I need to get all of these DVDs out of my living room
August 15, 2012 9:55 AM   Subscribe

How do I convert my movie library to digital?

I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 movies on DVD. It's an impressive wall of discs, but I'm tired of looking at it. How do I go about making this digital?

1. What's the best way to rip the DVDs that will preserve the quality, audio tracks, and special features?

2. Once they're ripped what's a good way of storing them? I suppose this depends on how I want to access them in the future so...

3. It is important that I can easily access the movies and watch them on my TV. Basically I want to plug something into my TV and then use it to select and watch a movie. I have a PS3 but it doesn't have much storage space. My ideal solution would not require a computer (beyond ripping the DVD, of course), but if there's something really handy with a cool interface or something I could be persuaded.

4. Once I have all these discs backed up and stored, how do I get rid of them? I re-he-HEALLY don't want to sell them unless someone would buy the whole shebang. I have everything from G-rated family films to unrated no-studio no-budget gore/horror-fests. Can I donate them to someone who needs them - maybe shelters or to the troops or something?

I am willing to invest both time and money into solving this problem. Thank you.
posted by lindseyg to Technology (12 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
If you keep the files on a PC on your home network (an external hard drive would be best,) you can use PS3 Media Server to play them on the TV.
posted by griphus at 9:59 AM on August 15, 2012

01. I think Handbrake is probably the best idea, although I am not sure about the preservation of special features on individual discs

02 I use an external hard drive

03 my ext HD plugs right into my tv

04 People definitely sell DVDs in 50 or 100 disc lots on ebay.
posted by elizardbits at 9:59 AM on August 15, 2012

If you want to preserve everything. Rip to ISO. Put them on an external drive. WD TV live will play DVD ISOs with full menus.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:23 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you want to preserve all the special features, what you want is to simply copy the DVDs onto a hard disk, either as an ISO or (easier) just the VIDEO_TS folder. Pretty much any standalone video player (Roku, WD, Boxee) will recognize these formats and play them as if they were the original DVDs. However, this will use the most space. You can re-encode to MP4 but you won't get the menus and it'll be a lot of work to find, rip, and properly name all video files other than the main feature.

You should keep the original discs, or else delete the copies when you get rid of them.
posted by kindall at 10:24 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Handbrake is a wonderful, wonderful thing! MakeMKV is also a good, no-brainer answer- additionally, it does decryption, which I believe Handbrake dropped a while back.

I will say that if you want to keep your movies at a reasonable bitrate, you're going to want about 4TB of storage space to be on the safe side. I've filled my 1.5 TB drive with about 50 movies and my full Top Gear collection, and not all of that is at a very nice bitrate.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:25 AM on August 15, 2012

DVD is digital media-- your movies are already digital. To preserve everything you can either decrypt and copy the files to a folder on a hard drive (as a PC user I'd use DVD Decrypter for this) or do as wongcorgi suggests, and rip to ISO. (I'd use imgburn for that.)

Either way, you're looking at between 4 and 9 GB per movie, so plan your storage accordingly.

If you want to compress things, I'd go with the MKV container (that is, file-type) as it copes best with all the audio tracks and such. This will save some space, but you may end up with a file for each little video-extra.

I suggest you research this at Doom9.org, the definitive resource for DVD-backup. There are tools and guides there for coping with subtitles, forcing subtitles, dealing with alternate angles and so on.

It's going to take time and effort, and ripping and compression is best done on an unoccupied computer, so nothing borrows resources from the project. Whatever your plan, set one into motion before you go to bed, or leave for work.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:49 AM on August 15, 2012

Similar desire myself. Really appreciate the question and answers. This post suggests a Revo running XBMC might be a good answer to #3.
posted by idb at 10:59 AM on August 15, 2012

I have been doing this lately using Handbrake and DVD43, and you should be aware it is a time-consuming process, particularly if the disc contains numerous special features or multiple episodes of a TV program. It often takes some detective work to figure out which title corresponds to the content you actually want. Moreover bizarre title structure is sometimes used to thwart copying, so some movies REALLY take some sleuthing.

On the other hand, it's kind of satisfying to condense a bloated hollywood package into a tidy 1 gig file, if all you're after is the main feature.
posted by werkzeuger at 12:16 PM on August 15, 2012

Tangential: Myself and a couple friends shrank the wall of discs by putting the discs in binders and tossing the cases. Lo-tek solution, but there it is.
posted by RobotHero at 12:20 PM on August 15, 2012

I suggest DVD Shrink (for the ripping) & Gordian Knot (for the converting, it really has an impressive amount of capabilities)

I really don't care much for special features, so I just pull down the main movie and convert that.

Oh! And you can mail me all your horror DVDs. I'll gladly take them off your hands!!!!!
posted by zombieApoc at 1:03 PM on August 15, 2012

First, use something like DVDFab to decrypt and copy the contents of the disk to either ISO images, or folders on a hard disk. Copy everything to a second hard disk for a backup. If i remeber right, my DVD collection averaged about 5GB/ disc, tops. This will preserve the full DVD structure and content.

Optionally, use handbrake to convert the main content of interest into h264 encoded mp4 files for playback on a wide range of devices.

I don't have reccomendatiins on what devices to use for playing back the native DVD filesbeyond what others have suggested here, but i have heard good things about the Western Digital. Also, I don't think the current puck-like Roku devices play back the MPEG2 format on DVDs.

For what it is worth, I ripped all my dvds to HD a few years ago, and i really have felt very little motivation to convert them further, or even watch them again.
posted by Good Brain at 1:05 AM on August 16, 2012

Late to the party, but I asked a related question somewhat recently. I took the advice to use RipIt, and it was really easy (if a bit time-consuming).

I gave away the DVDs to friends.
posted by cardioid at 11:33 AM on September 9, 2012

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