Homemade DVD server- Whats the best/easiest/cheapest way?
July 12, 2007 10:21 PM   Subscribe

Homemade DVD server- Whats the best/easiest/cheapest way?

I wanted to take my 200+ DVD collection and store it on something that could serve it up to my Infocus IN72 projector.

I was thinking DVD Shrink( ~3GB .vob each movie)--->External Hard Drive--->Mac Mini with DVI out. I'm a Windows guy, but I want to be able to integrate the IR codes to my universal.

I want something with ease of use (no Linux), Future expandability and as cheap as possible. Being able to network it is a plus, but not required.

Any Tips?


posted by weiler63 to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I use a Mac Mini for just this very thing. I use MacTheRipper to create standard VIDEO_TS directories on the Mac. The I programmed my universal remote with the codes from the Apple Remote that came with the the Mini and run iTheater as the media player for the VIDEO_TS files.
posted by todbot at 10:36 PM on July 12, 2007

Unless you are planning to transcode all of your DVDs to MP4, FrontRow won't handle DVD images or VIDEO_TS folders.

For that level of integration, and for the Apple Remote (and subsequent universal remote IR codes) to be useful, you'd need to be using FrontRow.

You could buy Media Central which is like a FrontRow replacement which does a bunch more stuff, including DVD Images and VIDEO_TS folders.

On preview, or you could use todbot's suggestion of iTheater, which appears to be free.
posted by tomierna at 10:38 PM on July 12, 2007

Response by poster: Are DVD images similar to an Escient DVD manager that shows the cover art on the TV? if so that is a big plus.
posted by weiler63 at 10:50 PM on July 12, 2007

I'm using MediaPortal, an open source media center app developed on .NET, running on a pc made of parts cast-off from my other systems. Works well for me, and looks nice. I hear some people use the Mac Mini booting windows to run it.
posted by Manjusri at 11:07 PM on July 12, 2007

Oh and if you want to play oddball videos you find off the net on your Mac mini, be sure to grab Perian, a single drop-in Quicktime component that lets you play AVIs, FLVs, etc. in FrontRow, iTheater, Quicktime Player, or anything else built on Quicktime.
posted by todbot at 12:21 AM on July 13, 2007

I am trying to do something similar. There are a few devices which will stream video using that one streaming format (Firefly, Slimserver, etc.) ... but it is rather lacking.

Separate the files from what I will call the "receiver", which I use to mean the device which will interface with the files and the projector. Put the files on a NAT device or whatever you want, the important part is keeping the files accessible if you change your receiver.

My plan is build a slim server that runs Windows Vista MCE (or whatever they are calling it), and set up the NAT device as a networked drive. Then install filters onto Windows to replay files.

In my experience XviD and a couple other file formats save a lot of space and do not lose quality. In fact the HD compressed format looks the same as the uncompressed for a fraction of the cost in storage. If you're doing a drive solution and not backing up to DVDs, running a codec is the way to go.

You should be able to build the receiver/head for ~$1000 depending what you have on hand and how much you care about it looking like a home theater box. The storage space is highly variable.
posted by geoff. at 12:40 AM on July 13, 2007

If you want the best DVD quality you can get, hands down

TheaterTek + FFDshow. (TheaterTek has Windows MCE codes built in).

In some cases, I can't differentiate TheaterTek + FFDshow output and Bluray/HD-DVD.
posted by mphuie at 12:57 AM on July 13, 2007

best DVD quality as in best upscaled DVD quality (you might not care if your projector is low resolution)
posted by mphuie at 12:58 AM on July 13, 2007

How about something like this a D-Link DNS 323 outputting to an Xbox running Xbox Media Centre. This is what I have and it works like a charm. It will play virtually anything you throw at it, it will upscale the DVDs, it will stream media direct from sites like stage6.divx.com and you'll be able to pick up a premodded one from eBay for around £50 / $100.

Plus if you ever fancy actually playing a game on the thing it's right there!
posted by eb98jdb at 2:13 AM on July 13, 2007

I use a Mediagate MG-350HD to stream films from a network share. It plays nearly every format out there (divx, mp4, media player, and raw DVD ISOs - but not quicktime).
I stream files from a SAMBA server, but any file server will do, and at a pinch you can put a hard drive inside it and run it without a network.
posted by AndrewStephens at 2:48 AM on July 13, 2007

I <3 my a href="http://www.mvixusa.com/product.php?product=mx760">Mvix MX-760HD. You can put whatever size drive you want in it, can also stream off your network and you can connect extra external drives to it via USB. It decodes DVD(IFO, VOB), ISO, DivX, Xvid, MPEG 1/2/4, WMV-9, etc. etc.
posted by FreezBoy at 5:15 AM on July 13, 2007

I guess my 'heart' messed up my link. Here you go.
posted by FreezBoy at 5:16 AM on July 13, 2007

My friend has a macmini with mactheripper as well, and it's worked just fine that way for a few years now. But he uses a belkin wireless keyboard to operate it, and just watches things on the standard mac software or VLC. Good luck!
posted by billtron at 5:24 AM on July 13, 2007

You could use something like a miniStack for expansion if you went with a Mac mini.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:43 AM on July 13, 2007

I've been interested in Drive In by Flip4Mac (the makers of the WMV quicktime components).

It seems ideal as it essentially rips DVDs to an image, with full menus, special features, etc. The storage requirements can be extensive, but it preserves everything.

Two catches, though
1) It's not free (it's in a free beta right now, but that expires August 1st).
2) It DRMs everything so it's not like your movies are in some sort of open format that can be read by everything. That's been what keeps me a bit wary about the program...
posted by mjbraun at 9:59 AM on July 13, 2007

I'm not sure why you wouldn't just want a DVD jukebox player, and leave your computer out of it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:54 AM on July 14, 2007

I would use VLC with WinLIRC on a Windows box.

Or if you insist on wasting a Mac to use as a video server, VLC is also available on the Mac and so is LIRC - some folks have gotten LIRC running on their Mac Mini successfully. VLC has on-the-fly, built-in deinterlacing, which works VERY well (set to "auto" or "mean" for best results) with projectors and LCD screens.

I would also suggest you use DVDShrink (or whatever you're using) to go direct to one ISO file (instead of VIDEO_TS and VOBs) since VLC plays those natively. Then you still get menus, special features, chapter selection etc,. without 23 VOBs and IFO files. And it'll still decimate the MPEG-2 within the ISOs to a manageable size so you don't have to buy a 1.21 gigawatt drive.

Did I mention both VLC and LIRC/WinLIRC are free?
posted by ostranenie at 7:06 AM on July 18, 2007

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