Monday, January 29

Making DVDs

Have you ever started something that looked interesting, only to discover that it was waaaaaay more complicated than you had ever realized? I'm currently stuck in the middle of trying to figure out how to make the movie clips we've filmed on our digital camera play on a disc in the dvd player.

Here I thought it would just be a matter of copying the files. Silly me. Apparently all the files have to be converted to something called MPEG-2 first. Then you have to create a menu.

I don't know what's next because that's as far as I've gotten. But I've already tried to copy the files onto the disc twice with no success (because they haven't been in the right format--twice). Who knew there were so many different kinds of movie files.

Well, really, I suppose I should have had some clue. I mean, consider all the image file types that are out there. JPEG and GIF and EPS and BMP, just to name a few. But, I've been working with those for years, so they seem like old friends. Well, mostly. MPEG and AVI and NTSC are all new acronyms for me. I must admit, though, I'm feeling a little more sympathy for the people I used to work with.

In my previous life (back before anybody was calling me "Mommy"), I was in charge of contacting speakers for our conferences. Once they agreed to speak, we needed all sorts of information and files from them, including a short biography, photo, and brief description of their topic.

For professional speakers, this wasn't a problem. They usually had assitants or agents who took care of all these things on a regular basis. But for our technical conference, we didn't use professional speakers. All of our speakers were paper industry professionals, often the men (and a few women) managing the paper mill. No agencies to send out photos there.

One year, we decided it would save us a lot of trouble if we simply asked everyone to submit their photos electronically. I happily composed a message to all of our conference speakers letting them know we needed a photo in GIF or JPEG format, no less than 300dpi. I got the strangest e-mails back from that. One poor woman didn't have the slightest idea of file compression, so she sent me a scanned photograph that was about 20 inches wide and about 8MB. And this was back when businesses still used dial-up internet connections. It took a good two hours to download that puppy.

But, like I said, I'm feeling much more sympathetic at the moment. At least I don't have a perky little marketing coordinator e-mailing me and asking for all these files. Or should that be a "pesky" coordinator?


  1. I've been fighting the DVD creation battle for a long time now, and there always seem to be new complications to compete with. I've figured out how to do it with free tools... but it's a nightmare, and I wouldn't recommend that you try it unless you have to. I got the basic version of Nero's software along with my DVD burner, and paid $20 to upgrade it with the DVD-Video burning option. That has been an excellent investment.

    If you need to figure out how to do it without paying the $20-$50 that most of the commercial tools cost, send me an email, and I can help you work your way through the process.


  2. Thank you, Mark.

    I'm still trying to play with it myself and see what's out there, but if I get to the point of unsuccessful frustration, I will definitely get in touch!

  3. Amy,

    I didn't end up using either of these tools, but two that are completely free and claim to do it all are:


    If you're looking for tools to do the individual pieces of the process, here are two sites that have been invaluable to me through my discovery process.


    I hope that's helpful. :)



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