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On a typical day I usually receive around 5-7 emails about how to do a certain DVD burning tasks. To me these are simple answers and over the years I just assumed that the answers I was providing is now common knowledge. However this is clearly not the case as more and more people are just starting to get familiar with their DVD burners. So I decided to write about some of the hidden 'secrets' that everyone should know about while working with your DVD burner. The first has to do with copying DVD movies and why it's simply not as easy as inserting your disc and backing it up. Secondly I would like to talk about converting video so it's ready for you to burn a regular DVD that can play back on DVD players.
Backing Up a DVD Is Not As Simple As You Think It Is
This is probably the number one questions I get most consistently "I have a DVD movie such as ... My PC will play it but it won't let me copy it to another disc." The reason for this is because 99% of DVD movie discs contain something known as CSS or Content Scrambling System which prevent the act of extracting the data onto a computer or onto another disc as a copy. This is unlike audio CD's which you can copy all day long if you wanted to. The 'Hollywood" execs think that pirating would get out of hand if everyone had free reign over movie discs. Which is probably true to an extent but to the rest of us it's a small annoyance if we want to put a copy of a movie that we bought on our notebook or netbook.
Say Hello to CSS's Alternate Brother DeCSS
We all know that if there is a safeguard put in place to 'protect' us from ourselves that there will be a group of people that will be against it and do everything they can to defeat or crack the code. Sure enough back in the early 2000's a group came up with some code that defeated the CSS and we know this today as DeCSS. There are a handful of apps that can copy protected DVD's (go here for those) but the most popular one is probably DVD43. This is a small program that runs in your system tray waiting for a disc to be inserted into a drive that contains CSS. If found its icon turns green and smiles which indicates that the disc is now unprotected and ready to be assaulted by your burning software. Now that you know how to get video content off of DVD discs you can either use that or video of your own making and create your own DVD movies.
Converting Video to Make a Proper DVD Movie
The second most popular question I seem to get has to do with making a compliant DVD that will play on home theatre DVD players. Many people just take a video file and burn it to a DVD and expect it to play properly. However this is not the case. DVD Video discs are formatted in a specific way so that the hardware can process and play the video correctly, mainly because DVD have chapters and this file structure tells the playback device where each chapter begins and ends. To properly create a compliant DVD you must use a DVD Creator Software application (go here for those) which for the most part allows adding videos into a project, set chapter markers, DVD menus, extra audio and then convert the video into the proper format and finally burn the DVD for you. Thus making a movie disc you can take and play away on any DVD player you want. So be sure you are using the right software.
For many of us this is basic knowledge if you have been working with DVD in the past 8 years of so, but for the rest of you just now starting these are good points to keep in mind when working with DVD video on your PC's or Mac's.
Rob Boirun is the lead writer for www.burnworld.com which covers DVD Blu Ray Burning topics. You can follow BurnWorld on twitter.