Friday, 27 February 2015

adding some indie movies to my iTunes library using Handbrake and MetaZ

I was recently reminded by blogger Naomi that my DVD player can support multi-region DVDs. Useful if I really want to see something that isn't available in the UK. Mostly, our DVD player hardly gets used because of online films, but I did that thing to get it to work properly for all-region playback again.

It made me think about getting a few more movies that were on my 'want-to-view' list but which were not available on any of the streamed services.

I hit eBay and to my surprise found a random bundle of around 30 DVDs which were nearly all ones I wanted to see. It looked far more curated than most of the eBay 'job-lot' collections which are suspiciously like the unsellable ones from a car boot sale.

So I took the plunge and bought the inexpensive bundle. It turned out the fella selling them was on a meditation retreat somewhere, so they took about three weeks to arrive. Now I've a fresh selection of recent and mainly indie film titles to work through.

I'll add them to my iTunes library as well, so a spot of Handbrake + MetaZ is required to get them converted.

The thing about that particular combination is that it can make the videos looks the same as others downloaded from the iTunes Store, complete with the plot precis, actor and production credits, certificates, run-times etc.

I mainly convert videos on the Mac using Handbrake's 'Normal' setting. It nearly always finds the correct DVD track of the main movie and a couple of decent soundtracks (2 channel and 5.1). Occasionally a movie with a Theatrical and a Director cut will cause it to ask which one to use.

If there's subtitles, dubbing or a director's commentary (like some Swedish films that have an alternative English language dubbed soundtrack, or foreign films requiring subtitling) then there's usually a customisable combination, although for most movies there's no need to tinker with any of the settings.

MetaZ can be run after conversion and adds the same information that the iTunes store includes. It's slightly more fiddly with a TV series, although Handbrake happily handles multiple episodes on the same DVD.

The end result seems to me to be indistinguishable from the iTunes layout, and the video quality can be at the highest level available from the original DVD.

It's a handy way to keep videos catalogued, compared with having them laying around in cupboards and shelves and makes them available on demand, from any device including when I'm stuck on the bike turbo.

Which reminds me...


Nikki-ann said...

My old DVD player used to play any region, so I've got quite a few American DVDs but nothing to play them on now. Doh!

rashbre said...

Hi Nikki-ann : I also used to have an old Philips DVD player that was multi region but at some stage it 'forgot'. I had to type in special button codes to remind it again.