So the next step of my Mac Mini home theatre project had to do with ripping my Blu-ray library to computer files to play back on the Mac Mini. Since Plex, my media center software of choice, handles .mkv files very well and the playback quality is excellent, I chose to rip into that format. Since the Mac does not officially support Blu-ray (you can't watch Blu-ray discs and no official drives are supported), it was not going to be an easy off the shelf solution. The first problem was getting a drive. I heard some good things about the Panasonic UJ-120, a notebook drive that was fitted with a USB external enclosure. Below are pics of the drive and how it sizes up next to my Drobo and Mac Mini.
Next, I had to figure out the software side of the equation. Luckily, an early beta software exists to extract Blu-ray streams and encode them into a .mkv file. It's still not perfect but the only one-step solution for the Mac, I could find. So here are some screen shots of my process. First, I chose two movies, one foreign and one in English, to figure out the subtitling.
Below is a screenshot of the DVD on my desktop, the disc contents, and the file structure showing the .m2ts Blu-ray files.
Next, I fire up MakeMKV which is pretty sparse. Only one big button at the bottom to examine the contents of the Blu-ray disc. After scanning the disc, all the available video streams are presented. I chose the biggest file, which I assumed was the actual movie itself. Then I click the "Make MKV" button and the process begins. Average read speed is about 1.6x so a 2 hour movie should be done in about 90 minutes or so.
So a few hours later, voila! Both movies have been encoded and playback in Plex is perfect. As far as quality goes, I can't tell a real difference from the other movies I downloaded (for testing purposes only!). However, I haven't watched both movies in full yet to see if there was any pixelation or sound pops. What I did notice was the downloaded videos came in about 8gb-12gb whereas these movies are pretty hefty at 22gb+. Not sure if that means my direct rips are better quality but so far so good. MakeMKV is not without flaws though. There's a list of movies that it cannot rip properly. Plus subtitling is a problem. House of Flying Daggers, which is in Mandarin, has no accompanying subtitles. I'll have to figure something out for that. Otherwise, I'm pretty happy. Now, I've got a bunch of discs to back up...