Author Topic: Newbie DVD Conversion Basics for WDTV.  (Read 22010 times)

December 04, 2009, 04:12:46 AM
Read 22010 times

twisty

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This guide is for newbies wanting to convert DVDs  for use on the WDTV.  So many people ask “how” on this forum and so many people respond (correctly) “what do you want?”.  I thought my experiences may help.  To have a final product you’re happy with you need to know what you want so I’ve included a description of my situation to provide a yardstick.  Then I describe 3 steps for producing a final product.  Remember, it’s a learning curve and you’re attempting to convert and store large quantities of sophisticated data.  Good luck.

I’m a farmer, not a programmer so I will defer, in advance, to those who know better.  However, after about six months with a WDTV and ripping/converting some 200 movies and 15 tv series I’ve gained some understanding of the process.  Hope this helps.

Most good software packages have good forums.  That’s where the experts are!  Do lots of reading and searching.   Follow links suggested. And if you’re going to ask a question on a forum make sure you include this information:

   Software and versions used. eg. Windows vista, handbrake0.9.4, DVD decrypter 3.5.4.0.
•   Container and codec used.  Eg.  .mkv with H.264, .avi with Xvid, .vob, .iso.  
•   Mention the audio codec if this is part of the problem. Eg. aac, ac3, mp3
•   Give detail where you can.  Eg. error logs or media info.
•   Ask your question in a thread that already addresses the topic.  Eg. Ask subtitle sync questions in a subtitle sync thread.
•   Keep your post as short as possible (too long and people will give up (oops...))

It makes diagnosing problems much easier for those inclined.  Asking “why won’t my file play” is unlikely to receive any response.  A newbie needs to at least know the stuff below.  Enjoy.

Overview.

My wife has collected about 1500 DVD’s over the last 10 years and she has lost some treasured acquisitions to overuse, damage and loss.  The biggest problem being overuse of mechanical devices (dvd players come here to die) and discs (left lying around, scratched or broken).  Something had to be done but the impetus didn’t come until I discovered the WDTV.  Although I’ve used computer for decades backing up this much data poses a particular challenge.

I now have 3 WDTV1 (not the Live).  Two are networked and one is stand alone.  The WDTVs are used to display converted DVDs stored on a 4 Tb Western Digital Share Space NAS (Network Attached Storage).  The first WDTV is in the lounge room via Gigabit network attached (HDMI) to a 42" Sony Plasma and audio via toslink to Sony 5.1 amp.  The second WDTV is in the bedroom via NetComm NP210 Ethernet over power attached (HDMI) to a 32" Teac LCD tv and audio via tv speakers using WDTV rca audio out.  The third WDTV is standalone and attached (HDMI) to a 32” Soniq LCD tv.  All WDTV’s have homebrew firmware and are currently running WDLXTV 0.5.8.1.

The physical DVD collection numbers over 1500 including an equal balance of complete TV series and feature movies.  Backup and conversion are done with a quad core processor, 4Gb RAM and Windows Vista (32bit) operating system.   The vast majority of conversions have so far been done with Handbrake 0.9.3 with H.264, ac3 audio and hard burned subtitles in an .avi container.  I’m currently using Handbrake 0.9.4 for the soft subtitle option and evaluating H.264 results in .mkv.

My Philosophy.
Every DVD has been legally purchased.  The DVD collection is measured in length for ease (14 metres standing on edge).  Conversions are for personal use only.  These backups are insurance for a valuable collection and ease of viewing.  

My Requirements.
Quality that is indistinguishable from original DVD.  5.1 surround sound.  Soft subtitles (my wife doesn’t care but I like to turn the subtitles off when by myself).  Easy navigation of online videos.  Cheap or free software.  RAID5 backup (this reduces the total capacity of the WD 4tbNAS to 2.7tb).

Step1.  Decide what you want!

Easy huh?  This is the big step.  The rest is just time and/or money.  You may find that you spend lots of time on Step 3 testing though.  In fact you may need to move to Step 3 soon to decide what suits you.  Luckily you do have a starting point before you start ripping.  

“There's an old proverb in the video encoding world: Speed, size, quality: pick two." From the Handbrake team http://handbrake.fr/.  They’re right!  Pick two.  

If you choose fast backup and small size the quality will suffer.  Use any Xvid or FFmpeg codec in any encoder. 30-50% original size into an .avi or .mp4 container.   This option doesn’t interest me too much anymore and I am considering reconverting all the DVD’s I’ve done so far.  Blocking of the colour black and other video artefacts become evident.

Small size and high quality will take a long time to create the backup (depending on cpu, ram etc). Convert using any x264 encoder to .mkv, or .mp4 container.  50-70% original size.   With the price of storage dropping this option is becoming less viable.  .mkv is useful as you can pack multiple audio/subtitle/image files.  .mp4 is Apple (Ipod, Itunes etc) and if you intend watching DVD’s on your new Iphone then go for speed and size.

Choosing fast backup and high quality then your file size will increase.  Convert to .iso format.  100% original size.  With the price of storage dropping this option is becoming more viable.  Future ability to burn to DVD disc at 100% quality.  All DVD features retained with most (subtitles included) functional on WDTV.  I have no experience with .vob files but expect similar performance as an .iso.

With bulk storage costing about $0.35AUD per gigabyte (Nov2009) my choice comes down to, for example: (edit 7Dec09)
•   .iso average size for Startrek episode (40 minutes) = 1.5 gigabytes (DVDShrink).  $0.50 to store.  1500 videos (4 episodes or 1 feature movie) at $2.00 = $3000 (9 terabytes)
•   .mkv average size for Startrek episode (40 minutes)= 1 gigabyte (Handbrake 0.9.4).  $0.35 to store.   1500 videos (4 episodes or 1 feature movie)  at $1.40 = $2100 (6 terabytes)
•   .avi average size for Startrek episode (40 minutes)= .6 gigabyte (Handbrake 0.9.3).  $0.20 to store.   1500 videos (4 episodes or 1 feature movie)  at $0.80 = $1200 (3.6 terabytes)
•   Brand new WD 4Tb ShareSpace NAS = $900 (additional 2.7tb storage) = 1800 .iso or 4500 .avi Star Trek episodes.  450 .iso or 1125 .avi feature movies.
•   My time = priceless


 “If you can’t pay cash for your toys then you don’t deserve them.”  Anonymous. Figure out how much storage you need, how much you have and how much you’re prepared to pay.

Containers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Container_format_(digital)) such as .mkv, .avi, .mp4 (m4v) and .vob are simply vessels for video in an mpeg format (2/4/4.10), audio in aac, ac3, mp3, subtitles in vobsub, sst, srt and images in various formats.  .iso is not a container but an image of the disc, or part thereof.

Encoders (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_video_encoders) are the programs that convert/compress your original video (Handbrake, Make MKV etc).  Codecs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_video_codecs) are the way your original is de/compressed by your encoding software (usually h.264, Xvid, FFmpeg etc).  For more information start with Doom9 (http://www.doom9.org/) “The definitive DVD backup resource”.

You can mix and match most codecs and containers but just remember, not all devices can read the file you create.  Your standard DVD player will only play .vob (DVD files) and some will also play DivX (.avi).   Read the instruction manual so you know what your device supports!

Step2.  Rip the disc.

At this point you have 2 choices depending on your choices made above.  Rip to your hdd (into a new VIDEO_TS folder) for conversion later, or, rip directly to your final file.  To rip your DVD to your hdd for conversion later you will want to use a program such as DVD Decrypter.  Some of the newer DVDs don’t take kindly to being copied (thanks Walt) but a search on Google for other software will yield results.  

DVD Structure from Doom9.org **Not Written by me**  cut n paste job

When you access the DVD drive you'll see at least 2 directories:  AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS.  There might be more directories which contain DVD-ROM features for your PC.  There are 3 types of files on a DVD: .VOB, .IFO and .BUP:

VOBs - Video OBjects.  A VOB contains several streams multiplexed together: Video, Audio and Subtitles.  Video is MPEG-2, audio can be AC-3, Linear PCM, Mpeg 2 multichannel or MPEG1 layer2 2 channel audio. It's possible to have up to 9 different audio streams.  AC3 is pretty much the standard.  A VOB can contain one main video stream and several multiangle streams, allowing you to switch (as an example) the perspective during the movie. This feature is mostly used to display storyboards or other extra features during playback.  It's also possible to have up to 32 different subtitle streams. Subtitles are 4 color bitmaps which are overlayed over the video stream.

DVD video content is broken into titles (movies or albums) and parts of titles (chapters or songs). Titles are made up of cells linked together by one or more Program Chains (PGCs).  The PGC corresponds to the Title number being displayed in your player.

IFOs – InFOrmation.  IFO Files give the player important navigational information, like where a chapter starts, where a certain audio or subtitle stream is located, etc.  They are not encrypted.

BUPs – BackUP.  BUP files are just backup files off the IFOs. As their counterparts they are not encrypted.


DVD Structure from Doom9.org **Not Written by me**  cut n paste job

Ripping directly to a file will normally be either .iso (with DVD Shrink) or .mkv (with no compression by Make MKV).  Ignore step 3.  Depending on whether your DVD drive has a “rip lock” this process can take 10 – 25 minutes for a DVD9.  Also be aware I suspect removing the rip lock may cause video replay defects (especially movement combing (http://trac.handbrake.fr/wiki/Decomb)). Enjoy.

Step3. Convert your DVD.  

The easy bit.  Now you’ve decided which container, encoder and codec you want to use, run some tests and preview via your WDTV.  Try a few different methods and settings if you aren’t happy for some reason.  I’ve found many answers here at http://wdtvforum.com but sometimes I’ve had to venture elsewhere for specific information.  Remember, it’s a learning curve and you’re attempting to convert and store large quantities of sophisticated data.  

Finally, I guess you were expecting a blow by blow of ripping and converting but as you have read, it depends on what you want.  Sorry  ;D

Look here for my procedure http://wdtvforum.com/main/index.php?topic=3991.0

Some sites to start with:

Handbrake 0.9.4 http://handbrake.fr/ for converting from hdd video files to .mkv or .mp4 (h264, FFmpeg).
DVD Decrypter http://www.dvddecrypter.org.uk/ for ripping DVD to hdd.
DVD Shrink http://www.thedvdshrink.com/ for ripping to hdd in .iso.
Make MKV http://www.makemkv.com/ for ripping to hdd in .mkv.
Doom9 http://www.doom9.org/ for lots of info, guides, download and forums.
Media Info  http://mediainfo.sourceforge.net/en for getting media information.

Any Questions?

@ jayallan.  Use any of this as you see fit.

twisty

MOD: MADE IT A STICKY!
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 04:49:00 PM by twisty »
42" Sony & 32" Teac. Gigabit Network + NetComm NP210 Ethernet over power.  4TB WD ShareSpace NAS.  WDLXTV 0.5.8.1.  MSheet 2.1.1.
Noob WDTV Video Conversion Basics Tutorial http://wdtvforum.com/main/index.php?topic=3314.0

December 06, 2009, 09:53:40 AM
Reply #1

B5Fan

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Thanks for the info but some of your numbers don't make sense.  You said you have 1500 DVDs, but in your example you used 1 TV series episode.  Since a DVD usaully holds 5-6 episodes your numbers are off.

1 DVD in iso format, untouched = ~8 GB.  1500 DVD = 12 TB.
1 DVD in iso format using DVD Shrink = 4.3 GB.  1500 DVD = 6.5 TB.
1 DVD in MKV/AVI/MP4 (handbrake high quality setting ~1.4 GB/hr, assume 2 hour movie) = 2.8 GB.  1500 DVD = 4.2 TB.
1 DVD in MKV/AVI/MP4 (semi-standard 700 MB/hr, assume 2 hour movie) = 1.4 GB.  1500 DVD = 2.1 TB.

So using your 1500 DVD collection example, Your 4GB NAS server with raid would only be able to hold your whole collection if you converted them all to a lower quality format.  You would need 2 servers to hold them in ISO format using DVD Shrink or in the high-quality mode.  Or a staggering 5 servers to hold them in their original format.  At $900 per server that would be a total of $4500.  So there is a significant difference in price.  Your example made it appear there was very little advantage to converting your movies.

December 06, 2009, 12:39:31 PM
Reply #2

jayallan

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Very nice guide!   I have not compared the numbers as B5 did above, but I think it is very well written and laid out.   I think what people need to realize, and you have spelled it out correctly, is that there is no "simple answer" to how to rip your collection.  Everybody's needs will be different. 

Thanks for taking the time to write this! 
WDTV LIVE with current official FW > HDMI > DVDO > Sony CRT Projector 150" 16/9 screen.  Toslink audio to Yamaha DTS receiver. No Network set up yet.

December 06, 2009, 07:41:06 PM
Reply #3

twisty

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Thanks for the reply B5Fan,

Thanks for the info but some of your numbers don't make sense.  You said you have 1500 DVDs, but in your example you used 1 TV series episode.  Since a DVD usaully holds 5-6 episodes your numbers are off.

I've only ever discovered more than 4 episodes on a disc with short stuff (20 minutes or half hour sitcom such as MyNameis Earl etc).  All the tv series discs I've converted such as StarTrek, Stargate, Galactica, Charmed, Xfiles (40 minutes) have no more than 4 episodes per disc.  Regardless of ripping method all my tv series (long) episodes are about 1.5Gb in .iso format.

So using your 1500 DVD collection example, Your 4GB NAS server with raid would only be able to hold your whole collection if you converted them all to a lower quality format.  You would need 2 servers to hold them in ISO format using DVD Shrink or in the high-quality mode.  Or a staggering 5 servers to hold them in their original format.  At $900 per server that would be a total of $4500.  So there is a significant difference in price.  Your example made it appear there was very little advantage to converting your movies.

Thanks for pointing this out.  I would say you're about right.  I calculate each disc (4 episodes) at 6Gb (not 8 ) x 1500= 9Tb for the entire collection (4 x 4Tb Nas with Raid5).  This also demonstrates the decision to be made when storing this much data.  I've taken to converting all TV series episodes to .avi (previously) and now compressed .mkv.  I save favourite feature films in .iso. "B" movies may never be backed up!

My original post amended.

Thanks again.

Twisty
42" Sony & 32" Teac. Gigabit Network + NetComm NP210 Ethernet over power.  4TB WD ShareSpace NAS.  WDLXTV 0.5.8.1.  MSheet 2.1.1.
Noob WDTV Video Conversion Basics Tutorial http://wdtvforum.com/main/index.php?topic=3314.0

December 07, 2009, 08:50:27 AM
Reply #4

B5Fan

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Great guide Twisty.  BTW, 1500 DVD's is a very impressive collection.  I've only got around 400 myself.  Any suggestions for mass converting a large collection ?  I rip my DVD's to my HDD 10-20 at a time, then do the conversion when I have about 50.  Usually takes a weekend, which is fine for me since I don't use my computer much during the weekends.

December 07, 2009, 08:10:13 PM
Reply #5

twisty

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Any suggestions for mass converting a large collection ?  I rip my DVD's to my HDD 10-20 at a time, then do the conversion when I have about 50. 

B5Fan,

Get a VERY comfortable chair!  Avoid mind altering drugs during tv series conversion (numbers get mixed up).  Remove dvd drive riplock.

I do much the same as you. TV series I do a season at a time and let the computer work overnight.  "A" movies get ripped straight to .iso.

twisty
42" Sony & 32" Teac. Gigabit Network + NetComm NP210 Ethernet over power.  4TB WD ShareSpace NAS.  WDLXTV 0.5.8.1.  MSheet 2.1.1.
Noob WDTV Video Conversion Basics Tutorial http://wdtvforum.com/main/index.php?topic=3314.0

December 11, 2009, 05:31:10 AM
Reply #6

onneeye

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Thanks for the great great.

WOW 1500 dvd is a lot. Took me two months to convert 200 dvd of mined. What slowed me down was audio sync problems on older dvd movies. But  ;D, the new version of handbrake fix my audio sync problem and its free. Fixed ID4.

December 12, 2009, 04:40:24 PM
Reply #7

twisty

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Thanks for the great great.

WOW 1500 dvd is a lot. Took me two months to convert 200 dvd of mined. What slowed me down was audio sync problems on older dvd movies. But  ;D, the new version of handbrake fix my audio sync problem and its free. Fixed ID4.

G'day onneeye,

I'm glad you found the information useful.

My wife DVD collection measures over 14 metres on the shelves  :o and I'm being encourages to build another 5 metres of shelves.  Shes just gone shopping now and I expect some new DVD to arrive for conversion shortly.  We haven't used a DVD player for months now and many of the DVD's have only been out of their case once  ;D

Handbrake 094 is my favourite now with soft subtitle support.  I'm slowly converting my .iso files to .mkv and letting Handbrake run overnight with a big queue.  Conversion takes about 75% of running time (eg. 40 minute tv episode in 30 minutes).  Aint computers great!  ::)

twisty
42" Sony & 32" Teac. Gigabit Network + NetComm NP210 Ethernet over power.  4TB WD ShareSpace NAS.  WDLXTV 0.5.8.1.  MSheet 2.1.1.
Noob WDTV Video Conversion Basics Tutorial http://wdtvforum.com/main/index.php?topic=3314.0

December 13, 2009, 02:48:02 AM
Reply #8

shinobigarth

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so im starting my first bit of test ripping, and im using Handbrake to go from DVD into MP4. then if i have some files that i want put together i use AoA Video Joiner cause its the only free file joiner i could find that looks like it works worth a damn (go from the MP4s into uncompressed AVI). then from their i send it back through Handbrake again to get it back into H.264. seems to be good output so far but still testing. Handbrake rules though.

December 13, 2009, 04:11:52 PM
Reply #9

twisty

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G'day shinobigarth,

i send it back through Handbrake again to get it back into H.264. seems to be good output so far but still testing. Handbrake rules though.

Seems like a bit of double handling to me.  Through Handbrake twice  ???  What are you trying to join?  Why .mp4?  I use .mkv now and there are some very good software packages for adding, appending and attaching to .mkv (eg. mkvmerge).

Handbrake Rules  8)

twisty
42" Sony & 32" Teac. Gigabit Network + NetComm NP210 Ethernet over power.  4TB WD ShareSpace NAS.  WDLXTV 0.5.8.1.  MSheet 2.1.1.
Noob WDTV Video Conversion Basics Tutorial http://wdtvforum.com/main/index.php?topic=3314.0

December 22, 2009, 07:34:07 PM
Reply #10

ScottCocoaBeach

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Twisty - great information.  Would you mind sharing the exact settings you are using in Handbrake?  I'm sure it would be helpful to myself and others since it sounds like you have found settings that work well.


December 23, 2009, 01:15:32 AM
Reply #11

twisty

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Would you mind sharing the exact settings you are using in Handbrake?  I'm sure it would be helpful to myself and others since it sounds like you have found settings that work well.

G'day ScottCocoaBeach,

I'm glad you got some useful info  ;D

I think the trick is to leave the constant quality at Handbrake recommendations (60-70%).  .mkv, h.264, strict anamorphic, frame rate same as source, audio (ac3 5.1 passthrough 4 me) and subtitles to your taste.  I select all the english subtitles because sometimes the first subtext can be directors comments etc...  I'm not sure how well they work but these settings work 4 me!

Although I have noticed a bit of black (colour) "blocking" in some recently converted files I'm happy to continue with these settings as 99.99% of conversions please my wife (my ultimate critic).
42" Sony & 32" Teac. Gigabit Network + NetComm NP210 Ethernet over power.  4TB WD ShareSpace NAS.  WDLXTV 0.5.8.1.  MSheet 2.1.1.
Noob WDTV Video Conversion Basics Tutorial http://wdtvforum.com/main/index.php?topic=3314.0

January 01, 2010, 03:48:05 PM
Reply #12

shemilio

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....
I now have 3 WDTV1 (not the Live).  Two are networked and one is stand alone.  The WDTVs are used to display converted DVDs stored on a 4 Tb Western Digital Share Space NAS (Network Attached Storage).  The first WDTV is in the lounge room via Gigabit network attached (HDMI) to a 42" Sony Plasma and audio via toslink to Sony 5.1 amp.  The second WDTV is in the bedroom via NetComm NP210 Ethernet over power attached (HDMI) to a 32" Teac LCD tv and audio via tv speakers using WDTV rca audio out.  The third WDTV is standalone and attached (HDMI) to a 32” Soniq LCD tv.  All WDTV’s have homebrew firmware and are currently running WDLXTV 0.5.8.1.
...


G'day twisty!!

You said that your were a farmer, as apologizing for not being a technical guy, but you had made a great setup at your home and your tutorial is very clear with lots of answers to common doubts. Congratulations "mate".

BTW: In case I would like to hold a 1500 DVD collection, I would need to move first to another house !!! hahaha

Have a nice day,

January 02, 2010, 09:59:22 AM
Reply #13

hnQ

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I have about 600+ movies, and I would like to follow you guys' step.
Yet thinking, uhh, maybe I wanted to purchase a T1 internet connection, have all of the same movies queued from uTorrent, and the computer will take care the rest.
With that, I don't have to be near PC to attend the DVD carousel 600 times, converting, etc. It may take longer time, but it's painless.
What do you think?
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"DDS" [checked]

January 02, 2010, 06:33:30 PM
Reply #14

twisty

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@ shemilio.  Thankyou.  As for a new house, DVD's are easily stored in boxes under beds once converted.  No need for a new house, tada  ;D  Glad to help.

@ hnQ.  Seems to me you're taking all the fun out of it!  Be aware of copyright laws in your country.  Painless, well, for me ripping is now done while doing other things on the computer (trolling forums etc) and with the rip lock removed a couple of hours at the desk will see 20 DVDs ripped.  Setting up the conversion queue takes minutes with Handbrake and conversion done overnight.  Quality, reliability and consistancy with this process for me.

I've seen downloaded video on my system and the quality sucks  :o.  Downloaded subtitles often need to be adjusted and are sometimes not complete.  Poor quality, unreliable and inconsistant.  My two cents.
42" Sony & 32" Teac. Gigabit Network + NetComm NP210 Ethernet over power.  4TB WD ShareSpace NAS.  WDLXTV 0.5.8.1.  MSheet 2.1.1.
Noob WDTV Video Conversion Basics Tutorial http://wdtvforum.com/main/index.php?topic=3314.0