After successfully (and unsuccessfully) converting a few more videos to an iPod-complaint/friendly format that transfer and play without a problem on a video iPod (5G), I’ve learned several new things to add to my initial list from a few days ago.

1. The MPEG-4 codec appears to be more flexible than the H.264 codec when converting videos to iPod format, and therefore preferable to use. H.264 can produce iPod videos with slightly smaller file sizes, but if you are using Handbrake you have to make sure, in the video ENCODER settings, to choose BASELINE PROFILE. That was in the fine print of the how-to guide I used initially, but somehow I missed that detail. The result was that the videos I converted using H.264 worked fine on the computer playing via iTunes or QuickTime player, but would NOT transfer to a video iPod for playback. Now and in the future, I’m opting to use the MPEG-4 codec. All the videos I converted using MPEG-4 have worked fine on the video iPod.

2. I had not previously realized the “video podcast” I created in Hawaii in November was not properly formatted for the video iPod. Again, I had exported the video file using the H.264 codec, but apparently there are some other settings (that are a bit tricky) which are required for H.264 encoded iPod-friendly videos. Using QuickTime Pro, I re-exported the video podcast using the “MPEG-4 Improved” codec setting, and the resulting video file transferred to and plays fine on a video iPod. I’ve updated the link on that podcast entry to include the iPod-friendly version of the video file, though I doubt many people will download/view it on their iPod since that episode was released over a month ago.

Video Podcast from Hawaii

3. Even if you have a relatively new, robust (fast) computer and processor to rip/convert DVD videos to iPod formatted files, I don’t think the “2-pass encoding” feature of Handbrake is worth using. It doubles your encoding time, slightly reduces your final file size, and may increase the video quality a little bit. I really can’t tell the difference viewing the same video converted without 2-pass encoding and the video converted with it.

Based on these “lessons learned,” here are the five steps I’m following to (hypothetically of course, as per my previous post on this topic) convert DVDs I own and have created to an iPod video-friendly format:

Steps to Ripping with Handbrake

I’m finding with these settings, a typical hour and a half to two hour movie takes approximately one hour to rip/convert using a 2 GHz Intel Core Duo Macbook. The resulting files look great played back on the iPod, and fairly decent when played back on the MacBook, although they have half the resolution of the original versions.

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3 Responses to More lessons learned on iPod video conversion

  1. Paul says:


    I have been a long-time crypto buff, and of course, in the early days of ripping videos to SVCD and such, there were all sorts of interesting methodologies used, mostly swirling around CSS protection schemes (hence the infamous DeCSS songs, movies, t-shirts, and other distribution mockeries).

    I have heard the easiest method for ripping DVD’s now, is DVDShrink (especially if one doesn’t want the hassle of Dual-layer copies), which works for the vast majority of protection schemes. If that fails, one might give it a shot with DVDDecrypter (although one might have to have to hunt a bit to find that program). is a great place to learn more about this fascinating technology.

    I’m really surprised PKI or some other form of strong defense hasn’t been implemented by the RIAA or some other entity interested in the DMCA/EUCD.

  2. Paul says:


    This is a huge story online right now, and update to the above:
    Original Article:

    Video Screen Cap of Tool:

    Doom9 Forum Thread:

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