HandBrake 0.10.0 running on OS X Yosemite
|Original author(s)||Eric "titer" Petit|
0.10.5 / 11 February 2016
|Written in||Objective-C, C, C#|
|Available in||English, French|
|License||GNU GPLv2+ (Third-party components have their own licenses)|
|Source code repository||github
HandBrake is a free and open-source video transcoder, originally developed in 2003 by Eric Petit (aka "titer" from his SVN repository username) to make ripping a film from a DVD to a data storage device easier. Since then, it has undergone many changes and revisions.
HandBrake is available for Windows, OS X (Mac), and Ubuntu from its official web site, although it is possible to compile it for Debian, Linux Mint, Fedora, CentOS, or RHEL. HandBrake uses third-party libraries such as x264, FFmpeg, Libav, and FAAC, the last of which is slated for removal due to licensing issues.
HandBrake was originally developed by Eric "titer" Petit in 2003 as software for the BeOS, before porting it to other systems. He continued to be the primary developer until April 2006, when the last official subversion was submitted. "titer" continued to be active on the HandBrake forum for a brief period after, until contact was lost. Since May–June 2006, no one in the HandBrake community was successful in contacting "titer" and no further code changes were officially made.
In September 2006, Rodney Hester and Chris Long had been independently working to extract the H.264 video compression format from Apple's iPod firmware (1.2) through reverse engineering before meeting on the HandBrake forum. Since their work was complementary, they began working together to develop an unstable, but still compilable, release of HandBrake supporting the H.264 format. Hester and Long made considerable progress in terms of stability, functionality, and look and feel. It was not possible, however, to submit their patch to the HandBrake subversion repository without authorisation from "titer".
Unable to submit their revisions as a successor to HandBrake, Hester created a subversion repository mirroring HandBrake’s final subversion (0.7.1) on the HandBrake website and began development on top of that. Hester and Long named the new project MediaFork.
On 13 February 2007, Hester and Long were contacted by "titer" who informed them of his support and encouraged them to continue development. Plans were then made to reintegrate MediaFork as a direct successor to HandBrake. The MediaFork website and forums were moved to HandBrake’s, and the next release was officially named HandBrake.
There is another transcoder, called VidCoder, that uses HandBrake as its encoding engine.
Some GPUs or APUs contain SIP blocks dedicated to do calculations for video encoding (e.g., Quick Sync Video or Video Coding Engine). Such solutions are limited to a very few video codecs. When used, they are very fast but don't necessarily match the quality of good software encoders.
Users are able to customise the output by altering the bit rate, maximum file size or bit rate and sample rate via “constant quality”. HandBrake also supports deinterlacing, decombing, scaling, detelecine, and cropping (both automatic and manual).
HandBrake supports batch encoding through graphical user interface (GUI) and command-line interface (CLI). Third-party scripts and UIs exist specifically for this purpose, such as HandBrake Batch Encoder, VideoScripts. and Batch HandBrake. All make use of the CLI to enable queueing of several files in a single directory.
Handbrake transcodes video and audio from nearly any format to a handful of modern ones, but it does not defeat or circumvent copy protection. One form of input is DVD-Video stored on a DVD disc, in an ISO image of a DVD disc or on any data storage device as a VIDEO_TS folder. HandBrake’s developers removed libdvdcss (the open-source library responsible for unscrambling DVDs encrypted with the Content Scramble System (CSS)) from the application in version 0.9.2. Removal of digital rights management (DRM) from DVDs using HandBrake was possible by installing VLC, a media player application that includes the libdvdcss library. Currently, Handbrake can only remove DRM after the user installs the latest version of libdvdcss.
As with DVDs, HandBrake does not directly support the decryption of Blu-ray Discs. However, HandBrake can be used to transcode a Blu-ray Disc if DRM is first removed using a third-party application, such as MakeMKV. Unlike HandBrake, MakeMKV does not transcode; it removes the digital rights management from a Blu-ray Disc and creates an exact copy, at its original frame size and data rate, in a Matroska (MKV) multimedia container which can then be used as a source in HandBrake.
In 2011, Preston Gralla of PC World praised HandBrake for its feature set: "Advanced users will be pleased at the number of options." She furthermore criticized the usability for new users: "Note that HandBrake isn't necessarily the easiest program to use. It has a large number of options available, and there's no good explanation of what they do or how to use them. Beginners should stick with the defaults (...)" She concluded by calling HandBrake a "solid choice" for people who are looking for a free video transcoder.
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