Thursday, 22 November 2018

HandBrake

I've been trying hard to find ways to carry my media content, for which I have paid good money, onto my devices. To view how I want to, when I want to, with convenience. So far, it seems, the film industry is so paranoid about having their content ripped off that they just make it difficult.

Not that anyone with half a brain doesn't know how to get round it, by illegal downloading etc. and call me a mug, but I wanted to do it legally and above-board. Well intentioned as I have been, there seems to have been two sticking points. Google Play Movies (which I'll write about my solution regarding in another post soon) and the DVDs that I (apparently) own! It's to the latter that I come first.

The last time I tried a DVD RIPping tool, including HandBrake, it felt like the person needed a degree to know how to use it and to be an AV engineer to set all the parameters, formats, intended use switches and audio settings, blah, blah. So much so that I gave up on a number of tries. Just recently, I decided to have another go.

I can't speak about other solutions, but the Open Source Video Transcoder HandBrake (https://handbrake.fr/) now works perfectly with default settings for the non-engineer non-geeky-nerd, ordinary person. Plug in your DVD player to your computer (Windows, Mac, Linux), fire up the software, stick a DVD in the drive, let it read it, give the (usually auto-selected main film) file a name (if it doesn't auto-select the main file, it's easy to do it manually) and hit the Start Encode button.

Now, if you want to RIP in anything else but the default 'Fast 1080p30' setting, you can play around with settings and tinker until your heart's content, even assigning various mobile devices and audio formats etc. but the point about this post is that you now don't need to. Defaults just work!

The resulting files vary in size but I have tested them on a range of phones, tablets, computers and TVs - and that default setting is perfectly good and video watchable. For those wanting super high definition or whatever, yes, you'll need to play around - but for my 55 year old eyes, it's perfectly watchable on my TV and super sharp on phone screens.

The length of time each file takes to RIP seems to depend on the DVD and length of film, obviously, but generally it seems to be about half-real-time and I'm getting a 2 hour film as a 600/700MB file .m4v in format (though tinkerers can change this). This means that let's say a collection of 100 or 200 DVDs can fit easily onto a cheap and cheerful microSD Card. Fiendish and free - It's beginning to feel as though I do own the stuff I've bought!

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