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A 2021 General Fanediting Best Practices Guide for HD and UHD

krausfadr

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Different software is available to rip discs and to edit video. There is no one “right” approach. This guide provides my preferred methods for maintaining high quality and good compatibility of the final product. It uses makemkv for the rip because it’s free, lossless, and offers support for downgrading UHD drives. MVK format also has robust supporting software (mkvtoolnix) with an easy to use graphical user interface, making it rather straightforward to perform tasks like adding chapters, cover art, or looking up file informaion needed for proper HDR conversion to SDR.

This guide also suggests using the Non Linear Editor (NLE), Davinci Resolve, for its unparalleled color correction capabilities. But of course other good choices are Adobe Premiere and Apple Final Cut. I’ve used both of these in my 1080p edits as well. Those are the three main NLE’s used professionally today. Many experienced faneditors still use Sony Vegas which looks dated but is fully functional.

At a high level, here is the process:

Blu-Ray/UHD Disc > MKV rip > Cineform (or Prores) import to NLE > Cineform (or Prores) export from NLE > MKV Re-encode

Of the above 4 conversion steps, the first is lossless, the next 2 are near lossless, and the final step is lossy. IMPORTANT: If you think you are gaining quality by directly editing a direct blu-ray rip, you aren’t. Because NLE’s do a bad job of exporting your final product to compressed codecs like H264 and HEVC. Using a compressed codec throughout the entire process, e.g., H264, HEVC, will result at best in only fair quality.

For fanedits made from a UHD HDR source, only use Resolve (if you will be doing color correction). It is the only NLE that handles HDR to SDR conversion well. Note that UHD and HDR are not the same thing. UHD relates to the size and resolution while HDR relates to the color and luminosity. If you try and process HDR content as SDR in Premiere, for example, there is a good chance the result will look bad to fair. Resolve (the paid version) on the other hand, can automatically process HDR footage using DolbyVision to convert it to SDR.

Note: To rip from a UHD disc, a downgrade is first required for the firmware on the drive. More information is available on the forums at makemkv.com regarding suitable drives for UHD and how to downgrade them. There you can also find links to purchase already downgraded drives.

STEPS:

1. Use Makemkv to rip the Blu-ray or UHD disc. The result will be a MKV file usually between 30-70 GB.

Keep the highest quality audio when selecting the audio for the rip. This, for example, could be DTS-HD 7.1 surround. Avoid standard DTS or standard Dolby Digital unless this is your only option.

If the movie has subtitles during foreign language parts, keep those intact.

It’s also nice to keep the general subtitles in your edit as a lot of people like having them available. This adds time to the editing process, though, since every point you slice your video you have to slice the subtitle as well.

2. Use Hybrid to convert the MKV to Prores (minimum of Prores 422 format, 4444 is better) or Cineform (Film Scan 2). I personally recommend Cineform Film Scan 2 (same perceived quality as Prores 4444 at much smaller file size). I go into even more detail of why Cineform is preferred later on in this guide. Process only the video for this step without any audio. Expect this step to take around two hours for a standard movie, depending on your CPU speed.

3. Use dmMediaConverter to convert the mkv to a 5.1 channel audio file in WAV format. To do this: uncheck the Enabled box for the video stream. Uncheck the Copy box for the audio stream. Highlight the audio stream then select WAV as the codec and select 5.1 for the channels. When you save the filename be sure you add the .wav extension or the program won’t convert it correctly.

If the rip is 7.1 channels still be sure to down convert to 5.1 in this step.

If the resulting WAV file is greater than 4GB, reload the WAV into dmMediaConverter to then split it in half into two files. First, select the job type: Split. Resolve will not import a WAV properly if it is larger than 4GB.

4. Import the Cineform and WAV file or files into Resolve. Do not plan to import a compressed format (such as H264 or HEVC) into an NLE. The editing can become laggy and prone to various errors, including possible choppy video in the final product. All these problems can be easily avoided by using Cineform (or Prores).

If you are determined to edit directly in a compressed format (NOT RECOMMENDED), do not reencode a rip to MP4. You can convert from MKV to MP4 without re-encoding. To ensure the MP4 will work correctly use only Avidemux. Per a tip from @robulon: The settings have an option called Optimize for Streaming that should be set to "Move Index to the beginning of the file" Failure to set this option (or if you use a different program) will likely result in intermittent choppiness of your edit because the MP4 has a weird variable framerate, and NLE’s don’t handle it well.

5. Work your magic and create a fanedit in Resolve. The edit should be done in 5.1 surround.

Once your edit is finished it will need to be exported. The final product will be an MP4 or MKV file using H264 or HEVC ( H265) codecs BUT DO NOT export to these formats from Resolve! This is because Resolve (and Premiere and Final Cut) ALL suck at encoding to compressed formats. If you export directly to H264 or HEVC you will have a release of mediocre quality, with artifacts in darker scenes as well as color banding.

6. From Resolve, export your final edited movie to a QuickTime container (MOV) using the Cineform codec set at best quality (Resolve no longer has Prores exports due to licensing issues). For a 2 hour movie in 4K, expect the resulting filesize to be around 300GB for Cineform. If you were to use DNxHR HQX you would have a file around 600 GB with slightly more “lossyness.” I personally recommend Cineform (Film Scan 2) as an intermediate codec because it provides virtually lossless visual quality at a lower filesize with its variable bitrate. DNxHR in my opinion is very bloated with its constant bitrate. The ‘best” Cineform quality setting in Resolve corresponds to the Cineform “Film Scan 2” setting with a lossyness of “minimal.”

See this chart for confirmation on my quality assertions about Cineform 10-bit Film Scan 2:
https://blog.frame.io/2017/02/13/compare-50-intermediate-codecs/

It is better to process only the video in this step (no audio) to avoid problems with the export process. But if you want you could process the audio into the QuickTime container as well (as an embedded 5.1 channel WAV).

7. After the QuickTime video exports, then export your audio in a separate 5.1 channel WAV file if you didn’t include it in the QuickTime container.

This huge file or files will be your master video and audio files to be re-encoded.

8. Import your master files into Staxrip for the final conversion to MP4 or MKV. Avoid Handbrake if possible. Staxrip uses a full 10-bit pipeline while Handbrake always reverts to 8-bit in the process. However, it is critical to set up a debanding filter in Staxrip to get the encode to look good. Otherwise you will have a clear 10-bit picture with very clear and awful banding artifacts.

I suggest using the following x265 parameters in Staxrip:

In the x265 options:

Under basic choose a quality between 20 to 22. 22 should work for 4K encodes, and 20 for 1080p encodes. Be sure the Depth is set at 10-bit.

Under Rate Control, change the AQ Mode to “AQ Auto-variance with bias to dark scenes”

Under Loop Filter, change the Deblocking strength and threshold to -1 and -1. Also uncheck the box for Sample Adaptive Offset. SAO is the enemy of quality.

Under VS filters, go to Add > Restoration > RCR > ColorBanding. Then select f3kdb.

Select edit on audio settings, then change the codec to AAC, uncheck the Normalize box, and change the Quality to 1.00. This will result in perceptually lossless, variable bitrate audio with a 5.1 channel average audio bitrate around 750kbps. This audio should work well in home theatre systems, but be sure to keep your original project audio files or at the very least keep your master audio file if you plan on making additional changes to your edit in the future.

Alternatively, for super HQ audio use the FLAC codec instead of AAC (5.1 channel). This would be the true equivalent of DTS-HD at a much smaller filesize.

If Staxrip is too difficult to set up and use and you like the ease of Handbrake, it will still create a nice looking encode, it just won’t be “true” 10-bit.

Hope this guide was helpful.
 
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Heavisyde

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Really useful guide, I'll be having a look through this again in more detail. One additional step I would recommend (unless someone has a better solution): fixing the frame rate of BR rips. A problem I've been noticing lately is that some BR rips have a variable frame rate upon direct stream copy (eg via ffmpeg) from mkv to mp4. This causes problems when editing. Vegas defaults to 25fps (rounds up) when there is a VFR range below 25, and when rendering this results in stuttering footage. A solution to this is after ripping the file, run it through Kirara Enocder and re-encode as H.264 (don't select direct stream copy, that maintains the VFR issue). Choose the exact frame rate (usually 23.976) and set it to CFR. Handbrake seems to fail to set the frame rate fixed, even when the option is checked. In order to not lose quality, make sure the bitrate set in Kirara re-encoding is the same as the video bitrate given by MediaInfo of the original mkv.

Also, for ripping audio, Audacity also works, if the file size is above 4GB then just export two audio files (one for the first 3 tracks, the second for the next 3).
 

krausfadr

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Really useful guide, I'll be having a look through this again in more detail. One additional step I would recommend (unless someone has a better solution): fixing the frame rate of BR rips. A problem I've been noticing lately is that some BR rips have a variable frame rate upon direct stream copy (eg via ffmpeg) from mkv to mp4. This causes problems when editing. Vegas defaults to 25fps (rounds up) when there is a VFR range below 25, and when rendering this results in stuttering footage. A solution to this is after ripping the file, run it through Kirara Enocder and re-encode as H.264 (don't select direct stream copy, that maintains the VFR issue). Choose the exact frame rate (usually 23.976) and set it to CFR. Handbrake seems to fail to set the frame rate fixed, even when the option is checked. In order to not lose quality, make sure the bitrate set in Kirara re-encoding is the same as the video bitrate given by MediaInfo of the original mkv.

Also, for ripping audio, Audacity also works, if the file size is above 4GB then just export two audio files (one for the first 3 tracks, the second for the next 3).
I had a similar issue with a variable framerate import into resolve (film was Man of Steel). Converting to cineform or prores first in Hybrid, as per this guide, fixes the variable framerate issue.

EDIT: The problem I had resulted because I did my initial conversion to Prores in Resolve instead of Hybrid. Resolve doesn't handle variable framerates well, and the resulting prores had intermittent choppy moments. Because the framerate was variable, the times when it got choppy were also at random moments, so I didn't notice the issue right away. To make things worse I had gotten pretty far though my edit when I noticed this and my audio and video were together in one source file. I was able to salvage what I had done without redoing everything but I could not delete the useless video file because I needed the audio inside of the same container. After this experience I always convert in Hybrid first, and I don't combine audio and video into the same source file.
 
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robulon

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Really useful guide, I'll be having a look through this again in more detail. One additional step I would recommend (unless someone has a better solution): fixing the frame rate of BR rips. A problem I've been noticing lately is that some BR rips have a variable frame rate upon direct stream copy (eg via ffmpeg) from mkv to mp4. This causes problems when editing. Vegas defaults to 25fps (rounds up) when there is a VFR range below 25, and when rendering this results in stuttering footage. A solution to this is after ripping the file, run it through Kirara Enocder and re-encode as H.264 (don't select direct stream copy, that maintains the VFR issue). Choose the exact frame rate (usually 23.976) and set it to CFR. Handbrake seems to fail to set the frame rate fixed, even when the option is checked. In order to not lose quality, make sure the bitrate set in Kirara re-encoding is the same as the video bitrate given by MediaInfo of the original mkv.

Also, for ripping audio, Audacity also works, if the file size is above 4GB then just export two audio files (one for the first 3 tracks, the second for the next 3).
This VFR thing drove me mad when I first started experimenting with editing. Turns out it's caused by the different way that MKVs and MP4s handle their timebase. I haven't been able to fully wrap my head around the technical reason but the direct copying of the 23.976 (24000/1001) timebase from a MKV into a MP4 is what causes the issue. What solved it for me was using Avidemux to do the demux. Its MP4 Muxer settings have an option called Optimize for Streaming that can be set to "Move Index to the beginning of the file" This shifts the timebase to where it needs to be for MP4s while still copying the video untouched. You then get the original Bluray video stream in a MP4 wrapper with constant 23.976 frame rate.
 

Heavisyde

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This VFR thing drove me mad when I first started experimenting with editing. Turns out it's caused by the different way that MKVs and MP4s handle their timebase. I haven't been able to fully wrap my head around the technical reason but the direct copying of the 23.976 (24000/1001) timebase from a MKV into a MP4 is what causes the issue. What solved it for me was using Avidemux to do the demux. Its MP4 Muxer settings have an option called Optimize for Streaming that can be set to "Move Index to the beginning of the file" This shifts the timebase to where it needs to be for MP4s while still copying the video untouched. You then get the original Bluray video stream in a MP4 wrapper with constant 23.976 frame rate.
Thanks for the advice, that sounds right to me since the mkv is not VFR, only the mp4. I'll try installing Avidemux and see if that works, would definitely be preferable to re-encoding.
 

krausfadr

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robulon that’s good to know since some prefer to use compressed original codec in the NLE. The more complex the edit, this can come to haunt you though when the project turns to lag city.
 

Gaith

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I assume that for Step Two, we're aiming for a "Cineform HD" avi export file?

hybrid.jpg


hybrid2.jpg



And, even though I selected "ignore" for audio, the job is starting off with audio encoding... hoping that's normal, too. :p
 

Gaith

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Also, how big an .avi should this Cineform Film Scan 2 process make? I know another guide estimated 1 GB/min., but does this process make significantly larger files?
 

krausfadr

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Looks like you’re off to a good start. I’d use MP4 unless there’s a specific reason to use AVI. And based on the screenshot it’s mentions pulling audio in the log which it isn’t actually pulling since you advised ignore.
 

Gaith

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^ But... your guide says "If you are determined to edit directly in a compressed format (NOT RECOMMENDED)" - is MP4 not a compressed format? This and Throw's guide led me to believe all HD editing should be done with AVI files. Sorry for all the basic questions, but I'm a total Blu-ray editing noob! (FWIW, I plan on doing the edit itself in Vegas 14.)

And, would an MP4 as advised above result in a file size roughly 1 GB/min? :)
 

krausfadr

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mp4 most often stores a compressed codec but it's actually just a container. And if I was doing it myself, I'd probably use MOV. But as long as you use Cineform and your NLE let's you import the AVI that's all that matters.

EDIT: I updated the instructions to not give the impression that MP4 is always a compressed format.
 
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Gaith

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Thanks for asking! The encoding was making my computer a turtle, so I canceled and will try later today, with a .MOV export this time. :)
 

krausfadr

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Thanks for asking! The encoding was making my computer a turtle, so I canceled and will try later today, with a .MOV export this time. :)
Ok well I hope it works. If you let me know the specs on your machine (processor) and the total encode time, I'll add that info into the guide.
 

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I set the program to run overnight, so I'm not entirely certain, but if I read the export log correctly, it took Hybrid about 1hr50 to export the 190GB, 2hr15 file.

Here are my specs. Nothing special, just an ordinary two-year-old laptop:

Untitled.jpg
 
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