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How to Create Your Own In-House Video On-Demand System | That iPad Guy


Bily Foster: Web Designer, Developer and Producer.  Bily has been around the internet since the BBS days.  When he first got his hands on an iPod touch he knew that the iPad wouldn’t be far behind.  One of the first to order the original, and first in line for the last two releases of the iPad.  Bily covers all kinds of tech news all brought to him by his iPad.

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How to Create Your Own In-House Video On-Demand System

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I’ve been running my own in-house digital video system since the early 2000s. And when Apple released the second-generation of the AppleTV I was able to upgrade from a Video On-Delay to Video On-Demand.

You see before the AppleTV I used my TiVo, and a proprietary server system to pull the movie to the TiVo box. But it was inefficient because it had to download the movie before I could watch it, and it was only a text browser so it worked but was hard for my mom to use.

But now by using off-the-shelf software and hardware you too can create your own video-on-demand system.

What you’ll need:

  • Computer to convert DVDs and run iTunes as the ‘server’ *note these do not have to be the same computer
  • Handbrake or RipIT software to convert the DVDs into a Movie file
  • MetaX – for tagging the movie files
  • AppleTV

  1. Server Setup
    First let’s set up the server. This is a lot easier than you probably realize, simply go to iTunes and turn on home sharing. You’ll find it under Advanced -> Turn On Home Sharing. The only catch is you need to keep iTunes running.

  2. Client Setup
    Next on your AppleTV do the same, turn on home sharing under settings.
    Now on your AppleTV you should be able to browse to computers. Select the green computer icon and now you’ll see your iTunes library, it’s really as simple as that. The more difficult part is getting content into your iTunes library to be shared.

  3. Convert & Add Content

    RipIt Compress Settings

    RipIt General Settings

    RipIt Ripping

    I’m going to cover how to use RipIt which is commercially available software versus Handbrake which is shareware. I’m selecting RipIt because it literally makes it an easy as putting the DVD into your computer and then when it’s done it spits it back out.When you open up RipIt, go to Preferences…You’ll have the option to change where the movie files will be located. This is also where you can set what happens when you insert a DVD. I have it set to Start Compressing. I also check Eject the disc when a rip completes.Next select the Compress tab. Here you have the option of integrating subtitles, but the key thing to set is the Video Target. I set it to AppleTV 2, you Also have the option to automatically import into iTunes, however I generally don’t do that because I like to take the step of tagging it with the picture and description before I bring them in to iTunes.Once everything is set. You slide a DVD into your system and RipIt will process the disc and give you the file in your specified location.

    Now that you have an mp4 of your movie, you’ll want to add the description and image. You’ll do this by dragging to/or opening up the mp4 in MetaX. MetaX will attempt to find the description and image on its own. But every once in a while you may need to look up the image or description from IMDB then simply copy and paste it into the MetaX interface.

    Once the information is populated, click write and share and MetaX will process the file. After the file is processed you drag the processed file to iTunes and it will be added to your library. Occasionally you may need to tweak the info in iTunes, you can access that by highlighting the movie and selecting Command-I.

And that’s it. Now when you browse from your AppleTV you’ll see your new addition to your collection. Of course any movie you purchase from iTunes automaticity gets added to you library. I haven’t hit a ‘limit’ on the amount of AppleTVs that can pull the same content. We have four AppleTVs through out the house and I’ve had three of them in sync so I had a consistent feed through out the house.

You’ll also be able to browse from you iPhone, iPad or iPod touch as well. Go into the Videos App and the Shared Tab at the end (be sure to turn on Home Sharing in Settings->Videos or Settings->Music).

Movie Details

Movie Playlist

Playlist Fades Posters

An additional advantage of using iTunes as a “Media Server” is the benefit of Playlists. With Playlists you can string together a collection of movies and when you fire off the first movie it will continue onto the next. The only drawback is you can’t mix TV Shows with Movies, so no Star Trek Ultimate Marathon until they resolve that.

One last note, you don’t need a real powerful system to run the iTunes server, I’m using an old Mac Mini as mine. However you might want some horse power when it comes to encoding your DVDs.

If you are in the Android echo system, you can use the same process but instead of iTunes pick up Plex Media Server

Bily Foster
That iPad Guy

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