HandBrake is a free, open-source DVD conversion program that creates MPEG-4 (or .mp4) files from DVD discs, producing electronic files that are smaller than traditional video files. Copying DVD discs to the .mp4 file format gives users greater storage capabilities for bringing many films or film clips to class without switching between discs, saving time and making for tighter presentations. Likewise, films in .mp4 format can be edited in other programs (such as Apple’s Quicktime Pro - $24.95) to produce shorter film clips, letting you focus on specific aspects in individual scenes. MPEG-4 files are playable in a number of programs, including Quicktime, Windows Media Player, and the VLC Media Player.

While the program is available for Windows, Linux varieties, and Mac OS X, the Mac OS X version is far superior in functionality to the Windows and Linux versions.

HandBrake boasts multiple input and output formats for sound and video, although the typical user will simply want to insert a DVD in his or her computer and receive a finished .mp4 version of the film in an hour or so.

(for Mac OS X)
by Ethan T. Jordan
Michigan Technological University