The short story: Handbrake rocks, just get it (mac, windows, linux or source).
The long story…
We bought a great dvd to learn some more about open tuning guitar at Stefan Grossman’s guitarvideos.com. Thing is, after watching a couple times, we might want to practice without having to get out the dvd and turn on the computer. Not to mention that it’s not the most comfy place to play guitar, sitting in front of the computer.
Among the lucky ones, we have an ipod that plays video. Logical, right, we should be able to play the dvd on the ipod? That would be so much more convenient to listen to or watch than using the computer to play the dvd. Wouldn’t even need to have the visual, really, even just the audio would do.
Well, first things first. The dvd needs to be converted to the proper format for the ipod, mp4 video (the gory details of formats are beyond me). A little googling later, and I downloaded a free, open source application called Handbrake.
It doesn’t get any easier than this. Absolutely user friendly, worked-the-first-time-around satisfaction. Yes! With one page of instructions and screenshots you’re on your way. Handbrake spares you the details of formats and bit rates and all that with many preconfigured output format options, tucked away in a nice drawer of presets. All we had to do was point Handbrake to the dvd in the drive, pick the ipod video preset, go for a nice jog in the woods, and bingo! When we got home we had a freshly converted video ready for play on the ipod (it took about an hour on a Macbook Pro 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo).
Initially we thought we’d aim for audio only, but after seeing the video we thought, mmmm ok, we’ll keep that! It looks fine, quality is quite good for our needs, and there happens to be enough space on the ipod for the video. Today anyway. 😉 (File size was about 500 MB for an hour and a half of video.)
The chapter structure was preserved, so skipping through on the ipod works great. Happy happy happy.
Just for the heck of it, I’ve continued the experiment and am trying to pull out the audio so I can play that on my don’t-need-no-stinking-video nano ipod. But that’s a different story, maybe later…
So why is it called Handbrake anyway? Something about parking on a hill? Switching gears on a slope?