I have a huge library of DVDs that I’d like to be able to watch on my Sony PSP. Since I already own them, it seems really stupid for me to have to buy the “UMD” version of them. Is there any alternative, especially for us Mac users?
There is indeed a way that you can rip DVDs onto your computer, then translate them into the format needed for the Sony PSP and copy them – space permitting – onto your Memory Stick for later viewing. But it’s complex! Ready?
The first thing you’ll need to do is download two programs onto your Mac: MacTheRipper, which lets you copy the DVD data onto your Macintosh computer, and PSPWare for Mac, which makes the process of translating and formatting the movie for the PSP a breeze. The former app is free, but PSPWare costs $15 shareware. Not a bad investment for this functionality.
Note that this exactly process can be used to copy someone else’s DVDs onto your PSP too, but I’ll encourage you to stick with movies you own, so that there’s no legal issue or question of piracy. Thanks.
The first step is to insert the DVD into your computer and let Apple’s DVD Player recognize it and start playing it. After a few seconds, stop the movie and quit DVD Player. Now everything’s ready to start in earnest.
Launch MacTheRipper and it’ll see the DVD disk and show you its somewhat funky interface:
Now, did I mention that you need a whole lot of disk space available to succeed with this process? A full DVD movie will take as much as 8GB of space on your disk. Make sure you have that much space before you proceed.
Since all we want is the main feature of the DVD, click on the “Mode” button in MacTheRipper and choose “Main Feature Extraction” then choose File -> Extract To… from the app menu to ensure that you know where the saved video is going to be saved, then press the “Go!” button on the bottom of the window.
This process takes rather a while, possibly as long as 30 minutes or longer, depending on how fast your computer actually runs. Here’s what you’ll see as the program chugs along, too:
Once the copy has completed – my copy of Danny Kaye’s brilliant The Court Jester took 26 minutes – you can quit MacTheRipper as we won’t need it any more. Start up the PSPWare program and you’ll see its unassuming interface:
Since I want to translate and copy a movie, I’ll click on the “Movies” button. Now I see:
To add a movie, click on the small “+” symbol on the lower left. And here’s the bad news: rather than having one file that contains the entire movie, MacTheRipper automatically splits the movie into 1024 MB pieces, so the end result of this process is that you’ll have your movie broken into part 1, part 2, part 3, and so on. Not a crisis, really, but a bit tedious.
There’s another conversion that we’re going to let PSPWare make, cutting down the image size to the PSP screen dimensions and compressing the video as it goes along, so it should be no surprise that it’s going to take a while too: I’ve found it takes about 10 minutes per movie segment. To get started, pick the first segment of your movie, probably called something like “VTS_01_1.VOB” and located in the “VIDEO_TS” folder within the newly created movie copy folder.
Upon selection, PSPWare immediately starts translating the video into the MPEG4 format that the PSP wants, as you can see here (yes, I’ve switched films along the way because I actually want to copy the animé classic Steamboy onto my PSP, not The Court Jester):
Once it’s done, you can see the benefit of the efforts: the 1024MB file is now only 74.5MB. When I look at the movie folder for this particular DVD backup, it has five files, so that means I am squeezing an entire feature length DVD into about 350MB of video, which will even fit on a 512MB Memory Stick.
At this point you can decide whether you want to have PSPWare take over control of your Sony PSP – which means that future sync tasks for photos, music, etc., will be easier, but also means that anything already on your PSP will be deleted – or whether you want to use it just for translating video formats as I do and copy files manually.
If you want to let PSPWare drive, just click “Sync Now” and it’ll copy the movie files onto the Sony PSP unit itself. Easily enough. Since there’s an entirely new file structure that needs to be created on the PSP, I’m going to recommend that you let PSPWare do the heavy lifting and skip the manual instructions.
Once it’s finished the synchronization task, you should be good to go! Eject your PSP from your Mac, then on the PSP go to Video -> Memory Stick and you should see a movie called “VTS_01_1″, and so on. Those are the pieces of the movie you’ve just downloaded. Click on one (using the “X” button) and you’ll be watching your DVD on your PSP.
Of course, this process takes an amazing amount of time and effort, so it’s very tempting to just buy some UMD movies off eBay or similar, and once they are available for rent, well, that’s going to be great!
Meanwhile, I hope this long, complex tutorial helps you out.