Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

App of the Week: Handbrake

If you have a large DVD collection and a large hard disk, then Handbrake may be for you – it’ll let you convert your DVDs into movie files that you can store on a computer and play back when you please.
That’s a simple way of putting it, anyway.
Handbrake will take most forms of video, whether it’s a DVD or movie file, and convert it into a movie file in a different format. Many video formats are accepted as input, but at present it will only output MPEG-4 and H.264 video, in the mp4 and Matroska container formats. However, despite the restricted output formats, there’s plenty of conversion options.
One of its nice features is its presets, for devices like the iPod Touch and Apple TV – these allow you to select settings which give optimum file size and quality for the device in question (i.e. there’s no point doing a full H.264 HD video for an iPod Touch as it’ll eat up all of your space on it and won’t look much better than a smaller, lower resolution file). There’s also good subtitle support – subtitles can be ‘burned in’ (i.e. they will always display) or added as text and displayed in supported clients. Chapter points can be preserved from DVD rips as well, and the video can have its black bars cropped out to reduce file size.
Conversion speed depends on the computer. On my old Mac Mini, which has a 1.42 GHz IBM PowerPC processor, it can take some 10 hours to rip a DVD film. On my newer Mac Mini, with a 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, it’ll take under 2 hours when left idle.
While the interface isn’t the most intuitive, it’s still relatively simple to use. Handbrake is free, open source and available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux, but VLC is required.

One Comment

  1. Handbrake is one of my must have Mac apps.