transcoding

Batch transcode a folder of videos with Handbrake's CLI

I've used Handbrake for years, to transcode practically any video file—including ripped DVDs and Blu-Rays—so I can watch the videos on practically any device. It's especially helpful for .mkv files, which can have a hodgepodge of video formats inside, and are notoriously difficult to play back, especially on older or more locked down playback devices.

But Handbrake's achilles heel, as a GUI-first application, is in a lack of easy batch operation. You can queue videos up one at a time, which is nice, but more recently, as I've ripped more TV seasons onto my NAS, I've wanted to transcode 5, 10, or 20 files at a time.

Enter HandBrakeCLI. Assuming you're on a Mac and installed Handbrake already (e.g. with brew install --cask handbrake), download HandBrakeCLI, mount the downloaded disk image, and copy the executable into a system path:

sudo cp /Volumes/HandBrakeCLI-1.5.1/HandBrakeCLI /usr/local/bin/

Then you can use it to loop over an entire directory—even recursively—and transcode all the video files within.

How to download an MP4 from YouTube, every time

I use yt-dlp to download videos off YouTube quite frequently. I'll use the videos as reference, and I often use it to grab the VOD for one of my livestreams, since there's no simpler way (I'm not going to dig through the bowel's of YouTube's UI to try to download one of my own videos...).

But I also can't handle the default .webm videos in all my video editing tools natively, and transcoding is annoying. So I've settled on the following yt-dlp command to first try to pull a native MP4 version off YouTube, and failing that, transcode to MP4 immediately after downloading:

yt-dlp -S res,ext:mp4:m4a --recode mp4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

And if you weren't aware, yt-dlp does an excellent job pulling video files from other sites as well, should the need arise.

How I rip DVDs and Blu-Rays into my Mac (2022 Edition)

It's been more than a decade since I wrote Ripping Movies from Blu-Ray, HD-DVD and DVD, Getting them onto Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, etc.. Heck, back then I didn't write everything as a 'blog post'—that was labeled as an 'article' :P

In a surprising twist of fate, we went from a somewhat more centralized online media situation back then (basically, Netflix) to a hellscape of dozens of streaming services today. And in many cases, older movies can only be found as used and/or pirated DVDs on eBay!

Thus, I'm writing a fresh guide to how I rip DVDs and Blu-Ray discs into my Mac, then transcode them with Handbrake. Heck, some people who are deeper into the r/datahoarder rabbit hole even have dedicated transcoding servers so they can generate optimal archival copies in 4K, 1080p, etc. akin to how YouTube and other online platforms set up their files!

But for me, the basic process goes: