Converting VCDs to DVD

You know the scene – wandering around in the music shop, looking for that elusive DVD… and looking… still looking… till one of the attendants shows up with a VCD. Sad. If you really want a DVD, you can get it (though if you do, do let me know how), but by this time, I’ll wager that most of us will settle for taking the VCD. I did. And when I came home, I looked up the net for how to convert those VCDs into a home-made DVD.

As I’m using Ubuntu, my first stop was Ubuntu Forums.

Step 1Extract the videos.

vcdxrip -p --cdrom-device=/dev/hdd

If the command is “not found”, try after installing vcdimager. These give you the AVSEQ files that we all know contain the real stuff 😉 . The files are MPEG-1 with an MPG extension. The reason you have to rip the VCD and cannot copy the DAT files is because those DAT files aren’t there in the first place! Read up on the VCD format. Go look on Google or Wikipedia for the details. Repeat the command for all the VCDs and line up the files. It helps if you rename them sequentially.

Step 2 – Install tovid. Tovid has RPMs and DEBs for many operating systems – take your pick. Read and follow the installation instructions carefully – there are dependencies to take care of.

The remaining steps are followed from I’ll simply put them here as I used them. Be sure to move to the directory where you have kept your MPG files.

Step 3 – Convert all those files to DVD format

tovid-batch -dvd -pal -infiles *.mpg

This is the longest part – 2 VCDs took near about six hours for my 1.7 GHz P-IV with 736 MB DDR RAM.

Step 4 – Make a directory in your current directory – call it dvd (or anything you want).

Step 5 – Add the movies to your DVD.

dvdauthor -o dvd FILE

Remember, ‘dvd’ is the directory you have just created. Repeat this for all files. Keep in mind the sequence – they will play in the order you have added them.

Step 6 – Make up the contents.

dvdauthor -o dvd -T

This “finalizes” the DVD, in a manner of speaking.

Step 7 – Make the ISO.

mkisofs -dvd-video -o dvd.iso dvd

There are a lot of ‘dvd’s in that. The first -dvd-video tells the utility to make a Video DVD. The second dvd.iso is the name of the ISO file generated. The third dvd is the directory where all the generated material lies.

Step 8 – Burn it! For me it was a matter of right-clicking and selecting ‘Write to disc…’.

That’s it. What you now have is the DVD pack of the VCD movie you bought. Pop it in and it will play all the clips in order. While you will certainly miss the menus and stuff you expect from a DVD, you won’t have to get up to change VCDs in the player! And the DVD quality is a bonus.

It plays great on VLC (if you select DVD without menus – the ‘dvdsimple’ command). Gets stuck on Totem – doesn’t go beyond the first clip – which is all of 12 seconds. Will check it out later on a friend’s DVD player.