Guide to Converting DVD's to Apple TV (on a PC): 4 steps

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by williamm, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. williamm macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2008
    Created on 2/6/08

    I've plucked a lot of good info from various forums, so I thought I would give back with my $.02 and hopefully help someone else...

    Migrate/Backup my collection of DVD's (~300 discs) to Itunes so that the movies would be playable on our shiny new Apple TV. Full collection of encoded movies resides on a wireless-g networked PC running Itunes with an external USB 500GB drive. Encoding is done balancing quality AND file size (slight emphasis on quality).

    Step 1: Rip DVD with "DVDFab HD Decrypter (Jan 23, 2008)" (free)
    - Download at and install.
    - Insert DVD, run Decrypter program.
    - Select "Main Movie"
    - Use common sense to verify it correctly identified the full movie and has your language of preference selected. (use "play time", "aspect ratio", and description to make this determination)
    - OPTIONAL: Uncheck any audio tracks you do not want to minimize file size.
    - Click "Start", and wait for 10 to 30 minutes as DVD is ripped to target directory.

    Step 2: Encode DVD VOB files into smaller H.264 file with "Nero Recode 3"
    (part of Nero 8 - $80)
    - Download at and install.
    - Run "Nero StartSmart", then launch "Nero Recode"
    - Select "Recode DVDs and Videos to Nero Digital" (Nero Digital is H.264)
    - Select "Import Files", navigate to the Ripped DVD from Step 1, and click "Add Title"
    - Select "Close" (Multiple rips can be selected before closing for batch processing)
    - Select a movie, then use the following settings - each movie has to be configured this way one at a time (If not mentioned here, leave at default):
    Profile Category: Nero Digital
    Profile: Nero Digital AVC
    Encoding Method: Fast (1-pass)
    Fit to target: NOT CHECKED
    Video Quality Slider: 2.0 Mbps (my personal choice for quality & size)
    Video tab, Settings, Resize: Automatic, with "Square Pixes / Letterboxing" CHECKED
    Video tab, Encoder, General Settings: Encoder Precision = Best
    Video tab, Encoder, Encoding Tools: Weighted Prediction UNCHECKED
    Video tab, Encoder, Visual Enhancements: Picture and Macroblock both UNCHECKED
    Audio tab, Source: Your choice of audio file here (I always leave the default Dolby Digital 5.1 selected)
    - Select "Next", then "Burn". A 2hr movie typically takes about 3.5hrs to encode on my AMD64 3800 dual core machine, and ends up at about 2GB file size.
    * Step 2 Commentary:
    I typically will rip 5 or 6 DVD's before batch encoding them all at once. I start the encoding right before bed, and let it work through the next day until I return home from work. I'll come home to 5 or 6 encoded movies ready to add to Itunes!
    I know some of you will balk at the $80 Nero price, but it's actually fairly reasonable for what you get (and cheap compared to the value of 300 DVDs). The download has a 15 day evaluation period so you can see if you like it before buying.

    Step 3: Add encoded movies to Itunes Library:
    - Open Itunes
    - Select File, "Add file to Library", and select encoded Movies.

    Step 4: Add DVD artwork and info to encoded movies
    - Go to and download artwork of your choice for your movies.
    - From inside Itunes, Right click on a movie file and select "Get Info".
    - Enter as much data as you want on the "Info" tab. (I only enter "Name")
    - Select the downloaded art file in the "Artwork" tab.

    That's it... Following this procedure gives me Movies in Itunes & Apple TV with viewable name and artwork. The movies play well on the PC and Apple TV. I currently have the ATV playing through a 32" 720p LCD and can only tell a VERY slight quality difference between the encoded movie and source DVD.... your mileage may vary. I've transfered about 40 DVDs this way so far with 100% success rate. Audio sounds great through the TV's 2 speakers (HDMI connection), but I have not tested to see if Dolby 5.1 would work if I used the optical output.....feel free to chime in with your experience.

    All movies work great so far streaming to the ATV with only ~5 sec of buffering and no stuttering. I've not been motivated to synch any since the Itunes PC runs 24/7.

    Apologies in advance if I've mistakenly omitted a step or setting.... Please reply with successes/failures or alternative/improvement suggestions if you have any.

    Good luck,
  2. srexy macrumors 6502a

    Nov 19, 2006
    This is very useful - thanks William. I've been using MactheRipper and Handbrake on my MBP and then transferring to my PC - this should make the workflow a bit easier.

    Do you know of anything that will do the encoding besides Nero (that might be free :D )?
  3. ladysman macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2008

  4. HotRodGuy macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2008
    Huntington Beach, CA -> Raleigh, NC
    Just curious, why not use DVD fab to do it all?
  5. srexy macrumors 6502a

    Nov 19, 2006
    Doh! - thanks.
  6. brandonshough macrumors regular


    Jul 19, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Great tutorial.....

    Keep in mind that Handbrake is much easier, faster, and available for mac/pc.

    Don't forget that on the PC for handbrake to decrypt the DVD on the fly so you don't have to rip first you'll need "DVD43" which is freeware.

    My Q6600 is always working hard now :)
  7. williamm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2008
    How did I end up using this method & these programs?
    - I already had a copy of Nero, so I figured out how to use it instead of buying something else like the full version of DVDfab.
    - I REALLY wanted the ability to batch encode multiple movies at once, so I wouldn't be chained to my machine every 3 hours to start another encode. I didn't immediately see how to do this with Handbrake (is it possible on the PC?)

    There are many ways to get DVD's onto the ATV, but these 4 steps suited my needs best. It makes efficient use of my time, and more importantly has worked perfectly every time.
  8. DataThief macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2007
    Somewere in Washington State
    Not bad, your way is doable. I like using Anydvd and Handbrake to encode on the fly without having to rip to the PC at all. Nero since v6 has turned into a bloated piece of sh&t.
  9. srexy macrumors 6502a

    Nov 19, 2006
    I checked out dvdfab and it's very straightforward however the AppleTv preset didn't seem like it preserved the 5.1 audio.

    I've now got handbrake for windows installed but am unsure whether to use the :apple:TV preset or some custom one. Will the :apple:TV preset preserve 5.1 or do I need to specify "6 discrete channels" to make this happen.

    Edit: just read the handbrake wiki and it answered my handbrake question. Now about that dvdfab...
  10. davak macrumors member

    Aug 9, 2007
    HandBrake and DVD Decrypter

    Being a cheapie, I use HandBrake and DVD Decrypter.

    The presets on HB cut out a lot of steps and makes the workflow simple.

    Here are my steps and screenshots:

    XP / Vista: How to Rip DVDs to Apple TV for Free

    I rip using DVD Decrypter (since HB on the PC doesn't rip through DRM).

    Then I convert using HB. I usually rip a ton of stuff to my computer and then queue it all up in HB.
  11. TommyLee macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2004
    New Orleans
    will DVD fab automatically import the movie into Apple TV? Will it save my previous settings, so i don't have to set them everytime? how many clicks to get from DVD to playing on Apple TV?

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