For the past few years it’s been possible to download programs from the Web which allow you to ‘rip’ the contents of DVD movies and store them on your hard drive, sometimes in a more compressed form. Such programs have lurked in the murkier area of legality, anonymously avoiding the watchful eyes of movie studio lawyers who would probably sue their own grandmothers if the latter happened to be making ‘backups’ of DVD movies for personal use.
Now things have moved out into the open; inevitably, given the huge market. Using software such as DaviDeo 2 Professional, you can extract the contents of a DVD movie, convert it into a smaller format using the best possible compression algorithms (called codecs) and store it on your hard drive or on CD-R. With the DivX or MPEG-4 codecs, for example, it’s possible to squeeze a DVD movie onto a standard CD-R; that’s more than 80 percent compression.
DaviDeo 2 Professional does all this and more, and makes the whole process very simple too. Want to make a backup of that DVD movie onto a CD-R so that you can play it on your PC? Not a problem. Just follow the prompts, tell the software what size of CD-R you’re using and whether you want to squeeze it all onto one disc or span it across two, and press the ‘Start’ button. The software will calculate how much compression it should apply to fit the film onto the disc(s) you’ve specified, and away it goes.
Not too swiftly, though. There’s a lot of processing to be done when re-compressing video, so you’re looking at about six hours for a standard-length feature film on a 1GHz machine. Throwing more processing power at the software will bring this figure down, but even so you’re probably better off letting it do its stuff overnight.
You can copy straight to the VideoCD format – not as compressed as DivX or MPEG-4 but with better compatibility for home DVD players – or you can go for the higher compression rate and correspondingly smaller file size. If you opt for the latter, you’ll be needing a DivX player for your PC so that you can view the final results; fortunately there’s one included with the software, so there’s no need to scour the Web for one.
Additional formats supported by the encoding software include SuperVideo, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2. But the question on many people’s lips will be; Can DaviDeo 2 Professional copy DVD movies that have copy-protection? Not necessarily in all cases, but the software seems to work around some forms of protection, catching the video output once it’s been decoded and so avoiding allegations that it’s hacking the copy-protection algorithms (unlike DeCSS and the Macrovision hackers).
That said, copying films that are copyrighted is a grey area, even for a single personal backup to protect your investment. That seems to be just about legal at the moment, but the situation may change if a test case is brought in the UK by the big US studios. Obviously if you sell, rent or lend the copies, you’re asking for trouble, but what you do with your own home-made movies is up to you.
Contact: 020 7221 4600