I haven’t gotten a chance to put my media center together yet, but I got a comment that points to a pretty decent article about using the Xbox 360 as a media center extender. It may be easier than I thought. Looks like the .VOB files you rip from DVDs are actually renamed .MPG files, which can be directly streamed. I may have to try this out.
It would be easy enough to have the DVD backups on a drive and a virtual filesystem of symbolic links to all of the VOB files that have renamed targets (so “Cool Movie.mpg” would point to “Cool Movie/VIDEO_TS/VTS_01_1.VOB” and mask the whole rename issue). Wouldnt’ be hard to write a program that generates that filesystem. I’ll have to try it.
UPDATE: There seem to be two problems with the way Gizmocafe does things. First, it’s not really a proper DVD backup solution - it only works if your sole goal is streaming the movie. Half of the reason I’m doing this is as a backup solution. Second, you may have a little bit of fudging to do in the DVD ripping software to get movies with multiple VOB files to work. For example, the movie Borat seems to have three separate VOB files - those would have to be connected to so they could stream in one continuous movie. The Gizmocafe tutorial doesn’t really address that.