My words on free/open source software

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ripping VCD in Linux

I've got some old VCD discs so I've spent some time on studying how to rip them for backing up.

There are two methods available:
  1. To make a perfect ripping, use cdrdao read-cd:

    cdrdao read-cd --device ATA:1,1,0 --driver generic-mmc-raw --read-raw image.toc

    the --device is optional. By using this you got a TOC/BIN file pair that contains all the tracks from VCD which can be used to produce exact 1:1 copies. You can also generate a CUE/BIN pair by passing a filename with .cue extension. Although it is said that mplayer and totem can play the BIN file if proper decoding plugins are installed, I have never been able to do that, which is a big problem for me.

    Credit goes to manmath:

  2. For easy playing back, you can extract MPG files by using GNU VCDImager, which is included in many popular distros. Using the vcdxrip program:

    vcdxrip -C=/dev/cdrom

    By this you got all videos in usable MPG files.

Though you may be able to copy DAT files from VCD to your hard drive directly in Windows, this is not the case in Linux systems, you'll get I/O errors. The reason is that the file system of VCD disc is not valid ISO-9660 and never meant to support direct copying video data as plain files. Windows must be doing some conversion behind the hood.

mplayer and ASS subtitles in UTF-16 with BOM

Tina got a piece of .mkv video with ASS subtitles, which was in UTF-16 and began with BOM (0xFF 0xFE), perhaps generated by using some programs from Windows kingdom. mplayer can't load ASS that begins with BOM and produces the following error message:

Matroska file format detected.
VIDEO: [avc1] 864x480 24bpp 23.976 fps 0.0 kbps ( 0.0 kbyte/s)
SUB: Could not determine file format
Cannot load subtitles: file.ass

The remedy:

  1. Convert the ASS file to UTF-8 (or whatever encoding you are comfortable with). I used iconv: iconv -f utf16 -t utf8 < file.ass > result.ass

  2. Play it by using the "-utf8" switch of mplayer: mplayer -ass -utf8 file.mkv. If the ASS contains special characters (such as CJK chars), use a good font by "-font /usr/share/font/cjk.ttf"

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