Okay, so you have some DVDs, and would like to convert them to AVI’s, perhaps to create animations or use parts of it in fan-made videos. But you find that other DVD rippers don’t create AVIs, cost money, or are very low quality. Anyways, I discovered a method that may just work for you. However, it may be illegal in your country, so check the copyright laws first! (Although, from what I read, you probably wouldn’t get in trouble unless you were uploading it – but I’m no lawyer.)
SmartRipper, while no longer updated, is able to rip the VOB (DVD video files) right from the disk. A very helpful tutorial is available here. It can also get past older copy protection, which is illegal in several areas.
But you need an AVI.
So, get a VOB-to-AVI converter! My converter of choice is avi.NET, although it doesn’t work on everyone’s computers, so you may need to find your own.
Good luck! (And if you find any useful programs, post them in the comments!)
Sept 21, 2008 update: Note that your DVD needs to be perfectly clean, or SmartRipper can freeze up — if it does, just kill the process, clean the CD, and try again. Always clean from the center outwards, to prevent damage.