Date: Nov 19, 2010
The iPad screen is perfect for viewing movies, but why did Apple make it so difficult to import your movies? (Okay, the answer is obvious: to make you buy movies from iTunes!) James Kelly takes away the complexity and shows you how to easily convert your DVDs to digital files that are fully compatible with the iPad with no software purchases required!
The iPad comes with a minimum of 16GB of storage spaceplenty of room for a user's music collection, numerous apps, and photos galore. And if you're lucky enough to own a 32GB or 64GB version of the iPad, you've got even more room. Since the iPad's release, owners of the device have always had the ability to view YouTube videos, and purchase movies and TV shows from iTunes. The iPad has an outstanding viewing screen that's bright, vivid, and doesn't give you eye strain from squinting.
Given that the iPad lacks a DVD drive or a USB port for uploading files, there does seem to be one big question, however, if you want to watch DVD movies you already own: How do you get your existing video collection onto the iPad? (And when I use the term DVD movies, I'm referring to any video content that you have on DVD, including home movies, television series, and so on… I'll just use the term movies to keep it simple.)
There are third-party apps that allow you to do thisone of the most popular ones right now is AirVideo. First, you use third-party software to rip (convert) your DVDs to files that are stored on a computer in your home. Then, after purchasing and installing the AirVideo app on your iPad (and a matching application on your home computerthe home computer software is free, by the way), you log in with a username and password, and AirVideo connects to your home computer via the Internet and plays a movie on your iPad screen. The movie isn't actually stored on your iPad, so it takes up no storage spacea nice benefit to using AirVideo.
But AirVideo does require an Internet connection, so if your iPad isn't finding a WiFi signal (or 3G signal) at a particular location, there'll be no movie watching for you.
The quality of the image is also an issuewhen you rip your DVDs, often the software reduces the image quality to save on file size. If you override it and rip the DVD with the highest quality, AirVideo can often stutter and pause as it downloads the large video over a WiFi or 3G connection.
AirVideo is nice, and I've used it for a while…but no more. I've now found a much better way to watch my movies with almost no loss of quality and absolutely no pausing/stuttering of the image.
This process isn't any big secretthe steps to do it can be found all over the Internet. But it's a multipart process, and much of the online explanations are either overly technical or not complete. The rest of this article details the process for Windows users. If you are a Mac user, it's an even easier process that does not require the first step of using DVD Shrink, so just watch for the note in a few paragraphs that explains what you need to do.
The process I'm going to describe in this article uses two pieces of software that run on Microsoft Windows. I'll talk about this specifically later in the article and what Mac users can use as a substitute.
A standard 2-hour DVD movie (not Blu-Ray) takes more than 3.5GB of storage space. The process I'll describe helps reduce that size quite a bit without losing quality, but even after following these steps, you'll still find a 2-hour DVD movie reduced to somewhere around 0.75GB to 1GB in size. For those owners of a 16GB iPad, you may find you only have enough storage space left for 5 to 10 movies at best if you don't wish to delete photos, music, or apps.
The steps I'm describing in this article are for converting DVD movies that you ownlet's not violate any laws here by ripping movies that you've borrowed or rented. Digital copyright laws are fairly strict and I do not believe in piracy. So please… if you choose to follow these steps, stay legal and only convert DVD movies that you own. Okay, I'm off my soapbox.
Convert a DVD to a Digital File
The first step is converting a DVD movie to a collection of files that will be stored on a computer's hard drive. For this step, I'll be using a free application called DVD Shrink as seen at http://www.dvdshrink.org/ (see Figure 1).
After downloading the application, double-click the setup file and follow the instructions to install DVD Shrink. After the application is installed, double-click the icon (or select it from your Programs listing) and run DVD Shrink. When the application opens, a screen like the one shown in Figure 2 appears.
Insert a DVD movie into your DVD drive. If your DVD Player software runs, close it down. After the DVD movie is inserted, click the Re-Author button on the toolbar and double-click the drive letter under the DVD Browser tab, as seen in Figure 3.
After double-clicking the drive letter (in my walkthrough, the drive letter is E:), a listing under the DVD Browser tab appears showing the various components that make up the DVD movie. Expand the window a bit so you can see the Size column for each component, as shown in Figure 3.
Click a component to view it in the Preview window in the lower-left corner of the screen. Most likely the movie will be the largest file in the Main Movie category. In Figure 4, it's the 4,362MB file named Title 1.
Click the component(s) you wish to convert for viewing on your iPad and drag it into the middle left part of the screen under the DVD Structure section. A window like the one in Figure 5 pops up as it's scanning the movie. Just let it run until it's completed.
After the scan is complete, the movie appears under the DVD Structure window as seen in Figure 6.
Next, click the Backup button. A screen appears like the one shown in Figure 7.
Use the Browse button to create a folder on your hard drive where you want to store the temporary backup files. I've created a folder titled DVDtoiPadWalkthrough on my C: drive. (Later, after you've converted your movie to the .m4v format and transferred the file to your iPad, you can delete the two folders created in the Backup processVIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS.)
Save the backup files to the folder you created (again, in my example it is c:\DVDtoiPadWalkthrough). Click the OK button to start the backup process and you're 33% done.
An Encoding screen like the one shown in Figure 8 appearsthis could take a while depending on the length of the movie you're converting.
When the Encoding process is done, take a look in the folder you created, and you'll see two new folders titled VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS as shown in Figure 9. These are the backup files that contain the video and audio of the movie you are converting.
Remember the location of these two folders, especially the VIDEO_TS folder. You'll be using that folder in the next part of the process.
Feel free to remove the DVD and close down DVD Shrink. Next, I'll show you how to use the files created by DVD Shrink to create a single file that will be playable on your iPad.
Convert Backup Files to Single iPad-Compatible File
The next part of the process converts the backup files created by DVD Shrink to a single iPad-compatible file suitable for viewing. For this part of the process, another free application called HandBrake is used. You can download the application by visiting http://handbrake.fr/ (see Figure 10). After downloading the installation file, double-click it and follow the instructions to install the HandBrake application.
Now, before you open up HandBrake for the first time, I highly recommend that you download the presets for the iPad so the application will save files in the proper format. This is not a required step, but it will make it easier to convert the movie for best viewing on the iPad (as opposed to a television or mobile phone, for example). Use the following link for instructions on downloading the file:
After you've downloaded the preset file, you can open HandBrake and follow the instructions given in the link above for importing the presets. If you've done this properly, your HandBrake screen should look like the one in Figure 11, complete with iPad presets in the far-right column on the screen.
Select the iPad and iPhone (SD) option in the right column, and click the Set Default button. Click Yes when asked to confirm, and then OK to close down the Alert window that appears.
Next, click the Source drop-down button as shown in Figure 12, and select the DVD/VIDEO_TS Folder option.
In the Browse for Folder window, locate the VIDEO_TS folder that was created earlier in the Backup folder you specified (refer to Figure 9). In Figure 13, you can see that I've selected the VIDEO_TS folder under the DVDtoiPadWalkthrough folder. Click the OK button.
Click the Browse button to specify the Destination of the .m4v file that will be created. In Figure 14, I've chosen to save it under the DVDtoiPadWalkthrough folder and named the file Monsters Inc.m4v.
Click the Start button to begin the conversion. You'll see a small window appear like the one in Figure 15. Two tasks will run and you can view the percentage completed for each task. A warningthis can take a while for a long movie. (Figure 15 shows that the screenshot was taken during task 2 of 2 and that the process is 94.25% complete.)
When the Encoding process is completed, the window will disappear. Look in the Destination folder and you'll find the .m4v file as seen in Figure 16.
All that's left now is to import the .m4v file to your iPad.
Transfer the .m4v File to the iPad
To import the .m4v file, open up iTunes but don't connect your iPad yet. Click the Movies category under your Library. It may or may not be empty. I have a few Thomas the Train videos for my son that you can see in Figure 17.
Click the File menu and choose Add File to Library. A window appears like the one shown in Figure 18; just browse to the location of that .m4v file you just created and click the Open button.
Now you should see the movie added to the Movies category as seen in Figure 19.
Connect your iPad, making certain that the Movies category is selected to be Synchronized. The User's iPad category becomes visible under the Devices category (far left column) after you've connected your iPad. Click on User's iPad (or whatever name is given to your iPad) and then browse to the Movies tab as seen in Figure 20.
Make certain that the Sync Movies checkbox is checked. You can also place a check in the Automatically include section and then select all or select specific movies.
In Figure 21, I've chosen to sync all my movies from the Library to my iPad. (If you select to automatically sync all movies, the individual movie files disappear. Don't worrythey're still there. )
Click the Sync button in the lower-right corner and give it some time, especially if you've got a large movie to sync or a bunch of little ones. Pay attention to the text at the top of iTunes which tells you when it's safe to disconnect your iPad.
When all is done, and if you've done everything correctly, you can open your iPad, click the Movies app, and see a listing of all your moviessee Figure 22.
Click on a movie to play to open it up. Click on the Play button and that's it!
Tapping the center of the screen toggles the controls on and off. If you don't touch the screen for a few seconds, the controls will disappear and only the movie will display.
Repeat as often as you like, or until your iPad runs out of storage space! (And remember: you can delete the VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folders (see Figure 9) if you want to free up hard drive space on your computer.
Now you know how to take a DVD movie and convert it to a file that can be viewed on your iPadit's great for long flights and car rides, doctor office visits, and waiting in line at the DMV or post office. Just be warnedyou're likely to make a few new acquaintances if it's a good flick, so take along a headset or earphones for private viewings.