DVD Authoring

The Topfield ‘Toppy’ TF5800PVRA is a freeview HD recorder with a USB interface. You can download the recordings (.rec files) to a PC and then burn them to a DVD after a bit of juggling. Here is a four step working solution after many false starts:

A) Translate the .rec file to something usable:

Use !ProjectX

  1. Set the cut points to skip ads etc (CutControl tab)
  2. Demux (click prepare button, tick demux box, press play button)

B) Re-multiplex in a way that dvdauthor can read

Use mplex:

  • mplex -f8 -o tvprog.mpg tvprog.m2v tvprog.mp2

C) Create menus and DVD file structure

Use tovidgui or qdvdauthor. The main problem with tovid is that you have to start from scratch each time because there’s no way to save your work. The only problem with qdvdauthor is it’s a bit flaky and liable to fail but since you can save your work and try again that’s not as bad as it sounds. My preference is to use qdvdauthor but you MUST use the mplayer widget (otherwise, with the xine widget, the timecodes are badly wrong so you can’t put in chapters etc). This is not included in the deb I found so I had to compile it myself. This is really easy and even has a graphical interface to ./configure. Use checkinstall to make a .deb of your own. You need to rename the .spec file in the dvdauthor source directory otherwise checkinstall picks up all the information from there and fails because it can’t handle it properly.

Ci) qdvdauthor is nicer for menus etc. Here are the workarounds so it doesn’t fall over:

  • Don’t try to have a movie background for the menu
  • Don’t try to have music on the main menu
  • Don’t use 704×576 for the main title, use 720×576 (PAL). Qdvdauthor doesn’t seem to resize it even if you ask it to so you need to make sure the original artwork already has the right dimensions. If you use 704 the button highlights etc show up in the wrong place.
  • Export the commands list and then execute them one at a time, e.g.  bash -x 1 then  bash -x 2 etc.

Cii) tovidgui is used here just to give a nice interface to dvdauthor as it doesn’t need to transcode the video.

  1. Select PAL
  2. Set the subdirectory name you want everything put in
  3. Set up a menu for the clip
  4. Add in video clip and rename to what you want the entry in the menu to read
  5. Select appropriate aspect ratio
  6. Move to Encode tab
  7. Click big Encode button at the foot of the screen
  8. Wait…….
  9. Click on Burn tab
  10. Press go

D) Copy the resulting structure to a DVD

Use k3b

Problems I’ve had

Issues with tovid: need to remove the /usr/bin/X11 link from /usr/bin otherwise get error ‘can’t identify video’ or some such Then dvdauthor gives WARN: Skipping sector, waiting for first VOBU in the Burn section.

any2dvd – just kept asking for more programs to be installed so I gave up

ffmpeg transcoding (in place of mplex above): incredibly slow. If you use -acodec copy -vcodec it goes 50 times faster but then dvdauthor fails with an error: Cannot infer pts for VOBU if there is no audio or video

qdvdauthor (v 0.1.5) looks promising but fails to execute its commands, gets wrong length for video clips, goes all round the houses for video backgrounds for menus and fails in the process

dvdstyler – grim UI fails to encode properly

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