Basic DVD-Ripping Steps

20 April 2007

May 3 2007: Note: The video specs are now out of date, but the outline of the procedure is still the same.

I should get on with some video-ripping specs. This is the broad outline. I’ll get specific later.

Ripping

Start with Handbrake or MediaFork. Both are essentially the same application. MediaFork is slightly more configurable. Rip using the following specs:

Video

  • H.264 (main): 2500 kbps
  • 2-pass encoding
  • If a grey-scale movie, check Gray Scale
  • 4:3 content: 640 x 480
  • 16:9 content: 720 x 400

Audio

  • Stereo option, if available, otherwise 5.1 will be down-mixed to stereo
  • 192 kbps

Tagging

Next step is tagging. We use Lostify for this. Once done, drag into iTunes.

Cover Scan

Scan the cover of the DVD and add this to each track, if from a movie or music video DVD, or the image pane of the first episode in a season if a TV show

TV Show “Album Art”

For TV shows, we use a frame that best describes the episode for individual “album art” on each. Using QuickTime Player, open each video file and copy a frame. Save these in JPEG format.

In iTunes, open each episode one by one and replace the automatic album art with the appropriate frame. For the first episode of any season you will get two images for that episode–the DVD cover and a frame.

There’s a lot of detail to each step but I wanted to blurt out the overall procedure before getting technical.

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Apple TV Subtleties

16 April 2007

Just some items that I’ve noticed, both good and bad.

  1. Doesn’t remember playback position in audio podcasts. I’ve got an extremely long podcast episode (1.5 hours). I’ve played it on my computer and my iPod and it’s halfway through but Apple TV insists on playing it from the beginning. I listened to a few minutes on Apple TV, then stopped and synced it and it didn’t sync back. iPod picked it up from where iPod left off, not Apple TV. I fast-forwarded through it again on Apple TV and started playing. Left the podcast menu and it stopped playing. I went back to that podcast. Started from beginning again! Very annoying, but works perfectly with video podcasts.
  2. If you start playing a video and stop it to go back to the menu within a few seconds, when you play it again, it will start from the beginning as if you hadn’t started it before. As a bonus for TV shows and podcasts, it doesn’t mark it as not new (signified by a blue bullet at the beginning of the title). I discovered this because I often skim the description of the TV show or podcast without taking it in, so I go back to the menu to read it again.
  3. If a title of an audio file (podcast, music or audiobook) is too long to display in the Now Playing screen, it scrolls, but unlike the jerky movement of this same feature on the iPod, it’s smooth and as an extreme subtlety, it actually accelerates as it begins and decelerates as it ends. That’s an amazing detail.
  4. If you highlight a video in the menu, you’ll see the artwork and the description, if it’s got one. Play it, then leave the cursor on that track. When Apple TV updates, it will remove the track (if you’ve got your settings to “Unplayed” TV shows, podcasts etc.) and the cursor will jump to another track. Unfortunately, the original video’s artwork is still visible behind the new one. It’s an ugly bug. You can clear it by going up to the main menu and down again.

Bonjour, Mes Amis

1 April 2007

As much as I adore my new Apple TV, I’ve been on edge for the last few days because my PowerMac G5, which contains my library, suddenly lost its connection to the Apple TV. I’ve had a problem for a long time where I couldn’t talk to my G5 with its network name, although using its IP was fine.

Apple TV relies on Bonjour to be working, or it can’t find anything on the network. Bonjour is Apple’s name for its implementation of zero-configuration networking. From my limited understanding, each computer maintains and advertises its own unique name on the network so that other computers can find it, without the need for a DNS server. With this broken on the G5, Apple TV didn’t know where it was. If I pinged my Bonjour name, I would get no response.

I spent over an hour on the phone yesterday with a very helpful Apple tech who confirmed that my problem was indeed Bonjour. After deleting a hosts file and other remedies, we got it to the point where I could get a response on pinging the Bonjour name, although this was 127.0.0.1 instead of the actual IP. Unfortunately, the only solution was to rebuild the computer, which I had done only a few days ago in order to rectify this very problem. The machine had a very clean base 10.4 system with the 10.4.9 combo updater installed.

Instead of immediately doing the reinstall, I thought I would reapply the combo updater. I’ve heard that this can sometimes repair faulty installs. I did this and now when I ping the Bonjour name, I get its IP. Apple TV mounted in iTunes and content is pumping down ethernet.

I submit this for all users who might be in the same situation. Windows users might experience a similar fault if they can’t see their Apple TV, although the technical remedies are beyond me.