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Monday, July 06, 2009

Best Way to Convert Movies and Videos to iPhone / iPod Touch

Converting movies to run on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or even your iPod is serious business. I posted a few months ago on the process I was had for converting movies using Handbrake to convert the DVD movies to the MP4 / MPV. If you have not used HandBrake before, I recommend you check it out, here.

That process worked great, assuming you had a 120GB iPod Video 5th generation player. For example, using the method and settings I used a MP4 version of the movie Bad Boys II ate up 1.78GB of space...way too much if you only have an 8GB iPhone or iTouch...even with an 16GB or 32GB it takes up way too much space.

Why the sudden concern?

Since Ashley recently upgraded her 1G iPhone 8GB to a 3rd generation iPhone 3GS 32GB, I converted her old iPhone into my new iTouch 8GB version. With space at a premium, I would prefer to bring more than 4 videos with me on my next trip. That put me on a quest to find the best, most optimal way to convert movies and video to the iPhone / iTouch format while saving the most space.

I figured that if I just entered a couple of searches into Google...

...the magic settings would return that provided the best quality and audio would be available to me.

But, no such luck.

There were several other how-to guides in terms of converting your DVD movies to a player using a few software like HandBrake, but those were no better than my guide.

That meant it was time to try out a number of settings to find the best possible combination that I could find. Here's how it went.

First, I downloaded the latest version of Handbrake 0.9.3, and started with the iPhone & iPod Touch default preset for Bad Boys II. The result after 40 minutes?

893MB...almost a 50% reduction over the original 1.78GB that I started out with. But, still not good enough...even at 893MB -- that means I could get only 8 movies on my iPhone 8GB before the space was all used up. Even then, it was still running a 827 kbps...there had to be room for improvement, it was not good enough.

Here's a shot at the default setting for the iPhone / iPod Touch video conversion using HandBrake.Conversion of a full movie dvd files to a MP4 / MPV video for the iPhone and iPod Touch

Looking for an even better savings, I started tinkering with the targeted file size settings to see what could happen.

First I tried targeted sizes of 500MB, 250MB, and 150MB to see if I could hone in on a lower quality setting that would still preserve high quality video without pixelation and sound good enough for ear buds or even my Bose QuietComfort 2 noise cancelling headphones.

After running those conversions, it seemed like 250MB was pretty close to the quality I needed, but I wanted to it be just a little bit better on the video. What I did next is start playing around with the various bitrates for both the video and the audio.

Through a process of trial and error, I settled on a setting of 224kbps for the video, and 64kbps for the AAC converted audio. This seemed to be the best of both worlds. A small video file, only 317MB -- but a great balance of higher quality video and audio. Testing it against quick moving car scenes or explosions to make sure that the picture does not "pixelize" during those fast moments or changes.

Here was the output in iTunes:
Optimal video conversion for movies to an iPhone or iPod touch using handbrake

So, that was it -- I was able to preserve the quality I required using the 224kbps for video and 64kbps for audio settings. In addition, I took an original file of 1.78GB and got it down to 317MB, basically 18% of the original size. What that translates to for an 8GB iPhone would be about 45 hours of movies on your iPhone or iPod touch assuming the 150GB per hour conversion rate.

That is a huge improvement from where I started.

If you're looking to get a number of videos on your iPhone, then I'd highly recommend the settings mentioned above in order to get the best quality for the last space cost.

Now I am off to re-convert all my movies...and in the meantime, if you are interested in the exact settings, here is what I used for a different movie, Gran Torino.

Optimal way to convert DVD movies and videos to the iPhone and iPod Touch

preferred way to convert DVD movies and videos to the iPhone and iPod Touch

Best way to convert DVD movies and videos to the iPhone and iPod Touch