I like music, movies, the internet, and modern home theater environments. After having a big collection of VHS tapes in my teen days, I quickly changed to DVD when it hit the market. For me, DVD revolutionized the way, the quality, and the features of enjoying a good movie.
Unfortunately the DVD also had some negative sides to it. The DVDs available everywhere (or only in the US?) were not available, or only months or a year later in my country. Unacceptable!
Of course many people had the same problem and there were soon basic solutions to this issue. DVDs (or more exactly - parts thereof) could be ripped, converted and watched. I was happy to see this but I got really frustrated when I tried to use it as a real replacement for my DVDs. In my view all this stuff is really crippled and does not deliver the quality, reliability and features I was looking for. It was just like converting the DVDs to linear VHS tapes before bringing them into a true digital format.
Why use RatDVD?
I think the easiest way to explain this is to list the things you don't get with linear formats (like XviD, DivX, WMV, H264):
DVDs are usually more than a single, linear movie. By using RatDVD you can retain the following all in one file:
- Multiple movie versions like "Directors Cut", "Theatrical Cut" or "Uncut Version".
- Multiple parental levels for people with kids - not tested ;-)
- Some movies offer alternative story endings, sometimes even random (e.g. Stigmata).
- Some DVDs have an interactive story (e.g. Dragons Lair).
- Allowing sharing of Quiz DVDs (e.g. Rambo - First blood, Trivial Persuit).
- Interactive "making of" or explanations (e.g. Matrix, Hellboy).
- Visual directors commentary (e.g. Ghost Busters).
- Additional features like making of, Actors, Trailers, etc.
DVDs usually contain true anamorphic video. This means that the DVD Player (who knows the aspect ratio of the TV) prepares the signal for an optimum viewing experience:
- Support for 16:9, 4:3, Pan/Scan, WideScreen, Letterbox based on just one encoded video signal.
- Seamless branching for interactive content.
- Multiple video angles.
- Reliable high quality encoding (of course XviD, DivX, etc. can also be high quality - unfortunately for historic reasons such as a long version history and other goals beside high quality, one can't rely on it)
- Very fast and high quality video engine - optimized for DVD input video and transcoding.
- Special video encoding format allows free binary distribution (no licensing issues with typical MPEG-2, MP3 patents)
For me the sound is a very important part of every movie which I want to preserve in a very high quality:
- RatDVD allows for keeping the original 5.1 soundtracks or transcoding it into multiple channel virtual surround (which comes very close to the original but uses only half the bitrate - Thanks to Dr. Evil for letting me use his Audio stuff!).
- Support for multiple Audio tracks (e.g. listening to Chinese or English - possibly combined with subtitles).
- Transcoding of PCM audio to Dolby (Again thanks to Dr. Evil).
- Defined audio format (Personally I often had trouble to find the right audio codec and when I finally got one it was often not synchronous, the audio lead or fell behind the video very badly).
- By staying with Dolby no deterioration loss when rebuilding the DVD because no additional de/encoding is needed (of course it is also faster).
RatDVD (optionally) preserves the full sub pictures of the DVD:
- Up to 32 sub picture tracks for different languages and hearing impaired.
- Visual commentary features (e.g. Ghost Busters).
- Animated anecdotes (e.g. Back to the future).
I guess people like DVDs mostly because of the enhanced navigation features. Unfortunately this is exactly what you are missing when you convert it to some linear format. RatDVD preserves:
- Support for all menus (Root menu, Title menu, Audio menu, Subpicture).
- Retaining of random playback and user interaction (e.g continue after menu).
- Direct title and chapter selection .
- Seamless branching, alternating stories, etc...
- Parental levels.
- User prohibitions - if you want them ;-)
- Call functions.
- making of (follow the white rabbit, etc.).
Usually a DVD is much more than just "the movie":
- Making of
- Cut scenes
- Other bonus material...
All of the cool stuff above matters only when you can use it. RatDVD is designed to offer the highest possible compatibility:
- RatDVDs can be converted back to full size, full featured DVDs compatible with ANY player. No unreliable MPEG-4/DivX functions needed and you have a real DVD for your "physical archive".
- Double clicking a RatDVD file allows playback in almost any media center, media player (see list of known compatible players here ) with the complete DVD feature set.
Tagging/RatDVD naming scheme
When I look at my (rather large) collection of DVDs, I was always missing a meaningful, standardized meta data system like ID3 for MP3s. Therefore I included it into RatDVD - and I am sure that you will value it, once your collection is big enough ;-)
- Retrieve the complete tagging information online from imdb.com
- Get info on titles, tag lines, year, director, genre, plot outline, outline, writing credit, cast, rating votes, DVD cover
- Windows displays RatDVDs with the associated DVD cover
RatDVDs are encoded in just one file. A checksum ensures that the file is valid.
- No more "broken streams". Every sharing software can validate the RatDVD file to be valid.
Ease of use
Besides the advantages of the RatDVD format itself I tried to make the RatDVD application as user friendly as possible.
- No need for a lot of different tools. The RatDVD converted does everything needed.
- Localized into many languages
- Open plug-in architecture allows for specific extensions