“The way I see it, if you raise three children who can knock out and hog tie a perfect stranger, you must be doing something right.” – Marge Simpson
A few months ago I stopped resisting and finally got a smart phone. It’s very snazzy and does lots of things my beloved old flip phone couldn’t do, including play video. Naturally, this got me to thinking about how I could get The Simpsons on there. Way back in 2006, I ripped all my DVDs to .avi files that came in at ~183MB each. (These are the files from which I get pretty much all of the screen grabs on this site.) For the 203 episodes that comprise Seasons 1-9, that’s a total of 37.2GB. My new phone, snazzy though it is, has only 32GB of space, a mere 26.8GB of which is available for media storage. To paraphrase Hermes Conrad, if I know anything about which number is bigger than the other number, those files won’t all fit on the phone. Ergo, time to re-rip the DVDs to smaller files.
Now, ripping teevee show DVDs is boring, repetitive and time consuming, so I put it off a good long while. But on Friday I finally got off my duff and figured out the right settings in HandBrake for a good balance between quality and file size. For the curious, I settled on H.264 at 320kbps video and 96kbps audio in a .mkv file to preserve the DVD chapters. More importantly, each episode runs just ~73MB, and once I’m done they should come in just under 15GB total. These won’t look or sound great on my television, but on a tiny phone screen with headphones, they’re just fine thank you.
One of the annoyances of all this is making sure each file gets named correctly. HandBrake can’t automatically add the titles to the filenames (you have select “Title1″ and so on), and after each disc is done I’m left with something like this:
Simpsons – 401 – .mkv
Simpsons – 402 – .mkv
Simpsons – 403 – .mkv
Simpsons – 404 – .mkv
Since I’ve never watched these files before and it’s always possible that I goofed and picked the wrong part of the disc or made some other mundane mistake, I check them after I add episode titles. I don’t need to watch the whole thing, just play the file real quick, skip to the somewhere past the credits, and make sure that the file I’ve just called “Simpsons – 403 – Homer the Heretic.mkv” is, in fact, “Homer the Heretic”. I finished through Season 4 yesterday, and I just started ripping Season 5 today. So I have popped open and seen a few random seconds from a lot of episodes this weekend.
Doing so has served as yet another reminder (not that I needed one) of how astonishingly dense this show is. You can skip to almost any part of an episode and see something that is laugh out loud funny. Boop, there’s Bart thinking they can’t afford all the library books in “Dead Putting Society”. Boop, there’s the casino reverend handing Homer ten dollars worth of chips and telling him to kiss the bride. Boop, there’s “The Erotic Adventures of Hercules”, with Normal Fell as Zeus! Whether you land in an A-plot, a B-plot, or even just a cutaway or flashback, there’s something memorable and funny.
I have no real point here, it’s just amazing, especially when you remember that these episodes are all 20+ years old.