How to rip DVDs and Blu-ray discs with MakeMKV and Handbrake

In a recent article, I explained how you can rip DVDs with the free Handbrake. While the solution I describe in that article is easy to use, you might want to consider another way of ripping discs. You can do this using the free MakeMKV, and then using Handbrake. This has several advantages:

  • There’s no need to install additional tools from the command line, as I explained in the “How to rip DVDs with Handbrake” article.
  • You can also rip Blu-ray discs with MakeMKV and then convert these files to iTunes-compatible files.
  • If you don’t want to store your videos in iTunes, you can play them with the free VLC media player, and you can view them in the iOS version of VLC as well.
  • And if you use Plex to manage and view videos, then you can use the MKV file as is; Plex can read and play this type of file, and it’s got great apps for iOS and the Apple TV.

Here’s how to use MakeMKV to rip optical discs, and how to convert them with Handbrake.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

How to rip DVDs with Handbrake

You may buy and rent digital movies, or even get digital copies of your films when you buy DVDs so you can watch them easily on an Apple TV or iOS device. But not all movies offer digital copies, and you may not want to buy movies from the iTunes Store; you may want to own hard copies of your favorite films. Or, you may, like me, buy DVDs of concerts and operas, or have a collection of older DVDs, such as my box sets of The Honeymooners and The Twilight Zone.

Fortunately, it’s easy to rip DVDs and add them to your iTunes library so you can use them more freely and watch them when you want. Here’s how.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

Do I need to upgrade to Ultra HD Blu-ray?

With both a lack of players and a lack of disks, there’s no real reason to jump into the 4KBD fray just yet. However, Ultra HD Blu-ray will, for the most part, look better than streaming and Blu-ray. How much better they look is going to depend on the original movie’s picture quality and medium, and how well it was transferred (or remastered) to 4KBD. This was true of Blu-ray and DVD as well.

Will there be 4KBDs that look no better than regular BD? Probably. Will there be some that look no better than streaming? Doubtful.

Interesting discussion of whether 4K Blu-Rays will be any better than current media quality. Executive summary: a lot of 4K Blu-Rays will be upsampled from lower resolutions.

This is quite a messy technological change. I will quote something from one of the comments that highlights how complex all this is:

One fact that was left out but important is the evolution of HDMI to v2.0a and HDCP v2.2. This is the new requirement for native UHD 4K sources and its not forward compatible with older versions of HDMI, meaning you cannot plug a new UHD 4K Blu-ray player into your AVR or PrePro unless the player offers dual HDMI outputs, one for the new video resolution and one that still meets v1.3 or v1.4 HDMI spec. Be sure you have the new HDMI v2.0a, its the only one with HDR, Dolby Atmos, and true native 4K pass through.

Your average TV viewer won’t understand any of what is in that paragraph above. TVs have become more complex than computers, and this is a Very Bad Thing for the TV industry, and for all of us who own TVs. The number of technologies that need to be compatible is much more complex than those needed to transfer files from Windows to a Mac. (Remember how hard that used to be?) 3D TV is pretty much a failure, probably, in part, because it’s too complicated (and the stupid glasses). I can’t see these new technologies hitting critical mass for quite some time, as long as it’s so complex to make sure that all your hardware (especially if you have a home theater system or AV amplifier) is compatible. And, of course, one of the main reasons for all these complications is DRM…

(Via Do I need to upgrade to Ultra HD Blu-ray?.)

How to Rip DVDs and Add Them to Your iTunes Library

While you may get your movies and TV shows digitally, you probably still have a DVD collection. You can certainly watch these DVDs the usual way, with a DVD player, but wouldn’t it be great to add them to your iTunes library, so you can sync them to your iPad or iPhone, and watch them anywhere? Ripping DVDs on a Mac is simple; it takes a bit more time than ripping CDs, but it’s not much more difficult.

iTunes can’t do this, of course, since ripping DVDs involve a gray area of copyright law. Fair use suggests that you should be able to rip them for personal use, but in some countries this is patently illegal. I won’t deal with those issues here. If you feel that it’s right to rip DVDs you own, then read on to find out how.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.

Royal Shakespeare Company’s Two Gentlemen of Verona Now Available on DVD and Blu-Ray

Two gents blu rayThe DVD and Blu-Ray of the RSC’s production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona is now available. It’s out now in the UK, and will be out in a few weeks in the US. (, Amazon UK)

This was a brilliant production by the RSC; you can read my review of the opening night performance, as well as some thoughts on the performance the evening it was filmed. This was a wonderful production; somewhat surprising, as it’s not often performed, and the RSC didn’t really promote it much. It’s great to have it on film, and if you want to see a Shakespeare play on film, but don’t want one that’s too complicated, this is a great choice.

Add Subtitles to DVDs Ripped with Handbrake

I’ve long been a fan of Wim Wenders’ early movies, in particular, Kings of the Road, or Im Lauf der Zeit. When I was living in France, I bought a box set of a dozen of his movies, but they only have French subtitles. Now that I’m in the UK, I want to watch some of these with my partner, and she doesn’t speak or read French.

At the same time, I was planning to rip these DVDs to add the films to my iTunes library. While doing this, using the free Handbrake, I also added English subtitles. Here’s how you can do this.

First, find subtitles for your film, or TV series, in the language you want: has gazillions of subtitles. These are all made by volunteers, and the translations may not be as good as those made by professionals which are available on DVDs and Blu-Rays with multiple languages, but it’s better than nothing.

Download the zip file and double-click it to decompress it. The folder has an .srt file. This is what you’ll add to Handbrake.

After you’ve selected your disc in Handbrake, and chosen your settings to rip the video, click the Subtitles tab, then the Track menu, and choose Add External SRT.

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Navigate to the file and select it, and Handbrake will display it as the subtitle track. Click Start to have Handbrake rip the disc and add your subtitles.

If you wish, you can add multiple languages to your rips as well. Just select another .srt file and add it in the same way. You’ll be able to choose which subtitles you view when you watch the movie. This is a good way to practice a foreign language: if you watch a movie with subtitles in the original language, it can help you follow the dialog, since it’s often easier to read subtitles than to hear the words that characters say in a movie.