How to Rip a DVD
DVDs finally give us movies in a high-quality digital format. For this I am very thankful.
The Black Hole, Buena Vista
DVDs have several drawbacks, as I’ve experienced them. They’re relatively fragile; a careless moment is all that’s necessary to damage the disc. Viewing them on my
uses a lot more battery than viewing a video stored on the hard disk. They may be lost, especially when travelling.
“Ripping a DVD” is the term of art for converting the large, high-quality, on-DVD video into a version that’s much smaller, lower-quality, on a hard disk (or burned back to a CD or DVD). Watching a DVD in another place (“space-shifting”) and at a later date (“time-shifting”) has made long plane flights with children into a calm(er) experience.
(An added benefit is that the original DVDs may be stored safely away from the eager hands of my rough-and-tumble offspring.)
Ripping a DVD
The overview above was actually simplified. Ripping a DVD entails taking the data from the DVD and converting it into an equally large version but which has been stripped of anti-copying and geographic viewing restrictions. Encoding this data into a smaller movie will be covered later on.
There’s a plethora of free software to rip DVDs, and not much to say about them. I use OSEx for ; find one you like and give it a try with your favorite DVD. Then read on.
Encoding into a smaller movie
I’ve found that you need to have two pieces of information in hand for each ripped dataset: movie length and aspect ratio. Both are most easily determined when you have the DVD in hand (and should be noted if you’re copying a DVD from the library for later viewing).
The aspect ratio is not as obvious as the movie length 🙂 so I’ll briefly cover it here in pictures. There are other, less-used, aspect ratios (such as 1.66:1 and 2.20:1 (70mm)) but making mention is all I’ll do with them.
The Wizard of Oz (1939, Warner)
The English Patient (1996, Miramax)
The Thin Red Line (1998, Fox)
Full Screen (Standard TV)1.33:14:3
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