How to Rip a Blu-Ray Disc
The process for ripping a blu-ray movie is only a bit different than ripping a regular DVD. In the same way ripping a DVD takes a bit longer than ripping an audio CD, ripping a Blu-Ray disc takes a bit more time, and also takes up a lot more space on your hard drive. For this reason, we recommend having at least 60GB of extra space on your drive to accomodate the raw movie before you encode it to make it smaller.
What you’ll need:
- Blu-Ray Drive. Some newer computers might come equipped with Blu-Ray readers, but most machines will require additional hardware before they can read Blu-Ray discs. You can pick up an external Blu-Ray drive online for about $50-$60.
- Make MKV. You’ll need this program to break the disc’s copyright protection and perform the initial rip. It’s free, open source, and wicked easy to use.
- HandBrake. This free and open source video encoder will allow you to tweak just about anything you want after the initial rip – change the file format, make the file smaller, adjust the bitrate, and so much more.
- Between 30 and 60 GB of extra space on your hard drive. HD video takes up a ton of space in its raw and freshly-ripped form, so you need plenty of room to hold it before you encode it and make it more manageable.
Step One: Break Copy Protection
Pop any given movie disc in your drive, and you’ll be able to play it from the disc, but not drag the actual files off the disc to the computer. That’s because of AACS copy protection, which you need to break before you can rip the video.
Install all of the above software, then run MakeMKV. Once the program starts up, click the “Open Disc” button, and it’ll scan the disc (which usually takes a couple minutes) and give you a list of all the chapters in your movie. Bam, consider a copy protection subverted.
Step Two: Rip the Movie
After you’ve successfully broken the copyright protection, MakeMKV will give you a list of chapters on the disc. Scroll around until you find your movie, check the box, and uncheck everything else. Hit the big “Make MKV” button when you’re ready to rip. This should take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours – it all depends on your computer’s processor. Sit back, relax, and wait for it to finish. It’s best to rip movies when you’re not using your computer for anything else.
Step 3: Transcode the Files
You now have a perfect copy of the Blu-ray on your drive at the original frame size and data rate. But unless you have a couple terabytes just hanging around to play with, you’re going to have to compress it into a smaller, easier-to-handle file. That’s where Handbrake comes in.
Open it up, and select that largest video file in the box that says “video.” A new box will pop up that asks you to select streams. Make sure you choose the 1080p/24 video track, DTS or AC3 audio track, and whatever subtitles you want. Click OK.
The software will fill in some other information on the “Encoding Settings” dialog box. Here, you can play with different settings to decide which type of output file you want. A good starting option is to go with the “Console” option under video profiles. Leave the default setting for the audio profile (usually 2.0 AAC) unless you can take advantage of different settings.
Choose the radio box at the bottom to decide whether you want the final file outputted as an MP4, MKV or AVCHD file, then tell it where to save and click Done.
This step will eat up a lot of time as your computer performs the calculations to cram all that data into a much smaller package. Go pop some popcorn and come back to it. Or take a nap. Depending on how old your PC is and which settings you’ve selected, maybe go on vacation.
When it’s done, be sure to open the output file to confirm that it works. If it does, good work, you’ve just ripped a Blu-ray movie! Keep it off the torrent sites and enjoy your new digital copy.
Did something go awry?
Despite having a few years to work out the kinks, many of the tools used to rip Blu-Ray discs can still be buggy on occasion. If you have any problems, we highly recommend hitting VideoHelp.com, which has more comprehensive guides, different tools to try, explanations of advanced settings, and an extremely skilled user base on its forums that can help dig you out of a hole.
Our How to Rip a DVD or Blu-Ray guide has been updated since its original publication to reflect new software releases, hardware changes and more. Multiple members of the Digital Trends staff contributed to this guide.