I'm very much a believer in the idea that "files" will be the next big format for video entertainment after DVDs. I guessed right from the start that blu-ray would win the format war against HD-DVD but I never thought that either would take over.
About 15 years ago, after having ridden the music upgrade from LP Records to tapes and to CD, I stumbled across this "new" format called MP3. Back then, there were no MP3 players, just computers but I was enthralled by the idea that with enough storage, I could save my music collection in a way that meant that I could play them without ever having to get a CD out of the cupboard again.
I emarked on a quest to convert my entire library of Music CDs to MP3. People thought I was weird but a few years later as MP3 players became more readily available, I reaped the rewards. I didn't have to convert anything - it was already done.
I see video entertainment as following the same path. As with my early MP3 conversions, the problems were two-fold.
1. Finding a reliable converter/process
Recently, I bought a Western Digital WDTV box (mainly so that I didn't have to burn Doctor Who episodes to DVD when downloading them from the UK). Copyright people; don't give me those accusatory stares - I buy the DVDs when they become available. It's just that the net has a bad habit of "spoiling" the twists when I wait for Australia to screen them - yes, even when it's only one week later.
Of course, I don't want to stop there. It's my ambition to convert my sizable DVD collection to files for discless viewing - and perhaps I'll throw in a few fixes along the way.
Fixes? you say? Huh..?
As a partially (mostly) deaf person, I find that I really need subtitles with my movies - and I'm really annoyed when they aren't provided. Recently I bought Mozart and the Whale. Unfortunately the Australian distributor of this film doesn't care about subtitles. I ripped it to AVI format and then I went looking on http://www.podnapisi.net/ for a subtitle file (SRT format). I managed to get one and now when I play the file in VLC Media Player - or on my WDTV player it works!
The final question is one of quality. We can get close to movie quality in AVI format (with a big enough file - 800MB for a movie) but sound is a problem. It's MP3 format. I used to care a lot about surround sound but since I'm deaf, it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference to me. Still, sound and quality are important considerations. For now, the AVI format will do but I'm on the lookout for something better.
When a royalty-free file format capable of holding, video, 3d video, multiple angles, multiple subtitles, various soundtracks, chapters and display covers appears, I'll jump there pretty quick.
Next time; Enough of the Waffle - Next time I'll explain how to rip a DVD to a good quality AVI file using free tools.