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Getting TV DVD Box Sets into Media Center

Here is a video I created for MNP reader Dave on how I get my TV DVD box sets into Media Center.  I am currently looking to remove VideoRedo from the process.  I think DVRMS Toolbox finally has a good way to go from VOB to DVR-MS or WTV.  Once I perfect my new method I will update the video.  Until then here is my current process.

Original ScreenToaster Link

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Media Browser 2.1.3 Released

The latest version of Media Browser has been released just ahead of the Windows 7 launch as promised.  You can download it here and check out the main website here

I used an earlier version of Media Browser as my main movie library plug-in but performance issues led me away from it.  I have had a lot more luck with movie libraries that have a database in the backend (My Movies and OML) vs. a file based cache system (Media Browser and native MC Movie Library).  I will give the new version a try to see if the performance is any better but it’s going to be hard to bump My Movies 3 off of my Movies strip.  Look for my My Movies 3 review to be posted tomorrow.

Media Center Studio released for Windows 7

One of my favorite utilities for Windows Vista Media Center is Menu Mender.  It is a very intuitive and easy tool that allows you to customize the menu strips in Media Center.  The changes to the underlying architecture of Windows 7 did not allow Menu Mender to work with Windows 7 but as of yesterday not only is there an update but there is a whole new version of the application named Media Center Studio.

If you are familiar with Menu Mender then you will be instantly familiar with Media Center Studio.  There is some additional functionality like the ability to apply themes to the Media Center UI.  You can still turn strips on/off, rename strip menu items and move them around. 

The only restrictions is that native menu items (think “recorded tv”, “movie guide”, “music”) can only be moved to native strips and not custom strips.  Over on the Green Button there is another application that is out (but set to receive an update at any moment) that will allow you to move native apps to custom strips.

After trying out Media Center Studio I may end up using both applications.  I really want the “movie guide” from the native “Movies” strip to be moved onto my custom movie strip with MediaBrowser and OML and mikinho app from the Green Button seems like it will let me do that but I still like the simplicity of Media Center Studio.  Try them out and let me know what you think.  Remember these are both Beta software releases.

How I Get My DVDs Into Media Center

I have had a few questions about ripping DVD’s and the best format to use.  The answer to that question really depends on what you want as the end product.  For me, I wanted a copy of the movie that had the same visual and audio quality as if I were watching the movie directly from the DVD.  Also I wanted a process that was quick and easy.  The one drawback of my process is that it produces rather large files (about 4GB on average) because I do not re-encode the movie.  So with that caveat out of the way here is how I get one of my DVD’s into Media Center and my MediaBrowser library.

1) Rip the DVD with DVD Shrink 3.2

First I insert the DVD into my DVD drive.  Then I open DVD Shrink 3.2 and press the Open Disc button in the upper left.  The resulting dialog box already has my DVD Drive highlighted so I press “OK”.

DVDShrink 01

DVD Shrink then proceeds to analyze the DVD…

DVDShrink 02

… and the result looks like this:

DVDShrink 03

I only want the movie with the AC3 Dolby Digital audio track and nothing else so I choose the “Re-Author” option by pressing the button on the toolbar.  You then get the following screen with the main pieces separated out.

DVDShrink 04

Next just drag “Title 1” under main movie over to the left under DVD in the DVD Structure section.  To verify that you actually have the movie you can highlight Title 1 in the DVD Structure section and press the blue play button above the black box.  You should see something like this:

DVDShrink 05

Next click on the Compression Settings tab.  Here we can deselect all the audio and subtitle tracks that we do not want.  This avoids the end product having audio in a different language and also reduces file size by not keeping audio tracks that you do not need.  You should only have the AC3 5.1-ch English audio track selected like so:

DVDShrink 06

Before you actually kick of the DVD ripping process double check your settings under “Edit > Preferences”.  On the first tab you should have DVD-9 selected in the target DVD size drop down box and uncheck “Split VOB files into 1GB chunks” under the Output Files tab.

DVDShrink 07a DVDShrink 07b

Next click on the “Backup!” button in the toolbar.  Change your backup target to “Hard Disk Folder”, select an output folder (click on the folder icon for a suggestion) and uncheck the “Create VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS subfolders” option.  Then press OK and the Encoding dialog box will pop up.

DVDShrink 08 DVDShrink 09

Wait for the encoding to be done and the DVD is ripped to a single VOB with full DVD video quality and the AC3 5.1-ch sound.  You are done wit DVD Shrink.  The encoding time will depending on the hardware you are using and the system resources available at the time.  I was actually recording an HD show at the same time as ripping the DVD for this post.

2) Convert VOB to DVR-MS with VideoRedo

I chose early on in my Media Center journey to try and work with the native file formats as much as possible and bypass any on the fly transcoding.  The main reasons for this were ease of use for the family and consistency of experience (i.e. all my video files have the same FW/RW experience regardless if it’s ripped or recorded TV).

I use VideoRedo for the last step but I am sure there are other options.  This to me was the easiest.  Open VideoRedo and open the VOB file.

Then under the “Tools” menu choose “Quickstream Fix…”.  Change the “Output Stream” option to reflect the final directory and filename of the movie file.  In this case I want to put it in the movie folder of my home server so the “Output Stream” value is “\\server_name\movies\Memento\Memento.dvr-ms”.  Click on “Start Quick Fix”.  About 5-8 minutes later you are done.

VideoRedo 02

VideoRedo 03

3) Open up MediaBrowser and verify

Last thing I do is open up MediaBrowser and verify that the new movie was scanned and picked up.

MediaBrowser 01MediaBrowser 02

If you see any issues with the meta data that was automatically pulled by MediaBrowser you can use MetaBrowser to make corrections.

That’s it!  Any questions just shoot me an email or leave a comment.