The kids are really starting to like the iPod Video so time to get more things down there. There are all kinds of utilities and things and I'm sure this isn't the fastest way to rip video and get soundtracks to your iPod, but it works for me:
h2. If you have an AVI and want to get it down to your iPod
First of all, if you just want to get an .AVI file onto your iPod, then you want "Videola":http://www.videora.com/en-us/Converter/iPod/ iPod Converter, this takes an AVI file and reencodes it with a mmpeg recoder. You do want to get it to the very small H.264 format. I like to use Q30, or the variable bitrate encoder. You get as much as 10x compression since the screen on your iPod is so small.
If you just want the soundtrack. So for instance, our kids like to watch a home movie of themselves singing as well as just listen to it, then you need to rip the .AVI files with http://belight.corecodec.org/. This is because the format of a DVD oriented audio is usally 48Khz, not 44KHz and you use Belight to rip in MP3. Normally I use the Fast option in MP3 ripping with Quality of 90. This is the equivalent of --preset fast extreme which is archival quality. Since most audio on DVDs isn't that high, the equivalent of --preset fast standard is Quality 80 in their parlance. Underneath, this uses the very powerful open source Besweet (included) and Lame MP3 encoder. The beauty is that both of these DLLs are included, so it is a nice standalone package.
h2. If you want to copy a single VOB from a DVD to your iPod
This is quite easy since both Videola and Belight can rip .VOBs. Any DVDs shorter than about 20 minutes only have one .VOB file (you find it as the longest file in the TS_VIDEO directory). It has a wierd name, but on output, both Videola and Belight let you make the name more human readable.
As a note, if you have a commercial DVD may need to use "DVDFab Decrypter":http://www.dvdidle.com/free.htm if you want to exercise your fair use rights. I used to use DVD Decrypter, but Macrovision craftily bought the rights to this and took it off all the download sites. Too bad, that was a great tool! You use this to put the DVD files onto your hard disk and then see above to get them onto your iPod
h2. If you have a long DVD to copy
In that case, there are multiple .VOBs since these have a 1GB limit, you can't just use Videola or Belight, you have to get them together into a single file.
There are two ways to do this. If you use "Autogk":http://autogk.me.uk, then as a side effect of taking a DVD and getting it into a DIVX or XVID file, Autogk rips the stream for you. You feed the XVID file into Videola and get your iPod .MP4 file or into Belight to get your .MP3 file. This will give you in the end an .AVI file that is about 3-4x smaller than a DVD that you can keep on your PC to play there, an MP3 file you can play on your iPod when the kids want to listen and a .MP4 you can use with your video iPod. The main drawback is creating an AVI from the .VOBs on your DVD takes hours of processing.
To save time, if you don't need that AVI, then you can coerce DVD Decrypter to create one massive .VOB and feed taht to Videola and Belight. You need to change a parameter on DVD Decrypter by choosing:
# Choose Tools/Settings/File Mode and click on Divide file by Cell. This means that the main movie will appear as a gigantic .VOB files. Run the decrypt
# Now run Videola on the .VOB file and you will get the .MP4 video file
# Now run Belight against the .VOB to get a .MP3 audio file.