The Short Version:

     I wrote an application for OS X 10.3+ that rips the audio from DVD’s to your iTunes / iPod. I use it to listen to commentary tracks – it could concievably be used as a language-learning tool (Listening to the alternate language audio streams from familiar movies). You can download the application here. Feedback and / or donations (if you find it useful) are appreciated.

The Long Version (Nerd alert):

     I’ve always been a huge fan of DVD commentary tracks, primarily because I’m obsessed with all things “Behind the Scenes.” A few weeks ago I noted that lately I just don’t have the time to watch all the movies I’d like to see, let alone rewatch them with the commentary track. What I do have time for, however, is portable audio. Every so often I’ll hit a stretch in a project where I’m doing something relatively mechanical, and having narrative audio like This American Life to follow help make the time melt away. I duly filed the idea in the back of my brain.

     Roughly a week later, this tutorial popped up on Lifehacker. Basically, it details ripping the audio track from a DVD using command line options and Open Source video player VLC. This got me playing with VLC, but I was unable to find a command line option to switch the audio stream to grab (Though I did find some discussion of adding it as a feature). I posted this ask.metafilter thread looking for leads, and someone suggested MPlayer.

     After wrestling with getting fink up to date on my Mac, and then compiling MPlayer and LAME, I had the basics. I devised a command line program that will take the output of Mplayer and feed it in to LAME, resulting in an easily portable MP3.

     For some reason, I decided I would learn how to make this into an application for others to use. When I described this idea to my girlfriend, Sarah, she said:

     “You have completely lost your mind this time.”

     Which clearly means I’m on to something. So I set about learning the joys of Interface Builder and Applescript Studio during the wee hours of the past week or so. I now have what I think is a functional version of the application I set out to create. It will even take the MP3 it spits out and add it to a playlist in iTunes. You can download it here.