Ripping progress and rants.

Getting all of our movies converted for iTunes has been progressing, but a little slowly. I’ve finished ripping and encoding up through “Troy” as of last night, so I have, uh, U V X Y and Z to do.

That’s not bad, since we really don’t have a ton of DVDs at the tail end of the alphabet. I still need to track down artwork for everything after “L”, of course, which is going to be a hassle, but it’s the sort of hassle that can be done five or ten minutes at a time.

Since I have a few PCs acting in parallel, I’ve been encoding some anime series at the same time – 18 full series in the last week alone, which is amazingly productive by my standards but which has had the side effect of exposing me to a variety of authoring standards that have been, frankly, maddening.

Most US TV series DVD set releases are laid out with one title per episode, with sequential episodes in sequential titles on the disc. This means that you can pop in disc one of season one, see four titles on the disc that are about 45 minutes each, and rip them as episodes 1, 2, 3, and 4 with a reasonable certainty that you’re getting episodes 1, 2, 3, and 4. The exception to this so far has been Alias, where the episode order on the discs is bizarre and random.

Anime, on the other hand, sometimes DOES have one title per episode but is much more likely to have one title per disc. Handbrake can handle this, of course – you just tell it that you want chapters 1-5 of the title in one file, chapters 6-10 in another file, 11-15 and 16-20 in their own files and then you number them as episodes 1, 2, 3, 4. Episode 1 of a series usually has one extra chapter because there’s an introductory bit before the OP, and the last episode is usually a little weird, but it doesn’t take a lot of work to sort out.

What gets vexing is subtitle tracks, since there are often multiple subtitle tracks and one is for song lyrics and signs only and doesn’t have dialog translations. Still, it usually only takes ripping one episode to figure out which subtitle track to burn into the video.

Then you get Moon Phase, which is – to be honest – kind of a forgettable series that I feel rather embarrassed about having dropped nearly $200 on. I fell into the trap of buying volume one with the collector’s box and then buying volumes 2 through 6 to get the limited edition inserts and let’s just say that I have occasionally made bad purchasing decisions and this wasn’t nearly the worst of them.

But I digress.

Anyway, Moon Phase is laid out as one title per disc, so I needed to chop that title into chapters, which was a little more annoying than usual because the episodes don’t always have the same number of chapters and don’t always start on the same chapter.

But, I went through the discs in VLC and wrote out a little chapter map for encoding them and figured out which subtitle and audio tracks to use and all was well.

…until I checked the encodes and discs four through six didn’t have subtitles on them.

It turned out that the series uses subtitle track one for the first three discs and subtitle track TWO for the last three discs, and subtitle track two is actually labeled as being in Japanese when it’s really in English and I had to re-encode the last three discs, making sure to follow the chapter map I’d written out the first time and I hope I’ve gotten it right because the show quite honestly isn’t worth a third pass if there are problems with this second one.

I do recognize, of course, that these discs probably weren’t laid out with the idea that someone would be ripping them for their iTunes library and nobody’s REALLY out to get me…

…and then I ripped Magic Knight Rayearth and I’m pretty sure that the person doing the authoring actually DID intend to make my life difficult, because the episodes are all in one title and need to be cut out into chapters and the OP and ED are in chapters on another title entirely.

When a DVD player is playing these, it’s probably not an issue. It plays chapter 1 of title 1, then chapters 1 and 2 of title 3 for the episode content, then back to chapter 2 of title 1 for the ED and it’s all pretty much behind the scenes.

As you may guess, this is making my life difficult – Handbrake just wasn’t designed to deal with this sort of thing. I guess I get to play with ffmpeg’s concatenation tools and hope for the best.

But, um, otherwise it was a very productive week as far as converting DVDs into nice portable files and I hope to be fully done by roughly 2020.

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