With the introduction of Core Animation in Leopard, Mac applications have taken a leap to the next level of eye candy effects. The latest to follow this trend is Ripit, a DVD ripper that brings simplicity and a cool UI to the boring process of ripping a DVD.
A small group of like minded individuals found each other by the magic of the Internet and have begun working on some amazing projects at Indy Hall Labs. Sounds very much like how the Smoking Apples team got together, doesn’t it? The goal of the team (theirs, not ours) is to bring some fun new applications that are not only good to look at but provide improved usability by means of innovative user interfaces and capable engines that drive them from the inside.
However, ‘the Labs’ is not your average company. “The idea is that small apps should be built kinda like the way movies are built: Someone with an idea assembles financing from the community, secures talent by paying outright or with equity, the team builds the product and then releases it. After that, the team breaks up and the participants are free to reassemble themselves to build something different. The ‘labs is the facilitator that greases the wheels of this process, and handles all of the boring payment-processing/accounting/stuff and cuts checks to the participants/investors when profits roll in. We’re working out the details as we go”, explains Jason Allum, lead developer of Ripit.
Ripit is the first project out the door for this incredibly talented group. “It was a ton of fun to build”, says Jason. “With RipIt, we decided to take a new approach to both the UI design (keeping things simple) as well as the design of the actual Rip engine.”
Jason then explains the core functionality inside Ripit. “RipIt works by emulating a DVD player, down to the instructions and registers. It follows the program of the disc, copying all of the nooks and crannies that are accessible to a player, and deftly skipping around the bits that are placed there precisely to confuse other, lesser rippers. We’ve integrated failure feedback mechanisms into RipIt, so that in the rare event that something does go wrong, you can report all of the information that our engineers will need to fix the problem – this usually takes less than a week. We’ve also integrated DiscIdent, a new service that uses “fingerprinting” techniques to provide metadata (in this case, disc titles) for the discs you insert.”
Wowed by all of this, I asked what the possibilities of doing all this in a Windows environment would be. “It’s not so much a matter of whether these things could be built on Windows, but whether anyone here wants to do it!” With that, I knew Ripit was in good hands. Jason mentioned some great new projects that they have in the works and I can’t wait to review every single one of them! That said, let’s go back to what we came here to do…
Ripit, the review
I slipped in a DVD of The Lord of the Rings and launched the application. Ripit immediately recognised the disc and labelled it appropriately. The beauty of the interface is that it has just two buttons—Rip and Eject. I guess they really meant it when they said they would have a simple UI!
Clicking the Rip button starts the ripping process, which shows the percentage completed, time remaining, and the disc starts to spin! A single Stop button then adorns the little window.
“The Ripit engine has been tested with over 11,000 discs (at the time I write this) with only 10 discs that are known to fail”, says Jason. Wait a minute—what! As Jason explained earlier, Ripit anonymously reports back any successful or failed disc back to the developers. Of course, you can turn this off in the preferences if you so choose.
With the small footprint that this app takes up, the performance is nothing short of stunning. Ripit takes up just 21MB of RAM and uses up a maximum of 18% CPU on my Core Duo 2.0GHz iMac. A 6.7GB DVD took 25 minutes to complete.
Once the rip is complete, you can either eject the disc or show the movie saved on your hard drive. The file is saved as a .dvdmedia file in your movies folder. This file opens up in DVD Player complete with all the menus and other DVD features.
The missing bits
Ripit cannot rip into ‘MP4’ video that is suitable for iTunes and a lot of other portable devices, including the iPods and iPhone. ”We believe that with disk space becoming cheaper by the day, there is significant value in keeping the original movie with all of its subtitles, menus, alternate angles, and audio intact.”
However, after having gone through the unique feedback page (and getting further confirmation from Jason), it appears that they are already working on an H.264 ripper that will export directly to iTunes. I eagerly await this feature.
If DVD ripping means anything to you, I highly recommend giving Ripit a serious look. The smooth interface, the responsive attitude of the developers, and the features planned for the future may just make this little app the ultimate ripper for the Mac. Ripit costs $18.99 for a single user license, and you can take it for a spin for seven days for free before you’re expected to spend the dough.