It’s a purely personal milestone, but today marks the first time I’ve ripped a DVD (store bought) to a video file without watching the film itself. I’ve been slowly going through my film collection and encoding them so I can put the bulky boxes into a crate and store them out of the way – just as CD’s were a revelation in ease of use compared to having to clean and carefully place the stylus on vinyl, and just as DVD’s (in the early days) allowed direct access to the film without tedious rewinding of the tape, media files finally free me from needing to take up a portion of my living space with boxes that are rarely used.

Other reasons for undertaking this admittedly time consuming task now are a combination of cheap storage, a decent quality video codec (ie: given a standard def. TV output the artefacts are negligible), a CPU that can manage a real-time encode of a DVD, and the seemingly unstoppable rise of the Marketing Department.

Yup – DVD’s are now as annoying as VHS became: true, I don’t have to rewind the DVD each time I want to watch it, but with copyright warnings, country limited liability screens, trailers, language selection, flying company logos, sound codec splash screens and other trash, actually getting to the film itself is an arduous task. Especially as some DVD players allow skipping, and some don’t, others permit fast forwarding of warning but not skipping, and others are brutal enough to simply trudge on until the main menu appears (as an aside, using Apple’s DVD Player application was a joy, as it at least allowed a bookmark to be set anywhere on the movie, and for the default action on playing a disc to be a jump to that point. Why do home goods have to be so hidebound and unfriendly to the viewer ? Must be a trade agreement somewhere…).

So how much storage is enough ? Well, if you’re using H.264 to the AppleTV preset in Handbrake then allow around 1.6GB for an hour, so at today’s prices a 1TB drive is 75 UKP which will give me an estimated 900GB of storage, or 562 hours of film, or in more ‘iPod friendly’ headlines, 375 films (assuming 90 minutes per film) and that’s comfortably more than I have right now.

On a slightly related note, I did see a pre-loaded MP3 player being sold in a bargain shop yesterday: the audio was free with the player (I think: might have been the other way around) but it was under a tenner in any case, so thank you for the crap on my DVD’s, and the incessant paper flyers for Blu-ray, but I’ll wait for the HD movies to come on an SDHC card so I can skip this tedious ripping step and just ignore the marketing more quickly.

Update: Not 3 minutes after posting this I caught up with my RSS, and found that I am not alone