I consume video on multiple devices, each with different tolerances for codecs – an HD TV via a PS3, my PC, an Android tablet, and much less often now, a netbook. Coupled with that, I also have many DVDs which I would like to make available via my media server,  so I can either browse and watch directly on the TV, or copy to the tablet for watching while on the move. As a result, I’ve tried to work out how to encode my DVD rips in a single format that is playable on all devices with at reasonable levels of quality. My chosen format is MP4, using H.264 which in theory is supported by every device I have, but the PS3 is notoriously picky when it comes to codecs, and I’ve struggled to get some files to play. I have finally cracked it, and here’s how.

  1. Use MakeMKV to extract the relevant videos from a DVD or Blu-Ray to MKV files.
  2. Download HandBrake 0.95 and install it. It hasn’t been updated in a while but it does work (eventually).
  3. Set a default Output Path (under Tools->Options).
  4. Choose your input media using the Source button.
  5. Select the Regular->High Profile preset from the left.
  6. Change the Destination File extension to .mp4 (it defaults in most cases to .m4v).
  7. Ensure the rest of the settings are as follows:
    • Container: MP4 File (other boxes should be unticked).
    • Picture: Leave these at the defaults for the ‘High Profile’ preset.
    • Video Filters: Detelecine and Deomb should both be set to default, everything else off.
    • Video: Can be left at the defaults, or you can target a specific size file.
    • Audio: Important – make sure only one audio track is listed, it should use AAC (faac).
    • Subtitles: Important – Remove any subtitle tracks.
    • Chapters: Leave as is.
    • Advanced: Leave as is.
  8. Click Start.

I’m sure that the settings can probably be tweaked in some way to improve quality, and I found that the key was to make sure there was only one audio track and no subtitle track. The DVD I was ripping had 2 audio tracks and a subtitle track, which were then included in the MKV, and HandBrake detected that and defaulted to including them in the MP4. While there was no problem playing that MP4 in VLC Player on Windows, and the subtitles work, the PS3 simply refused to play it.