Movies have always been a passion of mine. I even used to be a manager at 2 local Blockbuster stores! During my time in IT (the last 15 years), it’s really amazing at how technology has changed the game for entertainment. It used to be relying on a Blockbuster, Captain Video or even a Redbox to rent a movie (if it was in stock), but now, you can get anything you want in seconds.
I’ve spent many years sailing the high seas and have even built my entire library from the treasures that I’ve found. Heck, I even built a sweet, fully automated setup two years ago using all of the *arr apps and an approval site (Jellyseer) that made it super simple to get whatever I wanted. However, I’ve recently had some moral conviction and realization that stealing is simply wrong. I make a good living so there isn’t any reason why I can’t do things the right, legal way.
Being Picky About Quality
One thing that I wanted from the get-go is quality. DVD quality is “ok” at best but Blu-Ray is the goal right now, especially considering the fact that these movies will be watched over the next decade, if not longer. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-Rays would be nice, but more on this later.
Surprisingly, most Blu-Rays are easily found between $2-$10 a piece! We have a local used media shop where I found some pretty good deals. For example, The Avengers was a DVD and Blu-Ray combo where the DVD might have had one small scratch, but the Blu-Ray was untouched. And it was $3! You can even find cheap movies on eBay with very little effort. Finally, Amazon has some pretty good deals every now and then. They even had the entire series of Friends for $45 last week. It shouldn’t take much effort at all to work on my collection over time.
Ripping and Encoding
This is the fun part. Buying a $60 LG Blu-Ray drive for my gaming PC, I can use MakeMKV to “rip” the movie into MKV format, then pass it onto Handbrake for encoding into a better format. With Handbrake, I keep the same resolution, Constant Framerate of 16, and make sure that I have 2 audio tracks: the original surround sound track and a new downmixed stereo track. This is super important because I don’t have a surround sound system. I only have a soundbar on one of two TVs in our house, so having a stereo track option makes the voices a lot easier to hear without blasting the volume. Each movie is encoded into the “standard” H264 MP4 format that most devices know and love.
Each movie winds up falling between 10GB-20GB in size. This is not what you would see on the high seas (probably more of a higher compression) but I believe that getting a 1:1 quality rip is worth the extra space taken.
I’ve been a faithful Plex user for many, many years, however I don’t believe that the Plex Pass provides much value to my situation. The big feature here being hardware transcoding. Luckily, Jellyfin does this for FREE! The unfortunate thing about my Blu-Ray rips is that without hardware transcoding, my server struggles a bit to serve the movie in its original quality. Jellyfin and Intel QuickSync hardware transcoding works marvelously and the CPU barely breaks a sweat.
In the spirit of Jellyfin, I’m actually looking to ditch Plex by the end of the year. I have family that watches movies from my server all the time, so I will have to transition them into JellyFin users. It shouldn’t be that hard of a transition but at least my CPU won’t get hammered as bad.
As stated before, any movie that we watch more than 2 or 3 times, we simply want a hard copy that we can rip and have available anywhere in the world with excellent quality. Sure, eventually there will be a day where Blu-Ray quality won’t cut it and this process starts all over again, right? Just for now, Blu-Ray does really well and I’m happy with the results.
This is day 1 of #100DaysToOffload!