Creating DVD Video Discs

Recently I created a video to commemorate my mom’s 80th birthday. Of course once the video is created, there is always the challenge of distributing the video. For people who are always online and have a respectable bandwidth, they can simply view the video online, as I have made arrangements to post it here on my blog site. The video is embedded in The Grand Birthday post. What about others who are not online savvy or are still clung to their DVD players.

I usually use a program called Burn on my Mac to burn videos into DVD Video discs. However I find the process unsatisfying. I needed something that can be applied to mass processing. I also did not like the unprofessional DVD menu that Burn applies to the DVD disc. Also the program is quite old and I fear may not work for future versions of macOS.

I came across this Convert any Movie to DVD Video wiki link, and found some really useful information. After reading through their process, I found, practiced, and proven this trimmed down version on my Mac.

First I had to install several utilities through the brew packaging system on my Mac.

brew install ffmpeg dvdauthor cdrtools

I use the above utilities to perform the following steps:

  1. Convert the source video (typically optimized for my Apple devices and my TV’s) to an NTSC DVD compatible format;
  2. Author a DVD directory structure using the video;
  3. Create an ISO from the DVD directory structure for archiving and burning purposes;
  4. Burn the ISO to a physical DVD-R disc.

The first step is to convert the video:

ffmpeg -i original.mp4 -target ntsc-dvd -r 29.97 -s 720x480 -aspect 16:9 -b 8000k -g 12 -mbd rd -flags +aic -trellis 1 -cmp 2 -subcmp 2 video.mpg

I ended up using the above command which supposedly yields the most optimum  quality in terms of viewing. The output video.mpg is DVD compatible. The above command assumes an aspect of 16:9, which is what most home videos are shot at today.

I then use the dvdauthor tool to create the DVD directory structure. Before I use the tool, I first have to create an XML file containing how I like the DVD to be configured. Below is a bare minimum XML file configuration that I used to simply create a DVD disc containing a single movie. The tool gives me the option in the future to add menus, chapters, etc.

    <dvdauthor format="ntsc">
        <vmgm />
                <subpicture lang="en" />
                <audio lang="en" />
                    <vob file="/Users/kanglu/Downloads/video.mpg" />

I then proceed to run the tool with the above XML file, which I named dvd.xml.

    dvdauthor -o dvd -x dvd.xml

This will result in a folder called dvd which will contain the contents of the DVD disc. Once I have the folder, I can then create the ISO file.

    mkisofs -dvd-video -udf -o dvd.iso dvd

The resulting dvd.iso file is a good archiving format in case I want to make more DVD discs in the future. At this point, I no longer need video.mpgdvd.xml, and the dvd folder. The ISO file is all I need to create a DVD Video disc containing my video. After sticking in a blank DVD-R disc, I executed the following command.

    hdiutil burn dvd.iso

I repeated the above hdiutil command with several more blank discs to make a bunch of discs for distribution. The resulting DVD Video disc contains a single video without any confusing menu system; the way I like it — keep it simple and stupid.

Too bad not everybody has Plex or Kodi. Even a Raspberry Pi with OSMC installed would be wonderful. That will make future distribution of family videos a lot easier!

However, I am now happy to have a workflow that works for me. I hope you will find this helpful.

A Grand Birthday

This past weekend on October 6th, 2018, we celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday. We invited many friends and family to come to Richmond Hill at a restaurant called Emperor’s Chinese Fine Cuisine restaurant for a casual dinner, along with some light entertainment.

Family from Mauritius and around Canada came to join us in celebrating my mom’s 80th birthday. I am super thankful for the great turn out, and we all participated in making some great memories. Special thanks to the performers, who also made the event that much more special. The lion dance from Sammy Cheng was spectacular. The traditional dancers made our venue magical, while Kalen’s guitar performance brought the celebration close to heart. Of course, the line dancers also added a fun and coordinated touch to the dance floor. The beat of Sega music brings out the joy in us all.

With the help of some high tech toys, people were able to record and contribute some wonderful moments. I took the past couple of days to put these media snippets together in this twenty-three and a half minutes long video.

So when you have a moment, sit back, and enjoy. I know that I will cherish this moment and will use this video to remind me of this grand, happy occasion.

Your Internet speed may not be fast enough and you may experience freezes or stuttering when playing the above video. If you have such an experience, it may be better to download the movie first and then play it locally on your computer. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Press one of the buttons below to download the movie of the quality you wanted.

Updated October 16: You can also download all the source media, original photos and videos from here:

Note that the original media will only be available for about 60 days from the time of this posting, so if you want it, then please download it now.