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Kinda stump on this converting file thing.Help please

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I downloaded some .AVI files. Now know that to get them to my ipod I need to turn them to .m4v. Well,how can I make Handbrake achieve that? My ipod is the old square one but here is the issue. Even thought Handbrake is on ipod settings when I put the movie in itunes i have to convert it within iTunes itself and honestly that takes forever.

Also,what does the half circle and the full circle on some of my videos mean?
 
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Try using video monkey instead of handbrake.

The full circle is unwatched, the half-circle is part watched
 
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So far so good,thanks for the help. What kind fo quality do you have yours set at?I put it at "go nuts" and encoding at normal.
 
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For another option you could use what I use, which is iSquint. Google it. It's free and the programmer has a sense of humor in the GUI. I've had it very rarely fail to convert just about anything to m4v and I have a lot of video on my iPod/iPhone.
 
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