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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to Transfer Movies to iTunes for Free for your iPod, iTouch, and iPhone

My new 7th generation iPod classic has a number of features that my 4th gen iPod Photo and with the 120GB disk space – there is plenty of room to play. Since this model plays videos, movies, tv shows, and more – I decided to put a couple of movies from my home collection onto it for traveling. I figured I could just pop the movie into my DVD-ROM drive on my PC and iTunes would transfer it automatically to my iPod Classic for me.

Boy, I sure was wrong!

Learn how to convert your DVD movies to a format compatible with your iPod Classic, iTouch, or iPhone for free
I did some quick research and found that I would need some sort of program to rip the DVD movie from the disc to my hard drive in the MP4 / ACC format that iTunes wants to use to play on your iPod. At first, most of the programs found in Google searches masqueraded as “free”, but were really crippled trial or shareware versions that would not accomplish what I was looking to do. I was certain there had to be free options out there rather than paying for mediocre applications.

Determined, I was persistent and I stumbled across a two-pronged solution which enabled me to rip DVDs from my personal movie collection to an iTunes compatible format. It requires two different pieces of software – both either freeware or open licensing and each movie takes about 60 minutes to rip into the iPod format on my quad-core Intel system running Windows 2008.

The first piece of software you will need to download is DVD Decrypter 3.5.4 (check). This software created a lot of controversy several years ago when the author figured out a scheme to “crack” the security on DVDs in order to rip them to another media. After many court battles and DCMA reviews – the software is legal to use for your personal home collection, but not legal to distribute. For that reason, I will not provide a direct link to it, but by searching Goolge for “DVD Decrypter v3.5.4” you can obtain a download easily.

The second pieces of software you need is “Handbrake” (link here) which converts a movie from the full format to a modified format version such as iPod Classic, iPod Touch, or iPhone versions and is an GPL-license and available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux systems. I could not get it to work directly against a non-ripped DVD movie – even one without copy protection. However, this software has a ton of features and options for you to choose from to format and enhance the DVD media for whichever device you have once you have it on disc.

Here is the step-by-step process, which will take about 60 minutes total if you follow settings similar to mine on similar hardware -- a quad-core Intel processor on Windows Server 2008 with 8GB RAM. Note, the CPU is used mosed intensively for this, so varying amounts of RAM may not yield significant differences.

1. Install both the DVD Decrypter 3.6.4 and Handbrake on your system. This process should take less than 5 minutes.

2. Start up the DVD Decrypter software and then put your DVD movie into your computer’s DVD-ROM drive. The DVD Decrypter software will automatically detect the DVD. Depending on copy protection, it may ask for what region you are in. Choose the desired location for the files to be saved and click on the green button to start. Ripping to your hard drive will take approximately 10-15 minutes. In this example, I ripped my DVD Bad Boys II to disk.

Rip Movies Convert to iPod Classic, iTouch, and iPhone Formats Step 2
3. Once you complete the ripping process, fire up the Handbrake software. First, browse for the ripped folders you just created in step 2. A small window stating the CLI is scanning the source appears while the program catalogs the contents of your ripped DVD from disk.

Rip Movies Convert to iPod Classic, iTouch, and iPhone Formats Step 3
4. In the title dropdown of the Handbrake software, choose the longest length (timewise) option -- usually the first one. In the case for "The Bourne Supremacy", it is the first one with a length of 01:48:27. This automatically choose all 25 chapters of the DVD and names the file appropriately.

Rip Movies Convert to iPod Classic, iTouch, and iPhone Formats Step 4
5. Now choose a preset -- or a format standard on the right for the device you will be playing your movie on. The options include: Animation, AppleTV, Bedlam, Blind, Broke, Classic, Constant Quality Rate, Deux Six Quatre, File, iPhone / iPod Touch, iPod High-Rez (Resolution), iPod Low-Rez, Normal, PS3, PSP, Quicktime, Television, and Xbox 360. For my iPod 7th Generation I choose the iPod High-Rez which translates to the width setting of 640 pixels wide.

Rip Movies Convert to iPod Classic, iTouch, and iPhone Formats Step 5
6. Next choose the Video tab to control how the DVD is converted to the iPod specific format. Under, the first two check boxes under Advanced Encoding Settings check both the '2-Pass Encoding' and 'Turbo first pPass (pass)' checkboxes. Making two passes in any conversion helps to improve the quality and the first turbo pass will be fairly quick (< 15 minutes on my machine). Under quality, you can control the size of the files that you generate. The default is for an Avg Bitrate (kbps) setting of 1500, however you can adjust down to target a file size as I do in this example or manually change the bitrate. In order to make a size / quality trade-off here, these are the sizes of a 2 hour movie for bitrate settings of 1500, 750, and 375. 1500 = 1.43GB, 750 = 790MB, 375 = 465MB. Generally speaking, given the amount of space available on my iPod -- I have choose the default setting of 1500.

Rip Movies Convert to iPod Classic, iTouch, and iPhone Formats Step 6
7. Now go to the Audio and Subtitles screen. Set your desired Audio Tracks here in order to just rip what you need. I generally choose English under track 1 and then either Dolby Surround or Discreet 6 channel for Track 1 Mix. In all honesty, I have not noticed a difference by changing the mix. You can also adjust the sound quality, however I have not needed to change this setting.

Rip Movies Convert to iPod Classic, iTouch, and iPhone Formats Step 7
8. Now you are ready to go -- click on the 'Start' button in the upper left hand corner and a command window will open and track the conversion process. Expect it to take 45-50 minutes to convert the DVD movie to your desired format based on the above settings. This is highly CPU intensive, so try to minimize use of your machine if you are short on time for conversion.

Rip Movies Convert to iPod Classic, iTouch, and iPhone Formats Step 8
9. Once the conversion is complete, all you need to do is add the movie to your iTunes library. To add a simple movie to iTunes, click on File --> Add File to Library and browse to your newly created iPod movie file.

Rip Movies Convert to iPod Classic, iTouch, and iPhone Formats Step 9
10. Once the file is selected, you will see it add to your iTunes movie library as in the picture below. Now the video is ready for playback testing and transfer to your iPod / iTouch / iPhone via synchronization.

Rip Movies Convert to iPod Classic, iTouch, and iPhone Formats Step 10
11. The playback is successful and now you've completed the process to rip a DVD to your hard drive and then convert it to the format required for your iPod / iPhone / iTouch. Congratulations!
The playback is successful and now you've completed the process to rip a DVD to your hard drive and then convert it to the format required for your iPod / iPhone / iTouch.  Congratulations!

Note: It may be illegal to rip or copy movies that you do not own as part of your personal collection. The sole purpose of this guide is to show how you can play movies you have legally purchased and own on your iPod Classic, iPod Touch, or iPhone.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey man this is def the only post i have found anywhere that acutally works thanks a lot everything else on the internet seems to be crap

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed with the amount of time you took to create these instructions. Thank you. I am using your method to add movies Mp3. The encoding process on the second task has an ETA of 3h36m. You said that the process should take approx. 45 minutes Where did I go wrong? Do I need to shrink the movie beforehand?

Ken Hanscom said...

Hello Anonymous. Remember that processing time is going to be directly related to the number / speed of processors on your system. The 45 minutes I was reporting was on a quad-core processing system, so slower processors will definitely take longer.

I have not found a way to trim down that time without sacrificing significant quality. If you do, please let me know and I will be happy to update the post.

Happy New Year!
-Ken

Anonymous said...

i first attempted the movie THE RECRUIT and it was totally successful, but the last four movies ive tried, iron man, boondock saints, dark knight, and the covenant have not worked. i followed the turtorial youve given exactly. the process does complete and i can open it in itunes, but the picture is all like distorted and it looks like when a dvd skips the picture is trying to catch up but there isnt enough pixels or something. im not sure what to do now, i dont understand how the first one was great but the next four dont work. what can i do?

Rodica said...

This was great! Finally, I was able to not get the runaround from other sites. I only needed this for my digital camera films of my son and I only used the HandBrake program. It worked excellent.

Ken Hanscom said...

Hi Anonymous...on the subsequent attempts, did you have other processes running on your machine or perhaps leave off the two-pass items?

Those are a couple of occassions where I have seen choppy videos and distortion.

-Ken

Anonymous said...

Hi

I have used this method and all was going fine untill I came to add the Film to itunes. It will import the 1 second sample but not the film and it won't even open
any ideas??

Thanks