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#1 spade

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 08:44 PM

I am backing up some DVDs using Handbrake. I am encoding to H.264/AAC in the .m4v container.
So far every DVD that I have worked with has a 720x480 resolution (per Handbrake) that looks great and full screen on my Samsung 720p 16x9 DLP.

By default, Handbrake turns on Anamorphic= Strict. If I disable this, Handbrake defaults to Keep Aspect Ration and changes the resolution to 720x400( and adds bars that are not normally there.)

Questions:

Does this(anamorphic and resolution change) happen because Handbrake assumes I have a 4:3 set?

Is Anamorphic not needed since I am using a wide screen set?

Should I disable Anamorphic and manually change the resolution back to 720x480?

Am I using more space if anamorpic is set (hope that makes sense?)

I'm new to the forum, Plex, and Macs. I am enjoying the hell out of all of them!
Oh and if you want, you can go ahead and tell me to search or rtfm...I am doing both. lol :)

Thanks!

#2 elan

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 09:02 PM

I just wanted to say welcome!

Unfortunately I can't personally answer your questions, but there are others on here that are well-versed in Handbrake who should be able to help you out :)

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#3 jeremymc7

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 12:48 AM

I also can't help you directly with handbrake. But welcome as well.

Given that this is a handbrake specific question you'll be better off asking on the handbrake forum. You might also check their FAQ as I'm sure it explains the feature.

As an indirect answer. Some movies are squeezed (things look un-normally thin) into a 4:3 screen and then expanded (sideways) to fill the 16:9 screen. There was a number of reasons this was done but you don't tend to see it too much. In any case you can change the view settings in plex to expand this squeezed material out to 16:9 screen width and get back the normal picture.

#4 Isaac Ordonez

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 02:57 AM

I would suggest ripping two copies, one with each settings and seeing if you can tell a difference ;)
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#5 peterjcat

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 07:18 AM

Almost all movie DVDs are stored in an anamorphic format; that is, they are stored at 720x480 but designed to be displayed a bit wider than that. 720x480 gives you an aspect ratio of 1.5:1 which no movie is shot at and no screen displays at. You're really looking for an aspect ratio of 16:9.

The DVD achieves this by saying: here's a 720x480 frame, but it's meant to be displayed at 16:9, so stretch it horizontally to fit. That results in a final image of about 853x480 pixels, which is then scaled to fit your screen but maintains those dimensions.

Handbrake's anamorphic mode does exactly the same thing as the DVD: it creates a frame of the original DVD dimensions and includes the instructions for the player to stretch the image to the correct aspect ratio during playback. Loose and Strict anamorphic are basically the same for these purposes.

The "Keep aspect ratio" option, as you've noticed, keeps the horizontal resolution the same but reduces the vertical resolution, so you end up with a frame of 720x400. This is already a 16:9 resolution, so the player doesn't do any horizontal stretching, all the pixels are square and it just scales the image to fit your screen.

Theoretically, the anamorphic encode will be better quality because it keeps all the vertical resolution that was on the DVD, whereas the non-anamorphic encode throws away 80 lines of vertical resolution. So although they both end up being scaled to fit your screen, the anamorphic encode has 20% more information in it and will look better. The anamorphic encode will also be "purer" since it hasn't already been scaled by Handbrake. But as Isaac says, you should try it and see if it makes a difference.

An anamorphic encode will take up more space because it's encoding the full frame of the DVD. It's not wasted space, though. Non-anamorphic files will be smaller because they're throwing away information.

The developers of Handbrake, who care more about image quality than anything else, use anamorphic all the time as far as I can tell.

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#6 John Lockwood

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 10:31 AM

Originally TVs were all 4:3 (not widescreen), and therefore originally DVDs were designed to contain 4:3 video. So a DVD in NTSC format contains a 720x480 image, and a PAL DVD contains a 720x576 image, with both being in 4:3 aspect ratio.

As the original DVD standard only allowed for these two resolutions, when it came to adding support for widescreen content there were several possibilities.

1. "Letterbox" the widescreen image. With this approach the 'widescreen' image is in the middle of a 4:3 screen with black borders top and bottom. This is the worst solution for a Widescreen TV (its fine for a 4:3 TV) and effectively wastes about a third of the available space. This approach has been used by commercial DVDs in the past.

2. Break the original standard of 720x480 or 720x576 pixels and add more horizontal pixels to allow storing a true widescreen image (this would have resulted in something like a 811x480 image). This however would have been incompatible with all current DVD players. It would also have meant a DVD would need to store a lot more information meaning that there might have been insufficient capacity in some cases.

3. As DVDs and TV broadcasts use non-square pixels, (pixels that are wider than they are tall) another solution would be to stretch them even wider for a widescreen image. A widescreen image would be 'squashed' down to 720x480 and then for playback on a widescreen TV 'stretched' wider from a 4:3 image to a 16:9 image reversing the squashing. This approach would mean no extra resolution needs to be stored on the DVD (so no capacity issues), it also means you are not wasting about a third of the available image area (by letterboxing) and the only change needed is to embed in the video data a 'flag' saying 'this is an anamorphic (distorted) image'. This is the approach now used by pretty much all modern widescreen DVDs.

I have not looked in to Blu Ray in detail but I believe it is different in that it stores a true widescreen image with square pixels (due to the much greater capacity of Blu Ray and the fact it was able to start off from day 1 supporting widescreen so it did not have to exploit such tricks).

Using anamorphic in Handbrake will (like a DVD) preserve the maximum available quality. Not using anamorphic mode in Handbrake would only really be useful if you are going to be playing the video in a player/device that is too stupid to be able to cope with non-square pixels.

As an aside, I am amazed that nearly all new DVDs in America are still sold in both (butchered) 4:3 "FullFrame" versions and proper 16:9 "Widescreen" versions. Here in the UK only anamorphic 16:9 widescreen DVDs are sold and have been so for years. I can't believe the US has a lower ownership of widescreen TVs than the UK.

#7 redrum

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 10:44 AM

Hi Spade,

I've been playing around with Handbrake for some time to try and get near DVD quality with a good reduction of size. If you want better image quality, you should keep anamorphic on to retain as much resolution from the DVD. However, the cost of more resolution is that you will generally need more space.

I've chosen to change to 'loose anamorphic'. It ensures that the resolution of the video is a multiple of a magic number, which will improve image quality (filters etc work on blocks of certain sizes). It may increase the size of the resulting file. I've read that the default in the future for Handbrake might be loose anamorphic, rather than strict.

If you are more concerned about quality, select constant quality. It also saves on time somewhat as 2 passes aren't required. I think the default is 65% which tends to be very good for 'regular' movies. 65% doesn't mean 65% of the quality of the original. There is a non linear relationship between the value for constant quality and size. I've been choosing around 63%.

If you are more concerned about hitting a particular size, then a constant bit rate (or target size) with 2 passes is better. You can choose the turbo 1st pass with only a minor loss of image quality.

Also, depending on the type of Mac you have, you may wish to turn off some more CPU intensive (decoding) features such as CABAC. Especially if you want Plex to upscale to your HDTV native resolution.

There is a pretty long thread on the Handbrake forums for 'best' quality settings for certain scenarios but there's no definite answer as everyone's objectives differ slightly. The profiles that come with Handbrake are pretty good. You could use them as a starting point and tweak them to your own tastes.

#8 spade

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 03:29 PM

Man....those are some great responses! Very informative and I really appreciate it.

I was worried at first I may have been too specific with stating my experiences with Handbrake but I wanted to explain what I was trying to do. The main question ( which I may not have stated well :) ) should have been; Should I use anamorphic with a 16x9 set? And you guys answered perfectly!!!

I LOVE message boards...good ones anyway! You can learn soo much and soo fast from a good board.

Thanks again for your help.

#9 elan

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 05:40 PM

Great information, thanks to everyone who contributed!

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#10 alexis

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 07:45 PM

The DVD achieves this by saying: here's a 720x480 frame, but it's meant to be displayed at 16:9, so stretch it horizontally to fit. That results in a final image of about 853x480 pixels, which is then scaled to fit your screen but maintains those dimensions.


I realize this is an old post but here goes. I recently ripped the first Season of 30 Rock using the Apple TV preset, and it left me with files which when played in Quicktime play at 853x480. The is with the most recent version of Handbrake 0.94 and it uses the Loose setting for anamorphic. When I play them in Plex there are about 8-10 pixel bars on the top and bottom of the screen. My mac is set to 1280 x 720 connected to a Plasma and the view settings in Plex are set to Normal. I can manually fix this if I set the view mode to Stretch 16x9. Also these files go fullscreen correctly in VLC and Quicktime. Does anyone think that the new x264 settings in handbrake are not displaying in Plex correctly?
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#11 John Lockwood

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 01:43 PM

I realize this is an old post but here goes. I recently ripped the first Season of 30 Rock using the Apple TV preset, and it left me with files which when played in Quicktime play at 853x480. The is with the most recent version of Handbrake 0.94 and it uses the Loose setting for anamorphic. When I play them in Plex there are about 8-10 pixel bars on the top and bottom of the screen. My mac is set to 1280 x 720 connected to a Plasma and the view settings in Plex are set to Normal. I can manually fix this if I set the view mode to Stretch 16x9. Also these files go fullscreen correctly in VLC and Quicktime. Does anyone think that the new x264 settings in handbrake are not displaying in Plex correctly?


1280x720 is a proper 16:9 aspect ratio and is the same as the official 720p resolution. (I mention this because a lot of LCD TVs which are supposedly 720p sets actually have a native resolution of 1366x768 for some incomprehensible reason.) Therefore if you are playing a video that is a true 16:9 it should in theory fully fill your Plasma TV.

There are several possibilities you can check.

1. Made for TV films and programmes that are widescreen, generally are in a 16:9 aspect ratio, however most made for cinema films are not (they are wider) and should normally have black borders top and bottom when played on a 16:9 screen.

2. You can 'calibrate' the video settings in Plex. In theory this should not be necessary as Plex should be able to determine the correct resolution and aspect ratio from the video file and automatically display it properly. In practise I found I needed to calibrate Plex. Note: Some video files do have incorrect information about aspect ratios. Arguably this need to calibrate Plex suggests a bug in Plex, especially as you report VLC and QuickTime do not have this problem.

3. It should not apply to you, but most computer LCD screens have historically had a 16:10 aspect ratio (MacBooks still do) and therefore should show small black borders top and bottom even for true 16:9 films/programmes. Note: the new iMacs have a true 16:9 screen, a first from Apple.

4. Here in the UK, the BBC at least has often broadcast NTSC sourced TV programmes with in my opinion the incorrect vertical resolution. An example would be Star Trek (the original Captain Kirk series). These having been originally produced in NTSC have a 4:3 aspect ratio and would have had a resolution of 720x480 pixels, however the BBC being in the UK broadcast in PAL which has a resolution of 720x576 pixels (still a 4:3 aspect ratio). The BBC should take the 720x480 and 'stretch' it to 720x576 pixels for converting to PAL, however it seems that the BBC often transmits these programs as 720x480 with 48 black lines top and bottom, 48+480+48=576.

#12 ericmatthys

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 02:59 PM

I always just maintain the aspect ratio and make sure my width is 1920 (for blu-rays). It has worked well for me thus far.

#13 CyberdyneMedia

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:06 PM

Hi there! guess i'll give this a bump since i'm experiencing some issues with this anamorphic setting. Now first off i must say that i have always used Handbrake on High Profile setting, so the anamorphic has always been on for everything i've ever encoded. Never had a problem till the Google TV player.

My problem is that the anamorphic files are stretched vertically, and squished horizontally, so i have black bars down the sides. Now i just did a test using high profile and turned off anamorphic, and it plays full frame on my TV??

I have a fairly large media server that i've been building, converting all of mine and my wifes TV series over, and it would be a pain in the ass to do it all over again.

Does Plex for GTV support anamorphic? i realize the last post in this thread was 2 years ago, much has changed...




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