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DVD Movie Library on a Mac

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I am considering copying all my movies (500+) to a media server so that they could be accessible on all the TV's in the house. I already have everything to get the movies from the media server to the TV's, but what is the best way / format to copy the movies to the computer.

Obviously we are talking terabytes here, so speed and compression are important. I don't want the quality to degrade though, I don't have an huge HD TV's or anything but I don't want to notice pixelation of any kind.

Any ideas?
post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by jpennington
I am considering copying all my movies (500+) to a media server so that they could be accessible on all the TV's in the house. I already have everything to get the movies from the media server to the TV's, but what is the best way / format to copy the movies to the computer.

Obviously we are talking terabytes here, so speed and compression are important. I don't want the quality to degrade though, I don't have an huge HD TV's or anything but I don't want to notice pixelation of any kind.

Any ideas?

Mac the ripper is a free program that lets you rip the dvds. You can then use other programs to compress the video if you like. Personally I just keep the raw data on an external hard drive and use DVD player to watch them on my computer.

I am curious to know your setup. What are you using for a server? What kind of network have you set up? Are you using mac minis as a media box at the TV?
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
I currenty have a Power Mac Quad in my office. I was planning on buying a lacie 2TB array of hard drives to attach to it and store the movie on. I have a GigE network running to the master bedroom (tivo), kitchen (mac mini), and living room (tivo). I also have a tivo in my office, but I could just watch the movie on my computer anyway.

I have considered putting a mac mini in the living room, but if I'm not sure if front row will display movie on a network disk, or another computer. I have one in the kitchen, I guess I could try it with that first. We use Tivo to watch any TV shows, we don't watch live TV at all, so I figured since we already have three Tivo's and my girlfriend already knows how to use them , it would be nice to stick with the same interface. The one problem with TiVo is that is only servers mpeg2 content. I think I can modify it except more if needed though, there are a lot of people out there that has modified their TV to do such things.

I have over 500 DVD's and all their cases. It is getting to the point where I will need a DVD room just to store them. I don't want to just put them in books, A) it would be a pain to search for one, B) someone could just steal thosuands of dollars in DVD's in a second. I kept the case because I have a DVD in my car and I usually bring several movies with me whenever I travel. I am in the process (just starting, ordered parts, have begun the install yet) of installing a MacMini in my car. I am not going with touchscreen as I meanly want it for front row and emergency (I am a systems administrator) situations. I hate bringing a laptop with me everywhere I go. It would be great to just send five movies to my ipod, then plug it into the car and watch them. I already have an iPod interface, so I've got music down, but movie would be slick.

I have two DVD drives on my power mac (one external) and I have two external DVD drive on my dell that I can connect to the mac. I have a second hard drive in my powermac that I can dedicate to encoded movies (before transfering to the lacie) and it has 4GB of ram. I remotely administer networks and server from my home office most of the week, so I have no problem taking DVD's in and out of the drives for a month.

I was playing with mactheripper last night on my laptop and it decodes the DVD's, but what is the best program to covert from VOB to mpeg2. Like I said, if they were mpeg 2 it would make my life a lot easier, but if there is a far better way (faster, less space, etc.) I would be open to suggestions.
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by jpennington
I was playing with mactheripper last night on my laptop and it decodes the DVD's, but what is the best program to covert from VOB to mpeg2. Like I said, if they were mpeg 2 it would make my life a lot easier, but if there is a far better way (faster, less space, etc.) I would be open to suggestions.

MPEGStreamclip:

http://www.squared5.com/

Drag a VOB into the window and convert to mpeg.
post #5 of 22
I'd compress the movies using mpeg4 and save the money you would have spent on drives. If you need DVD extras, go to the other room and grab the DVD, but if you just want to watch movies mpeg4 is fast and pretty good.
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post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
What is the difference in size and encoding speed from mpeg2 to mpeg4. I just use handbrake to copy DVD's into mpeg4 for my iPod, but that take a pretty good amount of time. I understand this is going to take time per DVD's, but handbrake isnt quick. Note that I understand this isn't going to be quick process, but mp4 doesn't offer enough benefits to justify putting a mac mini on each TV.

Ideally I would like to stick with with mpeg2 for now. I have lots of Tivo's and they pull from the network already. Does anyone know of an easy way (or a way that you can use an automator script for) to get from DVD to MPEG2. I don't want the extras or menu, I never watch that stuff.
post #7 of 22
A DVD is mpeg2. Use Mac The Ripper to extract the main feature if that's all you want. Didn't read you were using Tivos so compression is right out. That does limit your options a bit. You may have to convert the MacTheRipper MPEG2 file to a tivo file through FFMPEGX. Not sure how all that works since don't have a tivo. (I'm better than that. )
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post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
You don't have to concert to a format other than mpeg 2. If you edit the configurations file in termal of the lastest tivo desktop software for mac, you can enable to serve mpeg2 content from the system the tivo server is running on.

When you say you are better than that what do you mean? I can't afford a mac-mini on each TV at the time, sorry.

So mactheripper exports the DVD into a single mpeg2 file?
post #9 of 22
Naa. Just teasing. I am a big anti-subscription jerk and spent $1000 on parts for a HDTV MythTV box I built from scratch rather than pay a subscription fee. Except for the keyboard interface and occasionally tuning to weak stations, it is pretty cool.

Quote:
Originally posted by jpennington
So mactheripper exports the DVD into a single mpeg2 file?

MTR will export a multiplexed MPEG2 file but remove all those extras including menus. A program I use called MPEG Streamclip can demux the file if you need.

Actually I just checked and there is a title only extraction that removes other camera angles. Might be helpful to save some space.
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post #10 of 22
OK, Just extracted a movie using title and wound up with a .VOB file. (No surprise there.) Open it with MPEG Streamclip it will give you all sorts of options one of them being convert to MPEG2. You should be set.
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post #11 of 22
I prefer YadeX for ripping movies because it shows you the chapter list and you just select the main feature and file>save VOB. It has a much more intuitive interface than MTR IMO.

I'd agree with not using mpeg-4. It could save as much as 10 times the space but you do notice the quality difference and the time involved isn't really worth it if you have enough drive space.

What you might be better doing is using a DVD requantizer. They are very fast and are used to get commercial DVDs onto single layer discs. Movies tend to take up about 6-7GB so to fit them onto 4.7GB discs, you can requantize them retaining the same bitrate and they come out around 4GB.

This is also handy if something happens to your original disc because you can just burn a new one.

Sometimes you have to be careful on longer films like King King because they've already been compressed a bit in order to fit onto one disc so you should leave them as they are.

DVD2one and ffmpegX both have DVD requantizers (I think they maybe use the same one) but you have to pay for that feature.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Marvin
Movies tend to take up about 6-7GB so to fit them onto 4.7GB discs, you can requantize them retaining the same bitrate and they come out around 4GB.

Unless you are talking about losslessly compressing the MPEG2*, I highly doubt these "requantisers" can achieve the compression ratio that you refer to without lowering the bitrate. Bitrate dictates file size for a fixed-length film.

*which really should not give a compression ratio of 2:3, as the MPEG2 is already highly compressed (a good way of testing how efficient a lossy codec is, is to compress a file using lossless compression afterwards. If it compresses a significant amount, you need to go back to the drawing board for your lossy compression algorithm.)
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post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by jpennington
I am considering copying all my movies (500+)

Quote:
Originally posted by jpennington
I was planning on buying a lacie 2TB array of hard drives to attach to it and store the movie on.

Don't you have a problem here?

500 movies is bigger than 2TB.
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post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. H
Unless you are talking about losslessly compressing the MPEG2*, I highly doubt these "requantisers" can achieve the compression ratio that you refer to without lowering the bitrate. Bitrate dictates file size for a fixed-length film.

Requantizers aren't lossless. They just do encoding much faster than re-encoding the movie and seem to give better quality. They seem to work by recompresing the I, B, P frames only:

http://www.solveigmm.com/?Products&id=MPEG2Requant

I guess it must be lowering the bitrate but I checked after requantizing and it seems the bitrate reported by a variety of media players was 9mbits+. To get the same file size via re-encoding, I had to go down to 4mbits or so and it looked terrible. Maybe it was just reporting the wrong bitrate or something.

Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. H
500 movies is bigger than 2TB.

500*4GB = 2TB. Like I say, ffmpegx requantizer gets most movies between 3.7GB and 4.2GB including audio.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Marvin
Requantizers aren't lossless. They just do encoding much faster than re-encoding the movie and seem to give better quality. They seem to work by recompresing the I, B, P frames only:

http://www.solveigmm.com/?Products&id=MPEG2Requant

I guess it must be lowering the bitrate but I checked after requantizing and it seems the bitrate reported by a variety of media players was 9mbits+. To get the same file size via re-encoding, I had to go down to 4mbits or so and it looked terrible. Maybe it was just reporting the wrong bitrate or something.

I did a bit of investigating, and concluded that the reported bitrate after re-quantizing must be wrong. As you say, requantisers aren't lossless, they are removing more information from the MPEG-2 stream and are therefore lowering the bitrate.

Normally, when recoding a video stream, it is decoded to uncompressed YUV, and then compressed again to the target CODEC. If you start with an MPEG-2 stream and want to re-compress to MPEG-2, this can be rather slow. The brilliant thing about these requantisers is that they don't have to decompress the stream first, they just remove information from the MPEG-2 stream. As you say, this also results in higher quality than if you were to go MPEG-2 --> YUV --> MPEG-2. However, it will inevitably reduce the quality of the video, but if you can't tell, then so what?


Quote:
Originally posted by Marvin
500*4GB = 2TB. Like I say, ffmpegx requantizer gets most movies between 3.7GB and 4.2GB including audio.

Indeed. He will have to re-quantise if he wants all his movies to fit into 2TB.
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post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm not concerned about the space, I can get more if I need it.

I encoded one as MPEG2 and it worked great and was sent to the Tivo without a problem. Well, no really actually. One of my tivo is the new ones with the built in nic's and it it plugged into my GigE network. It took too long to transfer, so there would need to be a 30 minute buffer between the time I inititiated the transfer from when I watched it.

I don't know where the bottleneck is, it could be the TiVo processor.

I had the file on a second drive in my powermac that was being accessed by any other applications. It could be hard drive access times, since this drive isn't in any kind of a raid array.
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Doing the first method listed (mactheripper and mpegstream) the file was 4.64GB.

Considering the time this will take, it is possible I won't come close to putting all the movies on the server. In a year if I need more space I can get it.

I might move away from pushing to the tivo because of the file size problems, since it took so long to move it over the network.

Does anyone have another idea on other way to get the movies to the TV's, other than mac mini's?
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by jpennington
Does anyone have another idea on other way to get the movies to the TV's, other than mac mini's?

Here goes. Note that I haven't used any of these devices, and have no idea how well (or not) they work. Some can play .vobs directly, some cannot. I'm 99% sure that the EyeHome and Pixel Magic HD Mediabox can play .vobs directly, the others I'm not so sure about.

1.) Elgato's EyeHome.

2.) Roku's PhotoBridge HD. This is currently marked as "out of stock until summer 2006". It is unclear as to Roku's commitment to this device. (Edit: This has now been discontinued. A related product - the brightsign - is available, with more consumer-orientated products to follow)

3.) The Neuston MC-500.

4.) The Pixel Magic HD Media Box. The product page says at the beginning that it's HDD based, but the HDD is optional. The device can stream media over ethernet.

5.) There is a whole universe of "UPnP AV media players" (do a Google). A well-known UPnP server is Twonky Vision. If you go over to this page, there is a list of players that are compatible with Twonky's server.

I hope I've given you enough research to do! Let me know what you think.
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post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by jpennington
I encoded one as MPEG2 and it worked great and was sent to the Tivo without a problem. Well, no really actually. One of my tivo is the new ones with the built in nic's and it it plugged into my GigE network. It took too long to transfer, so there would need to be a 30 minute buffer between the time I inititiated the transfer from when I watched it.

I don't know where the bottleneck is, it could be the TiVo processor.

It seems that the ethernet setup in the TiVo is somewhat crap:

http://forums.tivo.com/pe/action/for...&showPostBody=

Half an hour for a gigabyte??

Seriously, it's not the file size. I've transferred 3GB over GigE before and it took about 2 minutes. It looks like the TiVo is operating at the lowest 10Mbps. It's a pity you couldn't crack it open and just put a hard drive preloaded with movies in. It seems from that article above on page 3 that it has to encrypt the streams or something.

It also gives a tip that tuning to channel 0 helps because the processor isn't decoding any video stream while transferring.

I have to say, I'd probably go for a computer over TiVo or similar. They'd be about the same price. A cheap second hand G4 Mini would probably do the trick and you can buy 1TB Lacie drives for about £350 each.

What I do with my collection is use those DVD folders that hold 70 DVDs (300GB) and take up about the space of one external hard drive. You'd need 7 folders maybe. Then I just use a DVD catalogue program and I can search for whatever movie I want. Then I just pick the folder and select the page in the folder. There's only 16 pages in a folder so it's not like you need to number them.
post #20 of 22
The problem with the Mac Mini is that it doesn't have particularly good picture quality. The video hardware is not optimised for driving TVs; neither the PPC or Intel Mac Mini have decent video scaling.

Hopefully, the next Mac Mini will have Intel's forthcoming integrated graphics which have lots of features aimed at improving the picture quality when driving TV screens.

For the time being, that Pixel Magic box looks like a good option (expensive though). It was reviewed by What HiFi? in the UK and they said it had stunning picture quality.
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post #21 of 22
jpennington, have you had a chance to check out any of the products that I listed?

What solution, if any, have you decided to go with?
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post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi Mr. H --

I actually put that on hold. I have just completed a MacMini installation in my car. I will take pictures tonight.

Intel CoreCuo Mini w/ 1GB of RAM
AMP 1.1a FrontEnd
MTSVO 7" TouchScreen VGA -- single DIN motorized
P1900 v2.2 Power Management
Verizon Bluetooth EvDO modem

It is pretty sweet, the power supply is wired to the logic board and puts it to sleep when the car it off, shuts it down if the battery drops below a certain level.

I have pretty much worked all the kinks out at this point, so it is great. I am a systems administrator, so I need a laptop with the all the time, this solves that problem.

The mp4 movies I encoded with handbrake for my iPod are perfect for the car, small size, good quality, so I have just been encoding via that method. Due to the tivo bottleneck, I put that project on hold. I did buy a Maxtor 1TB FW800 drive for my powermac though, so I am ready to rock when the time comes.

-Justin
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