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 126.96.36.199.
• 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.
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.
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.
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.
) 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 jobWhen 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
Look here for my procedure http://wdtvforum.com/main/index.php?topic=3991.0Some 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.
for lots of info, guides, download and forums.
Media Info http://mediainfo.sourceforge.net/en
for getting media information.
@ jayallan. Use any of this as you see fit.
twistyMOD: MADE IT A STICKY!