I have been duplicating my store bought DVD's and downloaded movies to put onto my TV. I'm using VideoMonkey to convert the files to MP4 format. I want to create the highest resolution possible and space/file size is no concern. But I don't want to create a resolution that is too high for TV.
VideoMonkey's default format for TV is 1024x720 @ 24fps H.264 Video. But I can set the quality to low, standard or high. And encoding options are from fast to high quality (2 pass). I can set everything to the best but I want to make sure the TV can even utilize it.
Sometimes I have the option of downloading a blue ray version of a movie that is 4GB. But again, is it worth downloading that file size so large if TV can only play an HD 720 version?
I hope this is clear.
If you're encoding for Apple TV, it should theoretically always produce a format that will play on Apple TV. With that said, I've occasionally had trouble with 1280x720@24fps encoding. I believe it's right on the edge of what the Apple TV can do, and I may not have the settings quite right. But there is never a reason to encode a movie at a higher resolution or bitrate than the original for Apple TV. So I always select the "Limit output params to input" option. For instance, a standard DVD is typically 720x480, so encoding it at this resolution is well below the Apple TV capabilities and it should be able to play anything you encode.
It's only when you get movies whose source format is "HD", which most people consider to be 1280x720 (although technically this is actually called Intermediate Definition or ID, but nobody ever says that). For those and for now, I typically choose the 960x540@30fps option, which limits the output format. This is far enough below the absolute maximum that everything works fine.
As far as the Encoding options go, all of them will produce valid movies. It's just a tradeoff between the time it takes to encode and quality. High Quality (2 pass) is obviously the best, but takes a really long time to encode. I've found that almost everything has fine quality with Normal. It's only when you have a really high quality HD show that has been really well encoded at a high bitrate that you might see some slightly better quality. But I've encoded some high quality HD shows (from HD cable) at 960x540x30fps with Normal Encoding and I really can't tell the difference between them and HD shows I buy from Apple TV, at least on my 46" LCD.
One last thing. What tool are you using to rip your DVD's? If you use HandBrake, it does a GREAT job of encoding to an Apple TV format. It even will preserve the 5.1 Dolby audio track, which is something Video Monkey can't do yet. So when I want to rip one of my DVDs so I can put it on Apple TV, I use Handbrake. Then I bring the result into Video Monkey to add metadata to the file. I use the "Write Metadata to Input File Only" option, which leaves the Handbrake encoded file intact, adds movie info from themoviedb.org and then adds it to iTunes. The result is as good as you can get with these tools.
Hope that helps.
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