The Robservatory

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Get more details from transcode-video

While working on my massive Blu-ray ripping comparison, I wanted more information about what some of the transcode-video presets were doing. That is, if you pick --target big, exactly what settings are being used to rip the video?

It turns out there’s --dry-run option for transcode-video that will tell you exactly that. (I’ve added some line breaks for readability here.)

What’s neat is that you can also use this to see what the default options are for transcode-video when you don’t supply it with any options. Just use the --dry-run parameter option but leave off any of the presets (i.e. --target big), and the output will show you the defaults.

In addition, you can use it on already-ripped media to get their details as well, regardless as to how you ripped the movie.

In a related vein, I was having issues with the above rip, because I thought that the surround sound track wasn’t being ripped. Again, thanks to Don, I learned about a second command line option for transcode-video that reveals exactly what’s in a ripped video.

If you use --scan with transcode-video, it will reveal information about the video and audio in the referenced video. For example, here’s a scan of the MKV file I created from the Blu-ray disc:

But --scan isn’t restricted to just the source file, you can also run it on the ripped file. Doing so on my converted MP4 revealed that I had, in fact, captured the surround track. But as shown in the above output, it was on track two, not track one. I had to ask Don about this, as it seemed odd to me. The answer is “because Apple.”

The reason the surround track gets ripped as the second track when using MP4 conversion is because that’s how the Apple TV added support for surround sound when they did that a few years back: Stereo is on track one, surround is on track two.

As a result, the surround track on the ripped MP4 will only play when watched on the Apple TV, because nothing else expects to find the surround track where the Apple TV requires it.

Because of this, and some other reasons, Don recommends ripping only in mkv format, which will result in a surround track that should play on any device—including the Apple TV, if you use Plex. Sigh, I guess I’ll need to give Plex another look. My first try didn’t go so well. I imagine my second try will result in a follow-up post at some point in the future.

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