Using Open Source Handbrake to convert DVDs to iPhone Movies

We have reviewed several different Video to iPhone converters on this blog, but I thought this product, Handbrake, is worth a mention.  It did a pretty nice job and you have to love the price.  Free!

HandBrake, by a group called Handbrake Devs, is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded DVD to MPEG-4 converter, available for MacOS X 10.5, Linux and Windows 2000/XP/Vista. You can get it from their web page.

I converted one of my favorite movies, Grosse Pointe Blank to my iPhone. All in all it took about 45 mins to do the conversion, but it looks pretty nice.  I will definitely start these in the future before I go to bed.

  1. First download and install Handbrake.   I am using the Mac 10.5 version but I am sure the other versions screens are very similar.
  2. Launch the Application and insert the DVD into your computer’s drive.
  3. A Browser window should launch automatically. Select the DVD you inserted. If it doesn’t display, pick the Source option at the top of the Handbrake dialog box to select a source.
  4. In File/Preferences dialog box, under General Preferences, Check the Use iPod/iTunes friendly (.m4v) file extension for MP4 option. Close the Preferences dialog box.
  5. From the Main Handbrake dialog box, pick a Destination File path to store your videos on your hard drive.  Make sure the extension of the file is .M4V.
  6. Hint:  It takes about an hour to convert a movie, so start with converting a single chapter and follow it all the way through to make sure you got it before trying a whole dvd.   To change this, change your beginning and ending chapter.  Chapter 1 is usually just the intro so pick chapter 2 to really be able to compare video quality.
  7. Click on the Toggle Preset option in the toolbar to expand the Preset list. Select iPhone / iPod Touch Option. Hint:  They periodically update the preset options and you can refresh them by selecting Updates/Update Built-In Presets menu option every now and then.
  8. Click on Picture Settings button to display the Advanced Picture Settings.
  9. In the Anamorphic drop-down list, pick None and clear the Keep Aspect Ratio checkbox.
  10. Enter 480 in width and 320 in Height text boxes.  These make better use of the iPhone’s screen shape than the default 480×272 and fills the whole screen.  You can try it with the default and with 480×320 to see what you like best.
  11. Click Close to close the Advanced Picture Settings dialog box.
  12. Click the Start button on the Main Handbrake to start your encoding. To encode the movie asynchronously, Click the Add to Queue Button  instead.
  13. When it is finished, go into iTunes and add it. Plug in your iPhone to sync it and select the new movie under your Video tab and Sync your iPhone. An easy way to add it to iTunes is to just drag and drop it onto the open iTunes Window.
  14. Enjoy!  John Cusack never looked so good.