Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making Hybrid Data/DVD Discs in DVD Studio Pro

I have this client who aside from being nearly totally computer illiterate seems to simply work on a different time plane than most of us. A project that should have taken two weeks at most for revisions and tweaks has taken over 7 months. I literally had forgotten about it when the call came in for the "latest" (their word) round of changes. I thought since I hadn't heard anything for months that the spot was already off the air and long forgotten (like my check).

But alas, it turns out that the higher ups hadn't even seen it yet let alone approved it. What's a huge hassle with all of this is that some of the people who need to review the edits need a DVD, while some want "QuickTime" versions but they're all in the same office with their desks quite literally next to one another. So, in the past I'd brought them little packages of flash drives and DVDs and hosted them online for some other mysterious people to see who needed to see them online for some reason.

So today, after they requested a rather bizarre and unexpected change to a specific part of project that has been identical in every version I've shown them for the past seven months I decided enough is enough.

Today they get a Hybrid Data/DVD Disc and they'll like it.

Okay, so what's a hyrid disc? It's a DVD-R (or whatever flavor you want) that has a VIDEO_TS folder and Data on it usually in a DVD-ROM folder. In this case the data in the DVD-ROM folder will be QuickTime versions (exports) of the commercials on the disc as so they can copy and watch to their heart's content as well as play it as a regular run-of-the-mill DVD. So, it's two discs in one: One, a playable video DVD and Two, a data disc with files on it that you access by popping it into a computer.

There are three ways to do this:

01) DVD Studio Pro (which is fully compliant and outlined below)
02) The Finder (which has a BIG gotcha but is outlined below as well)
03) The Terminal and Disk Utility (which is fully compliant and outlined in this post)

Here we go:

01) Make your DVD replete with menus and whatnot in DVD Studio Pro. Save. (always save...)

02) Somewhere in the Finder make a new folder called anything you want, it's name doesn't matter and no one but you will see it. I tend to name things like IHATETHISCLIENT_TEMP which one day will inevitably will get me into trouble somehow.

04) Now, inside that folder you just made create another folder and call it "DVD-ROM". You'd don't have to name it this but it's a bit of a tradition with hybrid discs and for people who are a little computer savvy it's a recognized name. So why upset the pomegranate cart?

05) Put all your exports into this DVD-ROM folder, meaning all the stuff you want on the Hybrid Disc that are to be accessed via a computer. This can be photos, videos, sound files...whatever.

Now here is where you have a branching option and need to make a decision based on some important factors.

You can burn the disc with something like Toast, Popcorn, Disk Utility or even use DVDSP itself. Now, using DVDSP adds a little complexity to this since you'll be building and burning the disc (and data) so you need to set up DVDSP and it's prefs properly. If you don't have Toast or Popcorn you don't have Toast or Popcorn. If you use The Finder there's a one big gotcha you have to be aware of.

To keep things simple I like to use the Finder to burn the hybrid disc IF THE DISK WILL BE PLAYED ONLY ON STAND-ALONE DVD PLAYERS.

Using the Finder: (results in disc with some compatibility caveats)

06) When your DVD in DVDSP all peachy keen and just how you want it you need to tell DVDSP to export a VIDEO_TS folder of it all. Do so by hitting Option + Command + C which is the "Build" command. Tell DVDSP where to save it to and let it do it's thing. When it's done you'll have VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS. Keep the AUDIO_TS for this reason.

NOTE: DVDSP may place a .layout file in the VIDEO_TS folder after it's done "building" this folder. Unless you need it, trash this .layout file. You'll see why below. Nonetheless, be aware that when you burn with DVDSP or Toast they'll automatically ignore this file (and .lay files) when burning the disc...the Finder won't. If you forget to trash the .layout file nothing horrible will happen but it can potentially cause an issue later on during playback. Maybe.

Also, using the Finder to burn discs is very slow and not only because it likes to verify, it's just slow.

07) OPTIONAL: Put your VIDEO_TS, AUDIO_TS & DVD-ROM folders into one folder just to keep them organized.

08) Pop in a blank Disc.

09) Drag your VIDEO_TS, AUDIO_TS & DVD-ROM folders to the blank disk. Do not drag the enclosing folder you may have made in step 7 to the blank disc!

10) Hit Burn. (and name it something sensible)


There is a BIG HUGE gotcha here that you need to be aware of.

This largely pertains to the DVD Player app; the disc will play on a stand-alone player but likely not in the DVD Player app on your Mac. What gives? Your Mac cost way more than the $30 stand alone DVD player from that big box retailer's bargain bin.

There are a few theories as to why this happens: one is that it has to do with out of order .vob files and if that is the case there's not much you can do about it when burning via the Finder because of the way the Finder sorts file names. I've not seen files out of "correct" order but maybe I've just not noticed it. I don't think this is the problem, to be honest.

Another theory is that the .layout file that this method places in the VIDEO_TS folder confuses DVD Player app (and some stand-alone DVD players) as this may be the first file encountered. This has a sounder footing in reality since some stand-alone DVD players just start going down the list of files on a disc and choke if something isn't "playable" by it. If you delete the .layout file before you burn you may, or may not, have better luck with compatibility. However, it will likely still not play in DVD Player app.

The reality here is that the resultant disc will be Mac OS Extended rather than UDF (Universal Disc Format) which is what many hardware and software DVD Players expect. Of course some stand-alone dvd players and even some software ones don't really care and will play anything with a VIDEO_TS folder without even wearing a raincoat. To be fully compliant is to be a UDF disc.

Apple's DVD Player .app likes UDF discs and throws up an error if a disc isn't in UDF format.

This is also why some discs that are not UDF will still play correctly on stand-alone DVD players: some DVD players just scan the disc looking for a folder named "VIDEO_TS" and start playing with reckless abandon. Other DVD players aren't even that smart and give up if they don't see a VIDEO_TS folder right at the top of the disc's file structure (or immediately after an AUDIO_TS folder). Then still other DVD Players give up if the disc isn't a UDF formatted disc to begin with. This is why you must test, test & test some more.

Your best chances at a compatible DVD disc (hybrid or not) are to have:

UDF Formatted Disc
No .lay or .layout file

That's kinda it. Like I've said, I've yet to run into out of order .vob files.

10) Test your disc in a few computers and on a few stand-alone DVD Players. Also, test it on your Mac with DVD Player app. If you get "Supported Disc Not Available" that doesn't necessarily mean it won't play in a stand-alone DVD player. Test it out on some hardware DVD Players.

If you want to see the DVD content in DVD Player app and see "Support Disc Not Available" you will need to drag the VIDEO_TS folder on the burned disc to DVD Player app icon in the Dock or Finder or wherever you have it.

The take-away here is that if you want to create the most compatible Hybrid disc possible Use DVD Studio Pro as outlined below (or the Terminal). Those discs will play in both DVD Player app and in Stand-Alone DVD Players. So Remember:

A Hybrid made with the Finder will play in many but not all stand-alone DVD players but not in DVD Player app. The disc will be "Mac OS Extended".

A Hybrid made with DVDSP will play in both stand-alone DVD players and DVD Player app. The Disc will be "UDF".

A Hybrid made with DVDSP as a .img and burned with Disk Utility will play in both stand-alone DVD players and DVD Player app. The Disc will be "UDF".

Using DVD Studio Pro: (results in generally more compatible discs)

06) Either in Graphical View or Outline View highlight the Disc in DVDSP. This means clicking the gray background (nothingness) in Graphical View or clicking once on the very topmost thing in Outline View which will have a Disc icon.

07) In the Inspector (Option + Command + I) under the General Tab you'll see "DVD-ROM". Tick the checkbox named "Content:".

08) Tap "Choose..." and select the folder ENCLOSING the DVD-ROM folder you made in steps 3, 4 & 5.

It's unlikely you'll need to check "Joliet Extension Support". If something goes wonky check this as it may help really old stand-alone DVD players and/or certain file types you're trying to burn to the hybrid disc. Test everything when you test, even opening data files you burned to the hybrid disc.

09) Test all of this mess out. In DVDSP hit Option + Command + F for "Build and Format".

10) In the window that pops up, at the bottom under "Destination" set Output Device to "Hard Drive".

11) For Output Format choose ".img". (told you using DVDSP adds complexity)

12) Hit the "Build & Format" button and tell DVDSP where to save it. (If it asks you about deleting and reusing existing files I just hit delete but the choice is up to you. You can always re-create the VIDEO_TS folders etc... again later since you still [should] have the original assets)

13) Test out this disc image. Double click it to mount it. DVD Player should launch. Test the "virtual" DVD that's loaded. If DVD Player doesn't auto launch, launch it in the Finder and test. You shouldn't need to drag the VIDEO_TS folder to the DVD Player app using this method as burning the hybrid disc this way should make a UDF disc that DVD Player app will accept.

Also make sure that the DVD-ROM contents are on the disc and function as expected by checking them in the Finder. That means opening them as if you were the client.

14) Things Tested okay? Then launch Disk Utility and burn the .img (after unmounting it in the Finder) by selecting Burn (Command + B) and selecting the .img DVDSP made.

15) Test the physical DVD you just made in several computers and DVD players.

16) Hand it to the client (make two copies, they'll lose one) along with your invoice.

Remember that if you don't want to bother with DVDSP making a .img and then burning that with Disk Utility (we only do that to test before burning so as not to waste a blank dvd and time) you can hit Burn (Option + Command + B) [not Shift + Command + F] in DVDSP and burn to the disc directly from there in lieu of step 9 under Using DVD Studio Pro.

As if this post isn't long enough I should mention that if you don't have Toast, Popcorn, DVD Studio Pro or anything else but what comes with your Mac you can still make a compliant Hybrid UDF DVD with the Terminal and Disk Utility. It's all in this post.

I should really shorten this post. Thanks for reading this far.


Unknown said...

You have thoroughly helped (held) me (my hand) through the DVDSP approach! Many many thanks.

Unknown said...

Great post, thanks for a detailed explination