Converting unprotected DVDs

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Reader Carrie Roberts seeks a way to restore and edit precious memories. She writes:

Over the past 18 months I’ve taken about 15 hours of video of my now somewhat new baby. I loaded the videos into iMovie then burned DVDs using iDVD because I didn’t have the hard drive space to keep them on my Mac. Now I want to make a “highlights” video, but when I load the DVDs I can’t find the original video files. What can you suggest for my non-commercial DVDs?

The data you need is contained in the DVDs’ Video_TS folder. Regrettably, the .vob files (which hold your precious video) aren’t readable (or editable) with QuickTime Player Pro. You therefore require a different application to turn those .vob files into something editable.

For this job I’d suggest Squared 5’s handy and always free MPEG Streamclip. With the help of Apple’s $20 QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component it can and will convert those .vob files into something you can edit in iMovie. When I do this sort of thing, I choose File -> Export to DV and choose NTSC, 720 x 480, 29.97fps from the Standard pop-up menu. The resulting file is huge, but it maintains the quality of the original footage.

If you’re willing to spend some money for greater ease of use, Miraizon’s $60 Cinematize 2 is a reasonable way to go. Like MPEG Streamclip, Cinematize 2 lets you export files from a Video_TS folder in a variety of formats (DV is the default but choosing More Choices gives you access to all the codecs supported by QuickTime). Cinematize 2 doesn’t require that you have the MPEG-2 Playback Component installed.

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