Apple Tv – How It Fits In…..

So i got me an Apple Tv last week, more on impulse than as part of any rational thought, as such things go.  i was planning on getting one, but only later this summer.

But such is life….

So its sitting there on my Tv cupboard, replacing the DVD player that does not work any way…. surrounded by my impressive collection of DVDs. Which do me no good sitting on the shelf instead of on my Apple Tv hard drive….

The solution to this is, of course to back up your DVDs to disk. I use DVDShrink 3.2 (the last version ever released), or DVD Decryptor. both of which leave you with a folder full of .vob files ( usually  a VIDEO_TS folder).  This will strip copy protection from the files.

These files do us no good. Apple Tv will not take .vob files. But, and I must admit my irritation here, Windows Media Center does ( serves me right for being a turncoat 🙂 ).

So the next step is to use Handbrake ( for Mac and Windows) to take your backed up files and turn them into Apple Tv readable m4v or mp4 files. These files can be read across iTunes, Apple Tv, and your video capable iPods and iPhones.

Now this conversion process is eyewateringly long. I’ve resurrected an old laptop ( Intel Celeron M 1.4 ghz, 256Mb RAM). The average time is about 10 hours – at 4.3 frames per second. My 3ghz Pentium 4 with 2Gb RAM is actually only slightly faster, confusingly enough. in any case, i need the desktop and no the laptop, so the old and busted laptop is doing the conversions.

The 10 hours conversion does not bother me much. I set it up to go in the morning, and its usually almost done my the time I’m back home in the evening.

All this media is being stored on my Windows Home Server, with a normal install of iTunes being the server. I’m not sure if Firefly Media Server will work with Apple TV, but if it is, I’ll install that instead.

Finally, I use MetaX 1.0 for Windows (theres a Mac version, too) to add in metadata – pic, sypnosis, direcots, actor, etc…. This is amazingly useful and saved me loads of time….

Now my music library is full of duplicates (my fault for leaving the “Copy to iTunes library” option on when i import stuff), So I’m slowly going through it and deleting the duplicates (and saving space at the same time).

My Photos are spread across a hundred folders, so i have to get some sort of organisation going so i can sync them to Apple Tv and show them off on my Tv 🙂 .

I have SageTv running on the same server. Their conversion process for Apple Tv takes just as long and won’t work – sigh. If I could just get Sage to save the files in m4v format, i could sync my recorded tv directly to my apple Tv without any (hours long) conversion in between.

Update 14-10-09: The latest version of SageTv does indeed convert to m4v perfectly. Works wonders, but the time is still rather long. I reccomend turning off everything, defrags, AV runs (and temporarily, backups) if you have a long queue of files to convert. Right now I have 16 files to convert all of which are about 2- 3 hours long. Usually two a day. So for this week, I have turned off the defrag passes. SageTv actuall scales its CPU usage remarkabely well in these situations.

If i could, i’d have uploaded everything to EC2 for encoding 🙂

Thanks to the guys over on Friendfeed for help with this.

Dvd backup software thread: here.

Metadata thread: here.