Since I haven’t been hiking recently and I don’t have any new gear to make, I’m kind of stuck with nothing to talk about. I’m going back to a previous post I made on putting movies on your iPhone. I’ve run into some… issues.
AnyDVD was, for YEARS, the Go-To movie decryption and copying software. It ran in the background, stripped the copy protection from discs, and allowed you control over your movies. Region coding? Gone. Forced previews? Gone. Unskippable sections? Gone. Put movie in drive, play movie. The best part was, with a single click, you could copy that movie onto your hard drive. With free software like Handbrake, you could turn those 5gb (or 32gb blu ray!) files into 1 or 2gb files, perfect for itunes and your phone on the trail.
Here’s the problem: AnyDVD shut down last year because of legal issues in Antigua. So they’ve moved to…well, no one really knows, but some think Russia. But – they have a new name called “RedFox” and are selling the same software. Here’s the kicker: Have you ever tried to convince your credit card company to let you buy a license for software from Russia using a Chinese payment processing company? No? Well, give up now. It’s all but freaking impossible.
BUT – RedFox will accept BitCoin, the preferred digital currency of shady transactions around the world. BitCoin has legit uses too, but it’s not popular yet because of it’s volatility. Its a bit like trying to buy something with a stock. Bitcoin trades like securities instead of money, so its value fluctuates. That $100 you had last week? Well it’s worth $85 this week, but next week it could be worth $105. Which is the reason it will remain a fringe currency probably for a while.
Bitcoin is actually easier to use than I thought it would be. You set up an account with an exchange, buy your coin and store them in an online or offline “wallet”, and then send them to the merchant. The problem, much like paying for Russian software with a Chinese payment processor, is getting your bank to let you pay for the damn things. There are some frustrated people online that say their credit card companies won’t even let them buy bitcoin because of chargebacks.
So, in order to buy your DVD copying software, you’re going to have to jump through a few hoops. Interestingly enough, although AnyDVD is strongly linked to DVD Piracy, the people running the company don’t like to be associated with it. A company statement was basically saying they want people to be able to copy movies that they own, in order to back them up or play them on different systems.
So, I started poking around on the net. It seems there may be an alternative… MakeMKV and Handbrake.
MakeMKV is a software that seems to strip DVD files without the need for a separate copy-protection breaking system, unlike cloneDVD or Handbrake. The problem is, it becomes a two-step operation. MakeMKV strips the files into single file packages, but iTunes won’t play it. You have to use something like VLC player or HandBrake (both free) to convert the file (again) into something iTunes will be happy with. I have been using HandBrake for several months with no problems. It works pretty well for free stuff.
I tried it with the DVD movie “Up” since I own it, and I know Disney encrypts the heck out of their stuff. For brevity’s sake, it is also a shorter film, only 96 minutes.
It took a few minutes, but it finally spit out a series of files, 10 in total, containing various versions of the movies and previews. I opened Title 00 in Handbrake, since it was the largest and I figured it had to be the movie and not something else.
It opened the Title 00 file just fine, and with a few clicks I told it what size I wanted it, and where to put it. After about 40 minutes of processing, it produced a nicely done 1.5GB file for the movie “Up”. Very satisfactory, although a bit clunky.
Now – onto something a bit harder: Game of Thrones. GoT is an Episodic disc, with some forced closed captions. Each disc has 2 episodes on it, and when people are speaking foreign languages, the English captions are displayed for those of us that don’t speak Dothraki or Volantian.
MakeMKV opened the files easily enough.
Now, on to HandBrake for processing and adding the forced captions for English languages. That took the longest to figure out when I used it the first time. There is a “Foreign Language” option, which you would assume applies to things like Klingon and whatever. But you want to pick English and “Forced Captions Only”, as well as “Burn In”. You want the translated captions saved as part of the film so they are always on.
Handbrake handled opening the files well enough, with no issues. After about an hour, it finished. Success.
So yes, the freebie method works. Why do I still suggest AnyDVD if you can get it? They have regular updates to try and make sure you can always copy your DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. When companies come out with new methods to try and keep you from doing what you want with your property, the team at AnyDVD tries hard to fix it so you can do the conversions.
As always, only copy and convert movies you OWN. Copying movies you don’t own (like netflix and redbox) is obviously a copyright violation and can get you into trouble.
Netflix is now allowing certain movies to be downloaded and played later on your device, so all this may be moot for netflix rentals. BUT – if you own a big collection of discs, and want to back them up or take them with you on vacation or into the woods, this is the way to do it. You will lose a little quality converting movies, but you’re watching on a phone, so its obvious you’re not looking for cinematic quality anyway.