Digitising DVD’s with Linux to stream to PS3

Having posted about converting the format of video files to suit streaming to a PS3, I got an email asking me how I actually convert a DVD into a digital file, and how my network is set up to stream videos to the PS3.

So, a little more explanation. I have a small, very low-power server that runs 24×7 in my house, and is connected to my 100mbps ethernet network. On that server I have quite a lot of disk storage, and run Mediatomb, which is a DNLA-compliant UPnP media server. It serves my collection of video and audio files to any device on my network that wants to access them.

In the case of the video files, that device is my PS3, which is also connected to my ethernet network, and also has an HDMI connection to my LCD TV. With this configuration I can start the PS3, which automatically detects the Mediatomb media server and puts an icon on its GUI interface. I can then select that icon, get a list of the available video files, and by clicking on one, have it played on my TV for me.

The only configuration involved in this solution is of Mediatomb, which involves a couple of documented changes to its configuration file, and specifying where my media files are via its web interface. All very simple.

To create the media files from a DVD, I do the following:

  1. Extract the content of the DVD onto my hard drive using a program called vobcopy.
  2. Use ffmpeg to convert that content into a more compact form, better suited to streaming over a network.
  3. Copy the resulting file to my server where Mediatomb can access it.

Now lets look at the first two steps in more detail:

DVD’s actually store their content as a series of VOB‘s; these contain the actual video that you see when you play back a DVD. In general there are separate VOB’s for the main movie, any adverts, trailers, bonus features, etc etc. And just to make life a little more complex, some DVDs store the main movie in more than one VOB, though fortunately vobcopy can hide that from us.

To make things a little more difficult, the movie industry have then encrypted the DVD to make it harder to do what we are about to do. To get around this, you must have installed libdvdcss2, which is a DVD decryption library that is available from the Medibuntu repository.

To find which VOB to extract from the DVD, simply run “vobcopy –info”. This will produce some output like:

richard@t60p:~$ vobcopy –info
Vobcopy 1.1.0 – GPL Copyright (c) 2001 – 2007 robos@muon.de
[Hint] All lines starting with “libdvdread:” are not from vobcopy but from the libdvdread-library

[Info] Path to dvd: /dev/sr0
libdvdread: Using libdvdcss version 1.2.10 for DVD access
[Info] Name of the dvd: STARWARS2UK_D1_2_PAL
[Info] There are 21 titles on this DVD.
[Info] There are 103 chapters on the dvd.
[Info] Most chapters has title 1 with 51 chapters.
[Info] All titles:
[Info] Title 1 has 51 chapters.
[Info] Title 2 has 1 chapter.
[Info] Title 3 has 2 chapters.
[Info] Title 4 has 1 chapter.
[Info] Title 5 has 1 chapter.
[Info] Title 6 has 1 chapter.
[Info] Title 7 has 1 chapter.
[Info] Title 8 has 1 chapter.
[Info] Title 9 has 1 chapter.
[Info] Title 10 has 2 chapters.
[Info] Title 11 has 10 chapters.
[Info] Title 12 has 14 chapters.
[Info] Title 13 has 1 chapter.
[Info] Title 14 has 1 chapter.
[Info] Title 15 has 2 chapters.
[Info] Title 16 has 1 chapter.
[Info] Title 17 has 4 chapters.
[Info] Title 18 has 2 chapters.
[Info] Title 19 has 2 chapters.
[Info] Title 20 has 1 chapter.
[Info] Title 21 has 3 chapters.

[Info] There are 21 angles on this dvd.
[Info] All titles:
[Info] Title 1 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 2 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 3 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 4 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 5 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 6 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 7 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 8 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 9 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 10 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 11 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 12 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 13 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 14 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 15 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 16 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 17 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 18 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 19 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 20 has 1 angle.
[Info] Title 21 has 1 angle.
[Info] Using Title: 1
[Info] Title has 51 chapters and 1 angles
[Info] Using Chapter: 1
[Info] Using Angle: 1

[Info] DVD-name: STARWARS2UK_D1_2_PAL
[Info] Disk free: 74104.160156 MB
[Info] Vobs size: 5733.919922 MB

It’s highly likely that the VOB with the most chapters is the main movie; in this case title 1. We can check that by running the command “mplayer dvd://[vob_number]”. If we see the main movie playing then we can extract that VOB to our hard disk by running the command “vobcopy –title-number [vob_number]”. vobcopy will then proceed to decrypt and copy that VOB to your hard disk (as STARWARS2UK_D1_2_PAL3-1.vob in this case).

Now we can convert that (very large) file into something smaller and more easy to stream. This uses exactly the same command as the last post; ffmpeg. This time however, we need to make sensible guesses for the bitrates that we want to use for the video and audio streams. Personally I go with 2000k for the video, and 192k for the audio. It’s good enough in terms of quality, and produces a file ~1/3rd the size of the original VOB, which is much more amenable to being streamed over a 100mbps ethernet network. If you’re hoping to do this over wireless, then you’ll probably need to compress even more and sacrifice quality … wireless just doesn’t have the bandwidth to do good quality video streaming.

So, the command to convert that VOB to a .mp4 file is:

ffmpeg -i STARWARS2UK_D1_2_PAL3-1.vob -vcodec libx264 -b 2000k -acodec libfaac -ab 192k STARWARS2UK_D1_2_PAL3-1.mp4

That command will take at least as long to execute as the movie would have taken to play. But once completed, the resulting file can then be copied to my server and be available for instant access in the future.

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2 thoughts on “Digitising DVD’s with Linux to stream to PS3

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review « Richard's Blog

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