The Difficulties with Digitizing your Media Library

I don’t need to enumerate the benefits of digital media – I think by now we all are familiar with all the perks of digital media – but the actual process of moving from physical to digital media have some unexpected difficulties.

I’ve been slowly digitizing my media library for quite a few years now – slowly ripping all my DVDs and converting them to digital media files. However, one type of media that is particularly troublesome to convert is one I have a lot of: anime.

I enjoy both subtitled and dubbed anime, and when I convert any of my anime DVDs, I’d like to preserve the ability to enjoy either format. And although I can easily encode both audio streams into my media files, and enable embedded (but not burned-in) subtitles, the playback of those files isn’t always that easy.

Different media playback devices – as well as different media servers – all handle multiple audio & subtitle tracks differently. And as of yet there doesn’t seem to be a clear standard for how to encode multiple audio streams and subtitle tracks into digital files for playback in most media devices (e.g., smart TVs, media devices such as Apple TV or game consoles, etc.). Or, if there is, I haven’t heard of it.

This makes it so that most of my media has to either remain as physical media, or I have to encode it multiple times (once subbed, once dubbed), or I just accept that I can only watch these particular titles using software like VLC from a computer.

If anyone knows of a standard encoding that works across all these various devices, I’d love to hear of it!

By Keith Survell

Geek, professional programmer, amateur photographer, crazy rabbit guy, only slightly obsessed with cute things.