsibility to be aware of these laws and comply to them. See also our Disclaimer!
The movie industry in general does not want you to copy a DVD for any reason. Fair use proponents however claim that the law leaves room for making a private backup (in the US: DMCA or Digital Millenium Copyright Act). But it’s all a matter of interpretation – so think for yourself before you act!
Other countries, like The Netherlands, are more liberal when it comes to this – Consumers pay a few cents extra for empty media, and for personal use you are allowed to make a copy (see Stichting Thuiskopie).
Method: Rip with MakeMKV and Convert with HandBrake
To copy or rip a Blu-Ray to MP4 or MKV we will use both MakeMKV and HandBrake – both are free.
HandBrake is totally free and an awesome tool to rip DVD’s and convert video files (guides: MacOS X, Windows, Linux). The HandBrake conversion is optional, since MakeMKV already creates and MKV. The MKV file(s) MakeMKV creates however are huge (30 Gb and more) as it’s a full, not transcoded, copy of your DVD or Blu-Ray disc.
MakeMKV is free at the moment, not sure if that will change in the future, but it has a 30 day use limit. After 30 days you’ll have to reinstall it and another 30 day “trial” will work. MakeMKV is available for Windows, Linux and MacOS X. Linux user should you follow the MakeMKV forum instructions.
HandBrake can be downloaded from Tweaking4All, but we recommend that you get the latest version from the HandBrake website.
Note that in the articles where we use HandBrake to rip DVD’s, an additional library needs to be installed called “libdvdcss”. Since MakeMKV is dealing with this part (the decrypting of the disc), this addon is not needed.
Most Linux distributions, like Ubuntu, come with some sorts of package management tool, where APT is probably one of the most popular ones. To install HandBrake for Ubuntu (11+) open a shell and type:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install handbrake-gtk
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
Note : the included DASPI.pkg is optional – only use it when you run into issues with MakeMKV ripping.
Download - HandBrake (macOS 64bit)
Download - HandBrake (Windows 32 bit)
Download - HandBrake (Windows 64 bit)
MakeMKV is also downloadable from Tweaking4All, but again we highly recommend to get the latest version from the MakeMKV website.
Follow the MakeMKV forum instructions – in essence you need to build the application from it’s sources.
Step 1: MakeMKV – Ripping the Blu-Ray disc to your hard-drive
In the first step we will rip a Blu-Ray disc to our hard-drive with encryption and such removed. We will be using MakeMKV for that task.
Note : I will be using MacOS X screenshots for MakeMKV. Windows screens look exactly the same. I hope Linux screens look similar as well, as I have not tested the Linux version.
After downloading and installing, insert you Blu-Ray disc in your Blu-Ray capable drive, and start MakeMKV.
MacOS X MakeMKV – Application detected your Blu-Ray disc
Click the “Blu-Ray drive” icon (circled in the illustration above) to start the analysis of the Blu-Ray disc.
MacOS X MakeMKV – Detected titles on your Blu-Ray disc
In the example above you’ll see that after a few seconds MakeMKV found 4 titles (1) – Check the titles and sub-items you’d like to rip.
MakeMKV by default checks all titles, but by the size you can se that the first title is the featured movie (35.1 GB). The other 3 are probably extras or menu’s (only a few hundred MB). You can optionally uncheck the 3 small ones – or not and see later what they are really about.
You can, optionally, check or uncheck sub-items of a title. For example enable/disable certain audio tracks, and subtitles. You can of course just ripped it all and make your choices in HandBrake instead. Either way will work – However, it appears that selecting the audio tracks and subtitles in MakeMKV already produces a better description when the MKV get’s opened in HandBrake.
For example: When I ripped “everything”, all subtitles in HandBrake were called “English”.
When I ripped only the subtitles I wanted, in MakeMKV, then all subtitles had their proper language names (English, French, Spanish and Portuguese) in HandBrake.
Next step is to decide where the rip will be placed on your hard-drive (2). Note that the ripped file(s) will be pretty big, so make sure you have at least 40Gb free space on the selected location.
When you’ve completed making your selection, click “Make MKV” button (3). Ripping of the Blu-Ray will now start, and depending on your computer it can take a while. My laptop did it in just a little over an hour (about half the time of the playback time of the movie!).
MacOS X MakeMKV – Copying your Blu-Ray to your hard-drive
After an hour or so (depending on the speed of your Blu-Ray drive and your computer of course) MakeMKV will be done and have produced one or more MKV files.
As you might have noticed, the copying process does not seem to exceed 2-speed, even though your Blu-Ray drive might be a lot faster. A mechanism called RipLock prevents your drive from going faster than 2-speed – so this is not a failure of your drive, your computer or MakeMKV.
Experienced users might want to read this article at MacObserver how to work around the RipLock speed limitation (drive dependent!).
If MakeMKV decides to stop mid ripping, try the following:
- Make sure you have enough disk space available (empty trash!).
- Make sure you have the most recent version of MakeMKV!
- For MacOS X: You might need to install the DASPI PKG (reference).
Step 3: Test your Blu-Ray Rips
Of course, before we proceed to HandBrake, we’d like to know if the rip went well. This is also a good time to determine (if you didn’t already) which MKV files, and which audio tracks and subtitles you’d like to keep – In HandBrake you can make your selection.
I’ve found that best way to “test” your rips is by playing the MKV file(s) back with VLC – but applications like Media Player Classic, or your other favorite media player should work just fine as well … as long as it offers switching audio tracks and subtitles.
Step 4: Compress to a smaller file with HandBrake (optional)
If you ripped the Blu-Ray disc just for playback on your computer, then this step might not be needed.
If you however want to keep this on your computer for a while, save it for use with XBMC, or copy the movie to your iPad or smartphone, then you might want to consider compressing the MKV file to a smaller size.
To compress the MKV to a smaller file (35 Gb for a movie is quite a lot of disk space) we will use HandBrake.
If you haven’t already: download, install, and start HandBrake.
More HandBrake information …
For more details on the use of HandBrake, please read
Click the “Source” button and select the MKV file you want to convert.
HandBrake will analyze the file very quickly and give you the “usual” options.
Before we start the conversion (transcoding), a few considerations …
Should I use MP4 or MKV?
When you decide to use the movie on your iPad, iPod, iPhone or AppleTV, then please select the file format MP4.
There are several ways to get you movie(s) copied to your iOS device using iTunes, iTools or the Camera Connection Kit.
If MP4 is not a requirement and you need proper subtitle support, then please consider using MKV. The subtitles in the MKV are not always compatible with the MP4 standard. Often you can select only one subtitle and this one must be burned in (i.e. you cannot disable the subtitles during payback). Not what I would recommend, but it works if you really must have the file in MP4 format and subtitles is a must.
If you plan to playback the video on XBMC or your computer, or multiple subtitles is important to you (to me it is), then using MKV instead of the MP4 format, is recommended. With MKV you can use the subtitle tracks as they come with the ripped MKV file .
Use the presets Luke!
There is a lot of room for improvements here of course (see: How to optimize video in HandBrake), but a good start would be taking one of the presets most suitable for the device you’d like to use for playback.
We have to keep in mind that the screen resolutions used by Blu-Ray (720p and 1080p) are significantly higher than what we see with DVD (see: Difference between DVD and Blu-Ray). This has implications on our compression setting and compression results.
Basic setting I use (that I’d start out with – which are slightly different than “Universal” – more optional fine tuning in this article):
HandBrake Video Settings
||Same as source / Variable Framerate
| Constant Quality
||RF: 22 (Blu-Ray resolutions)
||Placebo (very slow but very good) or veryfast (fast and reasonable quality)
||film (for regular movies) or animation (for classic animations or Manga)
||3.0 or auto
Note that the “Placebo” preset slows down thing SIGNIFICANTLY.
What only took 26 minutes for “veryfast” took almost 10 hours for “Placebo”.
If you have multiple target devices in mind, check the option “iPod 5G Support” as well.
For Android devices, I’ve found that setting the “Video Codec” to “MPEG-4 (ffmpeg)” results in the most compatible format.
As you might know: The audio quality has (potentially) significantly increased as well compared to DVD’s (see: Difference between DVD and Blu-Ray).
For a compact file, unless you really want max audio quality, set only one audio track. This can be AC3 (possibly “pass thru”) or AAC (more compact).
Once all settings are done, and you have defined the location and filename of the new MKV or MP4 file, click “Start” and be patient.
HandBrake – Converting your Blu-Ray MKV to a smaller file
Now that you have a compacter MP4 or MKV of your Blu-Ray disk, you can play it on your computer, play it with XBMC, or copy it to your iPad, iPod, iPhone or AppleTV using iTunes, iTools or the Camera Connection Kit.