ratDVD – compress, store and share your DVDs

First and foremost, why use ratDVD, and what’s it all about? In a nutshell, it’s probably hands down the easiest way for one to take a regular DVD, which is usually 8.5 to 9 gigs in size, and shrink it down to almost whatever size desired based on the options and quality you select, usually around 1.5 to 3 gigs.

It allows you to retain content of the original DVD without concern for the resulting size, enabling for ease of transfer and copying capability. In one file you can still retain:

  • Multiple movie versions like “Directors Cut”, “Theatrical Cut” or “Uncut Version”.
  • Multiple parental levels for people with kids – not tested 😉
  • Some movies offer alternative story endings, sometimes even random (e.g. Stigmata).
  • Some DVDs have an interactive story (e.g. Dragons Lair).
  • Allowing sharing of Quiz DVDs (e.g. Rambo – First blood, Trivial Persuit).
  • Interactive “making of” or explanations (e.g. Matrix, Hellboy).
  • Visual directors commentary (e.g. Ghost Busters).
  • Additional features like making of, Actors, Trailers, etc.

It also allows the same reduced file to support TV aspect ratios of 16:9, 4:3, Pan/Scan, WideScreen, and Letterbox based on just one encoded video signal.

The audio of a DVD is also very important for, as we all know, you often see a drop off in the transcoding of DIVX and XVID movie audio. RatDVD allows one to keep the original 5.1 soundtrack audio or, if you like, to transcode it into multiple channel virtual surround (half the bitrate, all the quality). You can also transcode PCM audio to Dolby Digital Surround. In addition, tired of messing with codecs all of the time? I’m sure we’ve all had the situation where the synch goes bad and the audio lead drops behind the video, well ratDVD has a specifically defined audio format, Dolby. By staying with Dolby there is no deterioration or audio loss because there is no need to either decode or re-encode the DVD.

Wishing you had a standardized meta system like ID3 for your MP3s? Well, with ratDVD you can retrieve the complete tagging information from http://www.imdb.com.

RatDVD also allows you to play back the movie in its reduced size format on your PC directly without the need to convert or change the file format in any way. Or if you wish, you can convert it back into its original DVD size format and do with it what you wish. There are currently no stand alone players that support direct ratDVD play as is the case with DIVX and others, but they do expect players to be released sometime in 2006.

Getting Started with RatDVD

DVD to ratDVD

The main benefit of ratDVD is the ability to retain all of the cool features and extras that are included with a full-length DVD. But, if you so desire you can pick and choose which of these you wish to retain in its conversion to ratDVD.

When you load the DVD into ratDVD you will see its main content categories displayed in the column on the left. By either selecting or deselecting these different boxes you can pick and choose what you want to leave behind. To preview an item press the “play” button above after selecting the item below.

If you look at the column to the right you will see even more specific options and features to pick and choose from. As you can see here, there are different languages supported that you may not need, be it the “Russian Audio” or the “French Subtitles.”

Select the corresponding “keep” or “remove” button to do just that.

Quality or Size?

Ahh the eternal question quality or size? As we all know, sometimes your media can only hold so much. Well, the visionaries at ratDVD have come up with a solution by allowing you to define the resulting product.

The “Constant Quality” or Constant Average Bitrate” toggle allows you to make these adjustments. Move it from to left depending on the direction you want to go. Constant quality is highly recommended here however, as the whole purpose of this program is to get a handle on those fine quality DVDs in the first place right?

Conversion

Click the button on the bottom right and let the magic begin.

Convert ratDVD to DVD

This ones real tricky, so try and keep up. See the button again at the bottom right? Select the ratDVD file you want to convert and then press it. Wow, hope you made it out alive.

Overall, you really have to hand it to the boys over at ratDVD as this really is a fine piece of work they have here. It’s clean, it’s easy, and it’s fairly pretty, all the important things we look for both in our software and in our women (or men? Have to be politically correct). So give it a try.

And now for your moment of zen.

Why is it called “ratDVD”?

From http://www.ratdvd.ca/faq.php#called

According to Chinese legend, the twelve animals of the zodiac quarreled one day as to who was to head the cycle of years. The gods were asked to decide and they held a contest: whoever was to reach the opposite bank of the river would be first, and the rest of the animals would receive their years according to their finish. All the twelve animals gathered at the river bank and jumped in. Unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped upon his back. As the ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off the ox’s back, and won the race. The pig, who was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second, and the pig last.

In old Japan, rats had it good because a white rat was a messenger of one of the seven gods of luck, Daikoku. Because of this connection, they were not killed. The story goes that a rat couple wanted the strongest husband in the world for their daughter. They asked the sun who declined saying that clouds had more power because they could cover him up. When they asked a cloud, he responded, “The wind is stronger than I because it can blow me away.” The wind could not make the grade either. “The wall stops me cold,” he said. And the wall, though honored by the offer wailed, “The rat is stronger. He can bore a hole right through me.” So the couple wisely gave their daughter in marriage to another rat who was indeed the strongest creature of them all.

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