First off, you should now that I like to study languages. I have studied Spanish for a good amount of time (and have a site related to learning spanish for beginners). I’ve also studied French and German and a smattering of other languages. In fact, you might even say that my interest in shortwave radio comes from that same fascination with other languages. Anyway, I have a good number of dvds that I’ve used to help in language learning. Since DVD’s support multiple subtitle and language tracks they can be a great way to practice either your (light) reading or listening skills in a language you’re studying. However, up until now I didn’t know of a video file type that supported multiple audio tracks on the pc. I can’t say that I looked too hard, but….
The last week or so, I’ve been playing with handbrake which is a cross platform video converter. It can be used to convert Video from a dvd into a file on your hard drive, or simply move video from one format to another. The default settings for handbrake seem to be very good. (The picture I’ve seen from the default encoding is fantastic.) I’ve been compiling a collection of files to load on the laptop to take with us on an upcoming road trip. We have a 7 year old and 1 year old and (especially for the 1 year old) the 5 or 6 hour drive is looking …. challenging. So, I wanted to get a few videos together to take with us without taking a stack of videos.
So, the defaults for handbrake is to output the video in an mp4 container format, which I hadn’t made use of before, but it appears that mp4 can support multiple audio streams. As I looked into it I found how easy it was to add to your ripping project the extra audio tracks. (On the tab for audio, just click the plus sign and then select the languages in the list below. I assume the first in the list will be the default audio when you playback the file.)
My rip of a scooby doo disc finished overnight and I tested this morning with vlc as my video player. In the Audio menu you can choose the audio track. They are even labeled correctly. Up until now, I have had separate dvd rips for titles that I wanted to watch in either language (waste of space.) Now, it should be possible for me to consolidate those. FANTASTIC!
Yes, I really enjoy trying to learn languages – I’ve even got a squidoo lens about learning new languages. For that matter I’ve even compiled a listing of places you can watch spanish television online. One of the nice things about having the discs available on the computer (or even the live streams) is that you can watch in your chosen language any time. (Now if only region encoding weren’t the obstacle to dvd-language studies that it is.)
This is a bit of a tangent, but I do wish that the production studios would realize the market that their catalog of shows/movies with foreign dubs could have if distributed domestically for language learning. I know most traditional language teachers would frown on this suggesting that you first seek out movies that were originally produced in the target language you’re studying. However, my argument is this: familiarity. For instance, there are movies that I have seen so many times in English that I know every word. Picking up new vocabulary via something that’s already somewhat familiar with in my native language should be relatively easy.
By contrast if I pick up a movie I’ve never heard of, in my target language the challenge is much greater. This doesn’t mean that I’m snubbing the culture of the target language, it just means that I’m not ready to cross that threshold yet. As I’ve studied Spanish I can’t tell you how many hollywood movies I’ve watched with the Spanish language dubbing and really never got into the original Mexican movies, but as my Spanish is better and I’m actually able to understand more, I find myself getting sucked into some of the late night “golden age” of Mexican cinema films.
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