HandBrake: The Party Is Over

The beta period is over. The great HandBrake 1.x, in development for a dozen years as a beta version, now is available to rip and burn DVD movies on your Mac. The most versatile and very geeky Mac utility converts almost any video source to MPEG-4 movies.

Guess what? The family’s oldest iMac– the last Mac model that came with a built-in SuperDrive, and the only Mac on the Mincey Plantation that has one– still holds the last DVD ejected from the SuperDrive from two years ago.

You know why, right?

Daddy, What’s A DVD?

As is the case with many technologically advanced Americans, the Mincey folk have paid our media dues through the decades. 45’s, 8-tracks, cassette tapes, BetaMax, VHS, CD’s, and DVD’s. We bought ’em all. We have ’em all. But we haven’t burned a DVD or even used a DVD on a Mac for two years. Once HandBrake got the DVD movie collection to reside on the home media server, we’re DVD free. The last DVD player we bought was $35 from Best Buy. It’s been used. Once. To see if it would work. It did.

If you don’t mind getting your geek on and you have a SuperDrive (or any recent or decent DVD player recorder) and the requisite DVD movie collection, you’ll like HandBrake 1.x.

When you want to rip a movie, HandBrake is where you start. Provided you don’t mind getting your geek a bit greasy. It comes with built-in device presets and that should cover most of your needs, but options reign supreme.

Handbrake can output more video and audio sources than I knew exist.

  • File Containers: .MP4(.M4V) and .MKV
  • Video Encoders: H.265 (x265 and QuickSync), H.264(x264 and QuickSync), H.265 MPEG-4 and MPEG-2, VP8, VP9 and Theora
  • Audio Encoders: AAC / HE-AAC, MP3, Flac, AC3, or Vorbis
  • Audio Pass-thru: AC-3, E-AC3, DTS, DTS-HD, TrueHD, AAC and MP3 tracks

Remember, HandBrake is free, so whatever you use it for, you’re getting more than you paid for, despite a few levels of complexity that may require a friend or a few Google searches to understand. It’s not just a DVD ripper, either. You get all this. For free.

  • Title / chapter and range selection
  • Batch Scan and Queueing of encodes
  • Chapter Markers
  • Subtitles (VobSub, Closed Captions CEA-608, SSA, SRT)
  • Constant Quality or Average Bitrate Video Encoding
  • Support for VFR, CFR and VFR
  • Video Filters: Deinterlacing, Decomb, Denoise, Detelecine, Deblock, Grayscale, Cropping and scaling
  • Live Static and Video Preview

The best thing to do is to choose a profile for whatever Mac you’re using, select the preferred codec and quality options, and a few clicks later you’re ready for lunch.

What you see is what you get and what you get can be more than a bit complex for the Mac newbie, but there remains plenty of online documentation to help. It will be obvious within a minute that HandBrake was not developed by Apple, but kudos to the team behind HandBrake for all these years.

HandBrake is out of beta, does more than just rip DVDs, but I couldn’t help but wonder why the beta period lasted so long. After all, Blockbuster Video is out of business, DVDs are so 1999, and the world has moved on to streaming and Netflix.

Now, if HandBrake could capture a Netflix stream, that would be something to write home about because, for all intents and purposes, the DVD party is over.






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