NOTE: Since writing this post I have discovered that Freemake appears to have worked on my TV Episodes, but on all my movies it created a lag between the audio and video (normally the video being behind). It was only 1 second in general, but noticeable, and frustrating.
Continuing on my Home Media Center series, once I got the hardware set up I discovered that was the easy part. My next step was to import the things I wanted to be able to watch.
More in this series –
- Part 1 - Setting up a Home Media Center
- Movie Night at Home
- Part 2 - Using Freemake to Import Media
- Part 2b - Backing up DRM Protected DVDs with DVDfab
- Part 3 - Using Handbrake to encode media
I went through a few programs from some ‘top dvd ripping’ sites. There are tons of software programs out there. Now – I wanted something free (of course) that didn’t watermark my files and would export in an Mp4/m4v format (my preferred).
I went through a few programs before I found one that worked for me. Most of the ‘free’ programs are just trials or are limited in features. Freemake is completely freeware and works like a charm. It also has some importing features that I’m going to look more closely at (sometime in the future) since importing from Youtube or other online sources is on my list of ‘todos’
The install process is straightforward. After downloading the file and opening it you select your primary language. On the page that opens take alook at the anonymous usage statistics box. It’s checked by default – some people prefer their privacy and like to have the option to turn that off.
On the next page you’re presented with the install options. If you want to install Ad-aware and change your search page leave the defaults. If not, select Custom Installation and pick the options you want. I’m not a big fan of companies that hide things like this in their installer, but the price is right so a bit of custom configuration isn’t too much to ask.
Same deal on the next page. No idea what one system care is, but that wasn’t the program I wanted.
On the next page you can safely pick full installation, this one actually installs the software you downloaded. After the progress bar finishes and the install is done you’re presented with the option to open Freemake and finish. A webpage will also open where you can like and donate to the program.
Now with the program open you can see all the various ways to import media. You can open from a file on your computer, from a DVD, or from a URL (youtube etc). We’re working on importing our own collection so I select DVD and pick my DVD drive from the window that opens.
Now the next part may take a few moments, it has to scan the DVD and pull up all the track information. Even a basic DVD has multiple tracks on it, one is the FBI warning, one is the Menu screen, any special features have their own tracks – etc.
Generally I only want the content, so I select the tracks relevant to myself. If this is a TV series of 1 hour episodes, I want the tracks that are 45ish minutes long only (the program will process them sequentially). If it’s a movie, I’ll want the longest track (around 2 hours depending on the movie). Some DVDs that I’ve come across have multiple long tracks (normally ones that include unrated versions). I usually open the DVD and run the track I wanted (the unrated one!) and see how long it is, then pick that one from the list. When in doubt, just pick the first longest track and you should be all set.
After selecting the tracks we want, we have the opportunity to rename them. I usually take a moment here to set them up for the next step and give them appropriate names.
For Movies I just take the movie title, leaving the underscores and such is fine, the next step will fix all that. Don’t even have to worry about capitalizing etc.
For TV episodes I work on this naming scheme ” Series Title s01e01 ” – it’s recognized by most programs and you can import the media just about anywhere. Replace the s01e01 with appropriate numbers – “S” is for season, so s01 is Season 1 – “E” is the episode number so e01 is Episode 1. To put it all together – s03e12 is “Season 3, Episode 12”. At this point you don’t need to add episode titles, you can, but don’t waste your time.
After you’d renamed the files select your output from the bottom row. For our purposes I want to output MP4 files, so I select that, but there are tons of options you can use. Useful ones in the future might be AVI, MKV, FLV, Sony, Xbox, Android, Youtube (and lots more).
Selecting the Output type will bring up the final screen where you can customize all the types of encoding etc. I am far from an advanced encoder so most of these settings are over my head. I don’t modify anything from the basic template here. I run all these exports through a second encoder afterward to get the file size down and tweak all the settings. It’s probably possible to do it in one step just through the converter, but people who I’ve talked to who know what they are doing told me to use Handbrake for encoding and I trust their judgement.
You can adjust the save to location by clicking on the 3 dots.
Once you pick your profile and select OK it’s just a waiting game. How long it takes to complete will depend on your computer and the speed it’s capable of reaching. I usually complete a TV episode in 12 minutes, and a movie in 35-40.