So, one of the bad things about the last decade of writing down more or less whatever came into my head at any given time is that I can look back to 2009 and drag up posts like this one:
…and then I can compare them to what ACTUALLY happened:
…which is to say, not only did I rip those couple of thousand DVDs, but also a few hundred Blu-Rays and a whole mess of video from old videotapes and LDs and random internet sources and so on and so forth. It took seven years and was an awful lot of energy put into never needing to get up from the couch and find a disc to put into a player, but at the same time it’s made it so that our living room isn’t dominated by shelf after shelf of movies. Now they all live in boxes in a closet and our house looks a little less like a video store.
I’d like to claim that I attacked the project with a great plan that I could share, but in all honesty I was in a state of denial when I started. I think this is actually a good way to accomplish overwhelming tasks – first, start off by claiming that you’re not actually TRYING to do what you’re doing, then slowly work at it until you realize one day that the hard part is over and all that remains is to keep doing what you’ve been doing.
It worked out, anyway.
I started the very first encodes on a 2006 CoreDuo Mac Mini that took about four hours to encode a single standard definition movie. It took me a few years to buckle down and build a proper encoding PC, but once I did I was able to encode the same movie in about twenty minutes.
I’m still using that PC. Now it takes about four hours to encode a single 1080P Blu-ray, which says a little bit about progress I guess.
I’m still using almost exactly the same tools I was using in 2009. Handbrake for 99% of the encoding, ffmpeg for the 1% of special cases and DVD Decrypter for breaking CSS. When I finally started doing BDs, I went through a couple of different rippers before finding makemkv, but encoding is still Handbrake.
Converting subtitled mkv files to m4vs with burned-in subtitles was a special pain in the neck for the first few years, and I spent a lot of time on various home-grown methods until Handbrake added that as a feature. Unfortunately, it broke DVD subtitle timing at more or less the same time, so I needed to keep two versions around for a while. I also had to re-encode a whole mess of DVDs after I realized that DVD subtitle timing was broken, but that’s all water under the bridge now.
I’ve never found an automated media tagging tool that I liked, so I do most of the tagging with a bunch of shell scripts and mp4tags. There are doubtless better ways.
All of this gets served to our TV via an Apple TV with iTunes as the back-end. There are a bunch of different media servers out there, but we buy a lot of our TV shows and some movies through iTunes so we would wind up using iTunes for all of the stuff with DRM on it anyway and it’s easier just to have it in one place.
Anyway, even with all of the physical media converted into happy little m4v files, I suspect that I’ll still find ways to spend time tweaking things. For the first few years, I didn’t really understand mp4 file metadata, so a ton of files aren’t properly tagged, and if we ever get an Apple TV 4, apparently I’m going to need to do some extra tag tweaking to make TV seasons show up as folders there…
…and I’m really not happy with some of the cover art used for some TV shows, and I’m sure I can find a ton of other little things to bug me here and there if I look hard enough. It’s never REALLY done.
But, for now, it’s done enough. 🙂
A lot of work involved there! Also, you had laser discs?!
LD players were pretty common among anime and sci-fi fans in the 90s. In retrospect it was an awful lot of money spent on a technology that got obsoleted almost completely as soon as DVD launched, but at the time it was the only way to get widescreen movies or watch anime that hadn’t been licensed for the US market.
I held on to a few that had particularly good jacket art or that had sentimental value, but the majority of them were given away before a move a few years ago. They were fragile and heavy beasts. 🙂
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