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Data Storage Entertainment

Suggestions for a DVD Video on Demand System? 651

Posted by Cliff
from the serving-it-up-when-you-want-it dept.
An anonymous reader asks: "I was paid, with about 1000 DVD movies, by a video rental store that owed me money and then subsequently went out of business. I'd like to rip a couple hundred of them to a 1 TB disk array, and serve them up to my big screen, via a video on demand system. However, all the systems I can find for interfacing computer network to the plasma display only serve up the basic MPEG files, and not the entire ripped DVDs with their menus, etc. What systems would Slashdot readers suggest that could manage the ripped DVD files as a complete disk, and serve them up?"
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Suggestions for a DVD Video on Demand System?

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:50PM (#8381754)
    The more I think of this situation, the more I think that the solutions are worse than the problem at this point. If he's got a plasma screen, he's not going to want to give up any video quality, so recompression really isn't an option.

    Maybe the best idea is to find him a high-quality DVD player and nice storage rack so that he can organize his 1000 DVD collection and show it off.

    Oh, wait, this is /. We like doing things the hard way...
    • why recompress? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:55PM (#8381811)
      If he's got a plasma screen, he's not going to want to give up any video quality, so recompression really isn't an option.

      Who says he has to recompress? Maybe there's a solution that will use the original .VOB files? If he's planning on using the original DVD navigation, I'd think they'd try to access those files anyway.

      BTW-- damn, I wish I had 1000 DVDs. He should open up his own store, then "black out" certain ones while they are rented so he can't watch them at the same time.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:03PM (#8381927)
      If he's got a plasma screen, he's not going to want to give up any video quality, so recompression really isn't an option.

      Maybe the best idea is to find him a high-quality DVD player and nice storage rack so that he can organize his 1000 DVD collection and show it off

      It's digital data, the whole point is you can copy it losslessly! I realize DRM is supposed to wreck everything, but that's what we have tools like mencoder for, to break down the barriers.

      As for doing things the hard way, I suggest he set up an automated system that rips when you pop in a disk. Then, instead of ripping all 1000 dvds, just rip a show when you want to watch it. This way, you invest no more effort than it would take to place the dvd into a player to watch it on the first viewing, and subsequently it's already on line for you.

      Speaking of which, I'm still waiting for a car CD player which will automatically archive all the CD's I play through it. Is there such a thing?

      • by NachoDaddy (696255) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:14PM (#8382057)
        Yes, Sony has a car player with a HDD, and auto ripping capability. Model # Sony MEX-1HD
        Here is a link to crutchfield:
        http://www.crutchfield.com/S-bpdQMmcLqTX/cgi-bin/P rodView.asp?s=0&c=3&g=62700&I=158MEX1HD&o=m&a=0&cc =01&avf=N
      • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @12:19AM (#8382648) Homepage Journal
        OK, so this person wants to but 200 DVDs on a 1+TB RAID. That could fit, provided you average 5GB per DVD.

        What does a 1TB RAID cost, and how much does it compare in cost to a 300-400 DVD Sony changer? I'm thinking the changer might cost half as much. I imagine it is quieter too.
        • by brianosaurus (48471) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @01:09AM (#8383062) Homepage
          The disc changer is a neat idea if you only ever plan to watch movies in one room. Yes, its cheaper, but you (and your family) can only watch one movie at a time on that.

          Anyway, I'm sitting here trying to get Freevo running on an Xbox, so I can watch DVDs over my network. I had it working (briefly last week, before trying to update some stuff and blowing it), and it was pretty sweet. I want to rip my 300+ DVDs to a RAID, then serve them to Freevo (or mythtv, or whatever) clients throughout my house. When I get my system finished, I'll be able to watch 4 different movies on 4 different TVs (i bought 4 xboxes for this project), and each addition client costs about $230 (xbox+dvd remote kit). The server storage will be the expensive part.

          Another cool bonus... When I rip the movies to my server, I can copy just the movie, and not all of the unskippable trailers or FBI warnings. Instead of putting in a disc and having to wander off and do something else for 10 minutes (like sit there and curse the movie studio for ruining my Zen), the movie will start right away.
          • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @07:30AM (#8384508) Homepage
            first off ditch freevo. mythtv ruins faster on less hardware and is much easier to get going. I tried both.. 2 months getting freevo and it's quirks to behave.. 3 days for mythtv.

            secondly, I can watch a dvd changer in 5 different roons here and for much less money than you are spending. one 16X16 computer controlled AV switcher, with the other components + multiple changers and if I want to finish that new DVD in the bedroom (and I cant see why I would... trade a 10 foot diagonal projection in 7.1 surround for the dinky 29" set upstairs??)

            I can do it, but reality showed me that the equipment sits idle and 99.9% of all dvd's are watched in the home theatre. the other .1% are watched on the dvd player in the bedroom.

            If you are in it for the challenge then go for it! if you are trying to make something for distributed DVD watching, go analog it's better, cheaper, and gives much less headaches.
        • by rworne (538610) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @01:43AM (#8383291) Homepage
          I found the answer. Not only can you store it all, but you can rip all the data in a single afternoon! I've been working with this toy [conduant.com] at work, it's wicked fast and has several terabytes of storage, nothing like RAID 0 with 16 drives!

          Forgive the marketing spiel:

          How Fast Is 200 Mbytes/Second?

          One copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica (2619 pages per copy) is one (1) Gigabyte of data
          StreamStor can record the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in 5.12 seconds

          The Library of Congress (20 million books, not counting pictures) is 20 Terabytes

          StreamStor can record the entire Library of Congress in 29.13 hours

          A typical video store with 5000 videos is 8 Terabytes
          StreamStor can record an entire video store in 11.65 hours

          A copy of your favorite mystery novel is 1 Megabyte
          StreamStor can record a mystery novel in five thousandths (.005) of a second

          One hour of music is 535 Megabytes
          StreamStor can record one hour of music in 2.675 seconds

          Twenty four hours of music is 12.54 Gigabytes
          StreamStor can record 24 hours of music in 1.07 minutes

          So you can rip your entire collection in 2 1/2 hours (not counting swap time). Too bad the bottleneck's not the StreamStor...

          The Constitution and laws of the United States forbid all interference with the religious or political concerns of other nations.
          -- US President Millard Fillmore 1850-1853
          • by Xyde (415798) <slashdot AT purrrr DOT net> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @09:04AM (#8384903)
            Yes, nothing like RAID 0 for any amount of drives. 16 you say? That's hmm, 16x the probability that a drive will fail and leave your array useless! A drive WILL fail within 12 months - because I can guarantee you most drives will probably fail with 16 years of constant use. YAY! All those hours of DVD ripping and organizing for nothing.

            RAID 0 is horrible for anything but video scratch. For this application you'll want RAID 5 or 3 (RAID 5 is redundancy spread across the array, RAID 3 has one drive dedicated for redundancy.)

            The proper way to do this would be a hardware RAID array but those are expensive $1500 at least for a decent rack + controller. Infortrend [infortrend.com] make some nice stuff, but it's not cheap. The EonStor range is lovely. I'm mostly experienced on the high end and mac side of things, but there may be software based RAID 3 or 5 solutions for windows/linux. YMMV however, but it's generally not recommended as computing parity is very processor intensive. The controllers the Infortrend stuff uses is a PPC G3 to give you an idea...

            ps. I don't work for Infortrend but I just know they make damn good shit.

    • by proub (26701) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:08PM (#8382000) Homepage
      Maybe the best idea is to find him a high-quality DVD player and nice storage rack so that he can organize his 1000 DVD collection and show it off.

      Step 2: Acquire and train a monkey. This step may take some time.

      You now have a voice-activated, on-demand DVD swapper.

      Suggestion: omit Planet of the Apes from the collection.

    • xBox + EvolutionX (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sirket (60694) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @12:29AM (#8382757)
      This is _exactly_ what I want to do with my 300+ DVD collection.

      I am planning on picking up an xBox, modding it, and running EvoX on it. I get the hardware for approximately $200 (soon to be less) including the remote and you get a spare S controller with the xBox. Add in a few dollars for the mod chip and you are set.

      Besides being cheap, EvoX looks good and the xBox itself is small and the case is easily modded. It also starts up quickly which is nice. EvoX will read DVD files off the network as well as a few other file formats.

      -sirket
      • Re:xBox + EvolutionX (Score:4, Informative)

        by holt (86624) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @01:47AM (#8383308) Homepage
        Add in a few dollars for the mod chip and you are set.

        I know for a fact that all it takes is two solders to mod an XBox now. I don't know the exact process but I've seen one of my frat brothers do it on pretty much all the XBoxes in our house. It works great, the only disadvantage is that you can't switch between Dashboards like you can with some of the mod chips, but unless you're playing XBox Live that's probably not much of a problem for you.

        Anyway, I would google for that before buying a mod chip at this point. If you can't find anything, post here and I'll ask my frat brother for a URL. Hope that helps.

    • My main tip is to make sure he never confuses the "plasma" with the "dog plasma". I saw that happen to a guy on tv once, and boy, did he get fucked up.
  • yeah, right (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:51PM (#8381763)
    I was paid, with about 1000 DVD movies, by a video rental store that owed me money and then subsequently went out of business.

    A likely story.
  • MythTV (Score:5, Informative)

    by bc90021 (43730) * <bc90021NO@SPAMbc90021.net> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:51PM (#8381766) Homepage
    I would start with MythTV [mythtv.org]. They have a section on working with DVDs [mythtv.org] for their PVR software.
    • Re:MythTV (Score:5, Funny)

      by Captain_Loser (601474) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:59PM (#8381873)
      I just got mythtv working for myself, I only have 3 or 4 dvds, but this is a slick program that I stongly recommend. And hey, it has a web browser, pvr capabilities, music/media player, dvdplayer, and will tell you the weather. That way you can trick people into actually thinking that you went outside, becuase once you have this set up with many many dvds, you won't ever see the sun again.
    • Re:MythTV (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How about Videolan? Rip a disc image of each DVD, and mount them each on a loop device. That should work fairly painlessly.
      • Re:MythTV (Score:5, Informative)

        by aashenfe (558026) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:17PM (#8382086) Journal
        Videolan is realy cool! Expecialy if you want to stream video across your lan. The only problem is it doesn't really do much as far as managing the content for you.

        MythTV on the other hand has nice menus for browsing the movie collection and a lot of nice features including remote control support (for instance the one that comes with a haupag 350).

        MythTV is something your wife, parents, or kids could use with very little difficulty, as long as the setup is already done.
    • More Info Here (Score:5, Informative)

      by l810c (551591) * on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:20PM (#8382119)
      This site [dvdrhelp.com] has Tons of information on anything do with DVD's, VCD's, Video etc.
    • by IDkrysez (552137) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:20PM (#8382121)
      Firstly, if you intend to keep the DVD's data intact, as in not re-encoded, there'll be a more difficult issue with CSS-encrypted DVDs. Even the libre software that decrypts is bound to the hardware device, AFAIK... please correct me on this!!

      I think you might want to consider using Samba to share the drive images, in any case. I think it was the Linux Journal, which had an article about using it as a CD jukebox, using .iso images. The directory or directories of disk images are browsable, and can be made to appear such that each is its own disc in a platform-independent manner. I bet you could do the same for DVD's... and with a little work on existing projects, it'd become very popular. ( =

      (oh, you can do nfs simultaneously if'n you like)
  • 1000 DVDs? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ack154 (591432) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:51PM (#8381768)
    I need to start applying to crappy video stores that look like they're going to go out of business (but have a well stocked selection... :)
    • Re:1000 DVDs? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WindBourne (631190)
      I know that you ment if funny, but the stupid thing is most of the new DVD's cost the stores USD $7-9. Now, you are talking 1000 of the buggers that are used, so these are actually worth less. He probably is getting about 4000 worth of DVDs.
      • Re:1000 DVDs? (Score:3, Informative)

        by bluekanoodle (672900)
        Actually, I think the video stores pay much more for their stock because they have to buy licensing rights for each movie. My memory fails me, but the the stroy Kozmo.com gave me when I lost a movie was that they pay 89.00 for it. I couldn't believe they wanted to charge me $89 bucks for a copy of Inspector Gadget! I bought a copy at walmart, told 'em I lost the case and sent it back.
        • Re:1000 DVDs? (Score:4, Informative)

          by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:49PM (#8382413)
          The markup isn't for any rights on DVDs. The markup is simply so that they can release it to rental stores before any sane person would want to buy it. Wal-Mart's not going to stock an $89 DVD, but rental places will buy it at that price. Then, a few weeks later, the price plumets for everybody, and that's when retail picks it up.

          So, the $89 was likely the price Kosmo paid, but not the price they could replace it with now.
      • by ack154 (591432)
        True, I'm sure they are probably used. But really, if they're free... a DVD is a DVD as long as it plays fine. Come to think of it, even if it didn't play, it would still be a DVD... but just a shitty one that you could sell to some sucker on eBay for $5.
    • by whiteranger99x (235024) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:31PM (#8382248) Journal
      Sounds like you should try Blockbuster :)
  • Xbox Linux (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr. Darl McBride (704524) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:52PM (#8381771)
    I do exactly what you're talking about with an Xbox running Linux. It's cheap, fairly quiet, and the output quality is actually quite decent.

    And as a plus, it also runs MAME and Unixware.

    • Xbox yes, Linux no (Score:3, Informative)

      by falser (11170)
      The XBMC [xboxmediacenter.de] native Xbox application is a lot more functional than anything I've seen for linux, and a whole lot faster on the Xbox. It is a customized version of mplayer built specifically to run on the Xbox - no underlying-RAM-hogging operating system needed. I'm fairly certain XBMC can play VOBs off a network drive, and using the Advanced A/V pack from Microsoft the progessive scan modes look very nice on an HDTV set.
  • Legality? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:52PM (#8381775)
    Wouldn't you have to circumvent CSS encryption and violate the DMCA to do this?
    • by momerath2003 (606823) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:55PM (#8381812) Journal
      Wouldn't you have to care?
    • Re:Legality? (Score:5, Informative)

      by zootread (569199) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {daertooz}> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:52PM (#8382444)
      Wouldn't you have to circumvent CSS encryption and violate the DMCA to do this?

      He probably failed to mention that this was a porno video store. As far as I know (and in my experience), pornos don't use CSS encryption. Just copy over the VOB files and you are done.

      Also, Bollywood (Indian movies) and probably other foreign film makers don't use CSS encryption. I think its only those Hollywood jackasses that pull that crap.
    • Re:Legality? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Monx (742514) <MonxSlash@@@expandedpossibilities...com> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @12:09AM (#8382585) Journal
      Wouldn't you have to circumvent CSS encryption and violate the DMCA to do this?

      Nope.

      The DVD playing software will legally decrypt the ripped images. No illegality there. I do that with my DVDs so that I don't have to carry them with my laptop. I can leave them at home on the shelf. This also means that I don't have to find my DVDs when I forget to put them back on the shelf.

      The whole problem is easily solved:

      Get a cheap PC.
      Get a video card with tv-out.
      Get lots of HD space.
      Get a usb infrared receiver.
      Get a remote with directional controls.
      Make the computer treat the remote as a keyboard.

      Rip the DVDs to disk images.
      Run a file manager

      Now just select the file you want with the remote and press enter. The image mounts and the dvd software starts up.

      If you don't like the interface, get another file manager and try again.

      Done.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:55PM (#8381820)
    http://www.linksys.com/press/press.asp?prid=142&cy ear=2004

    Rip to your hearts' content and play away, either that or get a HTPC that's networked to your 1TB array.
  • by segfaultcoredump (226031) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:56PM (#8381829)
    Check out www.kaleidescape.com [kaleidescape.com]

    The disadvantage is that it is a) not cheap (starting at $27k) and b) not f/oss.

    but then again, it is exactly what you are looking for

  • read avsforum.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by robocord (15497) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:58PM (#8381845)
    Read the HTPC topic on the AVS Forum [avsforum.com]. You can learn all about this topic, in exhaustive detail.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:58PM (#8381849)
    The mPod(TM)...

    1000 Movies in Your Pocket..

    Ooo.. and the domain is available!
  • by Cereal Box (4286) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:58PM (#8381855)
    First, I would recommend transcoding the DVDs to XviD or DivX with a high bitrate (2Mb/s). You won't notice the quality loss and you'll save a whole lot of disk space. This route also gives you a lot more options, as you can use software like Winamp or BSPlayer to play the videos.

    Second, are you any good with programming? What I've done is rig up a simple fullscreen frontend with Java. When you select a movie, the player starts fullscreen. I've got a simple IRman interface, a remote control, and Girder [girder.nl] to translate keypresses on the remote into keystrokes that the Java app recognizes. Works great, and it's customizable to my preferences. I can understand if you don't have the time or skill to write a frontend, and I'm sure other posters will point out pre-made frontends.

    The best part about Girder: you can translate keys like FF, REW, STOP, etc. into commands the player understands.
  • ISO + Daemon Tools (Score:5, Informative)

    by Professor_Quail (610443) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @10:59PM (#8381869) Homepage
    In a similar sort of situation, I ripped all my DVD's to a HD, then converted them into ISO files; I then mounted these with Daemon Tools [daemon-tools.cc]. The result is that the OS doesn't know the difference from there being an actual DVD in your drive.

    Of course, this assumes you're using Windows...but maybe a similar approach could be used on other operating systems.
    • by stienman (51024) <adavis@uCURIEbasics.com minus physicist> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:39PM (#8382326) Homepage Journal
      Use Daemon tools. There are command line utilities to change discs, so it should be fairly straightforward to create a simple selection program that swaps out the virtual disc.

      Since it's a virtual DVD-ROM then you can use any DVD decoder/software/hardware that will work on a computer with a regular dvd in a regular dvd drive. The computer doesn't know the difference. When you swap discs it does auto-play as well (unless you've disabled it) so it'll start playing immediately. Disc swaps take a second, longer if it is across the network. Be aware that you'll want at least 100Mb connection via switch or direct to the server. While the DVD in theory only has a 16Mb stream coming down, the ISO is actually delivering quite a bit more information. You can easily play one movie via a network such as this, two is pushing it as long as you don't use it for anything else. Three is right out.

      I use DVD-Decrypter to rip the disc to an ISO (and also removing macrovision and css - annoying 'features' I don't need and wish I wasn't paying for).

      -Adam
      • by buck_wild (447801)
        To be literal, is the software you recomend located at www.daemon-tools.cc?

        I don't have a ton of experience, and don't want to start down the wrong path.
    • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @01:04AM (#8383021)
      Just as the subject says. If you make an iso of it you can just mount it with the above command in linux and you will see it just like the dvd... You could then setup a small mysql database with all the different info like, title, genre, length, rating, ranking, path to mount point, etc., and then write up a little front end program (be it a website with php, or a java app), which allows you to sort/view/select the movie, and then calls the appropriate software dvd player to play the cooresponding dvd. Shouldn't be that hard, just time consuming to create the iso's and input the info into the database (well, not too time consuming if you only have stuff like title, and mount point, in the database table).
  • by SethJohnson (112166) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:05PM (#8381946) Homepage Journal


    There's a pretty simple hack for some of the APEX DVD players. You can simply remove the DVD drive and replace it with a hard drive full of SVCD files. It can mount the drive and then provide a menu for selecting what movie you want to watch.


    Caveats:

    Have to yank the hard drive to add more movies. These are SVCD files, not full DVDs with extras and menus, etc.

    The huge plus is that it's a real easy solution for this need. Grab a 250 gig HD for a hundred bucks and rip around 250 DVDs to the drive. Swap it into your Cyberhome player, then you've got a quick solution that has a proper remote control and doesn't require a noisy, hot computer in your house.

    Here's a link to a how-to [area450.com]. It talks about adding a different power supply, but I've heard you can get away using the original ps.
  • by Loki_1929 (550940) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:06PM (#8381962) Journal
    "Suggestions for a DVD Video on Demand System?"

    I demand it, Kazaa provides it?

    Oh, a video on demand system for you - nevermind.

    Hang on, someone's banging on my door...

  • myHTPC (Score:3, Informative)

    by gricholson75 (563000) * on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:06PM (#8381968) Homepage
    myHTPC [myhtpc.net] combined with a plugin for it called simpleVideo is the frontend you are looking for.
  • Simple Solution (Score:5, Informative)

    by wolrahnaes (632574) <sean@seanharlow[ ]fo ['.in' in gap]> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:06PM (#8381970) Homepage Journal
    Some kind of raw image ripping program (CloneCD, BlindRead, etc.) combined with DAEMON Tools and DaemonUI
    Mount the images and run the DVD player using DaemonUI's .DUI scripting language

    Obviously this is a Windows solution. This can also be done easily with linux, although I don't know the specifics of mounting disc images.

    Now as to the storage, an average DVD has 7 to 9 GB of data. 1000 DVDs will take up nearly 10 TB. The MPEG2 data cannot be compressed any further losslessly.

    If you don't mind a quality loss (and spending a HUGE amount of time re-encoding the video and converting the menus) you can convert to your favorite MPEG4 derivative (Divx, Xvid, Quicktime MPEG4, etc.)

    This will be a hugely expensive project, with the cheapest hard disk based solution costing over $30,000 (3x Xserve RAID 3.5 TB) plus the client machine to attach to the fibre channel switch (and that's not cheap either) to read from all the Xserves.

    My suggestion: Just like with legal adivce, this is not the time to ask slashdot. With the kind of money involved, hiring a professional is the best option.
    • Re:Simple Solution (Score:3, Informative)

      by Handpaper (566373)
      This can also be done easily with linux
      The command you are looking for is 'mount -o loop [image.iso] /whereyouwanttomountit'. I use /fakedvd and neither mplayer, xine, nor dvd::rip [1] give me any problems. Mplayer will even play VCDImager and WinCD .bin files but not raw .iso images (just tried it!)
      [1] dvd::rip likes to work from a mounted DVD, but a straight dd rip is faster if somebody wants their DVD back quick.

  • PowerDVD (Score:3, Informative)

    by telstar (236404) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:08PM (#8382003)
    Just choose the "Play files from hard disk" option.
  • DVD Lobby (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:11PM (#8382025) Homepage
    If you can't afford a Kaleidescape, you might try building an HTPC with DVD Lobby [webpromotion.com].
  • by enrico_suave (179651) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:11PM (#8382035) Homepage
    I wouldn't bother ripping the special DVD widescreen edition of "ishtar", ditto for "eye of the beholder" and "Battlefield Earth" that'll save you a few gigs =P

    E.
  • by telstar (236404) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:15PM (#8382064)
    1) Load browser
    2) Navigate to www.google.com
    3) Type "Play DVD from hard disk" in pretty little box
    4) Hit Enter
    5) Click first link

    Or just click here [digital-digest.com]

    Is this really a problem for Slashdot? If I think about half of the shit I've submitted that got rejected, it's enough to make me not submit anything again. Sure, my submissions didn't have cool buzzwords like "video on demand", "terrabyte", and I don't own a plasma display, but they were articles whose answer wasn't the first darn response on a Google search. Subscribers ... Are you getting what you paid for?
  • what system? (Score:4, Informative)

    by 0x20 (546659) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:16PM (#8382079) Homepage
    You didn't mention whether you were looking to run Linux or Windows or OS X, but I think the principles are the same.

    This is a good Windows-only setup using mostly freeware tools:

    DVD Decrypter [dvddecrypter.com] to rip the DVDs to macrovision-free/region-free ISO images

    Daemon Tools [daemon-tools.cc] to mount the isos as virtual drives on demand

    MyHTPC [myhtpc.net] as a TV-friendly filesystem shell (in combination with some simple batch scripts to control Daemon Tools, several of which can be found in the MyHTPC forums)

    Zoom Player [inmatrix.com] to play the DVDs (it's fast, full-featured, and you can turn off the GUI entirely which is nice on a TV.

    You will also want WinDVD [intervideo.com]: not to play the DVDs, because the interface is so bulky and slow, but because you will need good MPEG-2 codecs and I don't know of any free ones as good as the filters that come with WinDVD. Zoom Player has a feature that automatically finds the codecs and registers them for you. (AC3Filter [sourceforge.net] is a free AC3 audio codec that is comparable to InterVideo's.)

    There are loads of ways to do it in OS X and Linux. Somebody who knows better than me is sure to post them.
  • Seriously, why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeShmoe (90109) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:22PM (#8382148)
    This isn't meant as flamebait but...why on earth would you want a video on demand system that uses the horrible bastard of an interface on most modern DVDs? Do you enjoy subjecting yourself to the mind-numbingly stupid Memento menus? Or the Ghostbuster DVD that repeats the same Ghostbuster riff ever five seconds?

    To be truly authentic, should this theoretical system also implement the "no fast forward" option during the FBI warning? How about the Coke commercials?

    Let's also have to select our audio settings each and every time we change to a new movie. Ignore the fact that your audio system probably changes configuration every two years if you are lucky, let's go ahead and have to choose Dolby 5.1 with English subs every time you pop in Cowboy BeBop.

    To me this is a problem in search of another problem. To do what you want is painfully simple. Save the DVDs to hard disk as images, then load in in Daemon Tools/Nero ImageDrive. Poof. Get a cheap PC and use one of the many thousand media management programs as a point and click interface. Have the icons load CUE files for the movies. For a bonus, using multiple virtual drives to load collections like Aliens Quadrilogy etc and then have a playlist to play them all one drive after another.

    Or...

    Rip them all to a nice quality XviD with AC3 audio, multiple audio tracks if there's a reason (Ebert commentary etc) and subtitle files. Store at least 4 times as many movies with barely any loss in quality, and then have make playlists that play the movie with settings optimized for your sound system and then play deleted scenes and other extras.

    Sorry if this seems like a rant, but if you want 1000 DVDs online, make images? Am I overlooking some obvious reason why this won't work?

    - JoeShmoe
    .
  • by ... James ... (33917) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:24PM (#8382176)
    I don't want to say don't do it, but...

    Buy yourself a couple of Sony DVP-CX777ES 400 disc DVD changers and connect them to an Escient DVD-M100 DVD manager. This is what I use for ~450 DVDs in my theater (110" DLP front projection :). It will even connect to the internet and catalog your DVDs. It's very nice, and, more importantly, hassle free.

    Some rough numbers off the top of my head: 3x changers @ $700 each + 1 manager @ $1800 = $3900. More expensive than 4x250GB drives + computer, but you'll be able to store all of your DVDs and not spend a ton of time ripping them and figuring out how to manage/play them.

    You can check out the Escient manager at www.escient.com.
  • MacOS X solution (Score:4, Informative)

    by mzs (595629) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:27PM (#8382203)
    I use DVD Backup [wormintheapple.gr] to copy a DVD to my iBook when I take a trip but do not want to take my original DVD with me. For a thousand DVDs you will need more than a terabyte of storage, but you should be able to setup a machine to serve that over nfs maybe with a few mounts. Hook-up a mac to your plasma screen and use the DVD Player included with MacOS X to play your movies. DVD Player has a menu item 'File -> Open VIDEO_TS Folder..." that does the trick. Plus you can script DVD Player with applescript, so you can quickly hack something together that lets you choose the movie you wish to play. Then you can navigate the usual DVD menus as you wish. You can get a wireless keyboard and mouse to make navigation from your couch easier.
  • VideoLAN? (Score:5, Informative)

    by JMZorko (150414) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:40PM (#8382332) Homepage
    It's been awhile since i've played with it much, but VideoLAN [videolan.org] may do what you like. The coolest thing about it, imho, is that it's cross-platform i.e. you can run the server on a Linux / BSD / OSX machine if you like, and the client on Windows (or vice versa).

    ... and it's open-source. Bonus!

    Regards,

    John

  • by WiKKeSH (543962) <slashspam@downmix.com> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @11:49PM (#8382415) Homepage
    isnt this the obvious solution?
    create images of the dvds, then load them up in a virtual drive such as daemon tools?
  • Juke Box (Score:3, Funny)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @12:14AM (#8382613) Homepage
    Get yourself a DVD player and some Legos and build a _big_ jukebox.
  • XBox Media Center (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aderusha (32235) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @12:28AM (#8382738) Homepage
    1 used xbox: $150
    1 cheapmod: $10
    -or-
    rented copy of "mech assault" or "007 agent under fire" plus memory card: $20
    1 copy of xbox media center (visit #xbins on efnet to obtain this): priceless! (and free too!)

    XBox Media Center (XBMC) will play VOB files across the network from machines sharing the files via SMB (regular windows networking) or 2 other xbox-only streaming protocols. XBMC also plays divx, xvid, mpeg, quicktime, realmedia, ogm, and other video codecs. throw in mp3/ogg support, streaming internet radio from shoutcast, a picutre viewer for your digital pics, and even weather updates from the weather channel.com and you have yourself a pretty cheap playback system.

    oh yeah and it can play xbox games too.

    xbox media center website [xboxmediacenter.de]
    information on hacking the xbox (news, tutorials, and forums) [xbox-scene.com]
    reliable source of cheap chips in the us [llamma.com]
  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @12:43AM (#8382883)
    Seriously. Case mod a CD jukebox.
  • Bill Gates (Score:3, Funny)

    by krokodil (110356) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @12:51AM (#8382941) Homepage
    Hello mister Gates! No need to make up story about store going out of business. We, average people would not feel bad because you purchased 1000 movies and want to digitize them so you can watch any of them without lifting your back from the coach to change CD.

  • AVS Forums (Score:3, Informative)

    by GreenKiwi (221281) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @01:09AM (#8383064)
    Hey,

    Check out the AV Science forums. They have one dedicated to just this. There are lots of pointers and lots of people who will help.

    AVS Home Theater PC(HTPC) Forum [avsforum.com]

    kiwi
  • network file system (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ajagci (737734) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @02:30AM (#8383497)
    DVDs have a fairly complicated structure involving multiple files and multiple file types and containing numerous indexes and references. If you mirror them with vobcopy, you can then point some of the free DVD players at the ripped directory structure and get the menus and everything else. So, if you export the mirrored directories via some network file system, you should be able to play them over the network. It is possible that one or the other network file system has some glitch that causes problems (e.g., unexpected latencies for certain operations), but then just try another one or fiddle with the parameters for that file system.
  • Simple solution (Score:5, Informative)

    by Charcharodon (611187) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @08:36AM (#8384754)
    There are two very good programs to get you off the ground.

    DvD decrypter will rip the DVD nicely, menus and all to your harddrive.

    Most software media players will not recognize DVD menus, but one called ZOOM Player will, and just happens to be a nice player to boot.

    After you have those it is simple a question of hardrive space. Most movies run between 5-8gb so 1000 DVD's going to require something in the neighboorhood of 5-8tb. Most of the newer high end mother boards will hold up to 10 devices (CD/DVD/hardrives). You biggest problem is going to be one of heat, noise, and enough power connectors. You might want to think about is having multiple servers, with one connected to the TV with the absolute minimum required to run in order to keep it quiet, but enough to fullfill any recording you'll want to do. You then would have one or more servers tucked away on a home network where they won't bother you, with their hardrives mapped to your main server at the TV.

    Don't forget you'll want to use to use your machine as an MP3 jukebox as well as a video recorder (TV shows).

    While it's not a computer solution Sony does make 200+ DVD carasel players. A friend of mine uses two of them to hold his collection, and has them set up to be controlled by his palm top. He has an older machine connected in as well for the mp3 and video recording functions.

  • Here is the solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by Snaller (147050) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @09:21AM (#8384990) Journal
    Assuming he doesn't mind running Windows:

    Buy the XCard [sigmadesigns.com] - it will playback divx and mpg, but it does it in hardware so even a slow computer can serve movies(Specifically it plays Plays DVD-Video, Superbit DVD, Super VideoCD (SVCD), and VideoCD (VCD) 1.x, 2.0, DivX , MPEG-4, MPEG-2 and MPEG-1 files, Play NTSC titles on PAL televisions, PAL titles on NTSC televisions )
    Composite, s-video, scart rgb, s/Pdif outputs.

    Then you should buy JovePlayer [8dim.com] - this is a player dedicated to work with the Xcard. Your basic "Home Theater Software", it displays its menu interface on the TV screen [8dim.com] (and is skinnable btw, so if you want it to look like StarTreks LCARS [lcarscom.net], you probably could) - if you have a faster machine it offers the ablity to reencode video formats that the XCard doesn't support nativly (such as RealAudio, Windows media - and straight from web pages if you like).

    Then you just fit your "home theater" machine, with harddrives with your content, pop in CD's, or mount network shares and navigate with JovePlayer (and the remote) to the desired folder [8dim.com] and click on the relevant IFO file. It will play back as a normal DVD, (because in essense it is a normal DVD, you might just have relocated it) -via the remote you can navigate the DVD Menus, change soundtracks, page through subtitles etc. You can bookmark specific places and make playlists as well :)

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