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HDTV PodcastA podcast about all things Macintosh. For Mac geeks, by Mac geeks. A special episode of the Maccast. Ara Dererian of the HDTV Podcast is back and helps us follow up on how you can take your Blu-ray disks and get them into your Mac Home Theater set-up.


Other World Computing (External Blu-ray Drive)

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Tutorial: Backing up your Blu-ray Discs
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There are 10 comments on Maccast 2011.12.23 – Blu-ray and Mac Home Theater:

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  1. Dave | Dec 24 2011 - 06:00

    Hey, the embedded video here doesn’t play on my iPad- I get the audio but just a black screen. But it plays fine over there at the HTGuys site.

    This was very helpful, as I hadnt heard the formula for burning a blu-ray. I’d have to buy the player and right now it isn’t worth it because I have so few blu-rays. But it is a good thing to know since the weapon of choice for HTPC on Mac is the Mac mini and it no longer comes with even a standard DVD. So you might as well budget another $100 for that external player.

    My Handbrake settings pretty much agree. I go with the variable bit rate setting in the 4000-5000 k range ( depending on the source) and I only grab the DD 5.1/448k choice, if available. Handbrake likes to pick 2 channel even if 5.1 is available. I always use the 2 pass encoding, as I dont want to go back to the physical disk.

    I’d have to check as to whether Plex can play the MKV file directly. That would save the lengthy step of transcoding to the MP4, maybe it is so big that it won’t be able to stream wirelessly to the iOS toys (I mean devices).

    Good show!

  2. Bob C. | Dec 26 2011 - 02:12

    This was really helpful. Thanks!

    Can you guys discuss, albeit short, up-to-date external encoding options for ripped DVD content? I have a Turbo.264 (non HD) for some things. Otherwise, I use Handbrake. The weakest link in my MacBook is the GPU: Intel GMA X3100 144 MB. Offloading HD encoding would be nice since I don’t plan to buy another MacBook for a couple years.

    In recent years the longevity of the Mac has presented challenges with the increase development pace of video content.

  3. rfrmac | Dec 27 2011 - 10:17

    Thank You – I did not know this was possible. i purchased your recommend Blu-Ray player and hope to try converting Blu-Ray disks soon.

  4. Jeff Miller | Dec 30 2011 - 04:43

    I had been looking up the Blu-Ray info to be able playback Blu-Ray content onto a 27″ iMac. Your show though made me realize it was going to be much easier than I thought.

    I had been considering an adapter that would take HDMI from a Blu-Ray player and convert it to display port which than could be displayed on a 27″ iMac. These solutions are 720P only and run close to $150 bucks.

    Once I heard about MakeMKV I went and got a LG external Blu-Ray drive from Best-Buy that was relatively inexpensive as it only reads Blu-Ray (though burns DVD/CD). Hooked it up and ran MakeMKV and now I am a really happy camper.

    Macgo makes a Blu-Ray player for the Mac. The license for their program is good for both the Mac and Windows version. I haven’t tried this a MakeMKV and VLC is fine for me, though sources such as Other World Computing say this works very well.

  5. Adam Christianson | Dec 30 2011 - 04:18

    Not sure what happened, but I re-embedded the video and I think it should be working now.

  6. Adam Christianson | Dec 30 2011 - 05:06

    Would you mind posting the model number of that LG BluRay player you ended up purchasing?

  7. Dave | Dec 30 2011 - 05:41

    I just tried it again on my iPad and once again it does not play the video part, just his audio. It’s no big deal as it plays correctly on his site and I certainly don’t mind giving him another page view, in case they’re keeping counts of these things.

  8. Jeff Miller | Jan 01 2012 - 11:33


    The Model Number is: CP40NG10. Though LG’s site says all their Blu-Ray internal/external devices are Mac compatible.

  9. Dave | Jan 05 2012 - 09:18

    Well, the DVD writer in my iMac died over the holidays, so I need to order an external Blu-ray player sooner rather than later! In the meantime, I downloaded the MakeMKV software and tried it out using my Mac mini (the HTPC) that still has an operational DVD player. It looks good! Real good.

    I did several DVDs, both commerical and some DVD+R’s that I used to back up TiVoed movies. My HTPC is built around Plex instead of Apple TV; as I suspected, Plex can “see” MKV files directly. I just put the MKV file in one of the folders that Plex already “knows” about and it automatically catalogs it, downloads the metadata, and the cover art.

    I’m developing a little bit different process than what Ara described. I like DVD commentary tracks and supplemental features, so I’m just grabbing most everything in the one MakeMKV run. In contrast to Ara’s process, I’m checking what MakeMKV selected to make sure that it selected *all* the commentary tracks & special features. A MakeMKV run is much faster than Handbrake — probably because it is not compressing anything — so it is no big deal to just grab everything you want.

    If the DVD contains several different video files, MakeMKV automatically creates separate files. You can rename them so you can tell them apart and group all the files for a DVD into a folder. In Plex, you can display the catalog by folder; you group the files by DVD in this way.

    A nice feature of Plex is that you can choose the audio track at playback time. If you keep more than one audio track, you will get a pop-up menu with the available audio tracks. In this way, the one MKV file works as a “universal” movie file.

    You can also have MakeMKV keep the subtitles. I prefer the original language audio but the English subtitles. Using VLC, I verified that the requested subtitles are stored in the MKV file. Plex also has an option to choose a subtitle track at playback time, but it doesn’t work right. I can select the desired audio track and the desired subtitle track, but Plex munges up the subtitles. That part has to wait for a bug fix or try to figure this out. It looks like a textencoding problem

    The other issue with the MKV files is that they are so large that some don’t stream to the iOS devices without stuttering. They play on the HDTV great, but that is a wired connection. To get wireless going flawlessly for every movie, I’d need to proceed to Step 3 and transcode the MKV to mp4/H264 using Handbrake. Unfortunately, the whole theee-step process is real time consuming. The resulting .mp4 is about half the size of the MKV but it streams perfectly to iPad and iPhone. On the other hand, sometimes the MKV streams to my iPhone or iPad perfectly, so I need to figure this out better. Perhaps I only need to get a wireless extender nearer the iOS device (I’ve got an Airport Extreme in a different room).

    I suppose that using Plex is the solution to Ara’s problem of preserving the Blu-ray video and audio quality for digital media. It gives you everying and at full quality. With Plex, you can truly put the disks into deep storage.

    But it all works! I can see that it is far from being ready for the mass-market, but it has an extremely high coolness factor for mac geeks, despite what PC pundits think.

  10. brian grishaber | Jan 10 2012 - 06:23

    I assume that the burning time is faster if i install a BR Player in my MacPro.
    The USB must slow it down a bit.
    Any suggestions for an internal player?