Eightface

by Dave Kellam

Procrastination and dvd ripping on mac

Obviously, my complete lack of posting has meant that I’ve had absolutely nothing to do. I’m “busy” and don’t have to post, as opposed to when I’m busy and don’t have time to procrastinate. I thought about doing a redesign, I even gave it a brief attempt, although I was just trying to give the colours a new tinge. I’ll leave it until after my exam season is done. And by exam season, I mean my one exam. It’s so weird to have so few exams, but it also means that I did all the work for the courses during the semester. Which probably explains the burnout and why I’ve just been sitting around watching movies and sleeping a lot.

The other thing I’ve spent a significant portion of time doing is trying to encode dvd movies on a mac. And you say, “Ho ho!” but macs are great for media and and producing video and all that. And I will agree completely. There’s a lot of great tools for putting movies together and producing print/web media, but in terms of ripping dvds, I’d like to point out that industry types with the big money for loads of Apple equipment and the superexpensive multimedia editing suites don’t really have a need for ripping dvds (they just buy em). Now me, I’m sitting here wanting to rip some dvds that I own. Now there’s a lot of things that you’ve got to take into consideration for ripping, you’ve got framerates, resolution, audio type, audio tracks, container format, subtitles and so on.

The biggest issue for me is space (and I imagine a lot of others too). If you’ve got plenty of harddrive space around (>7gb), you should have no trouble space-shifting your dvd. For example, it takes more power to spin your dvd drive than your harddrive, so if you want to conserve battery life on your laptop, you rip the dvd to the drive. Basically, all you need to do is rip the Video_ts folder to your harddrive using DVDBackup or OSex, this’ll take some time, because it needs to crack the decryption bullshit that the makers have so nicely crippled your product with. OSex is kind of complicated and kind of wonky but it’s pretty powerful. Some players, like VLC will let you play the Video_ts folder from anywhere.

So, you want to create a rip that you can put on a couple cds and give to a friend, because you know that fucker is going to wreck or lose your disc. The first thing I looked at were containers, there are some nice formats out there, like ogm and matroska that are starting to gain in popularity. Unfortunately, neither format has tools available for mac right now (although we can decode them), I’d be leaning towards the matroska format myself. After that, there isn’t a whole lot of choice left. You’re basically looking at the avi container, created by Microsoft many years ago. It’s not all that bad, it just tends not to play nicely with multiple audio streams and subtitles. So, essentially that leaves us looking at doing an AVI encoding with XviD or DivX, with one stream of audio in mp3 or maybe AC3 format. Not too bad, but it doesn’t have the cool factor that multiple audio tracks does. There’s also 3ivX and quicktime, but I’m not really sure about that yet.

After you’ve got the dvd rip on your computer, you should be able to do most of this encoding jazz using ffmpegX, a graphical front-end for the ffmpeg command line tool. It’s alright, although I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t play nicely with variable bit rate (VBR) audio streams, so use a constant rate. You might even need to just avoid encoding the audio with ffmpegX and use passthrough, choosing instead to grab the elementary streams from OSex and converting the AC3 file to MP3 with bd4go.

With all that said, there’s a lot of playing around involved and I’ve yet to produce anything I really liked. It’s not to hard to get decent rips, but it’s fairly hard to get everything right if you’re trying to do something like nicely put them on cds. If you’re going with pure ease of use and don’t mind sacrificing control, you can use DVD2one. Although, I’m not sure how nicely they play with encrypted dvds.

Here are two good ripping guides for mac, although they lean towards using 3ivX and DivaDVD Ripping on OSX and Shepmaster’s DVD Ripping Tutorial. There isn’t a ton of info, but it’s an evolving area, so new shit is happening all the time. Google is your friend.

This is definitely a bit glossed over, but I don’t remember all the things I’ve done in the last few days. It’s kind of fun, but it makes you crave bigger and faster processors. If you have questions, email or comment, but I might not have an answer. If you’re using windows, there’s lot of tools out there, like VirtualDub.

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