VOB, MKV, ISO...How should I digitize my DVDs?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by GanChan, Feb 8, 2015.

  1. GanChan, Feb 8, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2015

    GanChan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2005
    I'm putting this thread here because it's not a Mac-specific question, even though I'm a Mac guy.... Anyway, I'm looking at digitizing my collection of DVDs (mostly TV series) so I can carry them with me easily while traveling, and as "insurance" in case the original discs get lost or damaged.

    I did some experiments via Handbrake, transferring some programs to both VOB and MKV file formats. Both play back fine in VLC, but the MKV file is more than twice the size of the VOB folder. Is that normal? Pretty sure they're both lossless, and I used the same settings....maybe I changed audio formats/compression or something....

    I've also been told that I can simply make an ISO image of the entire disc, but I'm wondering how compatible that will be with various players other than VLC (nothing wrong with VLC, but....) Don't these files play only if you burn them back onto another disc first?

    All things being equal, a smaller file size and/or faster process would be preferable. Any advice?
  2. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Use handbrake and the MP4 h256 format. There really is no need for Mkv with dvd's.
  3. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    There really isn't a "right" answer but there are lots of wrong answers. It really depends on what your criteria is for playback.

    An MKV is nothing more than a wrapper for a media file. In practice, it should only be slightly larger than an original vob file unless some rework is being done to the file which makes it smaller (compressed) or larger (a conversion of the file uncompressed).

    VOB files are already compressed files. As example you can get some TV shows in either blue ray or dvd. DVD files are far more compressed and as such have less detail available than a well done blue ray.

    Compressing a VOB furthers loss of quality. For some, they see no difference and others do see a difference but willing to sacrifice some quality in order to have smaller files.

    I have several TV shows in both blue ray and DVD. At times I use MKV via MakeMKV and the files are identical to the original in playback. I also use VOBs and M2TS (Blue Ray native file format). The only time where Handbrake makes sense is for lower end playback such as iPhone or iPad. As well the file formats required for those are not VOB or M2TS or MKV for that matter unless you use a 3rd party player.

    If you plan to use ATV, iPhone or iPad, you have to change the format. If you plan to use it on a computer, laptop or either to TV, you'll have to decide if you want a loss of quality or not. I prefer no loss of quality and that means no further compression. I also use VLC, XBMC and other players.

    As for H.265, I'll just say its a better compression tool than H.264 but for DVD it has no real value given that DVDs are not (relatively) high quality to begin with. In short, stick with VOB files or use a player that handles decrypted ISO files (XBMC and Plex are not bad choices and are free).
  4. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    This is absolutely correct and where you must start in terms of making a decision. Some people are converting there physical media for playback on a specific device, like a laptop or an iPad for travel purposes. Others are wanting to simply digitize their physical media at the highest possible quality for archive purposes and will make the decision about playback later.

    It can get complicated when you want to digitize content for playback on multiple devices like an iPad and your home TV/Entertainment sysem. In these cases you have to find a format that is friendly to both settings and take into account that doing so will likely cost you some quality loss due to the compromise.

    Regardless of the choice you make it is wise to plan your storage accordingly with appropriate back up.
  5. srltzz342 macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2014
    This is legitimately not mean to be a smart*** question: Isn't it against the law to copy dvds onto your hard drive? I don't mean "you'll never get caught" but isn't it technically against the law in USA?

    I used to do this heavily, and have always been curious.
  6. MICHAELSD macrumors 68040


    Jul 13, 2008
    Yes it is, but this is an archaic form of copyright law.

    Just encode the film in h.265 in as high a quality as possible.
  7. Renzatic Suspended


    Aug 3, 2011
    Gramps, what the hell am I paying you for?
    Sorta is, sorta isn't. Everyone has the right to make copies of their own media for their own use. If you want to archive it, make a backup, or watch it on another device, you're free to rip to your heart's content.

    What's illegal is cracking encryptions. If you have to break through some DRM to make your media movable, then your right to copy is made entirely null and void.

    The good news is most DVDs aren't covered by this law. I don't think any of them have any form of DRM on them. But if you want to copy Blu-Rays, you're screwed.
  8. sim667 macrumors 65816

    Dec 7, 2010
    I use MKV's through handbrake.

    But realistically is much of a muchness..... but use handbrake, its very good.

    You can also use the mactheripper, to pull the video_ts files off mulitple dvd's and then build a handbrake queue...... I remember having mine running for about 10 days. I still haven't done all my DVD collection :rolleyes:
  9. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Yeah one of the other subforums here has a services scripting thread that describes how to make it pretty much automated. It uses Mactheripper to rip the DVD and handbrake to create the video file in the format you want. You put in a DVD, the service script detects the DVD and awhile later (depending on the CPU ower of your mac) out pops a .m4v video. Very handy when you have dozens of DVDs to archive. Any apple device can play .m4v and you can also put them in an iTunes library.

    Personally I use handbrake's ATV preset format which is a H.264 type, and handbrake does an excellent job for everything from HDDVDs to SD HVDs and shows recorded OTA.... then I use subler to add meta data and move the video file to my "automatically add to iTunes" folder.
  10. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    Nope, pretty much all of them do. If they didn't then iTunes would have had an "Import DVD" feature way back when it first came with the "Import CD" option.

    Why you're confused is that the DVD encryption is so simple to break you've never run into a problem trying to crack them. But it's there which is why, legally speaking, they're all protected.
  11. Maxwill macrumors member


    May 25, 2015
    For DVDs I still suggest MP4 if you playback on iPhone or iPad via VLC. Both VOB and ISO come with quite large file size with all the content lossless. But just as phrehdd said, DVDs are not in HD (480p at max) so no need to stick with lossless format. MKV can wrap both lossless raw media or compressed movies, but I'd prefer H.265 MP4 (same quality, smaller file size) as storage is still an issue with iPhone/iPad. Google for H.265 converter, you can download any trial to give it a shot.

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10 February 8, 2015