Posts Tagged fast

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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PhotoReading… does it work ?

I recently became aware of the concept of Photo Reading by Paul Scheele. According to the advertising and youtube video this was supposed to increase your reading speed to over 100,000 words per minute. Impossible! How can your mind actually process that many words; moreover, how can your eyes even move that fast to pick it all up! I dismissed this as internet-myth got back to work. However, later I found someone recommend it and I found myself looking over it again.

This time I decided to have a more in-depth look and see how it works, and perhaps try out a few things.

The end result was different from what I expected it would be. In my opinion you aren’t really reading at 100,000 words a minute like it claims. But it did help me to realise that books aren’t as scary as I once thought, and I can grab the important points very quickly.

Handling my time and thoughts. Controlling the boredom: Concentrate more.

The first thing I discovered about this is that I needed to control my time better to enable me to read more efficiently. Before I would constantly be putting off reading anything, whether it be textbooks in school and uni or for my own pleasure later on. To me, there was always something better to do, such as playing a video game, talking or going out with friends, or even just tidying my room or cleaning the dishes. Reading was boring! The times I eventually gave myself to read were when I was tired, I was pre-occupied with other things in my life. Even when I started getting into the story or the main part of the book, I started feeling uncomfortable in the chair, I wanted to stretch my legs, move my neck, go for a walk. I felt physically uncomfortable just sitting there reading!

However to find out about the photo reading concept, I had to give myself time to at least watch the DVDs. There were 3 of them and the main sections each took 50 mins or so. I found watching a DVD about reading was more tolerable than actually reading itself so I found little difficulty in doing that. Actually I watched each DVD twice over 2 weeks whilst washing the dishes at the same time, watching on the laptop.

I became excited at the thought of being able to read better. When it came time to put into practise what I had watched, I was mentally more ready to begin reading a book. The actual process of photo reading felt more physically active; The first phase requires flipping though the pages of the book, turning pages once every 2 seconds. Then afterwards, going in-depth into the sections of the book that I wanted to. There was also some work done on ‘getting into the zone’ before doing anything, which helped me greatly to concentrate more. Just taking 3 breaths before beginning to read really helped.

Another approach which surprised me was the act of reading a book cover-to-cover in one sitting. I had previously never thought about doing this (especially when it took me a good 20 minutes to read 10 pages, by which time I was ready to die..) Now reading the whole book in one go became the purpose. Books I have read recently have taken 1 to 2 hours. By putting these amounts of time into reading it means I have planned specifically to give this amount of time to reading it, so my mind doesn’t wander as much. I am concentrated on the book and what I have to learn from it. When I read like this, whether I am bored or not doesn’t come into my thoughts; my purpose for that time is to read that book.

The belief that it all works

Some concepts in the programme seem a little far-fetched. My ‘Realist’ mind found it hard to accept some of the ideas proposed. For example, the first phase of reading any book is to flick through the book, a page turn every 2 seconds. The idea is that the information becomes embedded into your sub-concious mind where it lives forever. After that you can use your ‘intuition’ to decide what parts of the book to read to pick up what your subconscious mind has decided you actually need to read; the important bits of the book.

However, I decided to press ahead and try a bit of ‘what if’ scenarios whilst practising this technique. What if your subconscious mind is always there trying to direct you and all you need to do is let it guide you? Just picking random bits to read is its way of directing your conscious mind to where it knows you really want to read.

The result was a mixed bag. I picked up random bits throughout a book, and I feel that I did pick up the general feeling of a chapter by just reading a few lines on each page, however there was the niggling voice at the back of my mind saying ‘You haven’t picked everything up; theres something missing’ One thing I found however is that I didnt get bored at all of reading it. So many times before when I felt that it was a drudgery just getting to the end of a chapter. Not this time. If I felt like skipping a few lines, or a few pages, it was OK for me to do so. Chances are the reason I got bored was because there wasn’t really any new ideas being portrayed in them. Apparently 4% of the words in English text contains the core ideas, the rest is just filler to make the structure. That thought stuck with me. If I can train my mind to pick up the ideas from the 4% of text, then I can skip the rest and whats truly important. Even though it goes against what I believe is real, for now Ill run with this idea because it seems to work for me, despite no real explanation as to why it works.

End results

After watching the DVDs and trying the techniques with a few books, my friend asked me to read a fiction book. She told me she read it in a day, so it would be a nice easy read for me (books never are, for me at least) and she told me it was a nice story.

It was the story of a man who tried to kill himself. But it had the lead up of his life and how things went from bad to worse, beginning with the death of his mother 10 years previously. The final straw was when his daughter did not invite him to her wedding, as he was a trouble maker, drunk, embarrassment to the family. But the suicide attempt failed and he saw his mother, for one last goodbye and a chat about the bad things he resented in his life. In the end he saw the errors in his ways, and lived for another 5 years, making life better for himself and was satisfied with what he had.

It took me an hour and a half to ‘read’ the 200 pages. By the end of it I had the storyline in my head, and I knew key emotional points throughout the book; the moment when he found out his mother died, when he decided that life wasn’t worth it, when he decided it was worth it.

I was questioned later on about the story, I found that I didnt know know what the man’s name was, or his ex-wife. Or in fact any of the characters names. I also didnt know about the little child-hood flashback stories when he was a boy. However I did go into detail about his passion for baseball, which was instilled by his father. How this passion eventually led to his missing the day his mother died, and his failing in the team led to the loss of his father in his life. How he survived the car crash, though he wished he didn’t. And how he turned his life around.

Whilst I did lose certain facts of the story, there were parts I wouldn’t consider to be exciting, or even provide any point to the real story. Subconsciously I cut them out, and I can honestly say I don’t feel that I missed out on anything. And at the end, I read a book in 2 hours which would otherwise have taken weeks of time to read.

I would recommend at least looking at this way of reading. If anything, it shows that as a reader, you don’t have to blindly plow through every single word in a book. Its boring and pointless. You can choose the main points to pick up, and usually those points are very concise and it takes no time at all to pick them up. I have photoread 5 books this week, versus no more than 3 normally read in the last 2 years. I aim to continue learning about speed reading and photo reading and making reading books a more enjoyable part of my life.

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