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In the past I've been backing up my DVDs films as an .iso image to ensure that I have the best possible quality and that I could at a later date encode a movie/show to any format I want.

However, as my DVD collection is continuing to expand I'm running out of disk space, fast. I am now entertaining the idea of encoding my DVD collection to a high quality video files, rather than keeping them as disc images.

I'm looking for a guide that would allow me to retain the best possible video and sound quality, without resorting keeping a disc image. As I'm an open source nut, I would, ideally, like to use an open source codec such as Theora. Also, an open source container (mkv?). I'm not too savvy on audio options.

I'm aware that some devices will have problems reading Theora/mkv. However, the idea is to create a high quality video file that can be converted to any type that is desired.

So to sum up:

  • Best quality audio and video, without resorting to .iso uncompressed
  • Application to use?
  • Container?
  • Codec?
  • Audio encoder?
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If applicable, decrypt the dvd.

Then concatenate the .vob files that make up the part of the dvd you wish to convert (they will be split into 1gb files for compatibility)

cat VTS_xx_xx.VOB VTS_xx_xx.VOB ... > intermediate.VOB

Then, use ffmpeg to convert the file to mkv with no loss of quality

ffmpeg -i intermediate.VOB -q 0 output.mkv

That's it. You're done.

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Great answer. Does it partly reveal a problem with the question? It seems like this is exactly what the OP is asking, but if you did this, would it save any disk space? In that case, seems like the OP could just stick with iso. – snowguy Feb 1 '14 at 18:20

First and foremost, your DVDs are encoded in a lossy, compressed format -MPEG2. Whatever you transcode them to will result is additional loss.

Try using Handbrake to encode your DVDs to MKV. Use the default 'high profile' setting and change the container to MKV. MKV is a widely supported container that might not work for every device, but it works for many. Handbrake will allow you to encode your audio in DTS and not have to incur any loss there... Though this might be a waste of disk space... When you have a high bit-rate MP3 or AAC file, it basically just means the higher the bitrate, the less interpolation there is in the audio. At 320k, it will be very hard to notice.

As a side-note, even a low-end cellphone with a 800x840 screen can reveal compression artifacts from the age-old DVD standard. You might consider redoing your collection. Of course, that would not answer to your issue of storage...

Good luck!

Here is a guide for getting Handbrake installed in Ubuntu 12.04.

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