Thursday, October 4, 2007

DVD -> iPod, Sweet.

To continue my earlier post about getting video to play in Quicktime, I recently set out to encode DVDs into iPod video format.

There is a great open source, cross platform program called HandBrake that can convert DVD video/audio to MPEG-4 format. (I've been running the Mac version, but there are Windows & Linux versions on the site.) You just put in a DVD and it scans all the titles. If you are ripping a movie, you just pick the longest title on the DVD. If you are ripping a TV show you pick the show number you want (they appear in the same order they are on the disc). Plus there is a que in the program so you can set it up to rip all the episodes on a disc to separate files without having to wait for each one to finish, saving you time.

They have some presets for different destination formats and codecs, but if you use the iPod one you have to change the codec to "MPEG-4 Video/AAC Audio", because they made a mistake and the default iPod format is actually not supported, but using the presets gets the resolution right, which is the tricky part. Using this coding it can rip a two hour movie (on my Intel MacBook) in about 45 minutes, and a 25 minute TV show in about 8 minutes. (An Apple site listing the compatible iPod video formats is here.)

HandBrake also has a feature that preserves the chapter markers from the DVD. When you play the movie on the iPod you can skip ahead by chapters, plus it does the usual "remembering where you were in the movie". From what I can tell, this feature makes ripping a DVD you already own as good as buying the movie from the iTunes Store, which I still consider a total ripoff for movies.

Right now I have a bunch of classic sci-fi on there, which works great because they aren't widescreen format.

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