(How-to) Using Handbrake to Convert Video for the Nook Color

Discussion in 'Nook Color Technical' started by gadgetrants, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. gadgetrants

    gadgetrants Moderator Staff Member

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    After spending a week experimenting with different video conversion programs, I've FINALLY found a solution that works well on the Nook Color (NC)! :D Hopefully the time and effort will benefit others. I'm breaking down the how-to into three parts:

    Part 1: a super-quick list of the essential steps, for those who want to "git 'er done."

    Part 2: a slower walk-through with screen-shots and detailed explanations

    Part 3: reserved space for footnotes, finer details, corrections, etc.

    *****************************************************************

    Part 1 - A Quick Overview

    Before beginning, I want to note that I stand on the shoulders of giants. There are at least three good discussions going on about effective ways to convert video for the NC:

    Nook Color preset for Handbrake - xda-developers
    HandBrake • View topic - B&N Nook settings
    color Nook Color: Can't Play sideloaded m4v videos - MobileRead Forums

    So now I want to stress two things (PLEASE READ): first, the steps that I outline here were developed to help me deal with a particular situation, which was to convert HD-video (720p) into a format that plays well on the NC. I will note in Part 2 where you may be starting with a different video source (e.g., a DVD rip), and your options. Second, if you spend some time visiting and reading the threads I've linked above, you'll notice variation in how various users configure Handbrake. I encourage you to experiment and see what works best for you. Again, Part 2 highlights some of the relevant options.

    Okay! Now on to the quick overview.

    Download Links (all freeware!):

    Handbrake: HandBrake
    VLC (optional): VideoLAN - VLC media player - Open Source Multimedia Framework and Player
    MediaInfo (optional): MediaInfo

    (1) Download and install Handbrake, a free video-conversion program: HandBrake The how-to is based on version 0.9.5, which was recently released. It's available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

    (1a) If you want the option to preview video before converting, download VLC, a versatile and easy-to-use video player: VideoLAN - VLC media player - Open Source Multimedia Framework and Player You can also use Quicktime.

    (2) Run Handbrake. My screenshots and instructions are for the Windows version.

    (3) On the Presets window, select High Profile.

    (4) Click on the Source button, and load the video file you want to convert.

    (5) Click the Browse, and select a destination and file name for the MP4 video file you will create.

    (6) Go to the Picture tab. Set the Anamorphic menu to None. Enter 720 in the Width box, and check the Keep Aspect Ratio button. The Height should automatically adjust.

    (7) Go to the Video Filters tab. Set Detelecine and Decomb to Off.

    (8) Go to the Video tab. If you are using DVD source video, or standard resolution video, leave the Framerate option as Same as source. If your source is HD video (60fps), change the Framerate to 29.97.

    (9) Go to the Audio tab. How many tracks appear? The goal is to end up with one track with an Audio Codec that shows up as AAC (faac) or MP3 (lame). If there are others, right click and remove them. On the remaining track, set Mixdown to Stereo, Samplerate to 48, and Bitrate to 128.

    (10) Skip the Subtitles and Chapters tabs.

    (11) Go to the Advanced tab. Set Maximum B-Frames to 0, and uncheck the CABAC Entropy Coding, 8x8 Transform, and Weighted P-Frames options.

    (12) If you are in a hurry, then PRESS START! When it starts, Handbrake will give you an estimate of the encoding time. When done, copy the converted video over to your NC (either internal memory or sdcard will work) and give it a try! Otherwise, if you're the slow, cautious type, press the Preview button (at the top) and watch a quick sample before tying up your computer for an hour or two.

    -Matt
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
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  2. gadgetrants

    gadgetrants Moderator Staff Member

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    Part 2 - The Walk-Through


    Getting Ready. As noted in Part 1, you'll need to have Handbrake downloaded and installed. You can also install VLC if you want to preview your video before converting it. In Part 3, I discuss some of the advantages of using Handbrake for video conversion. If you are interested in learning more, you might start with the users guide: HandBrakeGuide


    Setting a profile and loading a video file

    $HB1 - Profile-Load.jpg

    (1) Set the Profile. On the Presets menu (right side), select High Profile. This has several options that won't work on the NC, so we'll have to deselect them later.

    (2) Load your video file. Press the Source button, and navigate to the video file you want to convert. You can also pick up the video file and "drop" it on the Source button. ;)

    Handbrake will convert a wide range of video formats, including MPG, VOB, MOV, AVI, MP4, TS, M2TS, etc. (For an EXCELLENT discussion of containers and video codecs, see MobileRead Forums - View Single Post - color Nook Color: Can't Play sideloaded m4v videos).


    Setting the Picture properties

    $HB1 - Picture.jpg

    (1) Make sure the Picture tab is selected. On the Anamorphic pull-down menu, set the option to None.

    (2) Set the Width to 720. The NC can handle wider values, but this is a good trade-off that will help manage the file-size. The NC will also automatically expand your video to fill as much of the screen as possible. If your source video is less than 720 pixels wide, leave it at the original width. The Height will be automatically adjusted as needed.


    Setting the Video Filters

    $HB2.jpg

    (1) Select the Video Filters tab. Set Detelecine and Decomb to Off. If your video source comes from a DVD--or perhaps 1080i, which is interlaced video (i.e., each frame has every other horizontal line)--you may want to turn Deinterlace on (pick your preferred speed setting). One way to know is to run the Preview, and pause during a rapid-motion scene. If you see fine horizontal black stripes where there's motion, deinterlacing may help.


    Setting the Video properties

    $HB3.jpg

    (1) Select the Video tab. Make sure that the Video Codec is H.264 (x264). This will produce a much nicer file than MPEG-4 (the NC can play both codecs). If your video source is DVD or some other file type that is 30 frames per second (30fps) or less, leave Framerate (FPS) on Same as source. If you are using an HD source with a higher framerate (e.g., 60fps), set the Framerate to 29.97. This is the setting I've used in the screenshot above.

    One way to check your framerate is to play your source video file in VLC, and under Tools select Codec Information (you may need to play the file in order for these details to appear). There is also a super little app called MediaInfo that will tell you EVERYTHING you want to know about your video file: MediaInfo If you're not sure, leave Framerate on Same as source.

    (2) Now it's time to adjust the Quality settings. This is an interesting problem, and the solution will probably vary widely as a function of individual tastes and needs. The default I recommend, based on what I've read on the Handbrake forum, is to select the Constant Quality setting and set it at 20 (I haven't learned yet what the units mean, though a QC of 0 is "lossless," i.e., no compression).

    But I converted Transformers 2 last night on QC=20 and ended up with a 2GB file! Too large for my tastes (I prefer 1GB or less per mobile video). So the alternatives are: (a) set a fixed Target Size, which means longer or more complex movies will be more compressed than shorter ones (e.g., animated movies), or (b) pick an Avg Bitrate that allows the file size to vary while maintaining a roughly standard quality. The problem with these two choices is that you should then also select 2-Pass Encoding, which effectively doubles conversion time! :( You'll have to navigate through this based on your particular circumstances.


    Setting the Audio properties

    $HB4.jpg

    (1) Select the Audio tab. The bottom window lists the audio tracks contained in your video file. We want to end up with just one. If you have one, great. If you have more than one, see if there is one with either the AAC (faac) or MP3 (lame) codec. Keep it and right click -> remove any others.

    (2) Set Mixdown to Stereo, Samplerate to 48, and Bitrate to 128. DRC is a magical little option that "normalizes" the audio range, i.e., it reduces the difference between really quiet and really loud scenes. You might choose this if you'll be watching video with dialog scenes in a noisy environment, like on an airplane. You'll need to experiment with the value (use the Preview option).

    (continued on next post)
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
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  3. gadgetrants

    gadgetrants Moderator Staff Member

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    Part 2 - The Walk-Through (continued)


    Subtitles and Chapters

    $HB5.jpg
    $HB6.jpg

    Since I don't have any experience with these features, I won't make any suggestions. I suspect most users will leave these tabs unchanged.


    Setting Advanced options

    $HB7.jpg

    (1) Select the Advanced tab. This is an interesting and important section. In order to get the converted video to work on the NC, we have to turn off several High Profile options. Start by setting the Maximum B-Frames to 0. Next, turn off the three options below: Cabac Entropy Coding, 8x8 Transform, and Weighted P-Frames.

    In general, you should leave all the other options unchanged. However, other users recommend starting with a different profile, which ends up with different options on this tab. In particular, these have to do with motion estimation (i.e., the two pull-down menus in the middle of the tab). In my experience, leaving these on the default settings (see the screenshot above) not only worked on the NC, but they also resulted in very smooth playback during rapid-motion scenes. I encourage you to try out different settings if you are not satisfied with the defaults.

    GOOD NEWS!!! We're almost done. :D You now have a few choices to make. First, if you feel adventurous, you can press the green Start button. Alternatively, you may want to preview the output before starting.


    Preview the output video file

    $HB8.jpg

    At the top of the menu is a Preview button. If you've installed VLC or Quicktime, Handbrake will convert a small portion of your source video, and play it back. This is a super option, and I encourage you to use and abuse it. Note that the Preview option has settings for selecting different starting points for the sample and different durations. If you're ready, go ahead and press Start!


    Creating a queue

    $HB9.jpg

    Since I normally have 2 or more videos to convert at the same time, what I often do is set them up following these steps, and then select the Add to Queue option. This causes the Encode Queue window to pop up, where you can view the queue list and modify it.

    I have been converting my files on an "older" (2007) quad-core PC with Windows 7. Conversion time is running around 40%-50%, so a 2-hour movie takes about an hour to convert. So a practical solution may be to create a queue of 5-6 files, and then run it overnight. Nothing like waking up to a bunch of freshly converted movies! (I'm such a nerd.)

    -Matt
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
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  4. gadgetrants

    gadgetrants Moderator Staff Member

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    Part 3 - All the Juicy Details

    Under construction
     
  5. rico2001

    rico2001 Senior Member

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    Nice tutorial Matt. Thanks :)
     
  6. gadgetrants

    gadgetrants Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks! It's a labor of love. :) If the thread doesn't get any more visits I'm gonna ask you to sticky it, to save my self-respect!!!

    -Matt
     
  7. rico2001

    rico2001 Senior Member

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    Not sure about a sticky but I'll be happy to make it a link in "NOOKcolor - Useful Links and Rooting Information" thread.
     
  8. markiej

    markiej Member

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    These are great settings, and a great guide! I've been struggling to get my media collection to work on many wideranging and picky devices. I have some suggestions that would improve the quality / size situation a little.
    The max width of the harware decoder on the NC is 854. So if you're video is that or lower, no need to resize. If it is higher, set it to 854 and it will look all that crisper.
    $Clipboard01.jpg
    Leave frame rate at "auto" (if the source is 25fps PAL, for example). Plus I've had nice luck with 1000 bitrate single pass for highly watchable, reasonable sized video.
    $Clipboard02.jpg
    Finally, I've heard (not remembering where) that 48 samplerate may cause problems with playback. So I usually go with 44100 (if you want a nicer sound, up the bitrate to 160 or higher).
     
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  9. gadgetrants

    gadgetrants Moderator Staff Member

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    Great suggestions! Thanks for following up...I know what you mean about 48 vs. 44.1 Khz. I'll revise that if I can find a definitive link. (The last post on this site mentions a similar concern: Encoding video for Nook Color? - Barnes & Noble Book Clubs). I'll also make sure to add your suggestions once I start to work on Part 3.

    -Matt
     
  10. gadgetrants

    gadgetrants Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry, sticky is probably not what I wanted. But the Useful Links thread sounds good. :)

    Let's give it a few days and see if it IS useful. If it drops to page 3 then we can just let it be!

    -Matt
     
  11. Joe Schmoo

    Joe Schmoo Member

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    Thanks for the work. I've had great results by simply selecting the "Classic" profile preset. The speed of conversion is incredible -- it takes my computer (I-720) about 2 minutes per half hour of footage, so a 2 hour movie is converted in 8 minutes. The codec is Mpeg4(FFmpeg), NOT H.264. I know that H.264 is a more advanced codec, but it takes so much longer, and I'm really happy with the results using the Classic preset.

    I'm curious if others would be willing to try the Classic preset and compare it with regard to speed and quality when played back on a Nookcolor.
     
  12. gadgetrants

    gadgetrants Moderator Staff Member

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    Joe what's your video source? I didn't get great results with MPEG-4 on HD video, but maybe other sources will work better. I know markiej is also interested in MPEG-4, so let me know if you compare the two and I can update the how-to!

    And WELCOME to the forum! :)

    -Matt
     
  13. Joe Schmoo

    Joe Schmoo Member

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    I've used two main sources: DVD's (standard) copied to my hard drive with DVDfab, and XVid avi's, downloaded from the usual places.
    Here's my procedure in more detail:

    1.) BBC Life DVD: I used DVDfab to copy the disk to the hard drive (VIDEO_TS folder). I then used drag and drop of the folder onto Handbrake. It detected the chapters. I selected the three chapters (corresponding to the three episodes) one at a time and used "add to queue." I selected the Legacy Classic preset, specified an output folder, and pressed start. Less than 10 minutes later I had three files in my output folder with .m4v extensions. I copied these to the "video" folder on my NookColor's microSD card.

    2.) I downloaded an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (XVid avi). These torrent rips all have similar specs, in this case XVid, 624x352, 23.376 fps, 48000 Hz. I dragged that file to Handbrake, selected Legacy Classic preset, and pressed start. Two minutes later I had the file in my output folder, which I copied into my Nookcolor's video folder on the microSD card.

    All these videos played back beautifully (IMHO) on the NookColor. Sound was in sync, in stereo. Video was full screen.

    Thoughts:
    Handbrake's Drag and Drop is cool! So is "add to queue."
    The BBC Life DVD makes an excellent demo of the beauty of video on the NookColor--incredibly colorful and dramatic films of nature.
     
  14. gadgetrants

    gadgetrants Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks Joe...I just realized something. I may add this to the how-to: one of the places where the h.264 codec (and starting with the High Profile rather than Classic) has an advantage is in motion processing. Several of the movies I've converted (Transformers, Harry Potter, Whip It) have high-motion scenes, and things looked notsogood with MPEG-4. So give something with complex visuals and lotsa motion a look, and let me know what you think!

    Regarding drag and drop: we have a community member (lifeisfun aka kev) who is advocating a dropfolder solution...I think it works by dropping files into a watch-folder that Handbrake monitors and then converts automatically. Maybe I should investigate...

    -Matt
     
  15. Joe Schmoo

    Joe Schmoo Member

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    OK, I tried out The Incredibles using the Classic profile preset and also using the the settings described on the first page of this thread. The chase scene near the end of the movie has LOTS of action, color, and movement. The results: there WAS a very noticeable improvement using the H.264 codec and other settings. The H.264 codec render took considerably longer (about 2.5 times). The files sizes were about the same. So the only advantage of the Classic setting is speed of render. This is probably a moot point since Handbrake has the great "add to queue" setting which allows for setting up a group of files to encode overnight or some other, more convenient time.

    Well done!
     
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