Wednesday 2 December 2009

I've had my videotapes copied to DVD... can I edit them?

Amongst the many questions I get asked one that regularly crops up is the question of editing footage once it's been copied to DVD. The popularity and value of services such as ours, coupled with relatively low prices for computers and DVD drives mean that it's something that ocuurs to many people when they first out to copy and preserve all their family footage by transfering it to DVD.

There are a number of issues that need to be considered when contemplating such a project.

Firstly and to my mind most importantly is time. We don't offer an editing service to our customers and the main reason is due to time and cost. Lets say you have 2 hours of video that you want to edit down to just 1 hour of hi-lights. How long is that going to take you to do? 1 hr, 2 hrs ? Well in reality it will take you at least 3 hours.

So the first question to ask is do you really want to spend the time needed to complete the editing. After all who ever originally filmed your old cine films or Video tapes filmed them for a reason and once they are on DVD you can easily skip through them.

So you've made the decision and it's time to get down to some video production! Traditionally the practice of editing and copying DVDs has been associated with video pirates. Do a web search and you are likely to find a host of information aimed at defeating copy protection codes added to commercial discs. Luckily this is of no interest to you as our DVDs are neither encrypted or copy protected.

What you will find if you've done some editing in the past is that a quick look at the DVD in My Computer or file explorer won't reveal a list of movie files. This is because the DVD has been produced in a format that is meant to be played in a DVD player. The DVD player expects a certain structure of information on the DVD and that's what is there. Various video and audio streams, along with the menu structure are tucked away in what is aften called a VOB wrapper. It's also worth noting that DVDs use Mpeg compression. You may be used to AVI and WMV files. Mpeg can make hefty demands on computer power.

If you are working with a PC you now have two choices, based on the complexity of what you want to achieve. Option one, the complex approach that will give you full control and allow your creativeness to shine is to extract the Mpeg files from that DVD to your computer hard drive in their raw state. You can then use one fo the many videoediting packages on the market to do create your movie which is then burnt back on to another recordable DVD. To carry out this extraction you'll need to use one of many utilities that you will find on the web. Such as DVD decrypter, Magic DVD Ripper or Prism Video Converter. It's worth noting that these will also allow you to convert the video format during the extraction process which can be useful if your editing software works with different file types.

Another way to approach the editing is to use software designed especially to allow editing of the VOB files that make up your DVD. One such piece of software is Mpeg Video Wizard from womble Multimedia inc This allows simpel frame accurate editing of the Mpeg2 streams that are contained inside the VOB structure of the DVD.

You can find an article on the software here.