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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.