Getting my DVD's onto a video IPod

How much of a hassle is this going to be? (also started by you)

LOL pwned

Resurrecting this thread, because there is no single program on the market that can convert 100% of all video sources to iPod .mp4 format without errors. Not Quicktime Pro, not PQDVD, not Videora, not anything.

Warning: If you're petrified by terms such as [I]aspect ratio[/I], [I]23.976 fps[/I], [I]16:9[/I], and [I]interleaved audio streams[/I], or if your current video solution is good enough for you, or if you are using a Mac, don't read any further.

Quicktime Pro and iTunes:
Can’t convert the audio streams from interleaved .mpg files. Nor do they preserve the aspect ratio.

Has the best UI, but badly mangles the audio by introducing hisses and pops into the audio stream.

Uses ffmpeg as its video conversion engine. Ffmpeg has a framerate rounding bug, and thus introduces a gradual audio sync error for 23.976fps video. Only the audio is properly synced at 23.976. The video plays back at 24.98 fps, gradually introducing just over 0.5s of sync error per hour of video.

The list can go on. Name a converter program, and I will tell you what it does wrong.

I spent the past two days solving my problem:[ol]
[li]I wanted to convert my .avi TV/Film comedy library and .mpg novelty video clip library to iPod format.[/li][li]I wanted to be able to output iPod videos to a TV without having the image look like crap.[/li][li]I wanted to preserve the original aspect ratios of the source.[/li][li]I wanted the sound to be crystal clear without any audible compression artifacts.[/li][/ol]
My solution for creating good-looking, error-free video for iPod playback has two steps:
[li]Creating a good-looking .mp4 from the video source[/li][li]Re-muxing (separating the audio and video streams and then joining them back together) the .mp4 for error-free iPod playback.[/li][/ol]
Create a good-looking .mp4 from the video source
The free Videora is the only converter program that gives me the compression control and batch processing capabilities that I want. Through some experimentation, I’ve established that 544 pixel wide video encoded at 768kbps using a 2-pass 2/7 quantized VBR (QC-VBR) method produces TV and iPod images that don’t suck.

I created several profiles in Videora for the different aspect ratios:

MPEG 544x408 (4:3) 2-pass 768kbps VBR
Video Settings
Mode: MPEG-4 > QC-VBR
Bitrate: 768 kbps
Resolution (type it manually): 544x408
Framerate: Input
Passes: Two
QMin: 2
QMax: 7
Audio Settings
Bitrate: 128 kbps
Channels: Stereo
Sample Rate: Input
Volume: 100%

MPEG 544x306 (16:9) 2-pass 768kbps VBR
same as above except
Resolution: 544x306

MPEG 544x294 (1.85:1) 2-pass 768kbps VBR
same as above except
Resolution: 544x294

MPEG4 544x230 (2.35:1) 2-pass 768kbps VBR
same as above except
Resolution: 544x230

To determine the aspect ratio of your video source, find its pixel dimensions and divide the width by its height – also note the framerate of the video source for later. Just round up or down to the closest fraction on this table:
[ul][li]1.333 = 3:4[/li][li]1.777 = 16:9[/li][li]1.850 = 1.85:1[/li][li]2.350 = 2.35:1[/li][/ul]

For example: My .avi of my Monty Python’s Holy Grail DVD is 624 by 352.
624/352 = 1.772
1.772 ~= 1.777
1.777 indicates a 16:9 ratio.

Now you know which profile to use. Start a new transcoding job using your source .avi or .mpeg using the appropriate profile. This will take a bit of time. It took my old and busted PC about 70 minutes to encode a 30-minute episode of the BBC series Extras. My new PC did it in 40 minutes.

Come back to this post after you have a .mp4 file as your output.

The next step is to use MP4Box via the Yamb UI to separate the audio and video streams of the .mp4, modify the video playback speed if necessary, then stitch the file back together again. We do this for two reasons:
[li]If the original video source had a 23.796fps framerate, the .mp4 video source will have a 23.80fps framerate. Seperating the video stream lets us fix this.[/li][li]Apple’s 1.1 Firmware made video ipods very picky about .mp4 files. Most videos made with tools other than Apple Quicktime Pro now only play for a few seconds before pausing and then continuing without any sound. MP4Box is one of the only non-Apple programs out there that creates .mp4s compatible with Apple’s 1.1 ipod Firmware. [/li][/ol]

Run Yamb.
Go to the Options tab and enable:
[ul][li]View Import Options directly.[/li][li]Keep all MPEG-4 Systems info when using concatenate or add command. [/ul][/li]

If you have 23.796 framerate video:

[li]Go to the Extract tab[/li][li]Select your .mp4 movie as the Input file.[/li][li]Enable the extract visual track ID 1 to an AVI option.[/li][li]Click extract - after it’s done, you’ll have a .avi of the video stream[/li][li]Go to the Mux tab[/li][li]Add your .avi - a dialog box full of options will appear after you select the file[/li][li]Enable the Force Frame Rate option and type 23.976 in the textbox. This is our video stream.[/li][li]Add your .mp4 movie - a dialog box of options appears after you select the file[/li][li]Enable the import the Track 1 from MP4/3GB file option, but change the Track # in the textbox to 2. This is our audio stream.[/li][li]Type your Output Filename[/li][li]Start the Mux[/li][/ol]

If you have 24, 25, or any other whole number framerate video:

[li]Go to the Mux tab[/li][li]Add your .mp4 - a dialog box of options appears after you select the file[/li][li]Enable the Import the Track 1 from MP4/3GB file option. This is our video stream.[/li][li]Add the same .mp4 movie again - a dialog box of options appears after you select the file[/li][li]Enable the import the Track 1 from MP4/3GB file option but change the Track # in the textbox to 2. This is our audio stream. [/li][li]Type your Output Filename[/li][li]Start the Mux[/li][/ol]
Copy your outpufile to your ipod and enjoy.

Great listing of settings, Roger :)

I use handbrake, and it so far converts everything I’ve tried without fail every time, and does it in a single step. I use it on a Mac, but I understand there’s at least some sort of PC version out there somewhere…

There’s Handbrake for Windows now? I’m gonna have to check it out.
Ah, yes. Seems to have been ported just 4 days ago. New toys to try! I’ll post my evaluation.

(few minutes later) Hmmm. It’s not the one-step solution on Windows yet that it is on the Mac. You have to manually create an unencrypted DVD image for it to work. I’ll check it out more fully later.

Isn’t the PSP Video 9 output format compatible with the iPod video format?

PSP video is H.264. The iPod has strict bitrate and resolution limits for H.264 playback:
[li]320x240 maximum dimensions[/li][li]768kbps maximum combined audio/video bitrate[/li][/ol]

But if you set these parameters appropriately in PSP V9 that should work then, right?

Worked for me, when I tested the iPod Video - but I didn’t run a large number of movies through, though.

Well, PSP H.264 also has some strict restrictions:

All video resolutions must be evenly divisible by 8.

So for a PSP you couldn’t encode a 16:9 movie in 544x306 as in my iPod example, because 306/8 = 38.25. You’d have to encode it as 544x304. Not a big deal, but you have to be aware of the restriction.

Each frame of video may not contain more than 76,800 pixels

The PSP can only playback a maximum of 76,800 pixels per frame off a memory stick duo. You wouldn’t be able to play a 544x304 video on a PSP, because that uses 165,376 pixels per frame. So, your maximum resolution is limited.

For PSP video, use these values:
[li]320x240, 4:3, (76,800 pixels)[/li][li]368x208, 16:9, (76,544 pixels)[/li][li]368x200, 1.85:1, (73,600 pixels)[/li][li]416x176 2.35:1, (73,216 pixels)[/li][/ul]

Note: I don’t have a PSP, and I’m just going by information I picked up off the net while doing my iPod video research over the weekend.

Because PSP videos are only meant to be played back on a PSP, you can get away with using much lower bitrates for the video. Instead of 768kbps, you can probably use 384kbps and still get good results, for example.

So, what’s changed in a year? How much of Roger’s excellent information is still true?

And, because I’m a total n00b, how do I rip the DVDs in the first place? It sounds like you’re talking about converting .avis already on your computer, correct?

I’m dealing with WinXP here. Thanks.

i’ve been using instant handbrake and handbrake, and everything’s great

I also went ahead and bought Quicktime Pro for conveting movie files; its compression algorithms are slow as hell, but absolutely gorgeous.

I wrote some scripts that leverage FFMpeg, MEncoder, AtomicParsley and Perl to do all of my iPod conversion. They’re not perfect and certainly not as pretty as, say, Videora what with being CLI-based, but they do an excellent job and can even put the correct tags in place to make iTunes recognise TV shows as such. Plus, they’ll work on any OS that supports Perl and has binaries for FFMpeg and MEncoder, even WinXP and Vista.

Mediacoder has inbuilt scripts for encoding pretty much anything, including DVD to IPOD/PSP video in the correct resolutions and bitrates (including support for the new high-res high-bit rate AVC’s for the PSP), AVI to DVD (which I’ve been using recently) etc.

In fairness, it can be a bit “odd” if you want to deviate from some of the their presets (encoding AVI to DVD caused me headaches), so there’s also Xvid4PSP which works exceptionally well and is the only thing I’ve found which will reliably convert .rm to anything.

I haven’t tried it yet, but the 3.x version of DVD Fab Platinum holds itself out as having one-step conversion to both iPod and PSP video formats.

It works pretty well. It took a DVD of 5 Family Guy episodes and converted them down to about 430 meg.

Based on the OP, I use a combo of AnyDVD (strips the encryption) and CloneDVD Mobile (converts to multiple formats for mobile devices) to take care of DVD to iPod conversion. Works like a champ and allows some configuration options while also staying “very easy to use.” both are sold by Slysoft.

Most of the info Roger posted is great, but useful for sources beyond DVD’s. I sure as hell wouldn’t go through all the effort for a DVD conversion. If you watch any amount of video on an iPod you’ll understand why. There’s only so much video quality you can notice at such a small resolution.

I wonder how well Adobe Premiere Elements works for this. It has a built in export to ipod widget, but thus far I’ve only used it for a couple of short baby video clips for the grandparents.

I had really good luck using SUPER© for conversion.

It may be dripping with spyware for all I know, but it does work well.