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DVD Burning De-Mystified

by whoozhe
January 27, 2004

Just about every computer sold these days comes with some digital recording device be it a CD or DVD writer.

This article is more to unravel some of the mystery surrounding DVDs. It would be impossible to include a full tutorial on the subject so I have included some links to more extensive tutorials.

"Disclaimer: Copying rented DVD's and Audio CD's is illegal in some parts of the world. Many places do allow either to be backed up providing they were purchased. This tutorial is provided for those who are able to legally make a copy of such media and is not advocating illegal copying."

Any opinion and advice given in this tutorial does not reflect the opinions and advice supported by the owners of this forum.
In other words sue me not osc.

Later in 2004 DVD recording will take another leap with the introduction of writers capable of writing to double layer DVD's, the same as the ones you hire from your local Video Store. This will make the entire process of backing up the DVD you purchased a simpler task that the one presented to folks today. The current crop of DVD burners can only cope with single layer DVD's which have half the storage space as their commercial counterpart. This lesser storage space is the main cause surrounding the confusion many encounter when attempting to backup a DVD movie.

The whole DVD and CD recording market is full of different formats. You may have seen CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM, DVD+R, DVD+RW, then there is the codecs, or the actual media types such as DIVX, MPEG, AVI, Quicktime, WMA, MP3, OGG and a host of others . Now China have EVD. No wonder people are confused.

File types:
AVI was developed by Microsoft as a format to create and play movies on a PC.
Quicktime was developed by Apple to do the same thing on MACS.
MPEG was developed as a compression technique to reduce the size of AVI/Quicktime files without any noticeable loss of quality. This is the method used by Movie companies to squeeze a full movie on a DVD.
DIVX was another compression technique that further reduced the size of AVI files but with a noticeable loss of quality. This is the format used mainly for transferring large videos over the net.
CDV is the format used to burn a large movie onto a plain CD.
SCDV is a better quality CDV.
WMA is the Microsoft compression for Audio.
MP3 is the most popular compression tool for Audio.
OGG is yet another audio compressor; some say the better of the main two.

CD-ROM is a read only drive that can read data, video (except DVD) and Audio CD's
CD-R can do the above with the added ability to Write or Burn a CD.
CD-RW can do all the above but can use special blank CD's that can be erased and reused.
DVD Player can read all types of DVD's including movies. Most players can do everything a CD-ROM does
DVD-R Can Do everything a DVD player can do plus record to a blank DVD-R Disks.
DVD-RW is a DVD-R with the added capability to use rewritable DVD disks
DVD+R and +RW are alternative formats that do the same job as DVD-R and -RW. (Sort of like Betamax vs. VHS)
DVD-RAM can do the same with the added bonus to create a DVD disk that can be used like a hard drive.
To date the DVD Forum have only approved DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM.

CD-R is for storing data, creating Audio CD's playable on any CD player and any video that is less that 750 Meg in size. CD-R can only be recorded to once. The term use is Write Once Read Many Times.
CD-RW does the above except that Audio CD's made on this type of CD cannot be played in stand alone CD players. CD-RWs can be erased and reused. The term used is Write and read many times.
DVD-R Differ from CD-R in the way they are constructed so they cannot be read by normal CD player or CD-ROM drives. This is the basic format used by most to burn a DVD playable on the majority of DVD players.
DVD-RW Can do the same as DVD-R with the added ability to use re-writable disks. Only the latest DVD players can read these,
DVD+R and DVD+RW have less DVD players capable of reading them.
DVD-RAM is less common than all the others.

Confusing isn't it.
Check your stand alone DVD player, the one by the TV, and check what formats it can read. This will be your primary concern on just which burner and medium you need.
More modern stand alone DVD players can handle multiple DVD, Audio and Computer based formats such as the ability to view JPG pictures and play MP3s.

Now to the nitty gritty. How to backup that DVD.

There are two main methods. One is using a DVD burner and the other the standard CD burner.
Let's tackle the hardest one, getting DVD movie onto a single CD.
There are three basic steps. Ripping, compressing and formatting. The entire process can take up to 5 hours.
There are dozens of commercial programs out there but they ALL use the same tools which are available free.
Instead of writing the whole tutorial out I am cheating by providing a link to an excellent one. Keep in mind that if you only have a CD burner then go for either CDV or SVDC. This format can be played on any CD drive and most stand alone DVD players.
Go to: for loads of tutorials for beginners and experts.
Remember one thing though, the process is slow and not always works.

The better method is only possible if you own a DVD burner.
There are two basic methods.
My choice is using DVD shrink. It is a free tool available at
This will rip the movie and allow you to "Author it" thus removing much of the junk such as extras, multi language sound and subtitles. In many cases the actual movie can then be burnt to a DVD via a burning program such as NERO. DVD shrink will allow you to compress the video by steps to reduce the size, with some loss in quality) suitable for a single DVD.
The steps are quite simple. Open the Disk, re-Author and backup. Then using Nero or similar create a new DVD.
The other method is splitting the DVD into two separate disks. This is ideal if the movie is large and you wish to retain the original quality.
Splitting a movie requires the movie to be ripped first. You can use DVD shrink but instead of Authoring you back up the Full Disk.
Using another free tool called DVDFab which is available from DVDFab allows you to use the file created by DVD shrink and split the movie onto two or more DVDs while retaining the movie's structure and sound.
There is another method, well it is similar but the software is not cheap. It is called DVD X Copy Xpress. The whole process can be done in one step. But at $US60 I would prefer the free way even though it is slightly more complicated.
If you really have some money to throw around go for DVD X Copy Gold. It is the best overall DVD backup software around but again it cost around $US100.

When it comes to buying a DVD burner find the one that supports all formats. My choice is the LG DVD combo 4040B. A great burner at a great price.

I hope that this piece of rambling has shed some light on the subject.


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