I have a windows server 2003 setup at home with a 500gb and will be adding more. I have about 200 dvd's and i am getting lazy when it comes to getting the dvd's and looking for them. So i have created a list of all the movies that i have and i want to convert them to WMV so i can host them on my server via http and when i click on the movie name it would playback the movie instantly. Now i have tried a dozen of dvd to wmv converters but they all seem to lose some color quality and i was wondering if any of you guys have some good software that will convert a DVD to about 700MB and maintain really good picture, sound and color quality.
If you're worried about image quality you need to look at not compressing the movies into WMV files. The art of compression is deciding what bits to leave out and what bits can be reconstituted in SW, so the image will degrade in the compression process.
Why not leave them in the original .VOB format and play them as-is? Assuming an average of 4.7GB per movie for 200 movies that's about 1 terrabyte. For all the mucking around you'd have to do to compress 200 movies it will be so much easier to spend a bit of $ and avoid this step completely.
The average size of a legal movie, which the OP has, is really around 7-8GB, assuming the full disc. It's still around 7 if you just take the movie. Either way, we're talking about 1.5TB, which is used just for the movies.
Depending on the space you have, this might be a decent solution. Using DVDShrink to strip out foreign audio and shrink down the movie data in MPEG2 (it's a bit of a re-encode, though quite fast), you should be able to reach 3-4GB per movie. If that's ok, then you have found the quickest way, and they will also look quite good.
Now, if you want to convert to WMV, I'd suggest you convert to x264 instead. The encode process is slow, so perhaps you would rather Xvid instead of WMV. I can't give any figures, since my Xvid encodes are low res and my x264 encodes have generally been hi res (1280x720). Xvid encodes should be around 120fps with a Core 2 Duo (ie, a 3hr movie will take 1hr to encode in 2 passes). This will make very nice 700MB files, though not for 3 hour movies.