DVD and Video Stuff

This is uncletony's introduction to DVD back-up and transferring video tape images to DVD. It is hoped this will help you to make a back-up copy of your most valuable DVD's and to create your own DVD's by transferring old video tape content to disc.

Extensive use is made of applications from many software houses. Some applications come bundled along with the DVD writer (burner) and some are offered as trial versions allowing you to check suitability before making the purchase.

This information has been gathered together after many months of self-training and experimentation, using information from many sources on the Web, magazines and elsewhere.

Introduction to DVD media


DVD symbol - one of many

There are several DVD standards

DVD5 is a single sided disc that has only one layer. DVD5 can store 4.7GB of data on that layer.

DVD9 is a single sided disc with dual layers. One layer is semi-reflective effectively allowing the laser to pass through and access data on the second layer. DVD9 can store a total of 8.5GB of data.

DVD10 is a double sided disc. Each side of the disc is single layered and have only one layer to store data. DVD10 can store a total of 9.4GB of data. A "dual head" DVD Player is required only if attempting to read both layers from one side.

DVD14 is a double sided disc. One side of the disc is dual layered and has two layers to store data on. On this side of the disc, one layer is semi-reflective effectively allowing the laser to pass through and access data on the second layer. The other side of the disc is single layered thus having only one layer to store data on. There are three layers total and can collectively store 13.2GB of data.

DVD18 is also a double sided disc. Both sides of the disc have dual layers for a total of four layers per disc. Each side of the disc have two separate layers to store data. One of the two layers are semi-reflective effectively allowing the laser to pass through and access data on the second layer. DVD18 can store a total of 17GB of data.

Writable discs also have several standards:

DVD-RW are re-writable discs and are mostly used in data storage applications. The -R (minus R) and +R (plus R) disc formats are entirely different. The DVD Writer automatically writes whichever disc is inserted in the appropriate format, but the final selection of the discs you should use will be dictated by the ability of your DVD player to play a particular (or both) formats.


Making a back-up copy of a DVD

DVD-Shrink logo





It is quite natural to want to make a copy of your valuable DVD - after all you paid a lot of money for it and you want to protect your investment. You used to do it with cassette tapes, so why not DVD?

It is not possible in most cases to make a direct DVD disc-to-disc copy. There are three major problems to overcome when making a back-up DVD:

  • For residents of those countries that have signed up to the World Trade Organisation/World Intellectual Property Organisation treaty it is a crime to work around the copyright control system.
  • Most DVD's are copy protected (or encrypted). This is an attempt to prevent pirates from making and selling illegal copies.
  • The file size of most DVD's is too big (8-9Gb) to fit on a normal DVD5 disc (4.7Gb)

Now available on the Internet is a COMPLETELY FREE program called DVD Shrink which cleverly works around these two major problems.

First - encryption:
DVD Shrink overcomes this problem by using built-in decryption algorithms, which means you can use DVD Shrink to backup a DVD directly, without requiring any other software. Occassionally DVD-Shrink encounters problems. The most common problem is read errors or copy protection errors with certain DVD's. In this case, using DVD Decrypter usually solves the problem.

Second - file size:
DVD Shrink overcomes this problem by compressing or "shrinking" the data from your original DVD. The latest version of DVD Shrink contains state-of-the-art compression algorithms, rivalling those found in the best commercial softwares.

DVD Shrink only seems to allow to make a back-up using an original disc. It cannot be used to make a copy of that back-up DVD (but why would you want to?).


Capturing Video



Hauppauge USA logo


These are two of several video
capture card manufacturers


leadtek logo

If you have a camcorder you will eventually feel the need to transfer your recordings from tape to a DVD.

The first step is to 'capture' the images. The capture method depends on the source media - analogue or video.

Analogue Capture Method

The Camcorder
In this system (which began to go out of fashion in the later-1990's) the output signal can be in one of two forms:

CVBS - here the brightness (luminance) and colour (chrominance) are mixed together to make a single output signal.

S-Video - here the brightness (luminance) and colour (chrominance) are separated. This results in a very much higher quality TV picture.

Analogue Capture process
The analogue camcorder is connected to the PC using one of two forms of analogue capture hardware - an internal video capture card plugged into a PCI slot in the PC, or an external stand-alone video capture unit which connecteds to the PC via a USB-2 cable.
Pro's and Con's - The PCI card version requires a very fast computer (1.5GHz minimum). The USB version does all the video processing in its own little box and sends digital data direct to the computer, so the need for a high spec computer is reduced.

Digital Capture Method

Camcorder (DV - Digital Video)
In this system the output from the camera is a stream of digital data that can to written directly to your computer Hard Disc (HDD).

Digital (DV) capture process
The DV-camcorder is directly connected to the PC with a data cable (either USB-2 or FireWire). As the video tape is replayed the data stream is directly transferred on to the Hard Disc.



Authoring a DVD


u-lead logo

These are two of several DVD
authoring applications

pinnacle systems logo


When the images have been captured they will require editing - removing unwanted scenes and rearranging clips, etc. Many programs are available to do this and usually LE versions of editor packages are included with the video capture card. U-Lead and Pinnacle Studio are among the most popular. Full-blown professional packages such as Adobe Premier are normally far too expensive for the enthusiastic amateur.

After editing video clips are arranged in a suitable order and then re-saved to the hard disc, and all unwanted video should be discarded to conserve disc space.

Before recording (or burning) the DVD it is recommended the 'home movie' is divided into sections (or Chapters) - just like on a 'real' DVD. This saves the viewer endless time in searching for a particular scene. Authoring is done with a DVD authoring program (and again, a LE-type package is often supplied along with the capture card, such as U-Lead and Pinnacle Studio).

If the completed home video is too big for a standard DVD5 (4.7Gb) use DVD-Shrink to reduce the file size using its clever built-in algorithms.



Writing the DVD




The two most popular 'burning' programs used on the PC are from Nero and Roxio. Both come complete with useful label-making software - check out their websites for details.

Another very useful application is Alcohol120%. This is very good at making successful back-ups when Roxio and/or Nero occassionally fail to do the job (possibly due to file format/ecnryption incompatabilities).

Link tp Alcohol-Soft web site Ahead Software - nero logo roxio logo



DVD Regions

DVD Region + CSS Free logo


The movie industry decided for its own reasons to split the world into several DVD regions. DVD's with region coding will only play on DVD-players with the same region code. Luckily, the region protection in DVD-players can often be disabled. Modifying your player is not illegal. There are no laws against it, at least not in Europe.

Region Countries
1  United States of America, Canada
2  Europe, Middle East, Japan and South Africa

 South East Asia and Eastern Asia

4  Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America
5  Indian sub-continent, Africa, former Soviet Union
6  Peoples Republic of China
7  Unused
8  Airlines/Cruise Ships
9  Expansion (often used as region free)
0  No Region

Example of the Region Code problem:

A DVD-disc coded for Region-2 will only play on a Region-2 DVD player. The same goes for the other region codes, except Region-0. Let's say an American purchases a DVD in Australia (Region-4) and takes it home, the DVD-disc will not play in the Region-1 DVD player. On the other-hand a Region-0 coded DVD-disc will play in every DVD player regardless of the region coding.

Special note regarding Region-2.
The TV system in Europe is PAL (except France), with pictures at 50 times per second. The TV system in Japan is NTSC (same as USA), with pictures at 60 times per second. The Region-2 players sold in Europe output a PAL signal regardless of whether a PAL or NTSC disc is playing. By converting the player to Region-0 and owning a TV capable of showing 50Hz and 60Hz pictures (virtually all modern TV's do this automatically) a European viewer will be able to buy and use Region-1 DVD's.

How to change the Region Code of your player
Many websites explain the (usually) simple method to do this. Often it is no more than a few button-presses on your remote control to change the player coding.

Check out these sites:


         ...... and search for more using Google ....

DVD-player in the computer
A different problem exists with the DVD-player in your computer. Licensing restrictions mean that the player can only switch between Region codes a few time (usually 5) before the player firmware becomes 'locked' and can never be changed again.

To find out how many changes are left...
MS Windows XP has a checker but it doesn't report correctly. Use one (or both) of these small but far more reliable applications:

DISCInfo155 or Drive Region Info by Erwin van den Berg

What about the Player software in the computer ?
All the popular software decoder/players (WinDVD, Pinnacle, etc) also have a limit to the number of Region changes. Visit Remote Selector and read about this FREE add-on utility that has a work-around to the Region change limit plus many other useful features.

Software is now available to work around this problem. 'DVD Region+CSS Free' not only decrypts and removes the region coding for DVD's, but now will also let you play, copy and rip protected Audio CD's!

Back to Home Page Rev: 01-2005