From DVD to Movie Maker 6... in Vista's
As new cameras and software keep rolling
out, options for consumers are better and more... but figuring out how
to get files from the gadgets into Movie Maker is more challenging and
a daunting learning curve for many. The mini-DV camcorders that work
so easily with a firewire connection and Movie Maker are fading into the
background as still cameras that also take video have gotten so good, and hard
drive/DVD camcorders keep selling well.
It's only when users hit the point of wanting to edit their
clips that the realities of file conversions hit home.
One customer mailed some video files this
week... on a DVD with copies of video taken on his Sony DCR DVD
Using GSpot to check the VOB files showed they
were standard in pixel sizes... NTSC 720x480 pixels. The audio
was Dolby. Conversion should be pretty straight-forward, using my long
used procedure on my website's Import Movie Source Files > Video >
Discs page. I wanted to do a quick turnaround, put a draft of
something on my website, and send a link... so I used my XP laptop and
these 'routine' conversion steps.
copied the VOB files on the DVD to my hard drive
renamed the copies to change the .VOB extensions to
using TMPGEnc's MPEG tools features... ripped the
audio to Dolby ac3 files and the video to MPEG m2v
using VirtualDubMod with the Panasonic DV
codec, converted the m2v files to DV-AVI
using BeSweet, converted the ac3 files to WAV
married the video DV-AVI and audio WAV files together in
Movie Maker into a new DV-AVI file..
That might seem like a lot of steps. The important thing
is that each step works well and as expected. Once you have them down as
routines, the steps are easy and quick.
That got the job done, but it wasn't a sufficient story
for this newsletter. For a new challenge I went to my Vista
laptop to explore the future... what will I do when I have Vista
systems without XP to fall back on? Will my conversion utilities work in
Rather than go to my Vista Ultimate system, where using VOB
files should be easy, I thought I'd learn more by
using my Home Basic laptop, which doesn't have the new
Microsoft MPEG-2 codec or Windows DVD Maker... heck, it doesn't even have a DVD
burner. I'm checking things here at Barnes & Noble without being
networked to my other systems.
Two of my utilities used in XP, TMPGEnc and BeSweet,
had issues in Vista. TMPGEnc was acting a little quirky, and the BeSweet
GUI wouldn't open as it couldn't find a DLL it needed.
As I thought about what to do, I checked online info. Between
reviews of the camcorder and forum posts about the audio stream being
difficult to deal with, even with the software that comes with the camcorder,
Picture Package version 1.8.1... that kind of finished framing the
scope of the challenge.
I'll go through the success story after...
a couple notes...
Support activities are in the
limelight this week.
Support Space software keeps
evolving. I just went through a training session about changed and new
Also in my personal support
space is my website and the services I provide from it. Traffic keeps
going up to new record levels... with about 70% of the visitors living in
other countries than the United States. Training and support activities are
also increasing, and I feel good about helping with the what seems like
little things to many, but means so much for those needing help.
This week's activity included
one user who runs a professional video processing service who needed help
using my custom title overlay package to add a logo on each video she
processed. Another thought she needed to break her 1 hour
project down due to complexity... as it didn't successfully burn to a
DVD. In an interactive session, it was clear she didn't have an issue with
memory when saving the project to a DV-AVI file, but one with the disc
burning segment of the process.
The one with the DVD burning
issue didn't know how to contact me... so she did it in a novel way... by using
the PayPal button to pay for a session in advance. It was PayPal who told
me that xxxxx was looking for help. Good point!! I just added my email address
to the top part of my Products and Services page.
... back to the main
Vista Home Basic -
from DVD to Movie Maker 6
Note: as systems vary in the codecs and other
software on them, the procedure that works on one may not work on another.
This newsletter is about what worked or didn't on my Vista
Home Basic laptop, a Toshiba Satellite L35 running with User
Account Controls disabled.
Step 1 - Don't copy the VOB files from the disc... leave them there.
Here's a snapshot of the key files on the
the Video_TS.VOB file is the menu
the other .VOB files are those with the videos in
them... and the VOB files include the audio
It installs fine to XP and Vista systems. You'll
need that to save a file in DV-AVI format when using VirtualDub.
There's really no installation to run into any
issues. Take the files out of the zipped package and put them in a folder
of your choice.
Then open the VOB files on the disc... one at a
time... with it.
I'm using version 1.6.15 (I see the download site is now
at v1.6.19, but my version is working fine). Open the VOB file directly from the
disc to save space on your hard drive...
it parses the interleaved MPEG-2 file as it opens
it. From an online reference...
a parser in the decoder
directs the data coming in so video data portions are sent to a
video buffer and audio data portions are sent to an audio
Use the menu > Video > Compression to select the Panasonic DV
CODEC. It'll stay selected until you change it or close VirtualDub MPEG2.
Don't forget to select it each time you re-open the
app. If you don't, the default will be uncompressed with files 5 times
larger than DV-AVI.
If you're in NTSC countries like the U.S. and
the VOB files are anything other than 720x480 pixels, apply
the resize filter to align the new file with the size needed for
a DV-AVI file. In this case the VOB files were already that size, so I didn't
need the resize filter.
Use File > Save as AVI to make a DV-AVI file
from the VOB.
Check the new file by playing it in
Windows Media Player.
WOW! that was too easy. A single step to
go from a VOB on the disc to a DV-AVI file on the hard
drive, which played fine in WMP11. What's the catch? Why so easy?
We know DV-AVI files make perfect source files for Movie
Maker. Keep reading and we'll get to the 'gotcha'.
Step 4 - Import the DV-AVI file into Movie Maker 6 and check
Preview it in the collection and on the timeline.
It wouldn't play in either place.
See from the screenshot that the thumbnails were there, the
video track looked right, and the overall duration of the clip that shows
under the monitor gave the right info.
The position marker would move along as if it was playing...
but I saw only blackness in the preview monitor and
didn't hear anything.
Going back a step to playing it in WMP11.... yup, still looked
and sounded fine. The problem was only when previewing it in Movie
It was time for some head-scratching.
Step 5 - Do some detective work to find and resolve the
The most unusual thing I noticed in the file properties when
checking it in MM6 was that the audio had 6 channels. Movie Maker does
mono or stereo.
GSpot provided the rest of the clues...
it confirmed the audio as being 6 channels
the audio codec was Dolby AC3... I had known the VOB file
on the disc had Dolby audio... what I didn't know was
that a DV-AVI file made by VirtualDub MPEG and the Panasonic
codec would pass along the Dolby audio file type.
GSpot said the audio codec was installed. I ran the Microsoft
(MS) A/V step 1 check and step 2 test in GSpot... Bingo!!! the codec
being successfully used by GSpot to test the file was
ffdshow is the only line item
in my MM6 compatibility list that is unchecked. It's one of those
historically problematic codecs that is involved in the crashing of
Movie Maker. I remember it being the only one to date that crashed MM6 when
left on... but those crashes happened when using other source files
If the file doesn't play in MM6 with ffdshow turned off,
and plays fine in WMP and GSpot with it turned on, let's see what happens
if I turn it back on in Movie Maker.
Sure enough, just checking the ffdshow audio decoder
line item and saying OK was enough to instantly start seeing
and hearing the DV-AVI files in the collection...
But the clip already in the project didn't change...
seems the project file was already set to not use the ffdshow codec for it. I
deleted it from the timeline and re-added it, which kicked
things into gear and the project also previewed fine.
I tried editing the project a bit and didn't run into any
issues splitting the clip or adding transitions and effects.
But I couldn't go much further with my long-term history of
conflicts between Movie Maker and the ffdshow audio codec... what
would happen if I brought other file types into the project, the types that
brought MM6 to its knees before turning off the ffdshow audio
decoder? At this point, it was easy to use MM6 to convert
the Panasonic DV file with its 6 channel Dolby audio to a
Microsoft DV DV-AVI file with 2 channel stereo. Then I could use the source
files with the ffdshow audio decoder turned off as usual. Turn it on for
converting one DV-AVI into another, and off for project editing.
It was still a simpler process then my usual procedure in XP.
Maybe it'll work there too? I didn't take the time to check it there, being
happy to have a solid set of easy steps to use on my Vista Home Basic
Conclusion and Closing... and What's
That worked out pretty well...
I hadn't known DV-AVI files can have Dolby
audio streams. I also didn't fully appreciate that not having access
to the right audio decoder would also effect seeing the visual. I wonder
If you don't have ffdshow on your Vista system... and this
might work for XP also... the version I have is a beta one from this
. I first got it to resolve the use of Motion JPEG files
in Vista's MM6, and now find it lets me use DV-AVI files with
Dolby ac3 audio. It's moving from being a main codec outcast to being
a valuable asset. Part of the change is happening because of further
developments of ffdshow.
I thought it would be worth seeing if, with ffdshow turned
on for Movie Maker, would that let me import the DVD's VOB
files directly into MM6? No, it didn't.
Have a great week....