Ripping DVD Movie Collections to Digital Video

If you rip your DVD movie collections to digital video, the highest resolution they can be is 480p. This is a good resolution for laptop and desktop monitors, and smaller TVs.

Most standard DVDs store movies in MPEG-2 format (also known as H. 262). This is the same format used in Blu-ray discs.

720 x 480

The standard DVD resolution is 720×480 pixels for NTSC and 720×576 for PAL. This is considered to be SD (standard definition) not HD (high definition).

Pixels on computers are square, so anything designed for a computer monitor should have a PAR of 1. TV’s use rectangular pixels and the footage on a full screen NTSC or PAL dvd will not fit a 4:3 TV without some resizing. Most software that plays dvd’s on a PC will correct this for you by resizing the video to fill your screen.

To do this, select the Profile button in the main interface and choose a profile that suits your needs. You can also upscale the DVD to a higher resolution by selecting an option from the menu. You can also choose to deinterlace the video and improve its quality by clicking on the “Deinterlacing” option. Then click the big blue Run button to start the conversion. The process is fast and easy.


A DVD in 4:3 is a good choice for most laptop, desktop, and smaller TVs. It’s also suitable for most portable devices, including cell phones. However, it may look a little blurry on larger screens.

While 4:3 isn’t a common aspect ratio for modern movies, some independent filmmakers use it frequently. In particular, director Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank, American Honey) and writer-director Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff, First Cow) often use the format to give their films a classic feel.

However, it’s important to note that a DVD doesn’t support HD resolutions like 720p or 1080p. That’s because a DVD is a standard definition format, not high definition. Moreover, even when you rip an HD video to DVD, the DVD burning software will down-scale it to DVD’s standard resolution.


The standard DVD resolution is 480p. This is a progressive scan resolution. Unlike interlaced video, each frame is displayed as it is recorded on the disc rather than being first scanned and then repeated (as in the case of interlaced video).

The problem with 720p is that TVs have a 16:9 pixel aspect ratio whereas DVDs have a 4:3 pixel aspect ratio. The result is that if you play a DVD movie on a TV with a 16:9 aspect ratio, it will have black borders on the sides.

This is a bit of a pain because you would have preferred to use the full resolution of your TV for the image instead of having wasted lines of pixel space for the black bars. However, most players and TVs automatically upscale a DVD to fit the screen. However, this may lead to some loss of quality, especially if you are watching at close range. You can avoid this by using a program like QT to set the pixel aspect ratio to square pixels.


All DVDs are anamorphic, 4:3 and 16:9. They use non-square pixels so that the player stretches them out to the correct aspect ratio. Most people crop the video to fit a standard TV screen, but not all do so anamorphically. This is why some widescreen movies like The Duke and the Sopranos look a little bit more stretched than others.

The problem is that if you do anamorphic encoding with software such as HandbrakeCLI, you end up storing a movie at the resolution of 854*480. This is 33% larger than the original DVD source and is a waste of storage space.

If you want to preserve anamorphic format, then use a program such as QuickTime that allows the correct pixel aspect ratio metadata to be specified. This is what Apple’s DVD player does. Otherwise you can get stuck with some pretty bad looking results. For example, some DVDs that are anamorphic (and most post 1999 movies from the major studios) are encoded with big black bars top and bottom.

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