RIP your movie DVDs & watch them anywhere

It’s easy to copy and convert your movies to any format for steaming, watching on the go, or maintaining an archival backup for your movie collection. We will show you how.

We’ve become so accustomed to be easy and convenience of iTunes and blink-and-you-miss-em CD rips that we forget how it in mid-1990s, ripping a CD was a time-consuming process fraught with peril. Shoot, ripping a single disc to a 128kps MP3 could take eight hours on a 200MHz Pentium! Fast forward a decade and faster hardware and better software have made CD ripping so mainsteam your mom does it.

Now ripping DVDs is our great challenge. Copying and transcoding the disc’s video into more efficient formats involves math an order of magnitude scarier than what’s required to rip audio CDs. A machine that will rip the latest Miley Cyrus CD in mere moments could take hours to extract and convert your copy of Alien vs. Predator to an iPod-friendly format. But with the right software, a quad-core-equipped PC, and a little knowhow, you can cut your disc-rip time from hours to 30 minutes. Plenty of tricks and traps still await first-time rippers, but we’ll show you the basics and then walk you through some of the most valuable power-user ripping secrets.

Your first decision is simple. What player are you ripping your disc for? Are you ripping for a portable player, like the PSP or iPhone? Would you rather stream to a device in your living room, like Xbox 360, PS3, or Popcorn Hour? Or are you simply interested in making archival-quality DVD rips in case you lose your collection? More likely, you are looking for a combination of all these of these things. We’ll show you how to rip your DVD to a file suitable for streaming that consumes a fraction of the disk space of a DVD but maintains full video whatever other devices you might have, like a PSP or an iPod.

With the preliminaries out of the way, let’s get started.

Ripping your DVDs

What you need?
Modern PC w/DVD-ROM drive
Daniusoft DVD Ripper ($39.95)
DVD43(free)
Hanbrake(free)

With the right software, hardware, and understanding of the issues, you can free video from movies disc to be used any way you choose.

Compatibility issues

Several factors determine the compatibility of your ripped video files. The resolution of the video, the size of the resulting file, the video and audio codes, the container format used, and even more esoteric things like frame rate can affect whether your video will work on your device of choice. The Xbox and PS3, for instance, support a maximum MP4 file size of 4GB. If you want to srteam a file larger than that, you’ll need to use a .ts container for the PS3 and WMV-HD the Xbox.

If you just rip discs as you need the content and then delete files afterward, simply rip to your target of choice. Howerer, if you want to build an archive of ripped movies, we recommend that you use open, widely supported codes and containers at the native resolution of the DVD and then transcode the files to lower resolutions and bitrates as you need them. Naturally, we will show you how to do this.

Your player selection also impacts your choices when it comes to audio tracks and subtitle support. While the most common container formats, MP4 and MKV, support multiple track and subtitle stream in one file, few players will work with multiple audio tracks, and an even smaller subset will work with subtitles. That means you need to rip a single audio track-typically the mail movie’s English soundtrack-and burn the subtitles into the video, rather than leave them as separate streams inside the container.

We recommend convert dvd to the MP4 container: it’s widely supported on both streaming devices and portables. Furthermore, the tools for manipulating the streams within the file are established to transcode your video to a less-supported format for a specific player.

A word about subtitles

Typically, DVDs include multiple subtitle streams that serve different purposes. Nearly, every DVD has some English subtitles, even non-foreign-language movies. Most also include subtitles. Subtitles are simply the dialogue from the movie written across bottom of the screen. Closed captions include subtitles, but they also include audio cues that help people with impaired hearing enjoy the movie fully.

Often English-language movies use forced subtitles to show what a character speaking a foreign language is saying. On some discs, these subtitles will be hidden in a separate stream, while in others, they’ll be mixed in with the subtitles but marked so that the DVD Player only shows the proper captions. Regardless, it’s crucial that you get the proper subtitles for all the films you rip. Otherwise, you’ll never know what Jabba or Greedo are saying in Star Wars.

In practice, the first English subtitle track is typically the one that includes subtitles, forced or otherwise, while the second subtitle track is the one that includes closed captions.

Bypassing copy protection

The first thing you will need to do when ripping a movie DVD is remove the copy protection. Most discs use a variant of the Content Scrambling System(CSS), but many also use other techniques. Although some DVD-ripping apps, like autoMKV, can bypass copy protection, they are not updated as frequently and aren’t always successful at defeating new copy protection schemes. The latest version of Handbrake won’t do anything at all about copy protection. Your best choice , therefore, is to top one of the utilities that are dedicated to the task, such as Daniusoft DVD Ripper or DVD3.

Daniusoft DVD ripper justifies its high price by bypassing new forms of encryption almost immediately after they appear. Both apps serve as on-the-fly disc decrypters, stripping copy protection before your ripping or playback software recognizes the disc. Want o rip an encrypted disc to your hard drive? It is as easy as coping contents of the disc’s VIDEO_TS files to your hard drive one you installed Daniusoft DVD Ripper or DVD43. Regardless, before we continue, you should install one of the apps. Daniusoft dvd ripper is a shareware, while DVD43 is always free.

Ripping your first Disc

For simple, high-quality rips of any kind of content for any type of device, it’s tough to beat HandBrake. We like HandBrake for a few reasons: Its built-in presets make it very easy for anyone to use, it does a good job of detecting the proper video, audio, and the subtitle selections, and it has never failed us.

To rip your first disc, drop it in your DVD drive and click the Source button in the top-left conver of the HandBrake window. Unless you have multiple optical drives, the disc in your DVD drive should be one of the listed Source options. If it’s not, select the folder option and navigate to your optical drive. Handbrake will take a minute or two to scan the contents of your disc and will do its best to determine the appropriate titles and chapters on the disc. HandBrake is generally spot-on for movie DVDs, although you’ll probably need to manually select the proper chapters and titles for discs that contain TV shows.

After Handbrake has familiarized itself with your disc, you will need to select the proper output preset. For steaming to or playbackon most Apple devices, the Apple Universal preset is terrific. It looks great and works well on the iPhone, newer iPod Classics, and the AppleTV. For steaming to the PS3, Xbox360, or pretty much anything else, we typically recommend a modified PS3 preset. The PS3 preset uses the H.264 video codec in an MP4 container to encode your disc’s video at its native resolution using a variable bitrate that’s also compatible with the Xbox 360. It automatically downmixes your disc 5.1 audio to 2.0 Dolby proLogicII stream. Load the defaut PS3 preset and then enable both the two-pass encode and the turbo first-pass options. Both the Apple Universal and the modified PS3 preset are appropriate for archival puposes.

Next flip to the Audio & Subtitles tab and ensure that the proper subtitle and audio selections are checked. If the movie includes some subtitles, you should select the first English subtitle track and check the Forced Subtitles Only box. Don’t worry, if the disc is mastered properly and doesn’t have subtitles, it won’t affect your rip at all. Once you are happy with your setting, you can press the +button in the preset window to save your profile(we recommend giving it a different default name than the others). Unfortunately, caption settings aren’t saved in presets, so you have no manually set them each time you rip another disc.

Before you can start the encode, you need to tell HandBrake where to save the finished rip and what to call it. You can save the resulting file anywhere on your hard drive. Once you’ve done that, press the Start button to begin the encode.Depending on the number of cores you have and the speed of your processor, encoding can take anywhere from 40 minutes to several hours.

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