Handbrake and Perian

Handbrake is a great video ripping utility for the Mac. Handbrake was initially a DVD ripping tool which was always reliable but for video transcoding I relied on VisualHub. That was until the company behind VisualHub shuttered development. For a few months there was a bit of a gap in the Mac market but Handbrake stepped in and not only does it do DVD ripping but it covers video transcoding as well.

Handbrake is open-source, GPL-licencsed, multi-platform and multi-threaded. The latest update to version 0.9.4 included over 1000 updates and a 64 bit version for Snow Leopard. It includes support for presets which come with Handbrake so it’s easy to create a video for Apple TV or iPhone – the settings are automatically set making encoding very easy. You can create your own presets so if you want to repeatedly output video in a particular format you can create a preset which guarantees the sam format each and every time.

There are a massive amount of settings and options in Handbrake which can affect the final output. You can see a preview of the video as it will appear allowing you to check for any quality issues before running an encode and you can add multiple video’s to the encode queue so Handbrake can run through your queue while your away.

When downloading Handbrake you can opt to grab the command line version instead of the GUI and that becomes useful when you want to automate your ripping process. For example, this fantastic tutorial – How-To: Automate DVD & Blu-Ray (Backup, Encoding & Tagging) on the Handbrake forums takes you through the process of ripping, tagging and moving your content automatically on the Mac – something I hope to be setting up in the new year. If you have any problems the forums are definitely the first place to visit as it’s a goldmine of information.

That covers encoding but what about playback? On the Mac Quicktime is the default video player but many install VLC as it supports many more codecs than Quicktime but there is an alternative – Perian.

Perian is a free, open source QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats. A full list of the formats can be found here. Perian is easy to install and once complete it’s settings can be accessed via a Systems Preference pane. Like Handbrake there is an active forum where you can find answers to any questions but for me it’s been trouble free. A great plugin for any Mac, especially if your using yours for media playback.