Blu-ray to MKV (MP4) Using Handbrake


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In my opinion, the movie corporation needs to wake up to the 21st century and realize that formats like DVDs and Blu-rays are dead. When it comes to Google Play and iTunes the prices these companies charge for movies is bloated at best in my opinion. I can compress Blu-rays down to 1.6GB on average with a nearly unnoticeable quality loss. As far as I’m concerned, there is no reason not to compress data. As a proof in point, the newer HBO series Silicon Valley is a company that has some extremely good compression logarithm. My final point that they don’t know what they are doing, is that it is easier to torrent a film rather than to obtain a legal copy.
To get around all these problems I’ve turned to‘s used Blu-ray’s and two programs, and RedFox to solve nearly all of my problems. I compress Blu-ray, or DVD, using the H264 format into an MKV (Not Mp4 and I’ll explain why in a bit) video file. I’ve been doing this for years with great success, but only recently have I found all the settings that just work better than the rest.
First up, get the program AnyDVD (RedFox instead now) so that you can get past the encryption on the Blu-ray. Otherwise, I would never get anywhere trying to rip my Blu-rays because the files would be corrupted.
I use MKV for one reason because MP4 cannot handle multiple Subtitle files. When ripping a video you need two Subtitle tracks, one for Foreign Languages and the other for full subtitles. This way if want the watch the video without audio, or if one of my Deaf Friends is watching, I can enable it and enjoy the video. Whereas the Foreign Language Subtitles show up by default so that I’m not guessing what they’re saying in a different language.
Blu-ray to MKV Picture Handbrake Settings
The first tab is the Picture settings, which is one of the easiest for me to set up to my liking. Normally, I’m ripping a Blu-ray and I want Blu-ray quality so I set the Anamorphic to “Loose” and Modulus to “2” because I want all my pixels. Make sure to let Handbrake take care of the Cropping Automatically so that your computer isn’t encoding Black bars at the Top and Bottom or Left and Right of the video. Blu-rays are still a victim of needing to be cropped, just today I was surprised when I found “Beerfest” had just blank black bars at the top and bottom of the video. What a waste.
Blu-ray to MKV Video Quality Settings
When it comes the Video quality, I’ve gotten the best results using Constant Quality set at 24 for Blu-rays. Someone could make a good case for 23 if they didn’t mind a slightly bigger file size. For DVD’s set the Constant Quality at “21” to balance quality and file size. I keep the Frame Rate constant and set it at “Same as Source”. In the Optimize Video section is where I’ve personally lost a lot of time and sleep over. Basically, the Optimize Video Section works best when it set at “Slower“, the Tune is for “Film”, the H.264 Level set to “4.1”. I could explain for hours why I choose these settings, but summing up the options I choose is what I prefer.
Blu-ray to MKV Audio Handbrake Settings
Next up on the list is deciding on what format to encode the audio with. In the past, I just used passthrough, which is just a perfect copy of the Blu-ray or DVD audio file. With time I found my file sizes bigger than what makes sense for me as my digital video library grew. FLAC held my interest too for a while, but after some lengthy debates with myself, I decided the file size is still too big and the quality difference just isn’t worth it. I’ve settled on the MP3 format now because of the following reasons. When an MP3 is encoded at 192 kbit/s it becomes very difficult to tell the difference from some of the best formats out there. Note that 320 kbit/s isn’t worth it, when someone does a double-blind test, odds are that they cannot tell the difference. I use the Mixdown setting “Dolby Surround” as a way of retaining some surround elements from the video.
Blu-ray to MKV Subtitles Handbrake Settings
Subtitles are a bit tricky to get right, but I’ll do my best to explain. The picture above is a Blu-ray where they are still using the boring old DVD formats. Normally, I just need to add two tracks of the “1 English (PGS)” and only check mark the boxes “Forced Only” and “Default” on the first track only. This way I get both subtitles for languages not in English, and the ability to turn on subtitles for the entire film. Well, the movie Terminal Velocity is an old movie, to say the least. Because of the archaic DVD format, I needed to set up the foreign audio choosing “Foreign Audio Scan” and just check marking “Default”. Notice I do not select the “Forced Only” because I would get nothing to display if I choose that option. This way whenever I play the video the default option is to display subtitles for words, not in English.
Blu-ray to MKV Fifth Element Rip
As long as someone uses the same settings I show above, they will have a format that loses none of the features and is capable of being played on nearly every device. There is no need for programs like VLC so the video is even playable this way either. These videos will be hard to distinguish from playing the actual Blu-ray it’s ripped from or new MKV file just made. Best of all, these MKV files are very portable at this size. They would easily fit on a standard DVD 2-4 times being dependent on the length of the film. I find Blu-rays to be a complete waste, but on the other hand, the companies sure have made it easy for me to get a high-quality digital copy of my favorite videos. Anyway, don’t forget to comment below for any help with backing up your Blu-rays, and/or DVDs, by commenting below.


  1. Thank you! I’m going to give your suggestions a try. So, you don’t monkey with the advanced tab at all right?

    1. Schwarttzy Avatar

      Yep, I don’t mess with the advance tab at all. I want to keep making my movie collection simple.

      1. Protege Avatar

        Do you have a guide for DVDs as well ? Or does your Blu Ray guide apply for DVDs as well ?

        1. Schwarttzy Avatar

          It’s basically the same. Just pull back the “Constant Quality” to 19 so that you get more detail for the finished video. However, you may need to head over the tab labeled “Filters” and Deinterlace or Decomb the video because of interlacing. The cool part is when it’s finished it will upvert the quality a bunch over a standard DVD player.

          1. Would you be willing to export your settings for Handbrake 1.0.1 for import by other users? Thanks for the tutorial!

          2. Schwarttzy Avatar

            Yeah, man. I’m working on a new post with all the changes for the current version of Handbrake.

          3. If you do, could you explain why you use ‘Film’ setting and also a little bit on the encode level, even if it is simplified?

          4. Schwarttzy Avatar

            I use Film, because I mostly rip films. If you read the documentation for hand brake it reads “Real life footage, films etc may benefit.” But I recommend changing from “Film” to “Animation” if you happen to rip Cartoons or Anime. As for the encode level, I’m using 4.1 because it offers plenty of bandwidth and the resolutions and frames per second that I need. All the while been very compatible with today’s current electronics.

  2. Where does the RedFox come into play. I’m new to the BluRay realm. I’ve always copied all of our DVD’s to our hard drive (in MP4 format), but never the Blurays because they took up too much space and were very universal with the devices I used them with. With newer devices in our home that can handle the mkv files, going the route you described sounds like it would allow me to keep smaller files and maintain the high quality picture I want. Is the Bluray ripped with RedFox first and then converted through handbrake? I have never used RedFox and want to understand it a bit first before making the purchase.

    1. Schwarttzy Avatar

      Handbrake can’t access the disc without RedFox. Size the of the file is dependent on the setting in Handbrake, my typical Blu-ray rip is 2Gb or less. I’ve chosen all my options with a particular goal, “Being able to quickly and easily watch movies with all of my friends.” Things like smaller file sizes, highest compatibility, and multiple subtitles (why I use MKV over MP4) help me achieve that goal. RedFox is just on, Handbrake does all the work once the disc is accessible.

  3. This is an awesome guide, Thank you!
    Could you share your rig’s spec, and on average how long it takes to do a rip?
    Much appreciated!

    1. Schwarttzy Avatar

      Andy, I have the Razer Blade Stealth 2016 – 6500u and I use a USB Blu-Ray Drive. With this computer it takes about 6 hours to rip the file.

  4. thanks for the guide worked a charm, however the strick option under anamorphic is no longer available, there is only none, automatic na so I left on automatic, does that make a big difference?

    1. Schwarttzy Avatar

      Automatic is cool. Currently I use “Loose”, with Modules set at “2”.

  5. Have you tried any of the new presets in Handbrake 1.0.1 or is there anything different with that version that you have discovered?

    1. Schwarttzy Avatar

      I just started ripping movies with Handbrake version “1.0.1”. There are only a few things I’ve currently changed up. I’m disappointed, but the mix down forces me to “Dolby Pro Logic II”, because I would rather avoid proprietary coding. Under Picture I leave it on “Automatic”, and try to get the “Modulus” to 16 with the full 1920. Under the video tab, I’ve changed my mind to run with the Encoder Profile set to “High” because this will be a better setting in most situations.

  6. 4KVideoGuy Avatar

    Nice guide, and I agree with you on the space / bloated BluRay with the exception of audio and enjoying the immersive sound for when you want movie sound as in TrueHD, Dolby DTS, DTS-HD-MA, and with ATMOS object-based sound. I tend to prefer to keep these + AAC 5.1 or AC3 combo with the higher grade audio. I had not considered ease / compatibility with all devices and streaming because my library is focused on delivering the highest quality of video and audio to my home theater equipment. I may have to re-visit the space issue, but I’ve seen 2Gb files look great and 4Gb files with DTS audio blow me away.

    1. Schwarttzy Avatar

      I’m a bit of a vagabond, all my movie are typically watched on my Laptop. I don’t have a good 5.1 surround sound, nore to care for it. I just watching for the story and entertainment factory. If I really wanted a serious experience I would watch the Blu-ray version.

  7. “I can compress Blu-rays down to 1.6GB on average”
    Hi Schwarttzy, and thanks for the guide. I’ve been using Handbrake for a few years with DVDs, and I typically get results good enough for me with Handbrake’s (mostly) default settings, with file sizes around 650MB-1.2 GB for DVDs. Recently I’ve started experimenting with Blu-Ray, and getting file sizes up around 3-4GB, including when I use your settings here, which seems too high to me.
    Before I just bump the quality slider to a higher number, can you confirm that you are consistently getting Blu-Rays down under 2GB with the settings you shared here?

    1. Schwarttzy Avatar

      Yes, my files size are typically 1.6GB to 1.8GB for a standard length film, the stand format. However, some videos like Guardian come out to just short of 4GB. Once in a while I’ll get a film that’s barely more than 1GB. I plan on making a new post with my setting soon, just have to finish building up some websites.

  8. Thanks for all the helpful info! I’ve used Handbrake many times to rip DVDs, but I’d like to start ripping my Blu-ray discs to see the difference in video quality when watching through AppleTV. I assume that my standard DVD Reader/Writer won’t work for that and I’ll need to invest in a Blu-ray writer?

    1. Schwarttzy Avatar

      Yes, you have to have Blu-Ray reader to rip Blu-Rays

  9. Hey, would this work with TV series that are on Blu-ray such as Game of Thrones, Dexter, and such? Would this guide work if I follow exactly for both TV shows on Blu-ray and TV shows on DVD?

    1. Schwarttzy Avatar

      Yes, it works just fine with TV Series. I personally use it with my Ren & Stimpy collection and also Married with Children DVDs.

  10. James Avatar

    Thanks for this tutorial. I’m disabled and have trouble moving around, so I’ve been using MakeMKV to back up my DVD and blu-rays to an external HDD so I can watch them with ease, and it was really starting to get out of hand. 54 movies are eating over 700 GB off my backup storage, because they’re all uncompressed straight from the discs. I’ve always been aware of transcoding and compressing,but I’ve never been clear on how to get the best possible quality.
    I’m currently using your Handbrake settings to transcode my first rip — Stephen King’s 1408, incidentally — so I’ll report back after the fact with quality results.
    Thanks again!

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