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DIY Movie Server with iTunes and AppleTV

Here are two videos that provide step by step instructions to create a video server out of an ordinary PC (or Mac), iTunes, and an AppleTV!

Although the demonstration is shot on a Mac the same instructions apply to using a PC.  Here are links to the applications discussed in the videos:


Part 1

Part 2

AppleTV in Use

Reader Comments (24)

Why are you ripping to 704 x 304? That cant look too good on a big screen and certainly not on your projector set up.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichael


Thanks for the great walk through. I think for most people, the process detailed is overly complicated. Using Handbrake to rip and transcode the videos is much simpler. Simply insert the DVD, launch HandBrake, choose the Apple -> Universal setting and click the Start button. I have found that folks at Handbrake have done a lot of work to come up with the Universal setting to balance size and speed. The resulting videos look great and work on both my AppleTV and iPods.

It is not necessary to visit forums to find out which track to rip (if there are multiple possible selections). Simply fire up the Apple DVD program, start the movie and note which track it is playing; that will bet the track you want to rip.

Thanks again for the walk through, i wished i had something like this a couple of years ago when i started. One last note would be to drop the background music on these demo videos as it can be distracting.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

Hi Justin,

Thanks for the tip on the title identification! And yes many will find that ripping direct from the DVD will be easier however, I have found that Ripit can handle the newer DVD encryption schemes better and the software is updated frequently to handle titles that Handbrake can't. I guess it just saved me some frustration with newer titles and I carried that forward into the video. Thanks for pointing that out as well!


December 31, 2010 | Registered CommenterHT Guys

I was just about to start my blog post about my Apple TV 2 workflow and came across this. I completely agree about using some sort of DVD ripper to get the VOB files off first, then use handbrake. Too often handbrake will just fail to finish scanning those DVDs that have 99 chapters. On the Mac, I've found it to be far more reliable to use RipIt and then Handbrake.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDustin

Great tutorial Ara!

One question: looking at RipIt website, it mentions the 'compressing' as the second option, stating this creates a 'file playable on itunes, iPhone, iPad, and AppleTV'.

So would it be easier just using RipIt and 'compressing' the file -so does it all in one step? Or am I missing something.... does this method compress everything including menus etc, not just the main movie file like you are doing?
And what quality would the 'compressing' option in RipIt do? Less than your method via RipIt full copy then handbrake....

Sorry, that's more than one question....

Keep the videos coming!

Melbourne, Australia

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrendan

Only problem for me is that I barely watch DVD anymore! It's all Blu-ray over here and, sadly, Apple just ain't the way to go for Blu-ray rips that retain the TrueHD or DTS-HD audio!

For anyone who is interested in creating complete backup copies of DVDs, HD-DVDs (yes, even the dead HD format) and Blu-rays, I have to give the nod to and their AnyDVD HD program. Yes, it costs money, but it is constantly updated to support the latest BD+ protection schemes. I just create full ISO image files and then use Virtual CloneDrive (also from SlySoft - and free) to mount those ISO files and play them back EXACTLY as though I had simply inserted a real disc. If you want to author you movie rips (make files that are nothing but the main feature) then you will need additional software. But for effective decryption, full ISO backups and minor content removal (remove BD-Live, remove "Warning" screens that appear before the menu), AnyDVD HD is what you're looking for, IMO.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRob H.

I also use AnyDVD. It works fine on a Mac within VMware Fusion. I tried MakeMKV but preferred the Slysoft products better.

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike S

When using Handbrake, make sure you get one of the nightly builds of it available here: It includes more features then the very outdated .9.4 version, to include a preset for the Apple TV 2.

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew N.

Thanks Ara!

Wish the video would have shown the Apple TV in operation to complete the loop.

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Hi Jack,

I'll try to shoot something tomorrow or next week to close the loop.


January 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterHT Guys

Thanks Ara,
I have two questions:
1) Does anyone have any idea on how remove DMR from purchased Amazon Unbox videos and then get them into iTunes?
2) How do you organize videos in iTunes? With many home videos and now DVDs it is getiing very cumbersome.

January 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob

Good job on the recent AppleTV video. I like all the series of videos you have been posting. Very informative. They are answering all the questions have even before I ask them.

Thanks again,

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMickey A

Thanks Ara, this is almost identical to what I've been doing lately. Just a couple quick notes:

Handbrake .9.5 is out as of 1/3/11. As AndrewN mentioned about the nightly builds, it includes an AppleTV2 preset, with the same 2 audio tracks you have in your custom setting. (See for other improvements.)

Justin, I thought Handbrake removed ripping capabilities a couple versions ago. I may be wrong, because it became so unreliable with newer discs, I just gave up. Another recommendation for RipIt here.

About using a single app to rip/encode, if you're only doing a couple discs, sure, it might make sense. What Ara specifically pointed out is that he does 10 movies a night. This may not have been clear since he didn't show it in the video, but he (or others in his house) rip a bunch of discs, then he uses the Handbrake queue. Otherwise, you have to babysit your computer for each rip/encode.

Ripit is so easy to use, this workflow IS easier than the old 1-stop Handbrake method. I know. I tried it. I gave up.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGene

Hi Ara,

Thanks for the excellent video. Could you please add a link to the metaZ software you use in part 2 of the video?


January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Hi Tom,

I added a link to a MacUpdate Page.


January 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterHT Guys


Thanks for all the great work you guys do. Two things I wanted to suggest. You can change the default action that happens when you insert a dvd. I have my computer set to automatically open ripit since I am backing up movies more often that I watch them on my computer. Here is an article on how to do it on a mac: Second, there is a folder you can drop files in to add them to itunes that moves them instead of copying them. It is faster and you don't have to go back and delete the original file after. Here is a link for that:
Thanks again for the great show. Hope these tips are helpful.


January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRon

Ara, thanks so much for posting these videos. Your step-by-step information coupled with the .9.5 release of Handbrake (automates the step of adding a Dolby Pro Logic track) make the process very simple and easy to follow. It was exactly what I needed to energize me to make progress on completing our video server. I did find the conversion time lengthy using an older computer, but your tip of adding multiple files to the queue and executing the conversions at night make it almost painless. Also, I could not believe how easy MetaX was to use.

Thanks again for this and all of the HT work you and Braden do.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Thanks for an excellent tutorial. I was able to set up everything as you showed. Only problem is that when I play the movies. It always play in stereo mode. How can I toggle or switch it to AC3 5.1 or Dolby Prologic. Thanks

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Hi David,

Check your AppleTV Settings to make sure it set to Dolby Digital.


January 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterHT Guys

Hey Ara,
Great instructional videos! Another reason why it's so great to have a home with an "Apple environment". You can do so much!

I did have a question. I started ripping and transcoding and did about twenty movies before I ran into a snag. Suddenly a couple of movies in a row weren't being "added" to my ITunes library. I would try to add the mp4v file after transcoding but it didn't show up. I checked the external drive that it was attached to and it was there but I couldn't open it in ITunes.

I understand some videos will not work at all but is this how I'll know?

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Got an ATV2 for my birthday; had been waiting to try some of this. Right now I've done a few using the methods shown here. MetaZ is not working for me. Anything known about a current bug. I have looked at the MetaZ website, and there seems to be some talk about Lion issues; however, I run Snow Leopard. Also, other movie file extension types will bring in the metadata, but .m4v files will not.

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam

I have compiled a pretty good library using AnyDVD and Handbrake as well as my collection of digital titles bundled with Blu-rays. My question is there any way to have seperate libraries for different ratings? My grandkids are 9 or younger and they are getting pretty tech savy. Just chooosing the movie for them is not an option anymore. I would like to setup either the ATV or the iTunes library to only access certain ratings. I would think this would pretty simple since you can enter whatever catagory you want under the info tab on each file. I don't know why Apple hasn't included this already in the iTunes software.

I am ready to jump in and purchase a Mac Mini but I want to have the ability to have rating blocks on R rated titles.

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave G

You can set the ratings of each movie with Meta Z and then turn on parental control on the AppleTV

August 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterHT Guys

Have you taken a look at iFlicks yet? It looks like it performs the same function as MetaZ and a bit more.

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave G

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