Convert MP4 to DVD

November 2, 2010

It shouldn’t be this hard!

I purchased a downloadable 500 MB quilting video from a US supplier the other day. I could have ordered a physical DVD, but there didn’t seem much point in paying extra for the physical DVD as well as postage from the US and then waiting a few weeks for it to get to me.

The format of the video was MP4, which means it would only play in QuickTime, not Windows Media Player. No big deal. However, when I tried to play it from a local folder on my computer, the video inside QuickTime was very ‘choppy’ — the sound didn’t synch with the mouth movements of the presenter, there was quite a bit of pixellation and various other video artefacts in the image no matter whether I viewed it at a small size or full size on my computer. It was like it was buffering continually. I have 4 GB RAM in this PC (Windows XP) and the file was local, so the quality wasn’t what I’d expected. And I sure didn’t expect the choppiness.

I thought ‘Why not put it on a DVD and play it in my DVD player hooked up to the big screen TV?’ Well, why not? Unfortunately, it’s never that simple…

I searched on the internet and found that you can’t just play an MP4 file on most standalone DVD players — it has to be converted to a compatible format first. I looked at the options in my existing Nero burning software, but there was nothing about converting MP4 to a format suitable for a standalone DVD player. Next, it was off to the NCH software suite where I found that Express Burn Video could covert MP4 to a format suitable for DVD players. The process was very quick and simple.

However, it didn’t work. I took the DVD I’d just converted and burned to the player and inserted it, but I kept getting a ‘disc incompatible’ message. I put my niece’s wedding video into the DVD player and it also reported ‘disc incompatible’, which was weird because I’d already watched part of it on that DVD player some weeks back. Then I inserted a commercial DVD and it played fine, so I knew my TV and source settings were OK. Back to the computer…

I checked the file formats on all three DVDs — they all had an empty AUDIO_TS folder and a VIDEO_TS folder with several *.VOB and other files. To my uneducated eyes there was no difference in the file formats, so the one I burned should have worked. Back to the DVD player. Still the ‘home made’ ones wouldn’t play… Back to Google.

And somewhere in the sites I visited, I saw that someone had suggested copying the VIDEO_TS files back to the computer, then using another program such as Nero to burn them onto another DVD. Well, it was worth a try. And it worked!

I don’t know why it worked. I had changed none of the settings between initially converting and burning the DVD using Express Burn, then copying the files back onto my hard drive, then copying them onto another DVD using Nero. Go figure.

BTW, when I played the DVD on either my computer or in the DVD player, I got none of the choppiness that I’d seen in the when playing the MP4 file on my computer. So copying it was worth it just for that.

One final thing, in case it makes any difference to anyone else trying to do this — the Nero option I chose from the Nero StartSmart DVD panel was Recode DVD-Video.

The version of Nero I used came with my PC way back when, and is as follows:

(I found this by clicking on the Disk Info icon under Extras.)

So something that should have been simple took some hours and several pieces of software to work. I was prepared to put in the time and I’m not scared of computers or software and I’m prepared to hunt things down on Google. I’m even familiar with words like codecs!

How on earth do non-techie people get on? They purchase a downloadable video, then they have to jump through numerous hoops and do lots of testing (as well as blow away a couple of DVDs) just to get it to work on the DVD player in their living room. I think most people would just give up — or ask their resident 10 year old!

As I said at the beginning, it shouldn’t be this hard!

[Links last checked October 2010]

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