The terrific DVD ripper/backup freeware DVDShrink has been around for ages. I’ve been using it now through 4 versions of Windows and it has worked flawlessly on all operating systems right through to and including Windows 7. That alone, considering it has not been actively developed for years, is a glowing testament to the brilliance of the original software. The fact that DVDShrink also continues to perform its core tasks very well has made it one of the most desirable and widely used freeware products around.
I am aware a lot of people think they know how to use DVDShrink properly, in fact many of you more than likely already do. Just in case, here is a pictorial guide on the method I use to help achieve optimum quality.
First a few pertinent facts:
Most commercially produced movie DVD’s are distributed on dual layer discs which have a large enough capacity to comfortably hold all the necessary files/data. When we backup those movies we are generally attempting to do so using single layer blank discs. That means the original data needs to be shrunk (compressed) in order to fit onto the lower capacity media. DVDShrink helps us achieve that by compressing data and allowing the user to eliminate non-essential extras such as; menus, audio for multiple languages, subtitle menus, trailers, etc.
The most relevant ingredient in DVDShrink is the “Compression Percentage” and the most important goal, to assure good quality, is to get that as close to optimum (100%) as possible. In my experience that is difficult to achieve for movies with a duration time in excess of 2 hours. However, DVDShrink does include some additional options to help with that eventuality.
The most common result of trying to cram too much data onto a single layer DVD is severe picture stuttering and pixelation… this is what we are trying to avoid.
For this guide I am using a commercially produced movie DVD with a running time of just on 2 hours.
So, on to the process:
With DVDShrink running and our movie DVD inserted into the computer’s ROM-drive, the obvious first step is to click on the Open Disc button in the main menu across the top.
As soon as you do that you will see an overlay window containing references to the movie title and ROM-drive letter. Click OK and the ‘Analyzing’ screen will appear, including a preview. Analysis is a relatively short process generally taking between one to three minutes only.
As soon as analysis has finished, that window will close automatically and you will now see details of the movie files. The details in the left hand pane comprise the files/data currently selected for backup, which at this stage, is the full movie including all menus, trailers, etc. Note compression is at 71.2%. We need to raise that to 100%, or somewhere near. Next step is to click on the Re-author button.
You will see everything has now disappeared from the left pane meaning nothing is currently selected for backup. Now we need to locate the entry for the Main Movie in the right hand pane and drag and drop that into the left pane. So now we have selected the main movie only for backup, omitting most of the non-essential extras. Now click on the Compression Settings tab in the right pane.
Note compression is now at 73.8%. Not a huge improvement but we have more to do yet.
Now deselect all the non-essential items in the right pane. In this case they would be; everything under ‘Subpicture’ plus all items under ‘Audio’ except for ‘AC3 5.1-ch English’. Unless you would prefer to listen to the movie in French or Italian that is!
With those items now deselected you will see compression is looking a lot healthier at 89.6%. One more step and we are there. Click on the little opposing arrow icon as indicated by the red pointer I have added into the screenshot.
After clicking on the arrows you will see a new window with ‘Start Frame’ and ‘End Frame’ including a preview for each. By pressing on the back and forward preview control buttons you can edit the start or end position of the movie. I would suggest leaving the start of the movie alone; there is generally not a lot to be gained by shortening the intro. The end of the movie is a different ball game altogether. You can get rid of all those annoying credits which seem to take an eternity to roll by. This will often shorten the movie by up to 12 and 14 minutes thus helping reduce the amount of space needed. Just keep clicking on the back arrow in the End Frame preview control bar (or hold it down) until you get to the last frame of the movie, just before the credits begin to roll. When you are satisfied, click OK.
You will see compression is now at a much better 93.6%, an overall improvement of some 22.4% from our starting position. Not quite optimum but near enough.
Now we are ready for the backup. Click on the Backup button in the main menu and you will see the backup options window. Click on the Quality Settings tab and this is where those extra options to help improve quality come into play. If you cannot achieve 100% compression these two settings will generally be enabled by default, if not then enable then manually by placing a checkmark in each of the little boxes. If 100% compression has been reached these options will not be available, simply because they are not needed.
DVDShrink automatically syncs with Nero for the burning process. If Nero is not installed then DVDShrink will automatically save the backup files to the hard drive for later burning with another program. If you do not have Nero on board, one of the best products for performing this task is the open source freeware ImgBurn. ImgBurn is a versatile program but somewhat confusing, the GUI is not terribly intuitive, but we have an ImgBurn How-To article for that!