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Convert Your Videos - Idiot Proof (Windows)

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Hi Everyone,

WARNING: FormatFactory now has an iPad preset. Don't use it! It doesn't work, but the guide below will make sure you get perfect videos every time.

The topic of converting videos is always ongoing. I'll be writing a big how-to next weekend when I'm finished with my testing. However, I decided to write a quick guide to fulfill most cases.

This guide assumes:

  • You don't want to rip directly from DVD or Blueray
  • Your video is not too large to fit on the iPad: 720p or below is OK
    (right-click and look at Properties if you're not sure. It should be less than 1280×720)

I use FormatFactory (available from here) which has some
distinct advantages which I will describe below.

:comingsoon: Tip: The software is free, but don't forget to uncheck the Ask.com toolbar and eBay thing during installation.

The problem with converting videos is always, what resolution should I use, what codec, file format and bitrate.

The tendency is to convert to the wrong bitrate or resolution. You shouldn't convert a video to a higher resolution than the source, and you shouldn't set the bitrate too low, or you will get poor results. Also, if you choose the wrong aspect ratio, you will get a forced black bars and the default zooming in the iPad won't work.

So you see, there are really a lot of ways to screw it up. Well not with this guide.

Generally speaking, we see a video on our hard drive and want it on our iPad, the simplest way. Here it is. FormatFactory works with every video format that I know of including .AVI, .MOV, .WMV, .MKV and Flash videos.

1) Install FormatFactory
2) Open FormatFactory and choose "All to Mobile Device" a window will open.
3) Drag your videos in this window. You can queue as many as you like.
4) Click on Output Settings -> Apple iPhone & iPod -> iPod 640 x 480 AVC (we'll change this resolution)
5) Change the resolution and bitrate to Default. In this case, default means just take what is in the source file. If it looks good on your PC, it'll look better on the iPad!
6) Confirm all the windows until you get back to the main screen and press run.
7) Wait - yes, it takes a long time based on your PC. In my experience, it can take up to twice as long as the video actually is.
8) When finished, click the "Output Folder" and drag it into the videos in iTunes and select it for syncing in your iPad.
9) Sync and enjoy!

302d1274652846-convert-your-videos-idiot-proof-windows-formatfactory_settings.jpg


Thats it, no mistakes! The main advantage of FormatFactory is the "Default" setting that just reads everything from the source video and duplicates these settings in an iPad compatible way.

As I said, I will be expanding this guide on the weekend for people with unusually high bitrate or resolution files to give advice on finding the "sweet spot" for down-sizing the videos. But I need more time for testing.

Update: Sweet Spot and Resolution and Bitrate Conversion Mega-Test here.

Enjoy!

(P.S. If anyone has some advice about ripping copy-protected DVDs, I'm having trouble, please PM me and I'll put it in the guide with credit. Or write it yourself and I'll link to your post)
 

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What about the FPS? Should we change that and if so, what should we change it too?
 
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What about the FPS? Should we change that and if so, what should we change it too?

I've always left at the default. I'm at work now, but I suppose that it could also take "Default" as a setting - so it would take whatever the source is set to.

Just a disclaimer though: I'm not having 100% success ripping DVDs with this app, especially on newer DVDs. But for videos that I have on my hard drive, I love it.
 

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What about the FPS? Should we change that and if so, what should we change it too?

I've always left at the default. I'm at work now, but I suppose that it could also take "Default" as a setting - so it would take whatever the source is set to.

Just a disclaimer though: I'm not having 100% success ripping DVDs with this app, especially on newer DVDs. But for videos that I have on my hard drive, I love it.

Oh alright. Thanks for the quick response and awesome guide! I usuallu just downloaded torrented videos so its working perfect for me.
 

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Numlock, you are a newbe's best friend!

You write well (I think you said you are a tech writer) and your tutorials are very helpful to folks just starting out. Good stuff :)
 
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Numlock, you are a newbe's best friend!

You write well (I think you said you are a tech writer) and your tutorials are very helpful to folks just starting out. Good stuff :)

Thanks guys. Right, I'm somewhat of a technical writer IRL. The iPad community has helped me out and I like to pay it forward.
 
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Nice tutorial! :)

In your opinion, is FF faster than Handbrake?

The problem I had with Handbrake is that I couldn't find any "Default" setting. I mean, the video resolution varies based on some factors, and most people tend to way overconvert. What you really want to be "Idiot proof" is to just take what is in the video resolution like it is in the source file, and convert it all exactly the same in a format that the iPad can read.

As I said, most people way overconvert and think they need some HD resolution. In fact, the DVD resolution is rather lower than most people assume, and the resolutions vary a lot (from Wikipedia):

At 25 frame/s, interlaced (used in regions with 50 Hz image scanning frequency)
720 × 576 pixels
704 × 576 pixels
352 × 576 pixels

At 29.97, interlaced (used in regions with 60 Hz image scanning frequency): 720 × 480 pixels
704 × 480 pixels
352 × 480 pixels

So all of these people trying to convert to something higher are getting 1) no improvement in video quality 2) taking way too long 3) huge file sizes and 4) Weird cropping

That is why I'm writing this guide. I say "writing" instead of "wrote" is because I still haven't found the perfect way to convert even copy-protected DVDs.

In summary, I like FormatFactory because it supports "Default" settings: what comes in, goes out in iPad format with no unreasonable file size, "just right" quality (based on the data rate in kbps) and no fuss.
 
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Long enough that I've never seen one end. I just go do something else. Depending on the source really.

One popular 2+ hour 1080p movie took about three or four hours I guess.

Realistically about as long as the movie is I guess - but again, I don't sit there.
 

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Uh oh, my Format Factory is acting up! When I try to convert a video and its at about 95% through the conversion it will just go back down to 0% and stay at 0% for hours at a time... this has happened to multiple videos.

Anyone got an answers?
 
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No, sorry. That has never happened to me (more than 100 videos converted so far)
 

Bogy

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I am a pastor who uses a lot of film clips in PowerPoint presentations, and I have been using Format Factory for the past two years. It converts pretty much anything to anything. It also is simple for me to only convert the clip I need. I bought my iPad last Sunday, and in preparation I had converted one episode of Lost to mp4 with Format Factory. Then, after reading another thread here I decided to try Handbrake. Converted 4 episodes last nite (and today, it was still running when I was home for a few minutes earlier this afternoon). I am going to compare the quality between what I did with FF and Handbrake and if I can tell any difference. If I can't, I'm going to go back to FF and see if its any faster.

I have had great success with FF after trying a bunch of other alternatives, both paid and free. They update regularly, and I am sure it won't be long and the iPad will be on the list of devices.
 

Kevisty

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Nice sharing,well, I used to convert videos and rip DVDs for my iPod with Handbrake, it's also a free one, but quite complicated,especially for beginners. After i got a Mac and an iPad, one of my friends got me an Aimersoft DVD Ripper for Mac, which i am using now.
 

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