I have been converting DVDs via DVDShrink and AutoGK for a while, and decided to go back to an old favorite, FairUse Wizard (www.fairusewizard.com
). I've been very happy with how the free version gets the job done. If you are new to FairUse, it is a (somewhat) "all-in-one" software package for decoding DVDs and then encoding them in DivX, XviD, or h264. Remember that either the XviD or DivX codec, in an AVI container will play with no additional plugins on the 605 (as long as you don't make the resolution too large, or encode the audio in AC3!...but we deal with that below). Note that a particular limitation of the free version is that it can only encode files "up to" 700 MB...for long movies, that may be more compression than you'd like. But an upgraded version deals with that problem.
For those who may be interested in trying it out, I decided to do a series of screen cap(tures) to outline the process (since the program itself has sparse help). See below 9 images corresponding to the major decision points in the conversion process. (I should note that it was a bit of a hassle to get these images properly sequenced...if something looks out of order, please go with whatever makes sense in your installation!)
(DISCLAIMER: As FairUse clearly notes, the program is for the sole use of creating backup copies of your DVDs!)
: Load the program, and on the first screen, set up a Project name and directory for your project files. To illustrate, I'm using "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (widescreen version), with the goal of compressing into a 500mb AVI file, XviD encoding. If you feel like it, select "OPTIONS" (STEP 2), otherwise select "Next" and skip down to STEP 3.
: Here the only changes that I've made are to make sure that XviD is selected, and to set the output file size to 500mb. Everything else I leave alone (you might want to turn off "Run in IDLE base priority" if you're running overnight). I wonder if "Boost audio level" helps with quieter movies (e.g., "Lord of the Rings")?
: Make sure your DVD is in its drive, and select the proper drive letter/location. If you have an ISO of your DVD, and know what it is, you can go that route instead.
: FairUse Wizard now does a quick index of your DVD, which in layman's terms (I'm a layman) means it's carving your movie into useful pieces. Note that I've done pretty much nothing here: FairUse has already selected Chain 13 for me, as well as the cache option below. Again, in layman's terms: it found the section of the DVD that has the movie itself (duration = 1:54:46) and is ready to work on it. Nevertheless, before pressing the "Next" button you might check to make sure that what it has selected makes sense to you (e.g., if you've put in a multi-segment disk with 20- or 40-minute TV episodes, your choices may differ).
: Now the chain (i.e., disk segment) you selected in Step 4 is fully indexed. Note that this can take several minutes.
: The basic idea in Step 6 is to refine the appearance of your movie. The only thing I changed here was that I scrolled to where the credits start to roll at the end, and clicked the "Set credits start" button...this allows the program to encode the credits at a lower resolution, which saves some space. If you like, you can also futz around with subtitles and cropping of the edges. I generally trust the "Auto set" button for cropping.
: Step 7 is a bit esoteric, but basically deals with whether your movie has progressive or interlaced images (don't ask me). Again, I select the "Auto Detect" button, and let it decide (OK, I know what it means, but I'm not going to try and explain it!).
: This step mirrors many of the choices that were seen on the OPTIONS menu in Step 2. If you skipped that step, here you can decide what your target filesize will be (I selected 500mb...remember that 700mb is the max for the free version). IT IS ESSENTIAL TO REMEMBER TO CHECK THAT YOU ARE USING MP3 ENCODING FOR THE AUDIO (unless of course you have the Cinema plugin or just don't care). I'd recommend the MP3 codec (you decide the bitrate!), unless you plan to play the movies on your home theater and are obsessed with multi-channel stereo sound.
You can either put the job on the queue at this point (see button), or press next to start the job immediately!
Note here that you will also select the dimensions of the encoded file. I didn't check the DVD package for the exact aspect ratio, but decided to deselect the "Show only preferred resolutions" option, and then go with the resolution closest to 16:9 that is 720 pixels wide (i.e., the maximum that the 605 can display). This likely created some minor distortion in the output file.
: If you pressed next, here it goes.
EDIT: This was added by member KarenLynx. It was buried on page 4 but I thought it very useful due to so many people getting DVD's of TV shows. Again many thanks to averageguy for this great post. I know it has helped countless people. This will also help for those looking for multisessions. Kodiak.
For multi episode DVD's: In step 3, highlight all of the episodes you want to cache using the shift key. Then at the bottom make sure you select cache the "selected program chains [multisession]" option then press next. This will take some time for 6 half hour episodes, maybe 20-30 minutes. Then you will get a screen with a picture of some video where you will select the cropping, etc. Select your parameters and press next. On the next screen you will the select native mode or ivtc (let FU do automatically). On the next screen, you will select the size for each episode. For a half hour episode, I select 250 MB and 128 kps. Then you MUST select the "defer processing" button, NOT the next button. The next screen will show you a list of all your episodes and each one will say "Ready". You will now select the button "process all selections" and let it go, this will take quite sometime. I have been doing Flintstone DVD's that contain 6 episodes and it takes about 4 hours from this point.