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On DivX, MediaLink, and TVersity |

I’ve been playing around with DivX, MediaLink, and TVersity lately, and I thought I’d share a few thoughts. I thought it would be cool to take a home video DVD I created and turn it into a DivX that I could store on my NAS and view on my PS3. Note that I’m doing all the ripping and DVD encoding on a Mac, while the media is being served by a Mac (MediaLink) and a PC (TVersity). I used ffmpegX on the Mac, and ffmpeg is also available on the PC, so lots of this applies to PC users too.

DVD Ripping

I started with this article on transcoding a DVD to DivX. I found that the suggested ripper, DVDBackup, is crap. So I removed it and after a web search decided on MacTheRipper. It’s much better. It gives you the option of ripping only the main title, which is cool. Just follow the directions on the website, and you’re golden. This will create a VIDEO_TS folder on your Mac.

DivX Encoding

Next up is ffmegX. Download and install according to the instructions. Note that you have to make sure that the path you install to contains no spaces. So I needed to remove the space from my hard drive’s name, which by default is “Macintosh HD”. Also, the paths you choose to source the DVD from (the VIDEO_TS folder) and rip the movie to both must contain no spaces anywhere (or other strange characters). This messed me up at first.

Now it’s time for the DivX encoding: run ffmpegX. Drag and drop your VIDEO_TS folder to the left side (or choose it with the button on the top left). Then choose the filename to rip to in the second text area near the top. (Here’s the DivX ripping article I had as reference.)

DivX Options.

Go to the audio tab and on the right choose the disc’s 5.1 surround track, if you’re lucky enough to have had one on your DVD. On the left, choose 5.1 sound (default is stereo). Under audio codec, choose AAC. Next, under the filter tab, click on Autocrop. This will bring up a new window showing the movie. Just close the window. At this point I usually get an error. I just ignore it and keep going. Under the video tab, I set the size of the file to 1800MB, and then click on the nearby button that calculates the video bitrate. Next up, go to the options tab (I think…), and choose the “high quality” and “2 pass” checkboxes. Without these, I found that the video quality was pretty poor.

Now you can start the encode. On my first gen MacBook, this will take an hour or two.

Playing Back your DivX

You can just copy your new video file to your PS3, but I don’t want to do that. I want to serve it from my NAS. Unfortunately, my NAS doesn’t have any media serving software that’s decent, so I have to run something on my Mac or PC to serve the PS3 from the NAS. I was surprised that this works so well. After all, the video is coming from my NAS to my PC to my PS3 over my home network. But it works like a charm.

Last night I tried the new MediaLink by NullRiver Software. It worked somewhat well. I liked the interface. But it didn’t recognize the AAC’s I had in a folder, which TVersity saw and played just fine. As well, MediaLink didn’t support as many video formats as TVersity. So I uninstalled MediaLink on my Mac, and continued to use TVersity on my PC. It’s important to check the “transcode only when necessary” button in the options. I also set it up to show my media files only in their folder structure. That makes it a lot easier to find what I want, because my folder structure is pretty intuitive.

And that’s it! My test DVD looked great when served by TVersity to my PS3, and I had 5.1 surround sound. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

  • I’ve been using Handbrake on the Mac, as it basically combines the ripping and transcoding into one easy step (thus far I’ve been going straight to H.264, however, not DivX any more). On the rare occasion I don’t use Handbrake for whatever reason, MacTheRipper + VisualHub does wonders.

    Although I may be a moron or the may have fixed an issue by now, I haven’t gotten MediaLink to work yet. It finds photo and audio folders, it says they’re empty, and while it finds video folders and files, it gives me the infamous protocol error when I try to play them (all iPhoto / iTunes stuff).

    I’d be interested to know if anyone’s gotten better results?

  • I got better results than that, but still not great. It just doesn’t support as many formats as other programs do.

    I tried using Handbrake, but I couldn’t figure out how to rip with 5.1 audio. How do you do it?

  • I’m having issues with MediaLink as well. Photos and Music seem to work fine, but once I try to play a few videos I start getting errors! booo!

  • I tried out eyeConnect for streaming content via wifi from mac to PS3. it works a treat. I’m going to give MediaLink a go tonight.

    Here’s my brief review of using eyeConnect:

  • Mal

    Same here really, MediaLink is fine for music and pictures, AAC support is on the way soon according to the nullriver website.

    Like you, with video im having loads of problems, protocol errors, one video i tried to stream killed the ps3, had to restart it, another caused the MediaLink pref pane to crash!

    Im hopeful tho, Connect360, there other equivalent product for the 360 is awesome, im sure after a bit more work (its only been out a day!) MediaLink will be jsut as good.

  • How much is eyeConnect and does it offer iTunes album art?

  • I’m not sure if eyeConnect offers album art. I think it does but I’ll check again this evening (I’m going to write a comparison of it and MediaLink tomorrow). It costs around €50, it’s more expensive… but I’ve had zero problems with it.

  • I’ve heard eyeConnect has problems with FF and RW.

  • So, I got a “Linkstation Live” last week, and well… It works as promised on the package (DLNA certified). It still has some kinks (the PS3 doesn’t always see it etc.) but it works well. And it is FAST (copying stuff is like magic^^)

    Since most of my media is XVid, which seems to be the most error prone stuff, I am impressed. Only some (strangely, all of my Farscape episodes don’t work, except the fourth season, which incidentally is the only one in 16/9) don’t work. FF and RW make no problems at all…

    There is the option to open the firmware and install different programs etc. on it, but I didn’t yet try to do it (but I will). As of now, I am content with my purchase, and 130€ for 250GB may sound much, but as a NAS and DLNA server, it was well worth it (and with a little fiddling, I can either add USB drives or change the HDD to a bigger one)

  • What I’ve been doing for DVDs is use VOBMerge to combine the VOBs to one file. Then feed that to Red Kawa PS3 video converter (transcode to H.264).

    I haven’t tried converting to DIVX yet, I hear that it has a 2 GB file limit on the PS3 though.

    The H.264 files are very good quality and can be streamed to the PS3 using Media Player.

  • James

    I’ve been using Twonkyvision to stream stuff from my NAS (Maxtor Shared Storage II). It’s a bit of a pain to set up, but once done it works a treat.

    I’ve also been using Handbrake to rip DVDs, and can’t fault it. It’s got a PS3 setting for creating MP4 files to a high quality. The only downside is, because it’s MP4, the sound gets converted to stereo rather than 5.1.

    Visualhub is also excellent to for converting other video files that aren’t DVD. It does do DVD, but it’s a bit limited. I hear there is a PS3 setting coming soon for Visualhub, but you can still get some really high quality encodes in H.264 if you’re prepared to put a bit of time in with the advanced settings.

  • James

    Following on from my previous post.

    You can use Mactheripper to rip the main title of a DVD into one file. (.VOB). Rename it a .mpg and it streams over to the PS3 . Obviously the file’s a lot larger, but you retain no losss of quality and also retain the 5.1 soundtrack.

    (Occasionally though some of the files ripped by mactheripper don’t get recognised, or the PS3 plays the wrong soundtrack if there are mutiple tracks on the DVD. In this case, I simply create a MPEG transport stream using Visualhub and passing through the video and audio tracks. No encoding, so only takes about 20 minutes for a full length film.

  • Lack of 5.1 is a deal-breaker for me.

    I tried TwonkyVision on my NAS (ReadyNAS NV+), but it doesn’t support AAC, so that’s a dealbreaker for me.

  • How do you use MacTheRipper to create one VOB? I didn’t see that setting. (But then, I didn’t explicitly look for it either.)

  • James

    To create one VOB, this is what it say in the MTR website. It’s this feature for me that makes MTR the best DVDripper out there (that and it’s free!!)

    “If you want to extract only a particular title, you can choose the ‘Title Only Extraction’ option, and set the title number you wish to extract. The main feature title is indicated with the letters ‘(MF)’. You can also set the desired angle if there are several. You can also choose to demux the individual streams (.m2v, .ac3, .dts, .pcm, .spc) from the VOB, and select only the ones you want. To do this, click the “D” button (for demux), and then the “Streams” button to open the stream selection drawer. There, you can choose exactly which streams you want extracted”

  • But … … that documentation talks about extracting one title, not about creating one VOB file. Or are the two the same thing?

  • James

    I think we’re talking about the same thing. I’ve certainly used that setting to rip a DVD and end up with one VOB for movie where it was orignally split across several VOBs originally.

    Oh hang on……

    It might be the ‘Title – Chapter Extraction’ I’ve used, selecting all chapters for the title.

    Anyway, it’s one of those settings. Sorry for the confusion. I’m leaving work now and will be home in a bit. I’ll tell you for sure which one it is when I get in.

  • Riggins44

    Henning, tried your route and got and error message when trying to load the binaries into ffmpegx. I typed my password and said I was not on the “sudoers list”. Ever heard of that? The password is the one you use when you log into the machine at startup right??

    Love reading about stuff the PS3 can do that I did not understand before. Love the blog btw.

  • Make sure you unzip the zip file and choose the files inside when installing the binaries for ffmpegX. As far as the password goes, you have to use the equivalent of the administrator password – the one that lets you install software. I’m guessing that you’re using the wrong password.

  • James

    Hello, me again.

    Just got home and checked MTR. The version I’m using is 3.0b rather than 2.6.6. Anyway for 2.6.6 select ‘Title – Chapter Extraction’ and then select the title (usually the largest one marked with ‘MF’). Then select all of the chapters using ‘Schpt’ and ‘Echpt’ and you’re good to go. Result=main film in one lovely VOB file.

  • Riggins44

    to get onto the Sudoers list, you need to be in the “wheel” group^^

  • Emrah

    My experience with tversity is, it crashes a lot.. I realised it crashed less if I got everything ready before I turn on my PS3. Please also do not forget to make it use mpeg2 for encoding, instead of the very low quality mpeg1, for this you have to edit the profile xml (and back it up just in case and upgrade overwrites your changes)

    I had no success with avi’s with AC3 sound.

    I can’t use native divx decoding of PS3, because I need subtitles. ffdshows builtin subtitle support is very solid.

  • for ubuntu / linux, i was having a lot of trouble finding a DLNA server that actually worked properly – until i found MediaTomb.

    Now almost _all_ of my divx files playback perfectly, plus music and photos.. I don’t think AC3 will play though, will try tonight..

  • @Henning:

    I use the AppleTV preset which is 5.1 (if the source is). Typically DVD renders to ~2GB. I haven’t tried the PS3 preset yet, but there’s an “Audio & Subtitles” tab, mid screen, second from left, where you can choose from available audio options. (Track and Mix).

    I’ve encountered *tons* of problems with almost all playback equipment actually properly decoding and outputting 5.1, so I haven’t paid too much attention to it.

    In my ideal world, PS3 would act basically like an AppleTV with benefits (bluray & games) 🙂

  • Mal

    Just a quick note that MediaLink is up to version 1.2, now has AAC support and has fixed all the video issues i was having, works a treat for me now.