Making videos for my ipod from DVDs (that I own)

I discovered how much I love watching video on my ipod this week.

I’ve been going to the gym as part of my 2007 new years resolution and started watching a video podcast of an Australian show my friend recommended. Suddenly my brain had something more interesting to think about than how likely it was that the stair machine was going to kill me and the minutes of torture actually passed quite quickly.

After watching the four episodes available I thought that there’s no way I’m going back to suffering on the stair machine so I decided to find out if there’s an easy way to convert some of my DVDs to ipod format.

I found a program from a company called imtoo which is designed just for doing that. It has a nice simple interface with video encoding options that are designed specially for making video for the ipod. The downside is that it’s not free, but the upside is that it only costs $30US (about £1 ;)).

imtoo dvd to ipod software

Making your ipod videos

It’s pretty easy to use. To encode a video you need to:

1. Select the drive your DVD is on (which is a bit lame really). If your set up is a little weird, you can also directly select the files on the DVD that have information in them.

2. Choose the scenes you want to encode (which is great if it’s a series rather than a movie). All scenes are selected by default. There’s a preview window in the corner of the screen where you can make sure that the scenes you selected are the ones you really wanted to encode.

3. Optionally tweak the video settings. There’s some nice built in profiles just for making ipod video and there’s a properties window that gives you a bit more control over what’s happening.

4. Choose a directory for the file to be created in. I’ve been creating them outside of my music directory and then manually copying them in. It would be really nice if there was an option to have it created in the right place for iTunes and then automatically added to the library.

5. Hit record.

It has a heap of different options for encoding the video. I chose 320×240 normal quality and it looked flawless on my ipod’s screen.

The other option that you’ll probably want to tweak is the split option. I set it to “infinite” because I only want to have one video file per episode/movie. I don’t want to have to tell my ipod to start another file halfway through. If you’d prefer to have several smaller files there are a couple of different options you can choose for that.

How the experience could be better

The only other thing I have to say is that it’s a pity that the experience isn’t a bit more optimised for making ipod videos considering that I just bought this piece of software to do just that. After all it’s just making MPEG4 videos. There’s free software out there that will do that. The reason I bought something specialised was because I wanted the experience of ripping my DVDs to ipod format to be really, really easy.

Direct integration with iTunes so that it does everything you need to do to see the video in iTunes next time you open it would be great. Auto detection of any DVDs that are already in the machine seems like a bit of a no brainer too. It’d also be nice if the scene selection was a bit slicker. Perhaps they could show a picture of the first frame of the scene so I don’t have to click on the scene and then muck around with the preview window to make sure its the right one.

That said, I think I got my $30US worth just because it means I didn’t have to think about what video settings I wanted to use and it’s a pretty easy way to convert my videos. I definitely wouldn’t have paid any more though.

Tagging your TV shows

Another useful thing I discovered for when you’re importing tv shows rather than movies is that you can mark the files to be part of the same series and tell iTunes what order they should go in.

To do this:

1. Right click on the file and choose “get info”

2. Go to the video tab

3. Change the video kind dropdown to say “TV show”

4. Enter in the name of the show, the season number, the name of the episode and the episode number.

iTunes video info screen

After you do this the video will be filed under “TV shows” rather than movies and all of the videos for the same series will be grouped together and shown in order.

The free option

For people who don’t like to have to pay for things, I found an article on engadet that shows how to do it using things commonly found around the house.

Posted on 13 Jan 07 by Helen Emerson (last updated on 13 Jan 07).
Filed under Sysadmin