HandBrake and the 99 title DVD mystery

Macworld forum visitor DKotaev is having a problem with ripping a DVD that he owns. He writes:

I’ve been using the latest version of Handbrake, and it’s wonderful. However, I’m having problems ripping an Iron Man 2 DVD. I have to scan 99 titles and after that ordeal, I end up with a video that has no sound, mixed up video, and that is cut short. Any remedies?

First, our admonition on DVD ripping:

[Editor’s note: The MPAA and most media companies argue that you can’t legally copy or convert commercial DVDs for any reason. We (and others) think that, if you own a DVD, you should be able to override its copy protection to make a backup copy or to convert its content for viewing on other devices. Currently, the law isn’t entirely clear one way or the other. So our advice is: If you don’t own it, don’t do it. If you do own it, think before you rip.]

Now that you’ve taken that to heart, here’s what’s going on. You’ve encountered a copy protection measure that’s increasingly being used by the creators of these discs. Discs like this list multiple instances of a main feature title, all with different lengths. But only one of them is the real thing. HandBrake does its best to guess the correct one, but it often fails, leaving you with the kind of out-of-whack movie you’ve described.

So, the trick is discovering the real title. And that’s easily done.

Just insert the DVD and let Apple’s DVD Player application play it. Skip through the previews, commercials, and whatever else crops up before you can watch the movie. When the main feature finally begins playing, push your cursor to the top of the display to reveal the menu bar. From that menu bar choose Go -> Title. Scan down the long list of titles and you’ll see a check next to one of the titles. This is the title number of the real main feature. Make a note of it.

You can now return to HandBrake and instruct it to rip this title as the main feature. All should now be well.

Note that if you have the Two-Disc Special Edition version of the movie (which costs just $8 more than the Single-Disc Edition at Amazon.com), this is all unnecessary, as the two-disc edition carries a digital copy.

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