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When you burn a DVD from an application like iDVD, you may think you’ve made a copy of your original movie, but that’s not necessarily the case. Besides degrading image quality (due to the compression required to fit the video on a disc), the DVD format proves to be a lockbox: you can’t just open the media files in a video editor.
If you want to work with the footage again—for example, maybe you’ve lost the original tapes but need access to the footage, or maybe you want to compile sections of several DVDs into one movie project—you need to extract the video and audio and convert them to an editable format.
Some programs, such as HandBrake, can do the job, but they’re geared toward extracting entire titles. (In DVD parlance, a title is a block of media; so, a feature film may occupy one title on disc, while a making-of documentary would occupy another title on the same disc.)
Miraizon’s Cinematize 2 Pro is designed to extract discrete sections from unencrypted DVDs, a capability found in the company’s Cinematize 2 ( ) program. However, the new pro version gives you many more options for extracting video and audio.
For example, with Cinematize 2 Pro you can extract menu items (the images and video that appear on the DVD’s navigation menus) and movie footage. If you need to grab several sections off a disc, you can define them by setting start and end points and then adding them to a list of segments that you can extract later in one batch.
Cinematize 2 Pro also has several options for extracting subtitles, which exist on disc as image overlays. You can decode them to appear on a separate track in an extracted QuickTime movie or as individual TIFF or BMP image files; a preference allows you to set whether the image is black-and-white, gray scale, color with transparency, or color with a green key color or background—whichever method works best in your video-editing application.
The Pro version also lets you extract audio with a high degree of specificity, splitting out multiple audio streams if needed (for working with Dolby AC-3 channels, for example). Cinematize 2 Pro can synchronize the audio and video streams by offsetting the video to match the audio, or offsetting and trimming so the audio and video tracks match up exactly in a video editor.
Macworld’s buying advice
Although the less-expensive Cinematize 2 also handles extraction and decoding, the additional features in the software's Pro version will appeal to anyone who needs to regularly extract media from DVDs. In my testing, Cinematize 2 Pro lived up to its claims. And although the $130 price is quite a jump over that of Cinematize 2, video editors who need access to all the content on their DVDs can more than justify the cost considering the time they’d save with batch extraction and various output options.
[ Jeff Carlson is the managing editor of TidBITS and the author of iMovie HD 6 and iDVD 6 for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide (Peachpit Press, 2006). ]Add multiple clips to the Segment Extraction List to extract all of them in one batch.