Plex Alternative for Cataloging/Playing Ripped DVDs in Video_TS format?
December 19, 2013 8:29 AM   Subscribe

I have a number of ripped DVDs that maintain the original DVD file structure. VLC can play them fine. So can built in DVD players. I like Plex for the way it catalogs and organizes the files for me, but it never played that structure back very well, and in newer released versions it isn't even trying to play it any longer. Is there something with same cataloging features of Plex that can seamlessly pass the file to VLC or some other program for play back? Solutions for Mac and/or Windows are welcome. Extra credit if there is a client/server implementation that could actually play these files through something like Roku.
posted by willnot to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
For use on a Mac, the secret sauce is to run the Video_TS files through one more step: convert them to .mp4 format with the fantastic and free Handbrake. Then, Plex will recognize, catalog, and play them just fine.

The Roku is the perfect solution to stream them from your Mac to the TV. Once you've got the Roku hooked up, you can establish a Plex channel on it. With Plex running on the Mac, you simply turn on the Roku, select the Plex channel as you would any other, and select the movie you want to watch. It's seamless, and the quality is great.

The only stumbling block is that this system doesn't seem to handle subtitles well.
posted by dinger at 10:07 AM on December 19, 2013

So Plex states that VIDEO_TS and other image file formats (ISO, etc.) are currently incompatible with the streaming system (FAQ). It has to be repackaged or encoded into a file that can be streamed by the media server.

For encoding, Handbrake is the bee's knees. With the right settings you can retain the quality of the original DVD while also saving space. This is particularly helpful when streaming over your network, depending on your network quality. Once you have tweaked the settings to your satisfaction, save it as a preset, and prepping a video is a simple matter of a couple clicks and grabbing a cup of coffee.

You can also repackage the original MPEG2 video files in the VIDEO_TS directory into an MKV file. The MKV is just a container format, it takes whatever you give it. Handbrake can also create MKV files, so it should work for this also. I'm not sure how to configure it to transfer the original video into the MKV without re-encoding, but some fiddling and Googling might reveal that. A commercial solution for packaging MKVs is MakeMKV.

The caveat for either of these options is that you lose the menus, ads, FBI warning, and other features on the DVD. The video would just launch right into the main feature. (That stuff is probably why the VIDEO_TS doesn't work well in the Plex Media Server and at all for streaming. How do you stream interactive features like menus?) I have a couple movies like this, and I keep the original image files as a backup, and the bonus features can be stored in a separate Video directory. The movie itself is then stored in the library like normal.

It really sounds like these are the only options available to you at this time, if you want to keep everything unified under Plex.
posted by at 1:10 PM on December 19, 2013

I don't want to lose the menus or features, and I'm looking for a replacement to Plex, not a way to make Plex work. Something that catalogs the files and displays them visually like Plex does but then passes it through to VLC or DVD Player software would be ideal.
posted by willnot at 6:28 PM on December 19, 2013

XBMC does a nice job cataloging and the video player handles DVD rips (Video_TS) just fine. No streaming though, it runs local.
posted by defcom1 at 8:25 AM on December 26, 2013

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