Posts Tagged easy

Create a DVD Tutorial. Part 1

This is a tutorial post about how to create a video DVD on your computer to play in a standard DVD player. I use only free software or shareware, on Windows. There are a lot of steps, but its easy enough to do and I have provided links to all the software I used. In future posts I will also provide step-by-step guides on the usage of each piece of software to get the job done. You dont need to have a degree in computing to do this; if you can log on to a website and read this text, you can help out a friend and create their wedding DVD, without being charged hundreds of pounds for a company to do exactly the same work.

2 years ago my girlfriend Amanda asked me to help her make a DVD of her opera singing. She had 3 DVDs of her in various concerts but she wanted to have one single DVD of just her. This would be her DVD that she can copy and send out to other people as a CV.

I finally got round to doing it a few weeks ago and I’d like to share what I did. I used all free software and shareware. I admit that I am technologically aware (read: geek) but ripping, mastering and burning DVDs was not part of my repertoire so this required some learning to be able to achieve this. If this is something you would like to do, keep reading! It doesn’t matter if you don’t yet know how to do these things or don’t have the right software. If you can read this page right now, and download a podcast (or any other file) to the desktop, you can make a DVD. I’ll provide step by step instructions on how to do it, and all the software you need.

Last summer I attended a wedding of a close friend and he mentioned later on that he was charged a rather obscene amount for someone to video the wedding and create DVDs of the day. The sorts of skills involved in recording and DVD-mastering aren’t impossible to learn (as I found out) it just takes time to learn how to do all the processes. And it considering it can be done on standard PC hardware, its really a no brainer to spend the time learning and doing, its easy, accessible and costs a lot less. The skills you learn can be easily applied again and again. Maybe you could offer to record a friend’s wedding or recital and make distributable DVDs for them.

There are commercial software packages such as Sony Vegas that presumably do everything I needed in one package, but the software costs between £25 – £350 depending on the edition. Besides, I looked upon this as a challenge to get dirty with file formats and converting video streams and hopefully learn a little bit about creating DVDs. I wanted find out exactly what was happening in my computer, down to the files used and what processes were occurring. It turns out that it isn’t really that complex, but it just takes time to discover what you need for each process.

The DVDs I used as input contained no copyright protection, and Amanda holds the copyrights to her own singing. The purpose of these DVDs is to promote Amanda as a professional singer and they would not be sold for any money. With that in mind, I didn’t deal with any copyrighted or copy-protected video so I didn’t use any bypassing of copy-protection. The end DVD was about 30 minutes in length.

This is going to be quite a long post, so Ill break it down to different entries. Think of this one as the overview. Ill go into the specific steps for each program later on.

I’ve mentioned a few applications, they may not be the latest versions, but for me they were light-weight, reasonably easy to use and didn’t cost me a penny. This should allow you to give this a shot without any financial investment. Who knows, you might even enjoy it! At least, you will get a feel for the different applications which you might like. For example, I now use VLC media player and WinRAR as my default applications instead of Windows Media Player or WinZip now. To me they are far faster and have greater functionality. Have fun!


Amanda gave me the following source material:

3 standard DVDs containing her singing (about 10 minutes out of 50 minutes in each DVD)

Link to her website with pictures and CV.

Required Output:

The requested goal was to have a final DVD, playable in standard DVD players, using only clips of her from the other DVDs. There should be a scene selector to choose between scenes just like a standard DVD. Finally, if possible, have information pages containing her CV in text and showing a link to her website.


These are the software packages in the order that I used. They are all free (with the exception of WinRAR which is a shareware version) and I’ve provided links to download for each one. Most of these I found on source forge website ( which lists loads of open source applications.

  1. VLC. (Review the content) (

    This free media player plays most major formats, including playing from DVD as well as files on the computer. I used this to review the content on the source DVDs to get the track numbers and times within tracks to use.

  2. DVD Decrypter (Rip the Required DVD content to computer) (

    This software rips the DVD, track at a time, to files on the computer. Using the times and tracks information I collected in the previous step, I copied full tracks on to the computer.

  3. (Convert the DVD files to more usable file formats) (

    The DVD files needed to be converted to a different format so they could be modified using a video editor package. This package took in the DVD file and coverted to a file format suitable for editing by the next package..

  4. VirtualDub (Trim the videos and apply simple video editing) (

    I used this package to trim the videos where required, and add fade to black and fade from black effects.

  5. DVDStyler (Create the DVD structure menus and order the videos) (

    This software was used to create the final DVD master. The final content was saved as a DVD image file so it could be burned to DVD later. In this I arranged the videos in sequence and created a simple DVD menu system to navigate. This software created the final DVD image in .iso format.

  6. WinRAR (Test the DVD image on computer) (

    The DVD image file could be read within the computer as a DVD. I used this software to extract the single iso file to its DVD files which I sent to the desktop. I then used VLC again to play the files as if it was a DVD. This saved the time of having to burn first.

  7. BwgBurn (Burn the DVD image to a final DVD-R) (

    The final stage was to burn the DVD image file to an actual DVD. This could then be played or tested on a real DVD player.

I have Windows Vista on an Intel Quad Core Desktop computer with 2GB of memory and 500Gb free hard drive space. All the software runs on Windows Vista and should be fine with Windows XP and Windows 7. I believe you could get most of the software for Linux as well (if you couldn’t get the exact same applications, there will be equivalent ones available)

It is technically possible to master the DVD image on a netbook with no internal DVD drive (by obtaining the source videos from the internet or from a USB stick) but I wouldnt advise it as the CPUs in netbooks are generally quite slow, it would take much longer to do all the steps. In my opinion netbooks are great for typing and surfing on the move, but thats about it.

There are quite a few stages and complexities to someone who doesn’t know much about video editing. If things like folders, files, video streams, AVIs, MP3s and XVID scare you, then keep reading. This tutorial has been written exactly for you!

The total process time for me took about 2 hours, including the time waited for the computer to actually do the work as well as downloading and installing the software itself. Remember, I started off not knowing how to do most of the things I will mention in this tutorial.

The best way to learn is to experiment with all the different parts. I know however that it can be quite daunting, especially if theres loads of different buttons and don’t seem to have any intuitive process to use them. The next blog entries will include step by step instructions on what I did for each step I mentioned earlier. Why not begin by getting the software and having a play about with it yourself?

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Article Archive Page Added. Add your own archive page easily! (code included)

Last night I added an article archive page to this site. It makes it easier to navigate all the blog posts by listing all the blog posts by title on one single page. It is sorted in chronological order. My intention is to have all the articles easily accessible so anyone can quickly scan through any posts of interest. This is better than a standard blog page as typically you would have to wade through the whole content over multiple pages.

The credit for the archive page code goes to for his post. The steps are there on this person’s page and they are reasonably clear, however it requires knowledge of ftp, the folder structure of your wordpress installation and notepad or other text editor to modify php code. I noticed a couple of mistakes in his php insert code which caused it not to work on my page straight off, so I will post what i did…

Steps to create an archive index page on your wordress site (For wordpress 2.7.1)

1. Make an archives2.php file – First step is to make a new page template file. I went to my theme directory /wp-content/themes/arc/ using my ftp client ( where arc is the folder for the theme ) and copied index.php over to my desktop. This was then renamed to archives2.php ( I called it this because this theme already had an archives.php file, didn’t want to get rid of it just in case. Note that the filename doesn’t matter as no reader will see it )

2. Modify the code in the archives2.php file – Now this file must be customised for making a template. Edit the file with a text editor. I used notepad on windows. For me I had the first block of text..

/* Arclite/digitalnature */

This needs to be changed to..

Template Name: Martins Archives Page

The name here is only used for your own reference so it can be anything you like. Save the file now

3. Remove the page code and replace with new code – This I belive is the hardest step because you need to see what background code is (i.e. Side bars, background, links, etc) and see what the main code for that page is. The way I did it was to look at the code I needed to put in…

<?php if (have_posts()) : ?>
<?php while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>

<!– post –>
<div id=”post-<?php the_ID(); ?>” <?php if (function_exists(“post_class”)) post_class(); else print ‘class=”post”‘; ?>>

<div class=”post-header”>
<h3><a href=”<?php the_permalink() ?>” rel=”bookmark” title=”<?php _e(‘Permanent Link:’,’arclite’); echo ‘ ‘; the_title_attribute(); ?>”><?php the_title(); ?></a></h3>
<p class=”post-date”>
<span class=”month”><?php the_time(__(‘M’,’arclite’)); ?></span>
<span class=”day”><?php the_time(__(‘j’,’arclite’)); ?></span>
<p class=”post-author”>
<span><?php printf(__(‘Posted by %s in %s’,’arclite’),'<a href=”‘. get_author_posts_url(get_the_author_ID()) .'” title=”‘. sprintf(__(“Posts by %s”,”arclite”), attribute_escape(get_the_author())).’ “>’. get_the_author() .'</a>’,get_the_category_list(‘, ‘)); ?> <?php edit_post_link(__(‘Edit’,’arclite’),’ | ‘); ?></span>

<div class=”post-content clearfix”>
<?php if(get_option(‘arclite_indexposts’)==’excerpt’) the_excerpt(); else the_content(__(‘Read the rest of this entry &raquo;’, ‘arclite’)); ?>

$posttags = get_the_tags();
if ($posttags) { ?>
<p class=”tags”> <?php the_tags(__(‘Tags:’,’arclite’).’ ‘, ‘, ‘, ”); ?></p>
<?php } ?>

<div class=”post-links”>
global $id, $comment;
$number = get_comments_number( $id );
<a class=”<?php if($number<1) { echo ‘no ‘; }?>comments” href=”<?php comments_link(); ?>”><?php comments_number(__(‘No Comments’,’arclite’), __(‘1 Comment’,’arclite’), __(‘% Comments’,’arclite’)); ?></a>

<!– /post –>

<?php endwhile; ?>

<div class=”navigation” id=”pagenavi”>
<?php if(function_exists(‘wp_pagenavi’)) : ?>
<?php wp_pagenavi() ?>
<?php else : ?>
<div class=”alignleft”><?php next_posts_link(__(‘&laquo; Older Entries’,’arclite’)) ?></div>
<div class=”alignright”><?php previous_posts_link(__(‘Newer Entries &raquo;’,’arclite’)) ?></div>
<div class=”clear”></div>
<?php endif; ?>
<?php else : ?>
<h2><?php _e(“Not Found”,”arclite”); ?></h2>
<p class=”error”><?php _e(“Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn’t here.”,”arclite”); ?></p>
<?php get_search_form(); ?>
<?php endif; ?>

At the top you can see the line <?php if (have_posts()) : ?>  – this is the beginning of the loop which shows every single post in the archive. I then looked at the archives2.php file I had.. I saw..

<?php if (have_posts()) : ?>
<?php while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>

Quite near the top of the file. It was also indended. Scrolling down I also found the closing <?php endif; ?> for that starting if line. The indentation helped me to see this was page content and not the background for each page. I removed it all and replaced it with the required code mentioned earlier. Note that I have no experience whatsoever for php programming, this was done only by looking at the <?php tags within the file. Now save this file. Dont worry if you think you did it wrong, even if it wont work, the worst youll see on your site is an error message and you can try again. No damage will occur and you wont lose your previous posts.

4. Upload the new archives2.php to your theme folder where you got your index.php file from.

5. Make a new page. Go to your admin page on your website and make a new page. Call it something meaningful such as “Archives page” (this is what the reader will see for the page name) Dont add any text to the body of the page.

6. Apply the template. On the right hand sidebar ‘attributes’ you should see Template. Under that drop down you should now see your “martins archive page” or whatever you called it earlier. Select this and then click publish. Youre done!

Navigate to the page to see how it looks. If you get a page which looks nothing like your other pages (i.e. background gone) or an error line at the top and nothing else, then something went wrong. I have found the error lines quite helpful as it tells you the line number to check. Turns out my initial code had spaces in <?php…  so it was  <? php…  and that crashed it.Just try to re-upload a fixed file until you get what you want. There is no irreversible damage here as you are using your own file and not wrecking anything else in the theme. Even if you do accidentally damage a critical theme file, you can just re-install the theme and restore.

I hope this is of use to you, It makes navigation much easier for your blog posts and articles so I would highly recommend it, even if you dont regard yourself as a programmer or it seems a little messy. Let me know how you get on and post links to your own sites’ archive pages here!

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