I have a ton of movies. When I first got a Raspberry Pi late last year, my first thought was to use it as a media center. So I hooked it up to my high-def TV and a hard drive with some very old pirated Simpsons episodes (from the days of Napster), and installed Raspbmc on an SD card. It worked great, and despite the need to get up and plug it in, and the $10 wired keyboard I used to control it, it worked great. If I had more money at the time, I would’ve gone with a Wi-Fi dongle so I could use my phone as a remote, or at least gotten a wireless keyboard.

A few months went by before my parents came up with a spare Blu-ray player that also happened to support DLNA— finally, I could be lazy again. I hooked the Pi straight into my router upstairs, plugged in the harddrive, and installed MiniDLNA. Downstairs, the Blu-ray player picked it up and instantly I had access to all of my digital video.

But soon, I craved more. So I decided to convert my DVD collection.

Converting

HandBrake turned out to be the best software for the task, both for its abilities and propensity for any OS you’re using (like Ubuntu). Ripping is pretty straightforward:

  1. Insert the DVD, click Source
  2. I used the dropdown to select my DVD drive (/dev/sr0)
  3. Hit okay, it starts scanning
  4. Select the title with what should be the duration of the movie. If you’re having trouble, check out When HandBrake won’t rip your DVDs.
  5. I’m happy with my 90-minute movies taking up around 1 GB– my 1 TB harddrive can handle it. So I started with the High Profile preset, and made the following changes:
    1. Format: MKV
    2. Video
      1. Framerate: Constant
      2. Constant Quality: RF: 16
    3. Audio
      1. English Track – Mix: Dolby Surround
  6. Press Start and let it run in the background.

These settings were perfect for a high quality video of moderate size in a format supported by my Blu-ray player. Experiment to see what works best for you.

On my machine, it takes about 25 minutes to transcode a 90 minute movie, with my CPU load hovering around 9 or 10. I couldn’t get my 5 year old Dell with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor to complete a whole rip, though it does like to overheat a lot these days. Enjoy!

$ logout

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