What About Music Video?

I have mentioned that although I’ve abandoned the iPod with regard to movies and TV shows, I still rip music videos for the iPod, because I do take that content on the road with me. With all the Apple TV evolution that’s been going on recently, I changed movies and TV shows from MPEG4 to H.264. Apple TV can support up to 5000kbps H.264 and 3000kbps MPEG4. This is the reverse capability of the iPod, which can handle 2500kbps MPEG4 but only 1500kbps H.264.

After a bit of tweaking, I abandoned the hope of defining a high-bitrate H.264 standard. The MPEG4 at 2500kbps is much better, so that’s the new standard. 160kbps AAC is the audio setting. The resolution is still 720 x 400 for 16:9 and 640 x 480 for 4:3.

With iPod season approaching (September/October), I don’t feel like sweating too hard over music videos. Hopefully we’ll get our video iPod and one has to assume that it will support higher bitrates, so I’ll feel compelled to do it all over again.

There is a special consideration when ripping music videos from DVD. Often the videos are mixed aspect ratios, i.e., some will be 4:3, others will be 16:9. Rarely will a set of music videos appear as anamorphic 16:9. This means that the widescreen videos will be 4:3 letterboxed and a top and bottom margin will need to be cropped. Also, I’ve noticed that usually the videos will be structured as chapters of an overall title, rather than as separate titles. This is where Handbrake falls down. You can specify a single chapter of a title to be ripped, but the all-important preview, where you crop the image to size, will only give you samples from the entire title. This often means that you won’t get a frame from the video you want to rip and therefore can’t see what you are doing. You can guess but you may have to rerip a specific chapter this way. Another issue with ripping individual chapters is that Handbrake often puts a few frames of the following chapter on the end of the chapter you are ripping, which requires that you trim off the end with a tool like QuickTime Player.

Another approach is to use another application to create a separate .VOB file for each chapter. The best one on Mac OS X is the graphically spare but dependable 0SEx. I then use MPEG Streamclip to output to MPEG4. You can crop and do a lot of other cool things to the video with this application, and it’s available for both Mac and Windows.

So there are some thoughts about ripping music videos. It takes a bit of work. I’m hoping that Handbrake updates bring better support for individual chapters in the future. Until the next iPod arrives, I think I’ll put most music videos on the back burner.

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