Updated for 2013: Here are some simple steps to take for any of your Burning, Backing Up, Copying, and Making DVD projects.
Table Of Contents
- Selecting The Right DVD Media (Blank Discs)
- What is the X Rating on the Burners and Media
- Best Ways to Use DVD Media
- DVD Copying
- DVD Authoring
- Importing Audio/Video
- DVD VR Format
- Backing Up Data
- Improving Performance
- Points To Remember
Most of us have been exposed to DVD burning already. The majority of us already have a DVD burner in our PC’s or Mac’s. But do most of us have a clue on how to get the maximum benefit from it? It should be as simple as buying DVD media and popping it in the drive and burn the disc right? No so fast, there are a few different DVD formats that you should be aware of. DVD+, DVD-, and DVD-RAM. Which is better? Well that’s a tossup. Personally I use all 3 formats. As long as your DVD player can support playback of all formats then you will be fine. The most common formats are DVD+ and DVD-. DVD-RAM is mainly used for data backup and for DVR’s with burners built-in.
Selecting The Right DVD Media (Blank Discs)
Don’t just go out and buy the cheapest brand of DVD media. There are quality differences. We have a guide on some tests done using DVD Burners and many brands of DVD Media to test the quality in each. It’s a bit technical but interesting read if your into that. But overall it was found that Verbatim was the best brand to use, either DVD+R/RW or DVD-R/RW.
If you are burning DVD videos it is best to stick to DVD+R or DVD-R since they will be the most reliable for DVD playback on standalone DVD players.
If you are burning to DVD for data backup or for video editing it is recommended to use DVD+RW, DVD-RW, or DVD-RAM because these formats are rewritable. For more security for backup you can use DVD+R or DVD-R. This way the backed up files can not be overwritten.
Ok, what is the X Rating on the Burners and Media?
To sum up quickly: X = Speed. The higher the X the higher the write speed. So if you have a 16x rated DVD Burner it would be best to use 16X rated DVD media for the fastest burn speeds. However you can use 12x, 8x, 4x, or 2x speed media, just note that the burner will only burn at those speeds. Also note that if you have a 4x rated DVD burner and you try using 16X media, a firmware update may be required which can be download from the manufactures websites, before the disc will be recognized by the drive.
Here is a really good video from Sony that explains the differences between all different typed of optical media.
What Exactly Can Be Done Using DVD Media
There are many tasks that can be done with blank DVD discs. While this page goes over the different types of DVD software that are currently available, I will briefly explain a few top tasks that are being used by most people these days.
Ok probably the most popular task of your DVD burner. We have a review chart of the top DVD Copying software here. We like 1Click DVD Copy for this task. The main reasons is that the software can copy 99% of DVD titles and because it really only takes 1 click to make the software work. You can easily backup a library of 10 movies in under 3 hours.
Ok now the fun begins. You have a camcorder and want to make your own home DVD movies with it. This is where a DVD Authoring app comes in. We have reviewed a few here. If this is new for you then we like AutoProducer from Muvee. It’s easy of use and many features makes it a must have. However if you want more control and want to make more professional movies then we like Creator NXT from Roxio.
Importing audio and video is a relatively easy process with the right equipment. You can accomplish this by using an audio-visual input box connected to your PC’s USB 2.0 port. Alternatively, you can use a TV tuner card or graphics card that has A/V inputs. We recommend that you work with S-Video to attain the best visual clarity. And FireWire will enable you to make a digital connection between a DV camcorder and your PC. We have another guide just on VHS capture, but most of the hardware mentioned can capture from and source.
Here is a video I did that shows two of the more popular burning applications in use today.
Introduction to the DVD VR Format
DVD VR stands for Digital Video Recording and is a standard DVD recording format that allows for the recording of ongoing video footage on a singe disc. In other words this is the format used by camcorders that write to Mini DVD discs. This also allows you to edit the video directly from the disc, so you can delete certain parts, rewind, fast forward and other editing options. DVD VR formats allow you to add new video, change menus, add chapters, split clip, remove video segments and more.
The DVD VR Formats are:
- DVD+VR which is what is used on DVD+RW blanks
- DVD-VR which is what is used on DVD-RAM and DVD-RW discs
DVD VR was accepted by the DVD Forum in 2000, which governs the standard authority for all DVD media formats. One nice feature of this standard is that you can put up to 99 titles on each disc, meaning that you can have 99 different parts on one disc. You can also add chapter marks and bookmark flags to indicate certain parts of the video. You can shoot 16:9 or 4:3 video or you can mix and match the two standards.
Backing Up Important Files to DVD
The ability to copy your data to DVD media is a standard in today’s PC environment. All new PC are shipped with a DVD burner and if for some reason they do not, you can usually find one for about $20 at an Office store or Computer Store. Being able to back up data to blank DVD discs is critical because of the amount of data we store on our PC’s everyday. There are constantly new digital photos being uploaded, email collected, music downloaded, and videos being watched that the need for backing these up to DVD is crucial.
Today’s portable video recording gadgets include everything from digital cameras, to cell phones, to tablets, to mini camcorders. What should you do with all that video footage that you capture? The best way to preserve that video is to make a backup copy to DVD. By doing this you will be able to capture the video in whatever format your device uses by default and be able to share it with others in a format they won’t have to care about, since it will be a standard DVD format that all DVD players recognize. HD video or video of a running time longer that 10 minutes will require a more advanced type of software such as DVD Authoring software. By using a more advanced piece of software you can add more features to the output.
Many people want to convert their VHS tapes to DVD, this could be from old home movies to video productions for businesses to community service project videos. This is another case of what you would copy to dvd for archival purposes. If you are a traveler then being able to copy movies to DVD to bring with you is another great example and a great way to travel as well. Having your movies as a backup is a safe way to keep the original DVD’s safe.
There are many copy to DVD software programs available. But first you need to determine what project you will be doing the most on your PC. Do you want a simple backup program to back up data to DVD? If so, look at standard DVD Burning Software since this will allow to do make backups of digital data. The majority of people will want to copy their video footage to a playable DVD, this will require a DVD Creator software which takes any video and then copies it to DVD so you can then play it back on a DVD player.
Maximizing Performance While Burning
Most PC’s and Mac’s today are powerful enough to handle burning and continuing to work with other apps at the same time. Also all DVD burners have a buffer underrun cache built-in to keep the data stream flowing smoothly during the burning process. However for best results and for slower machines, it would be best to let the burn finish before working on anything else.
Making your own DVD whether it’s for backup, movies, copies, etc… can be fun. If you have the right tools (software, hardware) it can be an easy experience. We hope that this guide will point you in the right direction for your DVD and video projects.
For those that would like to delve deeper in the world of burning to DVD, feel free to download our Ebook called CD/DVD Burning Exposed which goes over in detail everything you should ever want to know.