How to easily convert DVD's to AVI
April 19, 2009 11:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving around a lot. Tired of dragging movie DVD's around. Not looking to make an iso copy (i.e. DVDShrink). Too much disk space. ~750MB avi's would be more ideal, but even as a software developer the options I've Googled are confusing. Is there a simple (i.e.1-button) DVD to AVI converter?
posted by hungrysquirrels to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I have done a couple of things when I've moved overseas:

1. removed all DVDs from their cases and put them into slim slip cases. This saved a ton of room.
2. Ripped favourites onto my hard drive. Unfortunately I didn't find an easy solution. I use a decrypter to rip the whole disc onto my hard drive, and then Handbrake (mac) to compress to about 750mb size. And the process takes overnight for each disc to encode.
posted by wingless_angel at 11:56 PM on April 19, 2009

If you're willing to pay for something, then you might want to look at Slysoft's CloneDVD Moblie. It works quite well. If you're more for the free, OSS route--take a look at Handbreak.
posted by snwod at 12:12 AM on April 20, 2009

I came in here to recommend CloneDVD Mobile and see that SNWod has already done it. It isn't literally "one button" but it's not a lot more complicated than that.

You should know that you also need Slysoft's "AnyDVD"; the two work together.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:22 AM on April 20, 2009

Handbrake is pretty close to one-click.
posted by pompomtom at 12:33 AM on April 20, 2009

DVDfab is my favorite tool and it has complete command line control.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:06 AM on April 20, 2009

I know it has somewhat of a reputation for long confusing command lines, but mplayer (specifically mencoder) will do this quite well. A quick google will turn up the appropriate command line -- on windows, just make a bat file with the options you want, stick a DVD in the drive, double click, rinse, repeat.
posted by devilsbrigade at 1:12 AM on April 20, 2009

On Linux, the AcidRip GUI front-end for mencoder does this job very nicely.
posted by flabdablet at 1:51 AM on April 20, 2009

I came in to suggest mplayer/mencoder.

You do need to google around to find the right incantation to recite. But, having done that, it's as simple as copying in the command line and hitting enter. It is going to take hours, though, for each disc.
posted by Netzapper at 1:58 AM on April 20, 2009

For current titles, it'd be easier to just download them, I think. And ditch the covers of the rest, as per wingless_angel's suggestion.
posted by Harald74 at 3:53 AM on April 20, 2009

Fairuse Wizard 2. The free light edition should be enough, but if not then Videohelp has the previous full version - which was given away free some time back - for download here, under 'More information and other downloads:'.

Also free is bitRipper

If you need to decrypt the DVDs (it's been ages since I've ripped a disc and can't remember if those apps can do it), a free alternative to AnyDVD is DVD43
posted by pinkbuttonanus at 4:08 AM on April 20, 2009

Autobrake makes Handbrake even easier.
posted by arco at 4:34 AM on April 20, 2009

On Windows, I use a program called Auto Gordian Knot. It's pretty foolproof and makes very high quality rips at any compression level you choose. Like other people have said, you'll have to decrypt the DVDs first.

Handbrake is what I've found to be best for Mac.

For those that use torrents, AutoGK what Axxo uses to get high quality yet small rips.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:57 AM on April 20, 2009

Lifehacker's DVD Rip works well and made this task very easy for me.
posted by papayaninja at 6:20 AM on April 20, 2009

I travel extensively with an external 1TB drive - those films worth 1.4GB are very out-weighed by the 700MG mob, and both varieties are trounced by the music collection.

However it's the darn photos that are the real space-hawgs.
posted by DrtyBlvd at 6:34 AM on April 20, 2009

Don't ever pay for DVD backup software. Payware tools either rip-off free tools and violate the GPL or use sub-par software encoders. Also, the following tools are broken pieces of crap: SUPER, MediaCoder, and Fairuse Wizard.

MeGUI can be as automated as you like, and both Staxrip and Ripbot264 are even simpler. For getting DVDs on your hard disk in the first place, DVD Decrypter is still very good; for newer forms of copy protection, you can use the free decryption feature of DVDFab to get them to your hard disk and then run the VIDEO_TS folder through DVD Decrypter to (for example) join program chains and remove unwanted audio and subtitle streams before passing them to an encoder.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:53 AM on April 20, 2009

I use DVD Shrink to rip and Lathe ( to convert to Xvid. Size results vary on compress quality but I mostly end up with :

30 minute show: 250-280mb (if cartoon, more like 170-22)
1 hr show: 500 mb
movie: 600 mb to 1.7 gb depending on length, type

You have a lot of control over the sizes by adjusting the compression settings.
posted by jockc at 7:48 AM on April 20, 2009

I recently did away with the boxes on mine (except for a few really nice ones) and stuffed them all into a one of those CD wallet type things that holds a few hundred of them. Now the entire collection is very portable, and I don't miss the DVD boxes. I did the same thing years ago for my CDs. And now that they're all in iTunes (and backed up), I could do away with them entirely.
posted by wheat at 9:27 AM on April 20, 2009

You'll be happier and get better results if you take the time to learn MEncoder (almost everything you need to know here), but if you want something simple and free, VLC and Handbrake have pretty basic interfaces. Handbrake is especially good since it will handle crop detection for you, which is key when ripping DVDs (the standard is very strict, so most movies are letterboxed to conform to the allowed resolutions).

Keep in mind that nearly all DVDs have some sort of copy protection scheme in place, some (ARccOS) nastier than others (CSS, Macrovision, region encoding, and so on). You need to rip these DVDs with software designed to circumvent DRM before you stand a chance encoding them. I personally use MacTheRipper3 for this, but as the name suggests is Mac-only.
posted by cj_ at 11:30 AM on April 20, 2009

I'm going to second Handbrake, and while I've never used Autobrake, it's my understanding that it just makes Handbrake that much easier. Handbrake gives you tons of options all while not being overwhelming. One of the easiest to use interfaces I've ever seen on a freeware app.
posted by toekneebullard at 8:24 AM on April 21, 2009

another vote for handbrake
posted by msoffab at 6:41 PM on April 22, 2009

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