how to thinpak and save space

Categories: life


One thing that I absolutely hate about DVDs is how wide the standard Amaray case is. I only have room for one bookshelf of “fun” stuff and one bookshelf for “work” stuff, so space is valuable to me. If it doesn’t fit on the shelves, it most likely ends up boxed in the garage. For space savings, the thinness of Thinpak collections is great, but not everything comes in Thinpak and my old DVDs are all Amarays. Hollywood movies are still standard Amaray, and individual anime DVDs are still Amaray as well. I’m not going to toss my completed Nadesico DVD collection just to buy the Thinpak version. So… I decided to manually convert my DVD collection into Thinpak. It’s been a fairly long process just because I keep running out of Thinpak cases and procuring these can be a pain.

Step 1. Procure enough Thinpaks. sells Thinpaks, but a boatload need to be ordered in order to actually be cost-effective (i.e. under 50 cents a piece). I stumbled across some imitation Maxell slim cases at the local Best Buy, and these have been just as awesome, and they became my preferred case. They are transparent, have a sleeve outside for the cover art, have two hooks inside to secure any bonus linings, and were about $8 for a stack of 15. The DVD is secured fairly well… probably 80% as well as the Amaray. Unfortunately, Maxell no longer seems to be making these, and I’ve been searching for a new preferred case.

Maxell Clear Slim DVD Case

Step 2. Procure a straightedge cutting tool. I purchased an el cheapo paper cutter from Office Depot. $2.


Step 3. Cut up the DVD covers. When I first started, I had a very difficult time butchering the artwork, but then I saw the space savings, and now I’m just a cold blooded killer. About 5mm needs to be trimmed from each side to get the cover art liner to fit into a Thinpak form factor. Usually, for the front, not much is lost as there usually isn’t a lot of artwork on the side. For the back, expect to lose maybe the first letter of text if the text is more to the side.


Step 4. Enjoy! It’s about a 2:1 shrink, but even with the Thinpaks, I still have a few boxes of anime and manga stashed in the garage. Oh, well, at least I managed to get my Kenshin DVDs back on the shelf.

Bonus points for anyone who can identify what Tokyopop manga is showing on top.
62 DVDs on the top shelf, not counting the two boxsets. Other notables: (A) My Wi-Fi antenna. (B) Modules from work. (C) Unopened Powered Natsumi. (D) Classical CD collection. (E) Newtype (USA and JP) collection.

15 Responses to “how to thinpak and save space”

  1. I think a lot of us have space issues. However, I personally have decided that if I’m going to go to a lot of work, I only want to do it once. So I’ve been moving my anime collection to digital storage (I finished moving all my music a while ago). I think H.264 is a good enough codec to archive with for the time being. At a minimum, you are foolish (imho) to still have those cases of CDs. Storing music has been a good idea for a while, saving space, making things more reliable (don’t have to worry about scratched CDs), as well as allowing you to actually listen to all your stuff. I’d suggest archiving stuff with a lossless codec, then transcoding those files to make them smaller for use with portable players and the like. You might be surprised how painless that process is now, with quite good autotrack naming, ripping, etc. You can store a lot of metadata with the songs, including album art, if you’d like.

    Getting back to the DVDs, I can get about a 4.5:1 reduction in size while keeping quality subjectively the same. So those 62 DVDs will likely fit in about 80-100 gigs of space. With good external firewire 250GB hard drives now less then $150 (and falling), this isn’t such a big deal. Anyway, a lot of people (you included) might not yet be ready for that, but it’s something to keep on the horizon. It’s no longer as difficult to make a fully digital solution as it once was.

  2. Digital-only may be all well and great, but I still prefer having a hard copy for stuff, even if it takes up a bit more space. It’s fun to look at, as well, sitting on your shelf. Plus you can take it out and play it on any DVD player, without having to burn a new one each time (assuming you don’t keep them, as then what would the point be of having them digital only?).

  3. My anime collection is pitiful at best, but even if I had more than enough DVDs, I know I’d prefer the Amaray cases and boxsets, because I’m a sucker for things that look good. :o

  4. HAHA! TARZAN, le awesome.

    I should have taken a picture of my manga collection while I was home, it takes up all the shelves of a six foot bookcase. If I could offer a space saving technique… That’s when I start giving away books. Not a good fix to your solution, but a solution nonetheless.

  5. akegata, there’s 3 big problems with that. First, I need a $500 video card to connect HDMI to a HDTV from a PC. My GeForce 6800GT doesn’t even support HDMI. A HDMI-enabled DVD-player? Like $30. Right now, playing a DVD through my computer just does not look as good as using my DVD player because my DVD player supports HDMI and has native up-converting. Second, burned media, because of its different composition structure, has a shorter lifespan than pressed media. Hard drives? I haven’t had one last past five years. Third, like the LP, I imagine I can always find a DVD player and play a DVD fifty years from now. h264? That’s just flavor of the month. Who knows if it the codec will still be around in fifty years and supported by Windows 2060? As for CDs, I have roughly 300 CDs laying around my house, and most of them are ripped into mp3 for my iPod. Even with 320kbps, I can still hear the classic mp3 “ting.” Even if I ripped into something like APE, my iPod can’t play it. My jukebox can’t play it. My car can’t play it. I’d have to burn those APEs back into CDs to listen in my car. What’s the point of having awesomely compressed media if I can only listen to it at my computer and can’t take it with me? (BTW, I still have an old VHS fansub copy of DYRL, even though I don’t own a VCR anymore. So take my opinion with a grain of salt.)

    Nunka, when I only had like 50 DVDs, I felt that way. Now with over 200 including my PS2 and XBOX games, I’m searching for space. Thinpak collections are the way to go.

    Atropos, I never figured out the best way to “compress” manga. Scanning takes way too long, and I kinda like having volumes so people can flip through them. I had the complete GTO manga collection, and when I moved, I had to eBay it. Ironically, I picked up something like 20 volumes of Aa! Megami-sama cheap at a moving sale back in 2000. Actually next to that Tarzan DVD is one of my prized fanboy possessions : a gold copy of Project Majestic Mix. I have set 743 out of 1,500.

  6. Nothing beats owning stuff physically. The main reasons he would’ve purchased those DVDs would be for their higher quality and to keep around, right? So converting to a digital format and selling the dvds would be undoing all those years of collection.

    I focus more on figurine and manga collection, and it’s pretty much impossible to compress these. I have 1100+ manga and the best solution would be to construct tonnes of shelves. If you add shelves or cabinets whereever possible, and I mean whereever there is a hint of bare wall space, then all your storage problems will be solved. Manga and figurines last forever, unlike burned dvds so let your grandchildren have the chance to read those.

    I’m looking forward to a day when I no longer have the space to walk around my room.

  7. Jason, you seem to be making a number of incorrect assumptions in your post there. First off, music. What is APE? A lossless codec like Apple Lossless -will- play in your iPod, and with very cheap connectors your iPod can pump out music to practically everything else. The only other standard lossless codec I see commonly used is FLAC, so I’m not sure what you meant there. Furthermore, I have strong doubts that any differences you think you hear between 256 kbps AAC and actual lossless are anymore then placebo effect, and that’s assuming you even have good enough head phones to tell the difference.

    As for video, I still think that might be slightly early for some people, but only because tools could stand to be a bit more user friendly. Why on earth would you care about HDMI? DVDs have a maximum resolution of 480p; unless you are talking about future HDTV versions of anime, released on Blu-ray/HD-DVD (and that don’t currently exist at all), HDMI is completely worthless and you are better off sending the signal to an HDTV via DVI/Component. As far as media, you are also incorrect here in a couple of ways. Assuming you wished to use “burned” media (instead of drives or tape), you can purchase archival class material that is rated for at least 50-100 years. Yes, it is more expensive then Best Buy el cheapo brands, but it’s there if you care for it. Second, what I was suggesting was a RAID 5 system. Cards for this are also becoming very cheap, as well as hard drives. Good hard drives will generally easily last five years (Seagate, for example, has a five year warranty on all of theirs), and the whole point of a RAID is to handle occasional failures with no data loss. Finally, H.264 is not a ‘flavor of the month.’ Serious standard codecs do not get created quickly, and the next big one (probably based on wavelets) is likely to be at least 3-6 years off. Also, nothing ever drops support for old codecs jason. You can still read original avi, QuickTime, and MPEG1 files that are more then 14 years old. Especially given that numerous H.264 encoders and decoders are all open source, support will never disappear within your lifetime, assuming the continued existence of computers in general (ie., if the world blows up obviously that doesn’t work).

    I don’t want to pretend that digital video solutions are ready yet for everybody, as it still takes some geekery and upfront investment to make everything work nicely. But the solutions are vastly closer then most people realize, and for audio they are here right now. It’s something anyone with a lot of video should be keeping an eye on over the next few years, that’s all.

  8. akegata, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. You argue your thoughts well and present good points. Let me clarify a few things.

    Concerning APE: APE is Monkey Audio. It was the h264 of the music world maybe two years ago. What was popular before APE? Liquid Audio back around 1997. That codec is no longer around/supported. I fear the same will happen with something like h264 or Apple Lossless. CDs will exist for a long time, like how records endure today, and they don’t take up that much space. Those two binders? 100 CDs. Yeah, maybe they can fit into 2 DVD-Rs, but I can’t pop those DVD-Rs into my car or my home stereo and listen.

    Concerning Hard Drives: Unfortuantely, I have not had the same luck with hard drives as you have. I trust them as much as I trust Suiseiseki around desserts.

    Concerning HDMI: The GeForce 6800GT and other similar class (i.e. non-$500) cards only have one DVI output. I use that for my LCD monitor. The other output is either VGA or s-video. Higher end cards have DVI and HDMI, so you can use the DVI for the computer monitor and the HDMI for a TV or vice-versa.

    But the crux is, I’m lazy. I don’t want to spend my time encoding and burning when I could be watching anime or placing ill advised bets on the NFL playoffs.

  9. I don’t own a ton of DVDs (anime or otherwise) to begin with, but I have my fair shelf full. When it comes to anime DVDs, I just prefer to order imported sets, since:

    A) You can get a 26ep series on three discs (it’s about 8-9 episodes a DVD), versus 8 domestic DVDs for the same series length,

    B)$30 sounds a lot better to me than $200 for domestic,

    C) Whole case sets of 3 DVDs are almost as thin as one standard Amaray,

    D) Import DVD sets have beautiful artwork on them that you can’t find on usual domestic anime DVDs.

    I understand people still have shelf issues but this is just my preference. If you are stuck with Amarays already, though, then I guess Thinpaking sounds ideal.

    I also am wary of digital technology because, you know. Y3K. It’s coming. o_o…in 1000 years.

  10. I’m guessing those are almost all bootleg products. A typical R2 DVD is around 4700 yen ($40) at like 2 episodes a disc. People who buy R2 know the pain it causes wallets. There are very few non-R1 English subtitled DVDs, and even fewer that will play in a non-modded R1 player.

  11. If they are bootlegs, that’s news to me! :O Who thought they could make bootleg DVDs like this look so good, then? Compact with beautiful cover-to-cover artwork? Wow.

    I thought sites such as were credible enough. I also search around on places like Ebay and to find the best-priced import beforehand.

    These DVDs are “region free” and have the same features as any other DVD (Eng/Jpn audio, Eng sub, as well as DVD extras).

  12. Oh, wow, you’re right! I found out more here about pirated DVDs. All my “import” box sets are pirated! They all contain the fx logo. That’s a big surprise for me. I guess licensed DVDs this affordable and nice and convenient were too good to be true.

    But now my question is, why don’t licensed companies start making box sets like this? It’s obviously possible, and the pirated DVDs are of better quality than the “real” ones!

  13. I’m not sure about that. Most pirated DVDs either are complete rips off the R1 or have really, really crappy translations. It’s been a while since I purchased a crappy R1 DVD in terms of build quality. US companies are coming out with cheap Thinpak boxes, for instance Escaflowne for $50.

  14. They are bootleg, but I like to have those more because they contain the whole series in a convenient little box. Unlike the American versions, where there are like 50 cases for the series… -_-

  15. Huh? no one answered what tokyopop manga it was on top of the stack XD; It’s so sad that Jing gets no love around =x Such a good manga.

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