I have made some progress on the Giant Video Conversion Project (GVCP) front.
Having tried several apps that edit either movie clip content or various movie/data files (including Gordian Knot, Auto Gordian Knot, Moviemaker, and a few others) I have settled on AutoGK as being most useful for my purposes.
The apps that edit the content of movie clips (Moviemaker, Quicktime Pro) are certainly fun, but don't really suit my ultimate purpose of GETTING A &*%$ 2-HOUR MOVIE FILE ONTO A SINGLE DISK, dangit. (Can you tell the means has far outstripped the end at this time?)
I think Gordian Knot might be best, but there are some things I still can't figure out about it. However, AutoGK is so far doing just what I need it to do (compress my MPG-2 files). Maybe if I were more technically sophisticated, I would scorn it, but it seems pretty cool for now. And it's free! (If this whole deal works, I am so going to donate to Len0x, the creator of GK.)
At this point, I could now theoretically capture all my videos onto files that would each fit on a single CD, but they could only be played on my computer (they're avi files). This might even be acceptable as a final outcome. (It is still progress, as before I would have needed 2 disks for most movies regardless of the format.)
Now all I need to do is see if I can do a conversion for burning that allows the resulting CDs to be played (as VCDs) in a standalone DVD player. For this part of the project, the instructions suggest using Nero. While it's $80-$100 new, it is also available used on Amazon and eBay for a lot less. (I paid $13 including shipping.)
So basically, I am waiting to get this app in the post. Then, if I can indeed create VCDs that will play in the DVD player, I'm totally golden. If I can't, then I'm still pleased, as I can at least have a collection of all my movies, albeit watchable via computer only.
If this all works, I will post a summary of the how-to.