DVD to MPEG in 40 Excruciating Steps

Take one link to Doom9.org (which confusingly refers to itself as doom9.net, which itself redirects to doom9.org – this is just the beginning of my confusion), several DVDs, two days of spare time, and a pinch of divine inspiration, and you might just get close to being able to rip video from a DVD. It’s very very complicted. And I still can’t do it right.

The process of ripping audio is significantly easier, involving only four programs, each full of esoteric settings that need to be modified every time, and a single batch file that I had to write myself to get one of these programs to work the way it’s meant to. Yes I did say this was easier. It goes like this: Use the DVD player that came with the system to find the correct chapter. This isn’t always straightforward. With South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, the movie chapter numbers matched the chapter numbers on the disc, with the menus coming afterwards. However with Family Guy, the order of chapters on the disc seemed unrelated to the episode numbers, so I had to go on trial and error. When I’ve found the chapter I want, I decode the whole chapter and save it on the hard disk with one program. Then I extract the right audio stream (English language stream, French translation, Director’s commentary…) from that file with another program. This saves it in a format that no program understands, so I use a third program, controlled by my home-made batch script, to convert it to mp3. To get the clip I want, I edit this mp3 with Audacity and output to OGG format. Figuring this out took a day. Doing it takes about a minute. Yay!

Video is a diferent story, and the best I can do is a badly compressed AVI weighing it at about a gigabyte/minute with no sound. If anyone knows some reasonably good, free video editing software that can output decent quality MPEG, let me know.