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Converting DVD's to Ipod format on a MAC

Jun 21, 2008
Adapting your DVD movies to video iPod format is a quite effortless procedure nowadays, particularly with the new dedicated software that has been developed for both PC's and Macs.

One of the most impressive programs developed for the MAC is 'Handbrake' - a program that makes ripping DVDs into video iPod compatible MPEG-4 video files extremely simple.


* An iPod Video Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later 500 mhz G4 processor or better

* At least 16MB of video RAM

* QuickTime 7.0.3 or later iTunes 6.0.1 or more recent.

Here's the process, step-by-step:

1. Download and install

First you'll need to download the Handbrake program files. You can get them from any of these sites: VersionTracker.com, handbrake.m0k.org, and MacUpdate.com. After download, install Handbrake by just copying the program into your OS X Applications folder.

2. Load your DVD video

After Handbrake is installed, take a copy of your preferred video DVD and put it into your computer. One important thing to remember is that Handbrake can only convert standard video DVD's such as you conventionally play in a DVD player. You can't convert video files in any other formats, such as AVI, MPG, WMV, MOV, etc.

Then, launch Handbrake, select 'Detected volume' and press 'Open'

3. Adjusting your Source Settings

Clicking on the 'Open' button will activate Handbrake to start scanning your DVD. Depending on the contents of the DVD and the speed of your optical drive, this may take up to a minute or two. After scanning, Handbrake will choose the longest title in the list by default. You can unselect that if that isn't the video that you want. If you're not sure which piece of content to rip, you can click on the 'Picture Settings' button found at the bottom right of the Handbrake interface and manually step through several frames of the title to find what you're looking for.

4. Set you Destination Settings

Handbrake's 'Destination Settings' option has three settings that you can modify: file format, codec, and file destination. For file format, select MP4 file so you can play this video on your iPod. For Codec, you can choose either AVC/H.2.64 or MPEG-4. For File Destination, just type in a name for the video file and choose its destination using the box provided. On average, you need about 300MB disk space per hour of video so try to choose a position that has sufficient space.

5. Video Settings

You have four choices at this point. For Frame Rate, you can just leave the fps set to 'Same as source' or choose 29.97 as you like. For Encoder, if you choose H264 as your codec, you must also choose 'Baseline profile' for the Encoder. For Quality, set it to 'Average bitrate' and enter anything between 400 and 600. And lastly, at the lower part of the interface, you are given two boxes for Grayscale encoding and 2-pass encoding. Select 2-pass encoding if you really want a high quality file, but remember that it would take the encoding twice as long.

6. Audio Settings.

This is where you click around for the language settings of your DVD. Language 1 should represent the language for the region you live in, which is English if you in America. Language 2 is usually ancillary commentary given by the Director and actors. If you only want to convert the movie, just select 'None' for this option.

7. Picture Settings

Your iPod wants video files that are 320 pixels wide by 240 wide. Turn on the 'Keep aspect ratio' button and reduce the Width to 320. Handbrake will automatically recalculate the height to match the width.

And finally, click on the 'Rip' button and let Handbrake do its job.

There are quite a few factors that can affect the encoding time, such as the duration of the video file, the speed of your computer, what other activity your computer is currently doing, the codec you selected (H264 or MP4) and if you decided to do a 2-pass encoding or not, but following the above procedure and leaving everything else at the default settings should prove adequate for beginners and should indeed result in some enjoyable videos.

If you find the Handbrake process tedious, take a look at the alternatives. More video conversion programs for the ipod are being developed all the time, and as the reputation of the video iPod continues to grow, the future for iPod accessories looks solid indeed.
About the Author
For more information on watching movies on ipods visit http://www.freeipodsnstuff.com/where_to_get_movies_for_a_video_ipod.php
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