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PapaJohn's Newsletter #19 - From DVD disc to Movie Maker

From DVD disc to Movie Maker


In last week's newsletter, I mentioned that one of my sons handed me a small DVD disc he had shot on a Sony DCR-DVD200 camcorder, one that burns the video directly onto a disc in the camcorder. This type of camcorder is intended for those most interested in quick, easy and direct playback on a DVD Player/TV. And of course, after they see what they took, they may be interested in editing the files a bit in Movie Maker.


The camcorder wasn't his, and he didn't have the software that came with it.... he had borrowed it because his digital8 was broken. He asked if I could get the files from the disc and put them into high quality ones he could edit in Movie Maker. He also wanted to put them in his computer and have them show up in the Media Center menu.


Capturing video files from a DVD is a subject I didn't have well covered on my website... only had a couple pointers to other places like So it was a good project.


I'll take a week off my wedding project and show you how I ended up getting his videos from the little DVD disc.


The steps I used:


• Copied the VOB files from the disc to my hard drive

• Used TMPGEnc to convert the VOB files to MPG (MPEG-2 files)

• Used TMPGEnc to convert the video track of the MPG file to AVI

• Used MM2.1 to convert the audio track of the MPG file to WMA

• Used the AVI and WMA tracks in MM2.1 as usual for project editing


Here's an online sample of the video I ended up with (the first 49 seconds - 8 MB file).


Why not just use something like DVD2AVI? I went down that path for an answer.


Before getting into it more, a few notes about some things going on...





•My Toshiba laptop, the primary computer for 1-1/3 years now, ran into its first serious problem on Friday night, as I left it running overnight to render a sample movie for this newsletter. It seemed to reboot OK after the crash but ran very slowly, so I defragged the hard drive and then did a system restore.... it never successfully booted up again after the restore.


I was able to copy all of the files from it (including this newsletter that I had finished so early), and delete my personal ones before bringing it back to CompUSA today. All indications point to a hard drive failure.


....on to the topic of the week



Ripping DVDs




I see it referenced often, so I downloaded the software app and source code. It's close association with DIVX makes me cautious.... I use an older version 4.12 of the Divx codec and steer clear of newer ones to avoid spyware, adware and worse.


There were a half dozen sites with user guides for the app.... but my random pick took me to one covered with ads for hard-core porn. That was far enough for now.... I have the downloaded installation package, but I'm in no hurry to install and test it. TMPGEnc and MM2.1 worked for me.


The Readme file notes 2 known bugs, which I thought I'd pass on to those using the app or considering it.


* Known Bugs *


1. DVD2AVI only aligns the start point of A/V streams.
   If the movie is not encoded at once that PTS restarts (such as bonus track or
   different episodes) It's possible to lose synchronization from the break point.


2. DVD2AVI treats all Linear PCM as 16bit/48KHz/Stereo without header identification.



DVD Files


The first thing I did with the little camcorder disc was to see what folders and files it had:


Just one folder named Video_ts with 9 files in it:


.vob files.....  Video Object Sets for the VTS Menu - the smallest vob file is for the menu and the others are for each of the individual video files, with both the audio and video tracks included in the files.


3 .ifo files - VTSI file (VTS Manager Information)


3 .bup files - VTSI backup files


Files on the Disc


Files On DVD


The two large .vob files are the videos we watched on TV when playing the disc. The smaller .vob file and the other 6 .ifo and .bup files are associated with the disc's menu structure.


I checked a professional DVD and saw the same folder name and file types, so the camcorder disc is similar to professional ones, but with one important difference for Movie Maker. I could copy the .vob files from the camcorder disc to my hard drive, but I couldn't copy one from the professional disc. I assume it's due to Digital Rights Management.



Mini-Tutorial: Ripping DVD Files to Movie Maker


The .vob files played fine when using DVD software on the computer, but wouldn't import directly into MM2.1. I was able to get one to open in the Windows Media Encoder, but it crashed as soon as I tried to do anything with it.... the crash report pointed to one of the standard problem codecs (


I tested a few things and ended up using TMPGEnc (the Plus 2.5 version) to convert the VOB files, first to another MPEG-2 file and then to AVI. 


Converting the VOB Files to MPG


VOB files are MPEG-2 files meant to play in DVD players.... I needed an MPEG-2 file that is meant to play on a computer. In TMPGEnc, I used the MPEG Tools feature from the main menu - File > MPEG Tools....


Browse to the .vob file as the video input.... it won't have .vob as a file type in its picklist, so change it to all file types and point it to the specific file to use. When I selected the .vob, TMPGEnc automatically changed the file type to MPEG-2 Program (VBR) as shown in the figure. it also automatically filled the rest of the form, including the output file... to put it in the same folder as the input and with a .mpg extension.


MPEG Tools


MPEG Tools



Pressing the Run button produces the MPG file from the VOB. It's a relatively quick process as it's going from one MPEG-2 file to another. So it's probably just copying the info, not going through a re-rendering which would take much longer.


The new MPG file played fine in my Windows Media Player and IrfanView's Multimedia Player. It looked and sounded great.



Before taking the new MPG file to the next step, let's use another feature of TMPGEnc to look at the properties of the VOB files....


VOB File Properties


The De-multiplex tab of the MPEG Tools feature shows some interesting info about the VOB file.... and the properties might be carried into the new MPG file.


MPEG Tools - De-multiplex Info


DeMultiplex Info


It also has a great option to double click on one of the steams in the file and extract it to a new file. The extraction process worked great....


The audio stream extracts as a Dolby AC-3 file, but I didn't have any tools to use the AC-3 file..... and the Microsoft website said it didn't recognize the file type. Maybe it'll come in handy the next time.


The video stream extracts as an .m2v file.... another MPEG-2 file type, but I wanted an AVI. So it's back to working with the new MPG file.



Render an AVI File from the MPG - to get the Video Track


Movie Maker had the usual problems when I tried to use the MPG (MPEG-2) file, so I rendered the video and audio tracks into new files that worked in Movie Maker.... first the video.


I didn't get the audio in the AVI file when I opted to include, so I settled for the video only. I used the TMPGEnc menu to Output the file as an AVI.


 Output Video to AVI File


Extract Video to AVI


.... and you'll have a myriad of codecs and compression settings to select from. The Microsoft MPEG-4 codecs work fast and great. The Microsoft Media Video 9 codec is the one used by Movie Maker when making WMV files, the Panasonic DV codec is quick and produces a high quality file.... etc. The available choices will vary by the system, depending on the codecs you have installed.


My website has a table on the Importing Source Files > Video > Recorded TV page that shows some rendering times, files sizes and quality when selecting various codecs. Sometimes I want the highest quality and I'll wait. At other times, like in writing a newsletter, I'll go for a quick rendering to illustrate the process.


Note in the bottom field of the above figure that one of the properties of the video steam in the VOB is a total bit rate of 7963kbps.... that's up there in quality. Maybe you want to match it using the Media Video 9 codec. For my 15 minute video, it was a 4-1/2 hour render at that quality level (on my 2.4 GHz laptop).... the resultant file played well, just kind of quiet without the audio.


The AVI file is 305 MB for 14-1/2 minutes of video, a heavyweight in file size consistent with the high quality choice when setting it up to render. It's 720x480 in pixel dimensions.



Render a WMA File from the MPG - to get the Audio Track


I could import the MPG file into MM2.1, but it acted as usual for MPEG-2 files.... strange at best. The icon in the collection was a video one, but when playing it I heard the audio but didn't see the video.


When I dragged the clip from the collection to the timeline it would only go into the Audio/Music track.... it took a while for the wave patterns to show up, but when they did, the project preview played the audio as it did in the collection. It's an MPEG-2 file and wasn't crashing.... yet! So I'll stay on this path to see where it goes.


If Movie Maker was treating it as an audio file, I figured I'd have it save the movie as a WMA file to get the audio track to marry with the video AVI file.... it only took a couple minutes to do it, and the WMA file played fine.... but MM2 was crashing lots of times during the rendering..... crashed sometimes, not others.


I couldn't see any pattern to the crashings, not until I decided to take a screen shot of the crash message. Then it wouldn't crash anymore. :)  so I'll skip that screen shot and show you the conflict the other day when I was first doing it, when Movie Maker was crashing 3/4 of the time.


Use Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Event Viewer > Application and scroll to the Error messages. Double click on one to see the details. Each of the six cases in the list was the same, Movie Maker 2.1 and the codec clashing. It was a codec not on my list of problem ones (it is now as I added it because of this exercise).


Event Viewer - Review Crash Info 


Event Viewer


I tried the new MM2.1 feature that lets you uncheck a codec to take it out of the scene when it comes to use by Movie Maker. But, when I took the codec away, I was surprised to see one of our standard error messages.


Error Message When is Removed


Error Message  


Another situation when one of our often seen error messages isn't right.... the issue was the needed codec wasn't available as I had unchecked it. To use this method of getting a WMA file from the MPG file, I needed the codec and opted to live with any crashes when rendering the file, as long as it didn't crash all the time.


When it didn't crash I got a good audio file... at any of the audio quality options. It's time to take one and use it with the video.



Use the Video and Audio Files in Movie Maker


Here are the video and audio files in Movie Maker, ready for project use. See on the timeline that no related audio track shows up with the video.... which we know from how we got to this point.


The video file is 14:38:84 in duration. The audio file is 14:38:77. The difference is the one we ran into in last week's newsletter, and isn't a concern. The sync between the two files is perfect as long as you snug the Music/Audio file all the way to the left.


Video and Audio Files in Movie Maker


MM2 Project 


I rendered a few movies from the files.... one medium quality complete WMV for each of the two VOB files, with video and audio.... and one high quality segment for the online online sample.





This was a fun learning experience for me.... one I expect to come in handy in years ahead as we more and more start with source files from DVD camcorders. I'm usually starting with Movie Maker and thinking about how to get the file to a disc to watch on TV. This was the exact opposite, starting with a disc playing on TV and thinking about how to get it into Movie Maker.


There's always a way to do something when it comes to digital video work, and usually many ways. Maybe DVD2AVI works easier and perfectly, and I'm too timid in not using it.


But I already have and use Movie Maker and TMPGEnc, and those are all I need to get video and audio files from a DVD. The crashing of MM2 when saving the audio track was the only real issue in this process.... but it wouldn't crash when I wanted it to, so it's not a significant issue. The audio rendering takes only a couple minutes, so it's easy to just restart it when it crashes.


Your version of TMPGEnc may not be the same as mine so I don't know if all the features I used are available to you. Your collection of codecs will also be different. You may or may not be able to process VOB files with this method. I'm interested in your feedback.


I was impressed with the quality of the video taken with the Sony DCR-DVD200, and equally impressed with the quality of the files I was able to make from the disc.


I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:

Have a great week...




Movie Maker 2 -
Photo Story 2 -



Products and Services


I'm involved in many things that support users of Movie Maker and PhotoStory, and adding more daily. Here's a list of what is available to the public. Some are free and others are reasonably priced.





Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on


Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero (with support on the Friends of Ed forum at



The 14 hacks that I wrote for a new O'Reilly book about Windows Media Hacks are still in the editing/revising phase.


When ordering these books or anything else from Amazon, I'd appreciate you using the links on the main page of - I get some income from Amazon that way, and it doesn't cost you any more. It'll help keep most of my services free.





Movie Maker 2 - - two goals: to help you solve problems, and to be the online companion to the Do Amazing Things book... and currently thinking of another goal of movie making and editing styles.


PhotoStory 2 - - a full tutorial about using it. It's not a problem-solving site. 



Online Support - Forums, Channels and Newsgroups


I'm a regular on many online forums and newsgroups, the main ones being:



Movie Maker 2 and PhotoStory 2 forums at





Movie Maker 2 forum at


Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup at microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker


PhotoStory items are covered at





Weekly Movie Maker 2/PhotoStory 2 newsletter. Subscribing is free via the link on the main page of


Tentative topics for upcoming newsletters (subject to change): A series of primers about utilities used in conjunction with Movie Maker and PhotoStory.


#20 and above - (Open - do you have any requests?)


Older newsletters are archived by Rob Morris at:





Transition Maker 2 (TM2) - a utility to make the ultimate in personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2:


TM2 is a joint effort by Patrick Leabo, the programmer, and myself.




I routinely beta test the Pixelan packages and think very highly of their people and products: Their SpiceFX packages of additional transitions and effects for Movie Maker 2 are available at:



Fee-based services:


If you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex, e-mail it to me and I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects for you, and provide detailed instructions to render the parts and assemble them into your final movie. $49.95 - for details, see the sidebar on the Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of


Movie Maker 2/Photo Story 2 training and support services start at $50 per hour - email and I'll help you determine your needs, and work with you to plan and implement them.

About John 'PapaJohn' Buechler from
John 'PapaJohn' Buechler John "PapaJohn" Buechler, of Kalamazoo, Mich., goes by PapaJohn online. An avid user of Movie Maker since its first release, and a regular supporter of the community of Movie Maker users, John received a 2003 MVP award from Microsoft for that support. In March 2003, he started a comprehensive website about Movie Maker 2 at He maintains the website, writes books and articles, teaches, and provides support services - all for the community of Movie Maker 2 users. An engineer by formal education, John is a computer database and multimedia expert by business and personal experience. He co-authored the first book about Movie Maker 2 and is actively working on a second one. You can find his advice in the Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup and in the Windows Movie Makers Forums.

This newsletter is republished with permission of John "PapaJohn" Buechler. Please note that this is an archive of newsletters and some information may become outdated. PapaJohn, and the webmaster of this site, provides this information "AS IS" with no warranties.



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