Digital Focus: Making and Copying Your Own DVD VideosHow to make and copy your own DVD Videos, plus solving weird memory card problems.
Feature: Making and Copying Your Own DVD Videos
DVD discs look a lot like CDs, but they're very different animals. Take almost any CD--one you made yourself or a commercial audio CD, for instance--and insert it into your computer's CD-RW drive. You'll probably be able to make a perfect duplicate of the disc or copy its contents to your hard disk.
DVDs are another story entirely. Thanks to antipiracy efforts, you can't use your computer to duplicate a video on DVD--even one you made yourself. That's a pain, because you might need to do burn extra copies of a DVD you made yourself. One copy of a corporate training video won't go very far, for instance, if three coworkers want to see it at once. Or what if you make a dozen copies of a disc and later discover you're just one short?
Burn an Image
There are a few ways to make copies of completed DVDs. The most obvious method, of course, is to start your video editing software, reload all of the production files, and then produce another copy from scratch. But that's an insanely slow process: It takes hours to create the disc image and start copying to DVD, as you learned the first time you made the DVD. And what if you've already deleted your raw video files? They take a lot of disk space, after all. Then you're stuck. There's got to be a better way--and there is.
When you burn your DVD, be sure to save a copy of the video as a "disc image" on your PC's hard disk. Virtually all video editing packages have this option, though few people use it--or even know what it does. A disc image is an exact copy of the files as they appear on the finished DVD. This lets you discard your old video clips and production files, since you don't need them anymore. Of course, a disc image can take a lot of space (up to 4.7GB, in fact), but once you've got the image, you can return to your video editing program and make additional discs at any time by loading the previously created content.
In general, I recommend that you always save a disc image on your hard drive as an insurance policy. Before long, however, you may find your hard disk filling up with those huge files. So once you're absolutely, positively sure you don't need more copies of your DVD, you might want to delete the disc images as well.
Use a DVD Copier
There's another option: Suppose you want to copy a DVD you created a year ago, and you no longer have the original video or production files. What can you do? Install a DVD copier like DVD Cloner or DVD X Copy, which can make duplicates of commercial and home-brewed DVDs.
But beware, many of the products in the DVD copying business are kind of sleazy: They often make low-resolution Video CD copies of DVDs, and you don't find out unless you read the fine print. Be especially wary of products that advertise primarily through spam and pop-up Web ads. Programs like this are largely aimed at pirates who want to steal and copy commercial DVDs. Instead, stick with a reputable program like DVD Cloner or DVD X Copy, which I've used with great success.
This much is true: Since DVD copiers give you the power to copy DVDs with impunity to a certain extent, using the software responsibly is up to you. (DVD X Copy inserts electronic controls into copied movies that make widespread piracy impractical.) Understand that there are serious legal and ethical questions associated with copying commercial DVDs, and buying one of these programs doesn't give you the right to distribute or make copies of rental films. Instead, you might think of your DVD copier as an insurance policy that allows you to duplicate your own DVDs.
Dave's Favorites: Videoxb Adds Unlimited Storage for Video Editing
You know you're serious about putting your video on DVDs when your hard drive isn't nearly big enough to hold all the video you're editing and burning. The typical solution is to add an internal or external hard drive. I've done that a few times myself, and now have three internal hard disks and an external FireWire drive.
When you've outgrown your existing hard drive, a classy alternative to adding another drive is the Videoxb from Apricorn. The Videoxb is an external expansion bay with a DVD-R/RW drive, a hard drive, and a power supply built in. It's as wide as a standard tower PC, but sits a squat seven inches high.
The Videoxb plugs into your PC via a FireWire connection and is automatically recognized by Windows, without the need for any drivers or special setup. The hard drive is removable via a handle right in front--Apricorn sells the system with a variety of drives ranging up to 250GB. You can pull a drive out of the chassis and pop in another to keep video projects physically separated.
Videoxb comes with a complete version of Pinnacle Studio 8. It's a great solution for anyone who wants to add video editing and DVD burning capabilities without changing their primary PC's configuration. The downside? It's a bit expensive at $799, but business users and video pros should love it.
Q&A: Solving Weird Memory Card Problems
My husband recently had a weird problem. When he downloaded pictures from our digital camera the other day, it showed pictures taken back in November--but we deleted those pictures from the memory card a while ago. When you point to the November pictures, you see previews of the new images from last week instead. What's going on?
--Donna Wayne, Elizabeth, New Jersey
This particular problem is new to me, but it sounds like the memory card's index of images has gotten a bit scrambled: It's still trying to work with old pictures that have been deleted. Deleted files aren't really removed from most kinds of computer media (as you can tell by your ability to "undelete" files on your computer hard drive); file data remains until it's overwritten by new information.
It seems like the fastest fix for your problem is to reformat the memory card. You can do that with your digital camera or with your PC if you have a desktop memory card reader.
Hot Pic of the Week
Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality and technique. Every month, the best of the weekly winners gets a prize valued at between $15 and $50.
Here's how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don't forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.
This week's Hot Pic: "360 King,," by Maria Carrasco, Santa Ana, California
About this week's winner, Maria says: "I took this photo in February at Venice Beach in California. Richy '360 King' Carrasco is the subject--he holds the 2000 Guinness World Record for consecutive 360s on a skateboard at 142 spins. He is shown here spinning at the public skate area with the local skaters. Richy is 40 years old but still skates with the best of them!
"I shot this with a Kodak DC4800 from a low angle using natural light. I then masked and mirrored the image in Photoshop and added various motion blur filters to depict the 'spin' that normally is lost when this unique motion is frozen in time."
We want your feedback! Send your comments, questions, and suggestions about the newsletter itself to email@example.com. If you have a question that you'd like to see answered in the weekly Q&A, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.