VLC + Handbrake + DVDs = iPod/iPhone video joy

I’m leaving tomorrow on a business trip to Iași. It will be my first trip there in over a year, and a bit longer than my normal trips (a full work week; something I don’t normally do).

Now that I’ve got this iPod touch thing though, and it has injected itself into many aspects of my life, I decided to try to take advantage of its 32GB storage capacity. I have several DVDs sitting around waiting to be watched. Why not watch them on the plane on my iPod tomorrow? But how can I rip the DVDs (something I’ve never done before) to a format my iPod touch can handle?

I downloaded a few trial versions of payware DVD rippers, and they didn’t work so hot (wrinkly distortions in the final product, plus the watermarked logo until you cough up for the software registration). My favorite geek reference site — ISCABBS, a place so geeky you have to use telnet to get in there — came to the rescue with a recommendation to use Handbrake together with VLC. At least on Mac OS X and Linux, having these together on your computer will allow you to rip right from a DVD into an iPod/iPhone compatible format — for free. Handbrake also nicely converts other video formats — apparently pretty much all of them — into a few of the more modern ones, like MP4 via the H.264 codec. I ripped the DVDs (and converted a few other video files I had lying around) in Handbrake and then dragged the converted files from the Finder windown onto my iPod in iTunes.

Works like a champ — love that.