Video-to-iPod Conversion for Windows PCs, Parts 2-3 | iLounge Article

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Video-to-iPod Conversion for Windows PCs, Parts 2-3

Editor's Note

A new version of this article is now available.

Please see our new Complete Guide to iPod, iPhone and Apple TV Video Conversion (Windowss).



In Part 1 of this tutorial, you learned how to "rip" a DVD into one or more .VOB files that are great except for one thing: the iPod cannot read them. Part 2 below focuses on "Converters," programs that transform .VOB format video files into a format that the iPod can play, and Part 3 helps you transfer the finished iPod-ready files to your video-ready iPod.

Again, a disclaimer: iLounge is read by people in countries all over the world. The legality of DVD-to-iPod ripping varies based on your country of residence. iLounge does not in any way endorse violation of the valid rights of copyright holders, and strongly recommends that you consult your country’s copyright and fair use laws before copying any video content to your iPod. We take no responsibility for your actions, and assume that you will only rip DVDs that you are entitled to rip under the laws of your country, such as DVDs you created yourself.

Part 2: Converting Your Ripped Movie to an iPod-Formatted File

There are many programs that handle the task of converting foreign video files into an iPod-friendly format. As explained in a separate iLounge tutorial, Apple's own iTunes can convert some videos automatically - just drag the video files into iTunes, right-click on them and select Convert Selection for iPod, but it won't handle .VOB files. So you'll need to use a different program, such as one of these:

  1. Videora iPod Converter (Free),
  2. 3GP Converter (Free),
  3. Handbrake (Free, still in beta stage for PCs), and
  4. Apple's QuickTime Pro ($30) + MPEG2 Playback Component ($20), both purchased together at the Apple online store.

We'll look at Videora iPod Converter below, and you can jump right into the tutorial if you want, but there are a few technical terms we think you should read about first.

Aspect Ratio: The width of a video image relative to its height. Old TV sets almost always have a 4:3 aspect ratio. Most HDTV sets use a "widescreen" aspect ratio of 16:9, resembling wider movie theater screens.

Letterboxing: A way to present widescreen video on an old 4:3 television. The new video appears in the center of the old screen, with black bars or blank space above and below the image.

CBR (Constant Bit Rate): Video or audio data that uses generally the same sized blocks to describe every unit of time - say, 128K per second - to store whatever happens in that unit of time, simple or complex. This is analogous to a writer who describes every day in a month with one sentence. As a result, the data is more likely to lose certain noticeable details during complex moments, while too much detail will be unnecessarily stored during simple ones.

VBR (Variable Bit Rate): Video or audio data that allows for different-sized blocks in the same file, resulting in an average bit rate that provides more and less detail where necessary. This is analogous to a writer who picks the most important days in a month to write more about, devoting little or no time to unimportant ones.

Pixelization/Pixelation: These terms both refer to the transfer of analog format photographs - such as the individual frames of a movie shot with a traditional camera - into digital pictures that are represented by a limited number of colored dots, called pixels. A pixelized or pixelated image is one in which individual pixels are obvious to the viewer, a process which becomes more likely as a small image with few pixels is blown up larger and larger, making the separate dots increasingly easy to see. For this reason, videos that look good on small (iPod) screens may not look good on large (TV) screens, so you want to have enough dots that pixelization does not occur. DVDs store up to 720 dots in width, the iPod's screen displays only 320.

Artifacting: Distortion added to audio or video during the compression process; in video, this is most commonly perceived as chunky blocks of too-dark or too-light pixels that appear at the edges of two contrasting colored shapes on the screen. Compress video too much and artifacing is a very likely result.

Step-by-Step Guide to Converting Videos with Videora iPod Converter
Step 1. Download and install Videora, then load the program.
Step 2. Once it's open, click on Setup in the left hand window.
Step 3. Click on the Profile tab so you can configure the profile for the movie/video that you will be converting. This step is a bit of a challenge, so just walk through the tutorial slowly.
  1. Under the Settings tab, take note of the words "Output Videos to." This is where your finished videos will be when Videora is done transcoding them.

  2. Next, look under the Profile Picker tab. This is a calculator that helps you set up the most appropriate "Profile" for the movie/video you are about to transcode. At the top, you'll see a One-Click Profile drop down window. Select one of the profiles you want to use, but do not click Save yet. Under the Output Filesize Estimates, enter your video's time in hours, minutes and seconds in each box. Finally, under Custom Bitrate, click the Calculate button. The total file size of your finished video in Megabytes will be displayed at the bottom of the window. Each time you change the One-Click Profile after that the values will automatically change.
    This information can be used to select the best profile for the video you're going to convert. Once you have decided on the best profile, click on the "Save" button at the top for that movie. You can do this separately for each video.

  3. Under the Profiles tab in the Video settings section, set Full Screen (4:3) or Widescreen (16:9 or otherwise) for each video, depending on the type of video you ripped or started with.

  4. Under Existing Quality Profiles, select one of the choices given and you will see the values in the Video and Audio sections below it change to meet the specifications for that selection.
  5. Example: If you select "H.264/320x240/16:9/640kbps Stereo/128kbps" you will see that the Video window values give you the choice to select the Aspect Ratio of 16:9 (Widescreen) or 1:1 (Standard). If you don't know which to choose, this information is usually found on the back of a DVD case, and you can select one or the other based on that information.

    Click on the New Profiles button to add a new profile to the drop down selections. This allows you to customize your settings. Start by typing "iPod" as a description of the settings in the Profile Name box, then go down to the Apply button at the bottom and click on it to set the new settings as a profile. Next time you click on the Existing Quality Profiles menu, you will see the new settings have been added under the name "iPod." What follows are the settings we'd recommend for the iPod.

    Mode: MPEG-4 > CBR
    Resolution: 320x240
    Passes: 1 (For higher quality, select 2 passes. This option takes twice as long, but yields a cleaner video file.)

    Bitrate: 700 kbps
    Framerate: 29.97 fps (Frames Per Second)

    [Note: When using MPEG-4 A-VBR the boxes Min and Max will be available. When using CBR they will not be available. We'd recommend these settings if you want to try something more advanced that will look better.

    Min: 128
    Max: 2500

    For other options, see this thread in the iLounge Discussion Forums for other successful settings you can use with Videora.

    Crop Input Video (by pixel): Leave this unchecked.

  6. In the 'Audio' settings section, make the following selections.

    Bitrate: 128 kbps
    Sample rate: Input
    Channels: stereo
    Volume is set to 100%

  7. Click the Apply button to save the profile settings. Now that you've told the program what to do, you're ready to convert your movie.
Step 4. Return to the main window by clicking on the word Convert in the left hand window. This will take you to the main window.
Step 5. Once at the main window, click on the Transcode New Video button. When the window opens, you'll need to find the .VOB movie file you want converted. If you used Part 1 of this tutorial and placed a DVD Files or similar folder on your desktop, this is where the .VOB is located.
Step 6. Under quality profile, choose "iPod," the profile you created using the steps above. Note: you have to select this profile EVERY time you transcode, as it's not the default setting. Then click Start to begin the converting process.

Important Note: You will notice that the converting process will eventually say 100%, even though the program is still processing the file. Leave it until it finishes completely. The application will completely stop when done. If you have other movie files in the queue, Videora will load the next movie and begin to convert it. Once you've finished, move on to Part 3 of this tutorial.

Part 3: Transferring Movies To iTunes and Your iPod

If you don't have it already, you can download iTunes here. Once it's installed, open iTunes and go to the top-of-window menu. Select File > Add Folder/File to Library, and choose the finished file created by Videora. Alternately, drag the file into the main library from your desktop. In both cases, you'll have to wait a minute or five for the video to finish transferring. You can then connect your iPod and synchronize it automatically or manually to update the music and videos found in your iTunes library.

If the video isn't capable of being transferred to the iPod, a message will appear telling you that it is not in iPod format and can't be transferred. In this case, you will need to redo the movie or video by converting the .VOB file again using different settings. Alternately, if iTunes can play the movie, but just can't send the file to the iPod, try highlighting the converted video in iTunes, and either right-click to choose Convert Selection to iPod, or go to the Advanced menu at the top of the window, then select Convert to iPod. Wait until it's done, and the resulting video will transfer to and play on the iPod.

Now you're finished, with a movie that you can watch on the iPod's screen, or even connect with a video cable to your television to watch in a larger format. We recommend that you try this process with one video first to see how the results look on both your iPod and a TV screen. If you notice any pixelization or artifacting, you may want to try the advanced settings listed above, increasing the number of pixels and bit rate (and therefore the file size) to create higher-quality videos.

For More Information

The first part of this tutorial, Video-to-iPod Conversion for Windows PCs, Part 1, helps you learn how to "rip" the contents of DVDs into a format that conversion utilities can use.

iLounge's TV & Video Discussion Forum discusses other rippers and converters, as well as links to guides for their use. We also have GUIDES TO: Converting Video for iPod - Mac & Windows, a discussion thread with pointers and comments from many iLounge readers.

Mac users, please see The Complete Guide to iPod Video Formats and Display Resolutions, The Complete Guide to Converting DVDs to iPod Format - Mac, and The Complete Guide to Converting Video to iPod Format - Mac.

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Video-to-iPod Conversion for Windows PCs, Part 1 »

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Comments

1

Thanks for the stellar step-by-step.  I’m a fairly new iPod user, and your guide helped me rip, encode and upload my first movie!  While this is a fairly time-consuming operation, it will be nice to watch my favorite movies on my next trip.  Video content for the iPod is so sparse right now!

Posted by Audrey McGirt on March 7, 2006 at 1:47 AM (CST)

1

quick question:  can i burn back-up’s of mp4 formatted videos to a regular CD-R?

Posted by Audrey McGirt on March 31, 2006 at 10:17 AM (CST)

1

Yes, but the files can’t be viewed on a regular DVD player.  Before burning them select ‘data disk’ in iTunes.  A 80 minute disk will hold up to 700MB (actual is up to 698MB of data) of data and a DVD will hold up to 4.7GB of data (actual is up to 3.98GB of data).

Posted by Audrey McGirt on April 9, 2006 at 2:38 PM (CDT)

1

Iv ripped converted my movie, got it into my itunes library where it plays fine, but when i unplug my ipod it wont play on the ipod. What should i do?

Posted by Audrey McGirt on April 18, 2006 at 12:01 PM (CDT)

1

I tried to convert a video in the real video format.  It takes no time and says completed, yet nothing is done.  I don’t know what to do!  HELP!!!

Posted by Audrey McGirt on April 20, 2006 at 10:27 PM (CDT)

1

GFUNK13: I’ve had a similar problem (I think, a music video I converted would not play, but just skip to the next video). If this is what’s happening to you, I solved it by converting the video into a different format. Try it.

Also…
I’ve been using DVD Decrypter + Videora Converter for my movies, but for some reason halfway through an upload into my iPod, the upload stops. A message appears stating that there was an error. Why? I don’t know, but instead I have to convert my movies chapter-by-chapter, which can be *very* annoying, so that I can go back and convert chapters that will upload. May I mention again that this is *very, very* annoying. Anyone experiencing similar problems?

Posted by Audrey McGirt on April 22, 2006 at 2:58 PM (CDT)

1

GFUNK13 - Try lowering your settings.  You didn’t state what format the movie is you are trying to convert.  Is this a DVD you ripped or a video you downloaded?

A SPANKE - There is an error in reading file.  Try using software that will convert the type of file you have.  Check the GUIDES TO: Converting Video for iPod - Mac & Window on page 3 near the bottom for freeware that will convert rm files.  Try this one:  Free iPod Video Converter 1.32 build 852.

iPodluver1024 - If it’s a full movie then make sure when ripping that you have Decrypter set to give you one .vob file to transcode.  If the movie is over 2 hours then set Videora (MPEG-4/320x240/512kbps Stereo/128kbps).

Posted by Audrey McGirt on April 25, 2006 at 7:34 PM (CDT)

1

The video that i am trying to get to my ipod is a DVD. i converted it fine with DVD decrypter and then converted it in videora, then i put it in Itunes where it plays fine, then i drag and drop it to my iPod, after it is put on the ipod i unplug it. The video seems to be on the ipod but when i try and play it it is just a black screen

Posted by Audrey McGirt on April 29, 2006 at 2:36 PM (CDT)

1

Set Videora to mpeg-4/320x240/640kbps Stereo/128kbps.

Posted by Audrey McGirt on May 10, 2006 at 1:44 PM (CDT)

1

I am trying to convert a disc of 24 to ipod files and i am coming up on tons of errors. First, the dvd decrypter seperates the episodes into many different .vob files and when I merge them it comes to about 8gb. When i find that size in vidorea it translates to about 20 hours of video. I’m guessing alot of it is special features but I have no clue how to change that. Also when i am in Vidorea I start to convert it and I wait about a hour and it says 100% but it still is going almost 2 hours since it first said that. What am I doing wrong?

Posted by Audrey McGirt on May 11, 2006 at 9:28 PM (CDT)

1

You have set DVD Decrytper incorrectly.  Under Mode set it to ‘IFO’ and set file splitting to none.

In Videora, set it: MPEG-4/320x240/640kbps Stereo/128kbps or change the 640 to 512 if you want a smaller file size.  When it gets to 100% just leave it to finish the file.

Posted by Audrey McGirt on May 16, 2006 at 4:44 PM (CDT)

1

I have tried multipul movies on many different settings each and i allways come up with the same thing. the audio always seems to be a few seonds different from the video.

Posted by Audrey McGirt on May 30, 2006 at 8:22 PM (CDT)

1

I’m trying to convert some widescreen AVIs to a format to use on the iPod.  When I use Videora, they are (I think) converted to 4:3.  How do I retain the 16:9 so that it plays in letterbox on my iPod?  Ive tried numerous settings on Videora and nothing works.  Ive tried using this walkthrough, but it doesnt work either.  Can someone give me the proper settings?

Posted by Audrey McGirt on June 1, 2006 at 10:17 AM (CDT)

1

Ive ripped and converted a movie using DVD Decrypter + Videora Converter, it plays on iTunes but when its on my iPod the name of the file is shown and it only plays the audio, the visual part of the movie doesn’t play. PLEASE HELP, IM DESPARATE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Audrey McGirt on June 7, 2006 at 2:56 AM (CDT)

1

Every time I convert a file using Videora the file’s audio doesn’t sync up consistantly. What I mean is that the audio and video are together at the begining, but as the movie plays on the audio slowly gets further and further out-of-sync, until they are a few seconds apart, making for a difficult movie watching experience. I am not the only one with this problem. Is there something we can do to fix this (a setting or something), or are we doomed to an out-of-sync ipod life?

Posted by Audrey McGirt on June 12, 2006 at 1:53 PM (CDT)

1

Hey,

Thanks for the great tutorial! I have been searching for a long time, trying to find a tutorial and/or a program that I can use to convert movies to the iPod. This tutorial is perfect. The instructions are great, very easy to follow. My first file converted (the pilot episode of the Office) came out great! Thanks again!

Posted by Audrey McGirt on June 22, 2006 at 11:34 AM (CDT)

1

A few comments:

1) On Windows at least there is a problem with video files that have long file names.  If you drag such a video onto your iPod it will not copy it and it will not give you an error.  Edit the file to shorten the name and repeat.  I’m not sure of the precise length supported.

2) If you are having a/v sync problems with Videora check your profile.  You should have the Framerate set to 29.97 fps.  You should also add the Custom FFMPEG Flags: “-async 1” (without the quotes).  This has solved most of my issues.

Posted by Audrey McGirt on July 6, 2006 at 3:21 PM (CDT)

1

I was trying to convert my dvd movie into ipod format using Videora but it seems it’s going to take days to complete… Can anybody tell me if it’s normal or if it’s b/c my computer’s slow?

Posted by Audrey McGirt on July 14, 2006 at 10:35 AM (CDT)

1

i have recently converted dvds using DVD fab decrypter and Videora ipod convertor. picture is fantastic but cant get anysound. driving me mad trying to resolve! any ideas where i’ve gone wrong?

Posted by Audrey McGirt on July 15, 2006 at 4:37 PM (CDT)

1

Dear Audrey,
        Hats off to you for giving a step by step procedure to upload a movie onto an iPod.

I was able to convert a movie from DVD format to ipod format (MP4 format). Then, I dragged the MP4 file into the itunes library and then uploaded it onto my ipod. But I’m not able to play it….it doesn’t give me any error message. After I click on the movie, a arrow appears on the left hand corner and the screen stays blank….Can anyone Please Help !!

Regards,
Bala

Posted by Audrey McGirt on July 16, 2006 at 9:13 PM (CDT)

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