Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Take Your Movies With You

I'm kinda surprised I haven't gone over this yet.  I get asked about this pretty often these days. So here goes.

Memory is pretty cheap these days.  I've been buying up jump drives and memory cards like crazy especially since I'm doing all this mobile stuff.  Since I've been showing off all my mobile gadgets everyone's been asking how I got my movies to be mobile.

A lot of movie studios are making digital copies available when you buy the DVD or Blu-Ray, but you only get one use of the packaged code.  Lose it or screw up the process and kiss your digital copy goodbye.  Did I mention those digital copies are huge downloads.  Expect to download at least 750 megabytes.  There there's software you can buy that'll save you the hassle.  Since there's nothing geeky about that I'll let you look for those on your own.  I'm going to teach you how to do it for free. ;)

My first step is copying my DVD to the hard drive.  You can skip this step at your own peril.  The next step may or may not work without following this step but I like to be cautious.  The reason I go through this step is to get by any protections that may be embedded in the DVD.  I use DVDFab.  Their software suites will do the whole deal for you...if you pay for them.  Backing up your DVD and Blu-Ray though is a free process on the software.  You can save your movie either in a folder or as an ISO file (that's a cd image).  In a pinch, I'll fall back on DVDShrink.

The actual conversion is done with a program called HandBrake.  Remember I said you might be able to skip step 1?  Well you can go straight to HandBrake and try to convert directly off of your CD-Rom or Blu-Ray drive.  I don't recommend it though but you can give it a try if you like.  Handbrake has presents that you can use depending on the device you're converting you movie for.  The difference is really obvious when you watch a movie formatted for an iPod vs one formatted for the iPad.  Keep in mind though that formatting for bigger devices also means bigger file sizes for your movies.
Here's what the HandBrake interface looks like.

If you converted to an ISO, you might need some help making HandBrake recognize it.  Use MagicDisc to mount your ISO so it acts like a Virtual CD-Rom drive.  It'll pop up in HandBrake ready to be converted. Expect conversion to take at least an hour.

It's pretty straightforward stuff.  Once you know the process it's really easy and before you know it you'll be carrying around entire libraries with you.  Good luck and feel free to share your success stories with me.

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