Apple TV has spoiled me. It’s so nice to watch DVD-ripped content on my 32″ screen that I’m not keen to watch it on my iPod. Major feature updates in Handbrake 0.8.5b1 have rendered the iPod virtually irrelevant in the ripping equation.
Anamorphic: Stunning, stunning feature. MediaFork had this but apparently QuickTime didn’t support it. Now Handbrake can create QuickTime-compatible anamorphic video. That means you don’t have to lose any resolution. This works with both 4:3 content (translates to 768 x 576) or 16:9 (translates to 1024 x 576) (these are from PAL discs). It rips the full 720 x 576 resolution and sets the display size to the appropriate value. Works in iTunes, QuickTime Player and Apple TV. Video quality is much better because now you’re only at war with artifacts, not resolution downsizing as well.
One of the best reasons for ripping for iPod was the opportunity to crop off the black margins. Because Apple TV overscans anyway and because it would mean a loss of resolution, I don’t crop anymore. This has made the setting up of Handbrake scans very fast.
Multi-Channel Sound: Handbrake can now create Dolby ProLogic and 5.1 AAC audio mixes, if the DVD has it. My audio equipment is not really up to testing this, however, so I’m in two minds about using multi-channel sound. Most of the DVD content I rip is TV shows, because that’s what I’m into, but also because they are almost always stereo. Because Handbrake used to only output stereo, I didn’t rip any multi-channel audio DVDs.
Finally, chaptering is supported and works on all three platforms. Unfortunately, there’s no way to name them, which is more important with movies and music videos, but it’s a start. I really need an MPEG4 chaptering tool that can chapter .mp4 or m4v files, not .mov, for which there are some. I don’t use .mov, even though the codecs are the same. .mov is not taggable in iTunes beyond simple text fields, and iTunes can only write them to the database, not the file.
I still rip music video for the iPod, as I do watch this “on the road”. The only other video content I watch on it are one or two EyeTV-recorded TV shows and mostly video podcasts.
Thank you Handbrake. Thank you very much.