I’ve spent a lot of time over the past years figuring out how to get my DVD collection onto my PC so I can use my Home Theater PC (HTPC) to play my library on my TV. The following is the two step process I’ve come up with to do this; all other programs I’ve used either are not free, install spyware, or desync the audio.
Install and use.
The settings here are pretty straightforward. Select “Full Disk” and where you want to save the file. Click start, and about 40 minutes later you will have your DVD on your hard drive and ready to encode.
Install and Launch Handbrake.
Handbrake is a cross-platform (Win, Mac, Linux) program which is a collection of command line utilities that are used to convert DVD files to media files for use on your PC or iPod.
Handbrake really can’t make things too much simpler. First, open the directory where you just saved your DVD to. It will then analyze the DVD for you.
You can then select your options manually, or use some of the pre-built presets available on the right to automatically convert your DVD for several devices. Devices include iPod High Res, iPod Low Res, iPhone/iPod Touch, PSP, PS3 and more. Generally speaking, all of these profiles use H.264 to encode the video – this codec is arguably one of the best ones for quality/size tradeoff. Also, Xvid is available to encode your video. If you are converting video and you only wish to transfer to your iPod, select the iPod profile you need (I generally use iPod Low for the iPod Nano).
Finally, select the “Destination” and file name for your converted file.
Click “Encode Video” and up pops the command line window and you will be able to watch your encoding progress via this window.
If you want to encode your video for storage on your PC, you can tweak the settings to your liking. Feel free to experiment with these – I find that selecting AppleTV profile generally suits my needs – this saves the video in a high quality format which you can then convert later to lower quality ones if you need to.
Hit encode and your PC will start processing that video! In my experience it takes roughly 2 hours to do a full conversion in high quality – iPod video takes much shorter since it is lower quality.
If DivX is more your fancy (with more and more DivX compatible devices and connected appliances coming out) then there is alternative software to use. Dr. DivX 2.0 OSS is the open source version of Dr. DivX program.
There are some quirks with this program, and it could take some ‘massaging’ to get it working without crashing. A problem I ran across was that the version of AC3Filter I had installed was not compatible with it; I had to go back and install AC3Filter 1.11 to keep it from crashing when I imported the DVD files.
With Dr. DivX, you select all of the video files you want to convert to a DivX file. The best way to do this is to open the DVD’s VIDEO_TS Folder and look for the first VTS files which are over 1 Gig. Select all of them up until the file that is less than a gig, as seen in the screenshot below.
With these tools at your disposal, you should be able to get through your DVDs pretty quickly – converting them to a friendlier PC based format really makes it awesome for viewing on your TV without the hassle of searching your your disk and putting it into the DVD player.