All Windows versions after 0.10.5.0 remove Custom Anamorphic Settings and are deemed unacceptable for DVD creation in Plex! This guide covers Handbrake settings that will allow Plex to properly report 480p resolutions and maintain that 480p material at it’s full resolution. Custom Anamorphic Settings are the ONLY way to achieve these two goals simultaneously. This guide is written for Version 0.10.5.0. This version is easily found here: https://handbrake.fr/old.php .
Good News! It appears this will be corrected one of these days: https://forum.handbrake.fr/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=35664&p=167374 . Until then we’d better stick with 0.10.5.0
Let’s get to it.
Select the container you want. I’m an MP4 guy. Do check Web Optimized.
For America (NTSC) a DVD can store a Maximum resolution of 720x480. That ain’t right, so in steps Anamorphic Settings. A Flatscreen TV is 16:9. In the USA the Custom Anamorphic Width setting should be 854 (854x480 - is 16:9) Every flatscreen TV in America needs a width setting of 854 for widescreen material. Set the cropping to Automatic and Handbrake will get it right most of the time. Check it before pressing the button and make an adjustment if necessary.
For 4:3 (1.33) material the width should be 640, for 16:9 (1.78) the width should be 854. Crop out the black bars and you’re golden.
DVDs in PAL territory carry 720x576. The magic number there is 1024 (1024x576) for 16:9.
Get the Width setting right and that squishy looking preview blossoms into a full 480p image (or 576 in PAL land) and you get the most you can get out of your SD material - that’s important.
Also be aware that some DVDs (Documentaries mostly) have mixed 4:3 and 16:9 content. Handbrake can get confused and auto-crop it all to 4:3. This is extremely annoying when you go to watch it later and find out most of the picture is missing. It is a good idea to check Handbrake on the auto-cropping before pushing the go button.
Some DVDs are progressively scanned - others are interlaced. It’s maddening when some episodes on the same disc are progressive and some are interlaced. Set the filters tab as I have them and leave them alone. If there are no combing artifacts the filters do nothing. If there are - they work wonderfully.
Framerate - Same as Source
If you’ve never seen what happens when a Star Trek episode switches frame rates on you for Live Action vs CGI you just haven’t lived. Don’t live that way. It’ll take years off your life. Handbrake will give you the framerate you need. Make it variable and stop worrying about it.
I don’t use Constant Quality. It’s pretty foolproof, but the results were too unpredictable. I use an average bit rate instead. For DVDs I use a baseline of 1800Kbps and adjust it up or down depending on how the source looks (like dogmeat - lower. Super-Duper - higher). I stop seeing any improvement above 2200 to be honest, but you’ll have to use the eyeballs in your head to make that call. There’s no need to waste a lot of bit rate and storage for Dog Meat. You can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse by jacking up the bit rate. You’ll just end up with a super-sized version of Dog Meat.
I always use the Advanced Tab and if you don’t follow my lead in that section you can easily create video that won’t play on anything. Insane values produce insane results. My settings work because most of them are the defaults. More on that later.
I have an ear on each side of my head. I have a speaker for each ear. I like Direct Play. I use AAC 2.0 Nuff said. You can futz with audio till the cows come home by pulling down those drop downs and experimenting, but AAC 2.0 works across all my devices and everything I create direct plays.
I also set the DRC (Dynamic Range Control) to 1.8 (I’ve found that works well) so that a DVD with an AC3 track can be ‘normalized’ - clipping the loud bits to even out the overall experience. Don’t you just hate it when you crank up the volume to hear dialog, then two seconds later you get blown through your picture window when something explodes? I do. I also run every single file through Xmedia Recode after Handbrake to ultimately bring that evened out audio track up to 89db - the industry standard. Every single file I have sees the same volume setting. I like that. You will too.
Now music vids, concerts, Movies with incredible audio tracks get more audio bit rate - up to 320 - but most of the stuff gets 128 and that’s plenty for me. Sample at 48k.
If the DVD has commentary tracks, Add a track, select the second track, make the adjustments and name it Commentary. You don’t need a lot of bit rate for a commentary track. 96 is plenty.
Subtitles? Chapters? You’re on your own.
The Dreaded Advanced Tab:
Most of this stuff is the default, but I have given DVDs one more reference frame to 4. You can see my settings. Match 'em and you won’t create stuff that won’t play. That’s about all I have to say on that.
Here are the corresponding screens for the above. TL:DR - open up Handbrake do what I do. Create something and post your results.