Thanks guys! I don't actually know anything about encoding or complression. I was assuming that there was software out there you could use to copy (rip) a DVD onto the harddrive and then burn it onto another DVD, but it's looking a bit more involved then that. Looking at the sites referenced is giving me some good ideas on which way to go though!
You will need DVD43 and Handbrake. Do a google on them, download them and you are good to go. I mainly use Handbrake to rip the DVD to a MPEG4 file then load the movie on my sons Zune or Ipod. You can take the MPEG4 and also burn a playable DVD using other software like Roxio or the like. Ripping a DVD will take some time depending on the quality you decide on so be patient with the program, it will eventually finish doing its thing.....
Well I downloaded DVDShrink to give it a try. Worked on one DVD but not on a few very recent releases. The one that gave it the most trouble was Paranormal Activity. DVDShrink wouldnt do a thing with it and it gave handbrake a workout but it did rip it. Took some time but went out in the garage and fingered the Triple a little a little and when I came back in,it was done. My vote goes to the Handbrake-DVD43 combo for ripping..
It's been a few yrs since I tried it but back then I decided the results were too inconsistent and it was too time consuming.
Lately, I have been finding a few things to download on Vuze. Most of the downloads are in .avi format which play on the pc fine, but would need conversion (to mpeg4/wma/whatever) to play on some other piece of hardware.
So I experimented ripping some old quad racing DVD's (Blackwater 100 and 2005 GNCC race in FL) with Handbrake and here's what I found so far:
The Blackwater DVD ripping semed to freeze-up around 1/3 through but not sure why. The DVD is a bit warped (which is why I'm trying to back it up before it is completely ununsable) and as the process went you could here the DVD doing some scraping, but I also moved the laptop during the process so maybe I hit some key or something...
On the second DVD it seems to have bypassed a menu and simply ripped the second of two races on the DVD.
Both DVD's were ripped without DVD43 or other decoding software but these are older more basic DVDs and I assume that commercial encoding isn't used on them.
AnyDVD paired with DVDShrink = ALL MOVIES RIPPABLE. (Except Blu-Ray)
The ANYDVD has a free 30-day trial, after that it's $30-$40. Their updates come out within 1 week every time a new encryption hits the shelves.
Couple of things to consider... most DVDs will come in a dual-layer disc, which has a capacity of 8.5GB. Most DVDs (that come in the 50-100pk for cheap) is only 4.7GB. DVD-Shrink will allow you to just rip the main movie without the previews and extras. It'll also compress just enough to fit into a single layer 4.7GB disc. You can also remove the end credits for even better compression.
The ANYDVD will run on the background and work its magic. Once you have it downloaded and running on your taskbar, there's no need to tinker with it. Just keep it updated for the latest encryptions.