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[Fixed] HandBrake DVD Ripped Videos Get Scrambled

"I've been using the same presets in Handbrake for a long time to encode many videos in the past. But now all I get is an unwatchable scrambled video. The libdvdcss has been installed so I guess it's not an encryption issue. Handbrake 1.0.7. macOS 10.13 High Sierra."

This is a frustrated user from Handbrake forum and similar Handbrake scrambled video problems with macOS are ubiquitous on VideoHelp Forum, MacRumors, etc. When using Handbrake to rip DVD or encode videos, the output videos are sometimes pixelated and distorted with annoying RGB blocks. In this post, we're going to discuss what causes the Handbrake DVD rip scrambled problems on Mac (and also PC) and how to fix them.

Handbrake distorted DVD rip on macOS
Handbrake distorted DVD rip on macOS

Once-for-all Fix to Handbrake Scrambled Video Errors

MacX DVD Ripper Pro - Fix any Handbrake DVD rip scrambed/distorted video due to DVD protection, GPU acceleration, etc.

  • Rip new DVDs, multiple titles, Disney movies, workout discs, etc. with any protections.
  • Convert DVDs to 1:1 ISO image, mp4, mkv, hevc, avi, mov, flv, 3gp, mp3, aac, etc.
  • GPU hardware acceleration based on Intel, Nvidia, AMD to offer super-fast DVD ripping speed.
  • Advanced Safe Mode, Deinterlacing Accelerator and High Quality Engine ensure best output quality.

Reasons & Fixes to Handbrake DVD Rip Scrambled on Mac

1. DVD protections

CSS (Content Scrambling System) is the major cause for most problems of distorted and garbled Handbrake DVD rip. DVD with CSS protection has multiple fake titles with the same length. Unless Handbrake finds the correct title, the output video will result in broken up file. Handbrake can't deal with CSS for a decade, but the libdvdcss gives it the DVD decrypting and unscrambling capability. Like the user complaints at the beginning of this article, why Handbrake still gives scrambled video on Mac even with libdvdcss installed. Here are two reasons:

  • When a user updates the macOS or Handbrake version, the installed libdvdcss may become unsupported. To get around this, you need to check the Handbrake libdvdcss (see the full fixes to Handbrake libdvdcss errors).
  • Even installed, libdvdcss won't rip DVD with tough discs. Discs like Disney movies, workout discs, UDF, non-UDF or ISO 9660 and others are still a challenge that leads the pixelated and scrambled DVD rip with Handbrake. In this case, try other DVD rippers like MakeMKV. FYI, MacX DVD Ripper Pro supports a wide range of DVD encryptions that frustrate Handbrake.

2. Wrong HW encoding

The latest Handbrake Version 1.2.0 had added AMD VCE, Nvidia NVENC (Windows), and Apple VideoToolbox (macOS) hardware-accelerated video encoding for a faster speed. But they are the culprit to part of Handbrake scrambled video problems. There are users reporting that the H.264 videos encoded with VideoToolbox GPU acceleration are completely scrambled, full of colored blocks, skipping, lagging and 100% unwatchable. The badly pixelated problems happen more often with Intel QSV on Windows. Currently, we're not sure if it's a bug or anything, but there are fixes.(Check Handbrake GPU acceleration guide)

  • Disable GPU encoding by clicking Video > select H.264 instead of H.264 (VideoToolbox).
  • H.264 is famous for good quality and relatively small size mainly for its Psycho-Visual optimization. Even when there is no scrambled result with GPU encoding, it will suffer quality loss compared to CPU encoding. If you want both speed and quality, MacX DVD Ripper Pro is worth a shot. It supports Intel QSV, AMD and Nivida for H.264/H.265 and has a High Quality Engine to ensure the output quality.  

3. Bad DVD sectors

Another possible reason to Handbrake DVD rip scrambled on macOS is that the disc is damaged. Rather than the bad sector DVD protection, the disc may be damaged or scratched sometimes. In this case, Handbrake may get stuck, fail to rip or give scrambled videos. Hold down the option key while click the Open button and then you can tell Handbrake the individual title you want to rip instead of the entire source. But if the bad sector is in the title you want, you can't select the specific length. Handbrake can't do that. Now you will need a third-party ripper that comes along the ability to copy damaged DVD.

4. Interlaced VC1 format

DVD and Blu-ray owners usually use Handbrake and MakeMKV together. As Handbrake won't support Blu-ray discs, they often rip Blu-ray into MKV and transcode AC-1 to H.264 using Handbrake. Then problems occur. The VC-1 interlaced videos ripped from MakeMKV end up with annoying pixels and blocks through Handbrake. Why? The VC-1 decoding bug may plague libavcodec.

  • Try xmedia recode that uses ffmpeg DXVA decoder to transcode VC-1.
  • The latest nightly builds or update to the latest version should transcode VC-1 to x264 without Handbrake scrambled video artifacts.

5. Graphics Card's Upscaling

The pixelated DVD rip may not be caused by Handbrake, but rather with your graphics card's upscaling. In VLC, try switching Video -> Output to Windows GDI Video Output, and disable hardware decoding (Input/Codecs -> Hardware-accelrated Decoding -> Disable). Does that look better?

Rip Protected/Damaged DVDs on Mac without Scrambled Video

If you still get pixelated video with Handbrake after trying all the above fixes, try another DVD ripper. Here MacX DVD Ripper Pro is able to rip DVDs without giving your blocks or pixels like Handbrake.

Step 1: Load DVD Movie

Free download the DVD ripper and click Disc to load the DVD.

Free download MacX DVD Ripper Pro on Mac
Free download MacX DVD Ripper Pro on Windows

Step 2: Select the Output Video Format

The DVD ripper will automatically identify the correct title and ask you to select the output format. You can convert a DVD to H.264, H.265, MOV, MP4, AVI, MKV, VOB, iPhone, Samsung and more as shown in the figure below.

fix Handbrake distorted video

Step 3: Edit the DVD

It's also a DVD editing program. For example, when the Handbrake scrambled video errors on Mac are cuased by a bad sector, you can cut out the damaged portion with the Edit feature. Click the Edit button from the selected title and set the exact starting and ending time of the length that you need.

 Handbrake pixelated video fix

Step 4: Adjust DVD Rippping Settings

On the right lower part of the interface, there are several important buttons you need to check.

  • Hardware Encoder - apply Intel/AMD/Nvidia when applicable when converting a DVD into H.264/H.265 for about 5x faster speed.
  • Safe Mode - a unique feature that will deal with most tough protections and avoid any scrambled outputs like Handbrake.
  • High Quality Engine and Deinterlacing - two technologies from the company that can ensure the maximum output quality.
rip DVD without Handbrake pixelated and garbled video

Step 5: Click Run and Start Ripping. The Hardware Encoder will speed up the ripping process and finish the task within minutes.

Note: We only advocates using the best DVD ripper for Mac to rip protected DVDs for Mac under the concept of Fair Use and does not encourage any illegal reproduction or distribution of copyrighted content. Please abide by the local DVD copyright law before doing it. Still have any problem on converting the entire movie with Handbrake, just email us >>