Getting ready to go on holiday is often an interesting exercise … have I got all of the cables? Have I got all of the chargers? Have I got enough video to watch?
My entertainment library is a mixture of programmes recorded off TV (WTV format, which Zune can transfer easily), DVDs (which SlySoft’s CloneDVD Mobile handles readily enough) and Blu-Rays.
Now there are actually quite a few tools out there that can convert Blu-Rays into different formats and different containers. Some of the software is free, some of it costs money. The tricky thing is finding something that works!
And after a bit of trial and error, I have found something that works – and works well. VidCoder is a nice, simple application that can actually handle both DVDs and Blu-Rays, using a built-in copy of the Handbrake engine to transcode to MP4 or MKV. It does not remove any of the built-in copy protection mechanisms so you may need additional software and the VidCoder site provides some useful pointers if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
So I pointed VidCoder at one of my Blu-Rays, created a new profile for Windows Phone 7 that basically set the width to be 800 pixels (leaving the software to automatically calculate the correct height) and let it chew on the film. 2 hours later and I had a 950MB file. I transferred it to my phone using Zune and it plays beautifully! The image is crisp and looks fantastic, even on such a small display.
One of the nice things is that, as far as I can tell, Zune literally just transferred the file and did not have to transcode it again. So, in other words, WP7 is happy to play an MP4 with the dimensions I specified.
Interestingly, I used CloneDVD Mobile to convert a DVD copy that came with a Blu-Ray into a film for WP7. That film is shorter (1:42 compared with 2:06), the output resolution is lower (640×360 compared with 800×334) but the resulting file is bigger! I’m now going to through VidCoder at the Blu-Ray version of the film and see how that output compares. (Oh, and both files are MP4).
I might even try letting it loose on a DVD to see what the results are like.
Update: so the transcoding of the Blu-Ray whose DVD had previously been encoded using CloneDVD Mobile resulted in a file that is 800MB compared with 1.14GB, and a resolution of 800×340 compared with 640×360! This is starting to put me off buying those Blu-Ray packs with different playback options (DVD, Digital Copy).
Update 2: I’ve now completed a transcode of a DVD using the tool. The movie runs for 2:13 and the resulting file size was 1.19GB with a resolution of 800×340. The picture quality is, like all of the other transcodes, really crisp and of high quality.