A recent report from Futuresource Consulting states that just under 1/3 of Americans and just over 1/3 of UK residents have engaged in some form of DVD ripping in the last 6 months. Though [Jacqui Cheng] of Ars Technica was unphased, we were very surprised to learn that one of the most common methods is possibly the most low-tech, yet certainly cross-platform: hooking a DVD player to a DVD recorder via coaxial cable or composite. Our toolbelt is somewhat different, as we imagine yours is.
When working on a Mac, we find that Handbrake works really well. It is intuitive and efficient, featuring useful options and a virtually nonexistant learning curve.
Options on a PC are far more diverse. Our goto app is DVD Shrink: finding the download is a little tricky, but once installed, it makes ripping and burning a snap. We really love how easy it is to alter the compression of audio and video, and selectively include or exclude extras, menus, audio streams, and even legal warnings. We only have 4.7GB to work with, so we make space where we can.
When the source DVD is under the size limit, we prefer not to alter it in any way; for this, we use Alcohol 120. It is capable of creating nearly identical copies of any DVD, even copyrighted DVDs or video games.
It is entirely possible, likely even, that all you’re interested in is ripping. There are entirely too many options to name them all, but we are partial to DivX for rip-only operations. It is cross-platform, easy to use, and encodes in the DivX format. Playback is another issue (cough – FFDShow – cough). One of the most accessible ripping options, though, is an often ignored but useful app: Nero Vision. It is part of the Nero 8 suite, and although it is officially DVD authoring software for beginners, it features a functional ripping option that encodes ripped files in MPEG2 format. This is truly useful if you intend on authoring custom menus on the destination DVD, although Adobe Encore is a far better option for the actual authoring.
The great variety of options is part of what surprised us at the popularity of the low tech solution. Still, given the variables (level of user proficiency, platform, destination media, etc.), we wouldn’t be too surprised if our readers all vouched for different methods. That’s the question: what method do you use to rip DVDs?
[photo: William Hook]