Doing Things with Digital Video on a MAC

Over the last couple of months I have been putting together some resources for ripping DVDs, editing the extracting files, and converting/compressing them into more globally readable formats. Negotiating the minefield of video codecs and file extensions is a complex process, and I certainly do not claim to be an expert. Yet, I think such a resource could be extremely useful for enriching the ways we integrate multimedia into the teaching and learning process in higher education. I hope to come up with a series of relatively straightforward guides for accomplishing this on the MAC, at least at first. Having recently been the benefactor of a new MacBook Pro :), I plan on working through a similar list of resources for Windows once I get more and more familiar with the possibilities for XP.

Some of the topics that might prove helpful are as follows (feel free to add suggestions or requests to this list):

  1. The process of extracting digital video from a DVD.
  2. Editing down and entire DVD, or individual chapters, to clips.
  3. Reformatiting these clips into gloablly readable digital video formats.
  4. Extracting, editing and reformatting digital video for in-class instruction (mainly using Windows Media Player of Quicktime on the desktops).
  5. Reformatting digital video clips for the video iPod.

Below is an annotated list of some applications that I have found useful when working with digital video on MAC OS X. I will be working on a more detailed, step-by-step set of guides using these applications to accomplish the above listed tasks in the not too distant future.

  • Mac the Ripper: this application is freeware that enables you to quickly and easily extract an entire DVD ,or particular chapters of a DVD, on to your machine as a video object file(s) (extension *.VOB). Click here for the manual as a pdf file. As the name implies, this application is only for MACs.
  • Handbrake: this application, like Mac the Ripper, extracts an entire DVD as well as individual and consecutive groups of chapters from a DVD. There is an upside as well as a downside to using this app, in my opinion. The upside is that when using Handbrake you will not have to shell out $20 for the mpeg2 encoder if editing VOB files with MPEG Streamclip (see below). That said, the downside is, as Phill Ryu’s post on Handbrake points out, if you do not have a MacBook Pro duo-core (or a similarly fast machine) extracting and converting DVDs takes significantly longer with Handbrake. This is also a MAC specific app.
  • VLC Player: a cross-platform multimedia player that plays a wide range of audio and video formats that players such as Windows Media Player and Quicktime cannot read. Great for viewing and testing recently extracted video object files (as well as a host of other codecs that will not work with these players) before you edit them into clips.
  • MPEG Streamclip: This is freeware that streams digital video you have extracted so that you can edit the digital video into clips and save it as an easily readable format, unlike VOB. Keep in mind, however, that in order to playback and/or convert the VOB file format you need to buy the QuickTime Mpeg2 Playback Component from apple for $19.99. Click here for more info about this. They have versions of Streamclip for Mac OS X and Windows XP.
  • ffmpegX: quoting their site:

    ffmpegX is a Mac OS X graphic user interface designed to easily operate more than 20 powerful Unix open-source video and audio processing tools including ffmpeg the “hyper fast video and audio encoder.

    In other words, ffmpegX cannot edit digital video files, like MPEG Streamclip can, but it can compress and convert these files into a variety of video formats such as Mov, AVI, DV, MP4, etc. And, unlike MPEG Streamclip, you do not need to purchase the Mpeg 2 Encoder from Apple for this program to convert VOB files. Once again, this software is only compatible with MAC OS X.

  • Sorenson Squeeze: For those of you who are willing to part with some dough, Sorenson Squeeze is an application that costs about $100 and they make versions for both Windows XP and Mac OS X. One of the greatest advantages of this program is that it allows you convert and compress Real Media files (RM), MP4s and MOVs into the flash formats SWF and FLV, which otherwise you can only do with Flash MX Pro or Flash 8. The FLV format is particularly nice because it runs quite smoothly on the web and WordPress has some sweet plugins for playing this format on your blog. Additional features of Sorensen Squeeze are that you can control the compression size of your videos, make them progressive playback for the web, crop the frame of the video, and a whole lot more.
  • digitalFAQ.com on editing DVDs on a Mac: this is a fairly useful guide for using MPEG Streamclip to edit digital video. Go directly to the part where they discuss Streamclip, for they mention another DVD extraction program called yadeX that is a level editor for the classic video game Doom, but, as far as I know, does the same thing as Mac the Ripper or Handbrake. Link
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5 Responses to Doing Things with Digital Video on a MAC

  1. Mikhail says:

    Nice summary, Jimmy. Here’s a bit more of the same sort of stuff that’s good to know.

    1. It should be noted that MacTheRipper also decodes the copy protection on DVDs. This is useful if you would like to extract a clip from a cmercial DVD for use in class.

    2. MPlayer will sometimes play what VLC can’t. It’s good idea to have both I’ve found.

    3. DVD2oneX allows you to compress data from a dual layer disc to play on a single 4.7G DVD. Roxio Popcorn does as well and is handy in other ways as well as it can convert video for use on iPods, PSP, and DivX players.

    4. Roxio Toast Titanium lets you burn DivX to CD or DVD for use in DivX enabled DVD players. it encodes video as well.

    5. The FLV format and the FLV WP plugin are a great alternative to Quicktime video for blogs particularly because QT is not bundled with Widows. Windows users have to download Quicktime to watch QT videos. Since, however QT is now bundled with iTunes for Windows, that may not be as big a deal as it once was.

  2. jimgroom says:

    Awesome stuff, Mikhail. Thanks a million, I’ll have to play with Roxio Popcorn and Toast. I have heard about them, but was not quite certain how they were used. I guess I can’t claim ignorance any longer.

  3. Mikhail says:

    Oh yeah, there’s this: http://www.videohelp.com/ — awesome site — very useful.

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