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Vista Ultimate Media Center DVD Movie Library - Best format to use??

Posted on 2008-11-02
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Last Modified: 2013-11-10
I am in the process of setting up a Vista Ulitmate PC for a HTPC.  I am also integrating the Media Center Extenders to allow use from other TV's in the house.  I want to take all my DVD movies and "rip" them to my hard drive for on demand viewing throughout the house.  I am starting with a 1TB drive just for movies and I don't mind adding more drives.  The HTPC also has a BluRay player too.  I want all of these movies on my hard drive, but I want the same DVD quality audio and video on the TV's throughout the house.  Here are some of my questions:

If I rip it to an AVI format do I lose any noticable quality, audio or video, support 5.1?

Is there a better format to rip to?

Is there a way just copy the movie to the hd and play the vob files?

How does the menus and chapters work when ripped?

Are there licensing issues in a sense that it prevents me from playing something?

Would an xbox 360 as an extender have the same quality as the HTPC plugged in with VGA cable on a 1080p TV?

How do my bluray movies work into this scenario?

I want to start getting my movies on the HTPC and need to know what direction to take for the highest quality output.  I was also looking at a program called DVD cloner for ripping?

Thanks

TJ


 
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Question by:tjwib29
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by:fredshovel
ID: 22871029
Q) If I rip it to an AVI format do I lose any noticable quality, audio or video, support 5.1?
A) It's much better to use your "ripper" software to convert the files to VOB, which are really MPEG-2 files
probably with either AC3 audio or MPEG-2 audio. When you rip/copy it's probably better to choose AC3 for the audio -- and yes you will retain the 5:1 surround. Just change the extensions from VOB to mpg
or convert them in something like SUPER. Since rippers make a number of VOB files you might want to stitch them together in a video editor.

Q) Is there a better format to rip to?
A) As above

Q) Is there a way just copy the movie to the hd and play the vob files?
A) Yes just change the extension to mpg and stitch all the VOBs together.

Q) How does the menus and chapters work when ripped?
A) They don't.

Q) Are there licensing issues in a sense that it prevents me from playing something?
A) Yes, all the DVD will probably be copyguarded, but most rippers work around this.

Q) Would an xbox 360 as an extender have the same quality as the HTPC plugged in with VGA cable on a 1080p TV?
A) DVDs are stantard def 720 x 480 but xbox does reproduce 1080p on Blu-Ray.


Q) How do my bluray movies work into this scenario?
A) Blu-ray HD movies are usually encoded with MPEG-4 AVC or VC-1 (Microsoft) so I would leave them in this format (some conversion may be required).

Q) I want to start getting my movies on the HTPC and need to know what direction to take for the highest quality output.  I was also looking at a program called DVD cloner for ripping?
A) Just remember not to start doing too much encoding, just leave them in their original formats -- but encoded to either MPEG-2 (normal DVD) or MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 for Blu-ray. And don't change the resolution.

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by:tjwib29
ID: 22878233
Thanks Fred for the great info.  I am still not sure which program to use as a ripper or converter.  I found one from avsmedia.com which is really just a converter, and then loaded DVD43 that runs in the background and removes copyright stuff.  But under the mpeg conversion the bitrate only goes up to 384 and the movie I am testing with is something like 448 on the DVD and there is not an option for ac3 audio and 2ch stereo sound is the best I can get.  The picture looks pretty good but not DVD quality.  It did a good job of combining files into 1 though and my file is about 11GB, which is not a problem.  At least I don't think it will be a problem, since I am not actually using my extender yet, I am just plugged straight in to the TV which is a Samsung 72" 1080p DLP.

I also tried copying and renaming a couple vob files and they tried to play in media playing but there was no picture.  Not sure if there was sound since I didn't have speakers hooked up at the time, but it showed progress on the bar.  Am I doing it wrong?

I guess my question now relates to a good converter program to use.  You mentioned SUPER, but I think I found the wrong program which was Super DVD Creator, because it looked more geared towards creating DVDs from video files and not vice versa.  Is there one you can recommend (with a link) that will allow a higher bitrate and better sound?  I don't mind paying for a program either as long as it does what I need.

Thanks again for the great info!

TJ
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fredshovel earned 400 total points
ID: 22878840
DVD Fab is a good ripper, and so is DVD Shrink.
11Gb for one movie is way too big (if that's what you mean) considering DVDs are only 4.7Gb. So your files should be equal to or smaller than that.
Super is here: http://www.afterdawn.com/software/video_software/video_encoders/super.cfm
Just choose MPEG-2 and AC3 for the audio and leave everything else unchanged.
You may also want to explore "virtual drive" software, which uses your hard drive just like a DVD drive.
That way you have a virtual DVD on a hard drive complete with all the menus. Just Google virtual DVD drives.
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Author Closing Comment

by:tjwib29
ID: 31512579
Thanks for your great advice!  It lead me in the right direction!  I ended up using DVDFab with the MainMovie option and I enabled the DVD Library function through a registry change for Media Center.  I have yet to test an extender, but I found another site with some info on how to make it work on an xbox.

Thanks Again!

TJ
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