Encoding DVDs for XBox 360 and Windows Home Server

This (really) should be the last post in this line.  My apologies to those who could care less about my media rantings. 

In the last exciting episode, we got My Movies 3, WHS and my Xbox 360 to all play nice together.  Now let’s take the plunge and talk about how to rip and encode your DVDs.  First, you’re going to need a couple of programs.  One is free and the other, contrary to my strong predisposition towards only using free tools, is about 75 bucks.  That seems like a lot, but it is GREAT software and will make life much easier.  (Like when you’re trying to rip those damn Disney movies.)

The tools are:

Got those installed?  It’s ok, I’ll be here when you’re done.  Ready?

  1. Insert your DVD and after a second you’ll see AnyDVD spin up and tell you to wait while the disc gets ready. 
  2. Once the disc is ready open up Handbrake and you’ll see a screen that looks like this:


  3. Click on the Source Button at the top left.  Select your DVD drive and it will tell you to wait a minute while it scans the disc.  Once it’s finished, choose the Xbox 360 Preset on the right hand side.  In the Destination field, select a location where you want the MP4 file to be saved.  I put my files on a drive that’s mapped to the server, and I learned through trial and error that you have to create a separate directory for each file for My Movies to index it.
  4. Once the file shows up in the directory,  My Movies will see the file, try to figure out which movie it is and add the cover art, cast info etc.  If it can’t figure it out, you can manually change it.

Now that I’ve written up the steps to do this, it seems trivial.  Handbrake does all the work and it has an awesome preset to take the thinking out of it entirely.