Let me just list some "basic" apps you need to have in order to start your....journey into HD world.
1. DECRYPT & RIP
"AnyDVD HD" A MUST have if you want to rip HD DVD or Blu-Ray discs into your hard drive or if you want to playback those discs in a setup that includes a non HDCP compatible monitor. It's shareware and you can find it either here in the applications section or buy it directly from Slysoft. Personally, I have a legit copy because I think that this company should "survive". Without those "Sly" guys, nothing of what you see in the HD movies section could be found listed there. Other apps like "BackupHDDVD" (freeware) can also do part of the job for you.
2. PLAYBACK - CODECS
For playback you can use PowerDVD 7.3 Ultra. Is the easiest and safest way for newcomers to go with. BUT, if you decide to go for a better, alternative player compared to PowerDVD, like "Zoom Player WMV Pro", "MPC HC" etc., you have to install few pieces of software (codecs, filters, source splitters etc.) in order to be able to playback most of the known audio & video formats. Those can be either freeware or shareware. A very decent (and stable) freeware all-in-one solution is "K-Lite Codec Pack" but, as a rule, free means inferior in most of cases. So, if I guess right that you want to playback BD & HD DVD with their usual audio format, best solution to go for is: "CoreAvc Pro" (shareware, h264 decoder), "Haali Media splitter" (required for mkv files and...not just for this), "WMVideo Decoder DMO" (comes with Windows Media Player 11. You need it for vc1, wvc1 decoding. Alternatively, if you install "Mainconcept Reference" (shareware) you may use its own VC1 decoder), "Ac3Filter" (for handling AC3, DTS, MPEG audio etc.), "DirectVobSub" (freeware, aka VSFilter. You need it for viewing external or embeded subtitles), "ffdshow" (freeware, you need it for so many reasons that it would take me all night long to write them down. Basically, in your case, ffdshow will allow you to import for editing almost any kind of directshow based video file, as long as you try and learn new stuff about image processing and video editing), AviSynth V2.57 (it's very important to be installed in case you're using a DirectShow based soft player) and finally "Sonic CinePlayer HD DVD decoder" (you need this for a bunch of AV reasons, but mostly for real time decoding of all Dolby Digital audio types and HD demuxing). Unfortunately, this is the only decoder available which can be used by third party players to decode EAC3 streams. Worthless to say that, if you manage to setup and customize all of the above correctly (this needs continuous observation and big time effort), the increase in picture quality will be at least 50-60% compared to the one you get when using PowerDVD alone.
So far so good. Well, thing is you can't just rip the disc into hard drive and then upload it, because the size of it would be huge, something between 20 - 50 GB. So, you have to convert at least the main movie to another video format, most likely x264, h264 etc. This is the new, Mpeg4 Advanced Video Codec which you probably see in most of movies listed in the HD section of TP. It has dominated the video world because you can achieve excellent, noise free picture quality with low bitrates and therefore, a comparatively smaller file size than this of mpeg2 or vc1 encoded video.
3. DEMUXING - AUDIO TRANSCODING
Now, begins the tough part. Demuxing, Encoding and finally Muxing to a new AV file type like "mkv" is. MKV is not a video format. It's a container that can host many types of audio and video formats like X,x,H,h264, AVC1, avc1, VSSH, vc1, wvc1, mpeg2 etc. Required apps: "Avisynth" and "Graphedit" must be "present" in your setup prior to any action. Remember also to paste "Dump.ax" to your windows/system32 directory and have it registered, otherwise "eac3to" won't work for you. "Dump.ax" is either included in Graphedit or you can download it alone if you do some googling. "Nero 7 Ultra" should also be installed for "eac3to" to work. Be careful! Don't install Nero 8 cause its directshow decoders are locked and cannot be used by third party applications, at least not until today.
"DGIndex" (freeware), "EvoDemux" (freeware) for demuxing .m2ts (BD) or .evo (HD DVD) files to "raw" video (either m2v and vc1 most likely), "eac3to" (freeware) for converting DD+, DD TRUE HD, DTS HD to the well established and easy to handle AC3 or DTS. These two multichannel formats can use SPDIF output to be safely directed in the digital input (Toslink or Coaxial) of your AV receiver and be reproduced without problems. Of course you can use a bunch of other also good apps to do the demuxing part. I just mentioned these, because they are free and in most of cases, can do the job right.
4. ENCODING and/or MUXING
You can use apps like "MeGUI" (freeware) "StaxRip"(freeware) "AutoMKV" (freeware), MediaCoder (freeware) "Mainconcept Reference" (shareware), "ProCoder 3" (shareware), "Sorenson Squeeze" (shareware) and a lot of others, in order to h264 encode and mux your video into mkv (or other type) container. AutoMKV, Staxrip, MeGUI, MediaCoder do that. If you decide to use encoders like for example Mainconcept Reference is, then what you'll finally going to get is a raw h264 file, which you should multiplex (mux) along with the previously extracted (or converted) audio file to a new mkv file. So, we finally come to...
You have to install "mkvtoolnix" (freeware) and use an app called "mkvmerge GUI" in order to mux the h264 stream + audio file into mkv. The .exe file of this app (mmg.exe) can be found at the installation directory of mkvtoolnix. In case of raw h264 file, mkvmerge cannot decide automatically the frame rate of the movie, so you have to enter it manually.
6. DEMUXING-REMUXING MKV
Sometimes, mkv movies include two or more audio streams and/or few subtitles languages. In case you need to trash unnecessary audio and subtitles, you can do it within just minutes. No re-encoding is needed. There are two alternatives. 1) Download and use "MKVextractGUI" (freeware) to demux the original mkv into raw AV streams (files). Just open this program, select the movie of your preference, pick only the streams you need and select to "extract". Then use "mkvmerge GUI", add your favorite extracted streams, select to create chapters if you like, insert any external audio or subtitle favorite stream (prefer srt format subtitles), define output directory, press on the "Start muxing" button and wait for few minutes. Though I recommend the above method for some special reasons, there's also the alternative (much faster) to use 2) "mkvmerge GUI" directly. Run this app, select desired streams (un-tick the ones you don't want to be included in the new mkv file which will be created) and press the "Start muxing" button. That's all it takes! Waiting time is varying approx. from 3 - 10 minutes.
7. REMUXING INTO MKV WITHOUT RE-ENCODING
With this method you can just shift video containers without re-encoding anything. For example, if you have a TS file which contain Mpeg4 AVC video and AC3 audio streams, it's possible to convert it into mkv in just minutes, without the need of re-encoding none of the streams. MKV file size will be a bit smaller than the original ts. To do this, go to your "Halli Media Splitter" installation directory (most likely C:\Program Files\Haali\MatroskaSplitter) and run "gdsmux.exe". "DS Mux" window pops up. Right click anywhere inside it, select "add source" and browse to open the file of your preference. DS Mux will show the streams included in your original av container. Uncheck the streams you don't want, select output name (at the bottom of window) and hit on start button. Wait few minutes for the muxing progress to finish (you can monitor it in the status bar) and you're done. Alternatively, you can also use this application for an automated and complete demux-encode-mkv mux process of any stream included in your original av file. "DS Mux" takes advantage of certain DS, DMO or VFW filters found in your setup and use them to do the encoding job. Just select any stream and right click on it. Go to "encode" and select the desired encoder. Right click again on the stream, select properties. From there you can customize the properties of the selected encoder. Hit start and wait for the process to finish (it can take many many hours, depending on the settings of the encoder). What you finally are going to get is a "ready to use" mkv file.
For all the above, you can find download links either at our TP community, in the applications section (at least, all the expensive sharewares can be found here) and at some very specialized audio video fora (aka "forums") such is "doom9.org" and "videohelp". User guides and more detailed tutorials can also be found there.
Finally, please bear in mind to always follow few "golden" rules, if you want your setup to be safe and sound for a long time:
- Install only the codecs you need.
- Try not to have a lot of them installed for use with just one type of video format.
- Don't touch anything that works as expected. Do not update/upgrade codecs just because there is a newer version out, unless you encounter playback or other relevant problems. Every time you install/uninstall video software components, your whole setup is "suffering". So, don't risk to break it down or destabilize it just because of "blind experimentation". Read and learn before you apply any changes.
- Reboot your system each and every time you install a codec, video filter or software player.
- Pay extra attention when installing programs, games or drivers that might, directly or not, "interfere" with "Windows Media Format 11 runtime". If you're suspicious of something like this, you can either make a system restore point before any new installation or, as a final solution, to uninstall and reinstall WMP11.
- Never install in your pc unknown to you, cracked applications of any kind which might originally require a USB dongle due to be activated and operate. There's clear danger for your system's original sentinel dongle driver to be replaced by the one of the cracked .exe or the dongle emulator patch exe. In a case like this, besides other applications that won't work never again in your existing setup, no cd or dvd writing will be possible when using Nero or WMP and furthermore, "Windows Media Format 11 runtime" cannot be recovered even after reinstalling WMP. So, be my guest and...enjoy windows clean install.
- Try to go deep into "ffdshow" and learn how to customize it. You can even resize picture resolution (in REAL time) up to a level that you could be talking not just about HD (1920 x 1080px) but about kind of "3D" HD (2496 x 1404px)! I know maybe that's hard to imagine, unless you already know it can be done or if you've seen it in action, just like I do. One thing is for sure: ffdshow is the core application in your quest for a far better HD picture quality, as long as you have time to spend and a truly "beefy" system.
Good luck. We all expect soon your first 1080p - 720p shares in this forum.
SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF PAGE 2 TO SEE A MORE DETAILED INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS,
FEW UPDATED DOWNLOAD LINKS & SOME HINTS
PS: 1) As far as I know, re-encoding of video files included in a BD+ encrypted disc is not possible yet. At least, not with commonly used pc applications.
2) In order for steps 2-6 to work you have to have "Haali Media Splitter" (matroska splitter) installed.
3) For some more specific info and a short beginner's tutorial please have a look at this and just ignore the audio conversion part. Stick with eac3to.
BD+ protection is history!! Thanks to Slysoft!
Just for your info, this HDMI capture story, which was the only alternative solution for sharing the BD+ protected movies came to an end! Last week, Slysoft (AnyDVD HD) has finally managed to COMPLETELY break and TOTALLY REMOVE the BD+ protection from Bluray discs. Only few 1.0 BD profile movies are yet to be broken but it's definitely a matter of time to deal with them too.