The Robservatory

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Podcast appearance: The Next Track

This week, I made a rare appearance on a podcast other than our own The Committed podcast. I was a guest on The Next Track, a podcast about music and related things, hosted by iTunes AppleScript guru Doug Adams and my regular The Committed podcast cohost Kirk McElhearn.

We spent 30 minutes discussing ripping Blu-rays and DVDs to the Mac. I know, a real stretch topic for me, given I’ve never written about it!

Anyway, it was a fun show, so if you’d like to hear the voice behind these words, give it a listen.

One possible solution for ripping stubborn discs

While writing up this week’s Watch It selection (The Stunt Man), I was rewatching the movie on my TV, and wanted to switch over to the computer. I own a many-years-old DVD version, so I popped it into my iMac, fired up HandBrake and set to ripping it. But I got nothing—HandBrake ripped a 4KB file, then claimed it was done. Not a good start.

A glance at HandBrake’s activity window showed this error:

libdvdread: CHECK_VALUE failed in ifo_read -- error message

Searching on that error message pointed to an error in dvdnav, and some suggested ways of working around it, including installing a patched version. There were also other errors, and searching on those indicated something about the copy protection was causing a read error with the disc.

I also tried RipIt’s built-in rip-and-compress, but it also failed. After mucking about with those two apps, and nearly every other video-related app I own, here’s how I finally managed to rip my legally-purchased version of The Stunt Man:

  1. Used RipIt to copy the DVD to my hard drive. (No settings to worry about here at all.)
  2. Used MakeMKV to make an MKV from the ripped file. I pointed it at the folder from step one, and clicked the Make MVK button. The end result was a number of files, with the longest one being the movie itself.
  3. Used HandBrake to convert the longest MKV file to an m4v file. I just left the settings at the default (high quality), and the end result was a nice quality 1.9GB movie (down from a 7GB MKV file) that plays on all my devices.

I’m posting this here mainly so I remember what I did, but perhaps it’ll help with your stubborn discs as well.

When the music really matters

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen my #WKRPFlashback hashtag in action: I’m rewatching the original WKRP in Cincinnati comedy series, first aired from 1978 through 1982, and tweeting out the occasional funny moment.

For those who don’t know, WKRP in Cincinnati is all about radio: WKRP is a fictional AM station in Cincinnati. Given that premise, music is obviously an integral element of the show. You’ll hear songs used as transition bits in the broadcast booth, and occasionally as background music playing over the station’s speakers. You’ll also hear the actors discussing the songs, mentioning titles and artists with regularity.

The songs also work their way into plot lines:

The songs were often tied into the plot of the episode, and some pieces of music were even used as running gags. For example, the doorbell to Jennifer’s penthouse apartment played “Fly Me to the Moon” (which was later replaced by “Beautiful Dreamer” due to copyright reasons). [Wikipedia]

Here’s one example of how songs and plots were tied together…

That’s a clip from “Patter of Little Feet,” in which Mr. & Mrs. Carlson discover that they’re about to be parents again, very late in their married life. Mr. Carlson has asked Venus to play something “soft and sweet.” Venus chose The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun,” which is funny in a few ways, given the context. The end result is a short, poignant scene with a fairly funny audio joke thrown in. And that particular song is obviously integral to the scene.

As you can see (and hear), music was a very important element of the show—and that’s where the troubles begin, at least relative to trying to watch the shows years later.

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