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Anyone running mkv rips of their movie collections via Plex? (aka A Media Server Conundrum)

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Ramblings moved from the wrong thread...

 

I was watching a bit of Aliens on the laptop whilst running the Plex bitrate read out and you can see just how hungry that movie really is. During that Burke scene the bitrate on my encode is even exceeding the 10mbps cap I set (whether this is result of having selected grain tuning or whether it is an example of something I think Don notes about bitrates still occasionally being allowed to exceed the max limit set in his script I don't know. It hits peaks of 16 briefly). When it's not pushing beyond 10 it is almost constantly between 8 and 9.9mbps and this is just a scene of two people sitting down and talking! 

 

20mbps max and a buffer of 10 may in fact be the best place to start. 

 

Hopefully I can actually set aside some time tomorrow evening. Curiosity has left me eager to see what I can work out. If I can get desirable results I should then be able to use tweaked rates for more modern but artistically grainy films, particularly a trio from Spielberg and kaminski's ultra grainy phase (Pvt Ryan, A.I, Minority Report).

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Initial thoughts are... inconclusive. 

 

I did chapter four at 16, 18 and 24mbps, each as standard, and again with film tuning and again with grain tuning. The 24mbps is about at parity with the Blu-ray, 18 is not far off and the difference between 16 and 18 seems minimal, if non existent. I'm going to try 14 and 12 just to see how low I can go. It's worth noting there is macroblocking on the Blu-ray too, it's just more subtle as the grain is rendered more organically. I'm not sure the tuning settings really help much. 

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OK, I think I can be satisfied at either 12mbps or 14mbps. 14 may have the slight edge. I'm accounting for the fact my seating position should still be about half a foot further back than is possible, but I'm going to view again tomorrow before making a final decision. There's about 40mb difference in the files (207mb for the 12mbps and 241mb for the 14mb. The 'film' tuning adds no size difference (or noticeable image difference for that matter). Grain tuning interestingly enough does not make a spot of difference in file size in the 18, 20 and 24mb transcodes and at 16mb there is only a 2mb difference in the files. To my eye I am not sure grain tuning is helping the image. 

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I apologize if this has been asked and answered before, but is there a downside to just having Plex stream the raw mkv rips, aside from the size of the files?  I'm assuming it runs smoother with a file that has gone through handbrake, correct?  I ask because I got a computer just for streaming movies, and was watching a mkv of Mad Max, and several times it said the server was running out of resources to process it (stopping the movie at least twice).  The machine should be beefy enough to handle it:

 

Processor: Intel i3 4340 3.6 GHz Dual Core Haswell w/ HD 4600 Graphics
RAM (DDR3 1600): 4GB

 

I was viewing it on that machine's Chrome browser.  Am I just bumping up against what the computer can do with that big of a file?

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It should not take much to playback the 1:1 MKV at all. Think of how much more powerful even the most basic CPUs and ram combinations in a computer are compared to the SoC systems in Blu-ray players themselves. 1080p even with lossless audio is not taxing at all (heck a Raspberry Pi can do it). The only bottlenecks I encountered were over the network until I improved the cabling and the way in which I route my ethernet connections.

 

Is the PC doing anything else whilst playing back the content? Also, is Plex set up for direct play? If it is doing any transcoding you're unaware of (perhaps on the audio side?) that may possibly be causing some issues.

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The PC shouldn't have been doing anything else.  I did install NextPVR for television, and that service was running in the background, but I don't believe it was recording anything, other then that, it's a pretty blank computer.  I just played some of it on my iphone (same network) and it worked fine, so I'll have to do some more investigating on what could have caused the issue.

 

Plex is set up for direct play, it COULD be doing some stuff with the audio, as I said, it worked on my iphone, but my guess is it's not sending over the 7.1 audio track to my iphone.  That could be causing some issue.

 

Here is some of the detail on the file:

Media
Video Resolution 1080p
Duration 2:00:23
Bitrate 30989 kbps
Width 1920
Height 1080
Aspect Ratio 1.78
Container MKV
Video Frame Rate 24p
 
Audio
Codec TRUEHD
Channels 7.1
Language English
Audio Channel Layout 7.1
Bit Depth 24
Bitrate Mode VBR
Duration 2:00:23
Sampling Rate 48000 Hz
Title Surround 7.1

 

 

So, if space wasn't an issue, would you just leave everything as 1:1 mkv files?  My library isn't very massive at the moment, so space isn't really a motivator right now.

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The PC shouldn't have been doing anything else.  I did install NextPVR for television, and that service was running in the background, but I don't believe it was recording anything, other then that, it's a pretty blank computer.  I just played some of it on my iphone (same network) and it worked fine, so I'll have to do some more investigating on what could have caused the issue.

 

Plex is set up for direct play, it COULD be doing some stuff with the audio, as I said, it worked on my iphone, but my guess is it's not sending over the 7.1 audio track to my iphone.  That could be causing some issue.

 

Here is some of the detail on the file:

Media

Video Resolution 1080p

Duration 2:00:23

Bitrate 30989 kbps

Width 1920

Height 1080

Aspect Ratio 1.78

Container MKV

Video Frame Rate 24p

 

Audio

Codec TRUEHD

Channels 7.1

Language English

Audio Channel Layout 7.1

Bit Depth 24

Bitrate Mode VBR

Duration 2:00:23

Sampling Rate 48000 Hz

Title Surround 7.1

It would transcode the audio to an iOS device, yes, but that's not especially taxing on the computer. Hmmm.... Hopefully Cameron can chime in with some thoughts.

 

 

So, if space wasn't an issue, would you just leave everything as 1:1 mkv files?  My library isn't very massive at the moment, so space isn't really a motivator right now.

 

 

Yes, it was my plan, and long term still is. I only opted to go in another direction and transcode last weekend as I just can't afford 20TB of storage at the moment having already bought 10TB's worth (I've over 500 discs, and would want added storage for RAID backups). :) I'm surprised how well a lot of the transcodes hold up. I must have churned through about 50 so far, and there are a handful I may revisit at a higher bitrate, but generally they look excellent and I know I'm encoding well above iTunes HD limits so have given myself something halfway between that and the original Blu-ray disc I suppose.

 

For absolute peace of mind though, and lossless audio, 1:1 MKV is ideal and Plex handles it all very well right through to the real time transcoding stage when beaming to iOS devices...etc. The only thing I did when I was initially running the MKVs was I transcoded special features just to save me a bit of space (and it's actually beneficial if you have special features with optional subtitles, like for instance some foreign stuff on Criterion discs as although for movies Plex will remember, even default to, English subtitle tracks if it detects the main audio languages is not English, it doesn't do this for files you might include as extras, so transcoding extras and burning in subtitles where appropriate was a good choice for me).

 

The only tedious thing is using MakeMKV and having to cross reference what you're ripping off the disc as it will only give you running times to go by, which is easy enough for movies but less so for special features. Worth doing though as picking and choosing precisely what audio and video content you want will save you space. On average most of my MKV's for the movie and the lossless tracks were around 27GB (I was getting about 30-35 movies per terabyte as MKV. Transcoding appears to be opening that up to give me around 120 movies per terabyte by comparison).

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Transcoding is still going well, but I thought I'd take a moment to count out how many discs I have left, discs I had not yet got round to even making the MKVs for... There's another 140+ movies boxed away (that's movies, add even more for Twilight Zone, Deadwood, Battlestar, Veep and all 5000 discs in the Sopranos set amongst other TV stuff)... Truly the all MKV route at this point would have ruined me financially so I am glad I've left it for another day. So far in Plex there are 391 movies (a mix of my MKVs and my transcodes. I've 47 transcodes left to do of the contents that were originally on that first 5tB drive, then there's 181 to squish down from the 6TB drive. I own a lot more than I thought, and my DVDs pretty much all TV content) are still in storage to be retrieved for archiving. 

 

I was hoping my 6TB drive might be used as the backup clone of the 5TB drive, but I am honestly not sure everything I own, with room to spare for stuff I will continue to buy, will fit on there. On the 5TB drive (4.54 formatted) I have freed up 1.62TB since transcoding, so I might get another 1TB or so back after these remaining transcodes. I'm still judging my bitrates on a title by title basis, dependent on how much grain is in the original, how much fast movement and so on. 

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I finished the 5tb drive transcodes (still to re do Aliens however). I think it brought it down to around 1.5tb. I say "think" as I was adding fresh rips and transcodes made on the mbp to the drive while the pc was still squishing down the 160 or so movies I already had on there.

 

Now working on the 6TB drive contents. Should take anither 2 weeks straight.

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Almost there. The remainder of the 6TB drive contents should be finished by the time I come back from a weekend away on Tuesday, and I have about 40 or so movie discs still to rip... though I did have two Criterion box sets handed to me the other day so the number of discs to rip is still ever increasing. :) I've not tackled the TV stuff yet either, and I still have to get the assembly information for combining the LOTR discs. 

 

As I posted in the Apple thread, Plex are retiring Plex HT in favour of Plex Media player which will now include your music library and will have 4k and h.265 support as well as other improvements. Problem is it takes on the design of the app UI we're used to on PS4...etc and I don't like it very much. I hope users can push the to include a vertical cover view of your library as we had in Plex HT, and as we have on the iOS apps, and the list view is terrible compare to Plex HT as before we had the artwork and synopsis of the highlighted film on the left, with the list of available films on the right. In addition, since they've adopted the app UI it now means you can't select your audio track prior to starting the film! Hopefully they will improve a lot of this before it goes public as for now it is only available to Plex Pass members.

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Dan, I did some quick blind grain tests over the weekend. I mainly wanted to do this as I was encoding the Selznik Hitchcock films (Notorious, Rebecca, Spellbound) which have a lot of grain. The source MKVs for Rebecca and Spellbound are around 35GB.

 

I made four files:

  1. Usual Settings on Slow
  2. Slow with Grain Tune
  3. Medium with Grain Tune
  4. Medium with Grain Tune at 10000kpbs

I compared A and B. A looked great, and B was definitely lower quality.

I then compared A and C. A was still better, but C didn't look bad at all.

I then compared A and D. With these two, I honestly could not tell them apart. I didn't spend a ton of time on it, but I was definitely happy with either of them.

 

The results:

 

A: Medium with Grain Tune at 10000kpbs

B: Usual Settings on Slow

C: Slow with Grain Tune

D: Medium with Grain Tune

 

I tested it a couple more times on Spellbound and found the same. I thought it was interesting I liked Medium Grain over Slow, and also that I basically considered Medium Grain (at 8000kpbs) to be equal to 10000kpbs. Works for me! Faster encoding times and a lower bitrate.

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Interesting. I may revisit a few like that. I noticed my MKV rips of the Godfather films did not carry the subtitles correctly so I need to revisit those, so might try grain tuning. 

 

Expected my remaining transcodes to be finished while I was away but got back this evening to find there were still 50 movies still left in the queue... Buh...

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Glad to see we can now apparently select audio/subtitles from the pre-play menus on the mobile apps. I hope this is added to all the other apps and the new Plex Media Player asap.

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Did an 8mbps + grain tuning transcode on the theatrical cut of Cinema Paradiso which gave me a 15gb file and it's really quite messy. Terrible blocking, so I will go back and do some straight 8mbps and 10mps encodes without tuning of some chapters for that one as, like everything else, using tuning seems best when judged on a title by title basis I suspect. 10mbps with no tuning is proving to be an acceptable sweet spot for me for moderate to seriously grainy content and gives me files anywhere between 7.5GB and 14GB, averaging just under 9GB, depending on a film's length, and I am ok with that given the storage I have available to me.

 

Animation and digitally photographed low action content (Whiplash for instance) get 8mbps and look just fine, and 8mbps also works ok for fine grained low action film content too (e.g something like Blazing Saddles). I may go back to certain titles in future, specifically some with banding issues (the opening of Les Miserables, the musical version, has troublesome banding at the start I'd like to kill, but not sure how far I have to bump the bitrate to do so).

 

I have 3 films remaining finally on that 6tb drive transcoding. All credit to my PC for working through everything I had ripped 24/7 for the past five weeks. Still a box of 30 or so movies still to rip and then a whole load of Blu-ray TV content like Twilight Zone...etc... THEN DVDs to break out of storage and rip. Most Blu-ray TV content should be ok at 8mbps for me, though Band of Brothers will be 10mbps I think.

 

I'm still of two minds about getting an Apple TV this week. I think I may still do so despite the lack of 24p support. Apparently Plex on PS4 only outputs at 60z too so without a dedicated device for Plex going into my TV running Plex HT/Plex Media Player, I'm restricted for optimal playback either way (and PS4 Plex remains under Plex Pass. I also find it to be very bug ridden, whereas I expect deus to be firmly on top of another iOS release for the Apple TV). Since I am keen to have a streaming box of TV content and Netflix as I am sick of using the PS4 I'll probably live with the ATV solution until I'm back on my feet and able to build the lossless Plex server of my dreams. 

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Instead of buying an apple TV, you could look at just using a SFF PC as a streaming endpoint.  Something like the HP Stream Mini or any of the Intel NUC machines look like they'd be a good fit for this type of duty.  I've also bought a few of these (http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B003WF0FBO?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00) to use as PC remotes, and they're useful because they come with a USB IR receiver, and there are codes in the harmony database for them.  A little more hacking to set things up the way you want them, but it's also more customizable than you'll get out of an apple device. 

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The nuc or a mac mini, chromebox or raspberry pi 2 would all do the job for running plex ht or plex media player into the tv yes. It is the route I will go when I can run all my rips losslesly someday and need full av codec and framerate support, it's just at the mercy or when I can afford to (and can afford to have a proper HT again).

Plex have shelved plex ht development now in favour of the new plex media player which needs a lot of work, but long term I think will be excellent (for now it is only available to Plex Pass members).

No 24p on the apple tv is deeply frustrating but there are other things I would like the device for and it'll be a better plex solution than the PS4 I currently use (again, until the day comes I can rip and playback everything losslessly)...... I should mention that I bought an Apple TV this afternoon. :)

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Well this is interesting. I had found Netflix to be significantly better visually on the Apple TV than the PS4, and now the ATV app for Plex is live I can confirm the same thing too. None of the blocking from my Cinema Paradiso encode is present at all via the Apple device. 

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No idea. PS4 is adding some extra funk that's for sure. I'm able to evaluate my transcodes a LOT better now... They really do look great!  :D

 

I'm not getting that window boxing error the PS4 app gave me randomly on some 2.35:1 films either (which we know was a PS4 app bug as the same films are ok on PS3).

 

Now if we can just get Apple to accept 24p is important....

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I've always notice Apple TV being smoother then the consoles apps, always thought it was because it was not running all the other nonsense in the background.

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Quite possible. 

 

Plex have really made a great app for the ATV. I expected it to mimic the look of their other smart tv apps and plex media player but it is totally unique and in keeping with App's Siri UI. The artwork looks so sharp too compared to the PS3 and PS4 app presentation

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No idea. PS4 is adding some extra funk that's for sure. I'm able to evaluate my transcodes a LOT better now... They really do look great!  :D

 

When you mentioned the blocking on Aliens, were you evaluating on the PS4?

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When you mentioned the blocking on Aliens, were you evaluating on the PS4?

 

 

Yes!  :o   Holy shit.... 

 

My old encode is still on there, along with the individual chapter encodes I did at various bitrates. The original 10mbps encode now looks just fine! (slight improvement on the 12mbps and 14mbps scene tests, but the nasty background blocking is gone even at 10mbps). I'm sitting half a foot from my 50" Kuro looking at this! 

 

My Pvt Ryan encode (which I did at 12 or 16, I forget), looks magnificent too and I had noticeable blocking via the PS4 app. 

 

 

The whole audio bug I had with the PS4 is gone here as well.

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Well that is good to hear! I mostly evaluate right here on my 27" monitor. I remember sending you my version of the file and wondering what I was missing when you said it was blocky too!

 

Come to think of it, I do remember one time on my Halloween encode, there was one part where the video glitches out, and I was like "shit, I will have to re-encode this". I go back to view it on the Mac and it's fine. I don't remember any other PS4 issues (other than the anamorphic bug) but I dont evaluate on it either. 

 

I kind of want to test this out now.

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