I have a plan. It’s not the best plan ever, and I’m sure it’s not the best idea, but here’s how it goes. I want to put my entire DVD collection on a hard drive and then have access to it via my AppleTV. Here’s how I’m going to do it.
First, let me talk about what I’m not doing. I’ve heard of Plex, and Boxxee, and all of those related items. I’m not doing any of those. I’ve purchased movies through the iTunes store in the past, and since I don’t want to have to buy them again, I’m stuck within the iTunes infrastructure. It’s not ideal, but it’s how I have to run it for the moment.
So to get everything in iTunes, I started by first using RipIt to copy all of my DVDs onto a portable drive. I did this for two reasons: One, I wanted a main copy of the DVD so that I could then use that to make whatever other conversion necessary, and two, so that my drive wasn’t spinning constantly with every disc I needed converted to .m4v format. I figure that I’m saving my iMac’s DVD drive, but also keeping things as quick as possible. This also provides me a way to rip my TV shows to iTunes, although I haven’t yet figured out how to set it up as a TV show recognized by iTunes.
Once RipIt is done, I then move on to Handbrake, where I rip everything under the AppleTV format. Whether or not this is the best format for me, I’m still not sure. But by having copies on RipIt, I can run through this process all over again should I have to. For now though, I think it will work out OK.
Doing all that though loses all of the metadata for the files, so at first, I was changing the images manually. I would go on Amazon.com, find an image for the DVD that I was ripping, then spend a quick moment editing it to size. When the DVD was in my iTunes library, I would attach the image to the DVD, and I was good to go. But this wasn’t the ideal result for me, as when I look at movies on my iPad, all the date on one half of the screen was blank. That’s when I discovered another option.
When I first found out about iFlicks, I heard it was essentially a replacement for Handbrake. It is, but not for raw DVDs like I’m trying to convert. But one thing it does exceptionally well is add metadata to my iTunes library. I highlight a film, go to the Applescript window in the corner and select Automatically Update Metadata of Selected. A few seconds later, the DVD has box art (or a movie poster), and all related metadata such as the director, actors, etc, are all appended to the file. Now when I look at the movie on my iPad or on Front Row, I’ve got everything I want there in front of me.
All my movies now stream to my AppleTV, which is my temporary solution. Eventually, I’d like to get a Mac Mini for the living room, and I think that would solve a lot of my problems.
This may not be the perfect solution, and I’m not saying that it is. In fact, I’m pretty open to suggestions. But since I need to use iTunes to keep my iTunes movies, I think this is the best option right now. Thoughts?