Best way to Digitize movies and play back on a TV - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 5 Old 06-21-2013, 03:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi All,

I'm looking for the simplest way to make digital backups of my kids DVD's and then play them back on their TV. Navigation/finding of the movies is important since they are young.

My Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ died recently and I figure there has to be an easier/slicker way these days.

Here's what I've done in the past that worked OK:

1) Using DVDFAB I make an electronic copy of the movie in a VOB format (I think that's the right term, the folder structure has VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS with the video folder having .BUP, .IFO and .VOB files. I picked this format thinking it was purest in source as to what is on a DVD and I don't care about space so much)

2) To make navigation easier on the FreeAgent I surf the internet to find the DVD cover art and download the image to the root movie folder. The FreeAgent would then pull up that image and show the folder name below that.

3) at this point I end up with a digitized move stored on my PC along with some cover art.

4) I have a 2TB WD external drive that I connect via USB and tranfer the movie to. For organization I group the movies by G, PG, PG-13 with sub directories of the years, 2010, 2011, ect..

5) I manually unplug the WD external drive and walk it into the room with our HD TV setup.

6) I plug the WD drive via USB into our FreeAgent Theater + media player (which is connect to my AV rec via an HDMI cable)

7) Hand the remote to the kids and the FreeAgent software allows them to search by most recent or folder name(I believe) and since I put the dvd cover art in the root folder of each movie, there is a nice little picture for them to see.

I've thought about going down the full media server path with something like Plex but my current wireless router is only 802.11g and my first attempt it didn't seem to stream very well. I also like the fact that if I had another media play at our cabin(no WiFi there) I can just carry the WD drive with me.

Here is what i'm looking for help with:

1) best way to digitize my movies, keep with VOB format for quality?
2) is there the equivalent in video as there is with audio where you have ID tags, artist names, year, genre, cover art, ect.. looking for someway to add that type of info to the storage of the movie
3) media player? they don't seem to be as hot as 3-4 years ago and ones like WD TV don't seem to support VOB or ISO. Popcorn hour looks nice but for $250 i might as well built out a media server.

Thanks in advance for your input and thougths.
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post #2 of 5 Old 06-21-2013, 04:16 PM
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You could consider Matroska (MKV) container. Non-proprietary, popular, supported by a wide range of devices. You have the convenience of a single file as opposed to a folder. Supports multiple audio and subtitle streams. Many recent TVs (up to 3 years old) with an onboard media player support MKV playback from external hard drive (up to 2 TB). Or use a media player like the WDTV.

MakeMKV is free while it's still beta software. It will decrypt the disc and take the main movie from a DVD or Blu-Ray and output to MKV without re-encoding:

Or if you want smaller file sizes, you could run a driver-level decrypter in the background like AnyDVDHD or DVDFabPasskey and use HandBrake or RipBot to re-encode to either a target file size or a constant quality (file size will be unpredictable, but smaller), and output to MKV

Good luck..
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post #3 of 5 Old 07-10-2013, 05:11 PM
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+1 for MKV container file types.

I currently run Plex Media Server on an always on Mac Mini connected via FireWire to an external HD that stores the MKV files. Plex is beautiful for doing the heavy lifting on metadata. All you need to do is put each movie in its own folder with the movie title and year, then Plex knows to go on the web to download cover art, actors, synopsis, genre, etc. To my knowledge, there is not a standardized way to embed metadata directly in the files. Plex is a more than sufficient workaround since it does the work for me.

For actual viewing the videos, I have Roku boxes running the Plex app at each of my TV's. This makes navigation a breeze and it really allows Plex to shine. My 2 year old daughter literally can find her stuff on her own using Roku and Plex. Running a HTPC at the TV just isn't an option for me since my family isn't as into tech as I am and navigation is clunky to put it mildly. Roku is easy, fast, and cheap.

If you are replacing your HTPC with something else at this stage, it will be worth your whole to pick up an N or better wireless router at the same time.
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post #4 of 5 Old 07-10-2013, 09:05 PM
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The Netgear NTV-550 would have served your needs great (esp for just DVD playback, though I use it for blu-rays as well with much success, albiet not perfect), but its discontinued. occasionally it pops up for $100, but that seems rare and rare these days. (I have 2 unopened in case mine kicks the bucket).

Another thought is a media center pc running MCE. It can recognize properly ripped (With DVDFab) movies and play them normal. can store them on a NAS and have the media library see that share.
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post #5 of 5 Old 07-10-2013, 11:01 PM
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I went the MacMini route as well. Rip DVDs with external drive with handbrake. There are free programs to gather metadata info. At that point you can upload to iTunes. Every room in my house that has a tv also has an AppleTV. This can stream all my iTunes content wirelessly. I've gone Apple and can't go back...
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