To Add or Change a Menu on your DVD

Discuss about generic usage of MediaCoder.

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To Add or Change a Menu on your DVD

Post by meRobs » Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:20 pm

[updated 8 Apr 2012]

This Topic is a natural extension of the topics that describe the use of MediaCoder for creating DVD-compliant MPEG files (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8282&start=0), for converting files to a form suitable for editing in Movie Maker (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8429&p=25736#p25736) and the Authoring of these files to DVD (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8454&start=0).

When adding a menu to a DVD that doesn't have one, or to re-make its menus when in need of a change, you should aim to preserve the video quality of the main material (movie, etc). You cannot simply 'add' a menu to a DVD while leaving the video content untouched. All the contents of the DVD must first be ripped to the HDD and then re-authored with menus.

The audio/video content of a DVD is present as VOB files and the critical point here is that the DVD specifications require the VOBs to be in chunks no bigger than 1 GB. On the other hand, authoring software that is capable of handling VOBs will accept only the first of a Titleset! Unfortunately, if VOBs are merged into one, their 'Timestamps' are often combined in a way that is incompatible with authoring software!

Fortunately, there is a better way. The VOBs may be extracted as MPEG2 files without re-encoding and be in a form suitable for authoring. This is done by accessing the main IFO file to enable the content to be broken up into individual Titles (PGCs).

Thus, there are three steps:
(1) rip all DVD content to the HDD, if not already there,
(2) extract the VOBs as MPG files, one for each Title (PGC) on the DVD
(3) re-author the MPGs with a menu and, preferably, without re-encoding.

The Method
Rip: The first step is to rip all DVD content to the HDD, if required. If you don't have a program for doing this, I suggest you try DVDFab HD Decrypter, which is free. Of course, this should only be attempted if you have the legal right to rip the DVD. If it has no copyright-protection, the rip and the extraction (step two) may be done in one go, with VOB2MPG (below).

Extract: the second step is easily done with another freebie: VOB2MPG. In Apr 2012, I tried version 3.0 in Win7 after having previously used an earlier version in Windows XP two years earlier. On opening VOB2MPG, set the IFO Mode via the large button at the top which toggles between the IFO and the VOBSET mode. The IFO Mode operates on the VIDEO_TS.IFO file within the VIDEO_TS folder (HDD or DVD) and displays all the content in the panel at left as Titles. Also given are their durations and TV and Audio formats, e.g., PAL 720x576, 4:3 with English AC3 2 chs. On the other hand, the VOBSET mode reveals nothing on the left panel or in the Preview, it accesses all the VOBs found in the selected folder and creates one large MPG file for each VTS group (often just one).

Then, Select or Deselect all Titles with a R-click on any one Title. If some are not wanted, deselect (uncheck) each. Note that sometimes there will be a large Title (large duration) listed for each VTS group. For example, I had created a DVD with 6 Latin dances listed on one menu and stored as one VTS group and 6 Ballroom on another menu and in a second VTS group. The IFO Mode listed 14 Titles. Apart from the 12 for the 12 dances, there was one for each of the two VTS groups. These two contained all content for each group and were not required.

Select the target directory and leave the output Filename blank (can set this only in the Pro version). Then, hit 'Start Extraction' to receive a series of MPG files, named Title_1.mpg, Title_2.mpg, …

Since the material had not been re-encoded, the MPGs will still be DVD-compliant and work well in the authoring software. However, because chapter information is kept in IFO files, chapters will need to be added, if required, when the MPG files are re-authored.

Author: open the authoring program DVDstyler, also free (see: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8454&start=0). Then, select an appropriate menu Template, if desired, and start a new project with parameters that match the formats seen in VOB2MPG. Next, check Tools > Settings to see if the interval between chapters will suit you. I suggest that 10 to 15 min will suit Titles longer than ~30 min and 2-5 min could be set if shorter.

Then, click 'Add File' on the Toolbar to import all the Titles you had extracted. On opening their Properties you should see that they are locked in to 'Copy' (no encoding). If not, the files have parameters that don't match the project. Also, you should see a series of times in the Chapter panel, the first being for chapter 2 (by default, chapter 1 is at time zero). These values may be individually changed, while keeping to the format (no spaces, etc).

Next, create the Menus. If a menu Template had been selected at the start, their buttons will have been automatically linked to the Titles on import. The Properties dialogue for each button should have 'Action' > Jump to > 'title 4' (chapter 1), if linked to Title 4, etc. The chapter may be changed. Also, it will have 'Look' > Video frame = Auto. The latter will automatically choose a frame ~10-40 sec in from the start of the chapter for display on the button. To choose a more suitable frame, click 'Custom' and set the time from the start of that Title/chapter in msec.

If the menu has insufficient buttons to cope with all Titles, (R-click) Copy/Paste a button menu on the Storyboard to get another, click on it for it to open in the Menu Editor. And, being a copy, it will have its buttons already linked. So, open the Properties of each button and change the links.

Since there are now more than two button menus, you need to consider the links for the Previous and Next buttons. The Previous for menu 3, say, should link to (Jump to) Menu 2, etc. The Next button for Menu 2 should link to 'Menu 3' and that for last menu should link to 'Start on current menu'. You may also consider the menu Type shown on the Menu Properties, though you would normally leave this to DVDstyler. These may be assigned as a Root or Chapter menu, etc, but not as a Title menu. The latter is allowed only for a “VmMenu”, which may be added with a R-click on the Storyboard and 'Add'. Note that there can be only one Root menu, so, if there is more than one button menu, decide which one is to be the Root (for use on a Remote) and set it.

Similarly, you may build your own set of menus (see the Guide on Authoring: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8454&start=0).

With older versions of DVDstyler, such as 1.8.0, there may be two idiosyncrasies: (1) if the total size of all Titles is close to the DVD capacity set for the Project (4.7 or 8.5 GB), which would normally be the case when adding or replacing a menu, DVDstyler may fail to proceed with a Burn and state that the material exceeds the capacity of the disc! This occurs even if it is no bigger than the original that did fit. To avoid the problem, simply set the DVD capacity for the project at the next size up, 8.5 GB for a 4.7 GB disc or 'Unlimited' for an 8.5 GB. (2) DVDstyler will usually, for me, at least, display 'Failed' when a burn is completed, even if all else indicated success. For example, the DVD played successfully in a Software player as well as a standalone player to TV! In each case that I tried, play of the last Title ended with action returning to the Root Menu as it should.
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