Sunday, January 21, 2007

Simple DVD Re-Authoring in Linux

The other night I sat down with my girlfriend to watch Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. It's one of the few movies we both enjoy and can watch over and over again. I noticed an odd thing after I inserted the DVD, however. The movie went straight to the menu. There were no previews, no studio splash screens, no advertisements, no videos telling me not to steal this movie that I had already paid for. It was refreshing.

Sometimes, though, when you put in a DVD you are subjected to endless previews, piracy warnings, and splash screens that can last minutes before you finally get to the menu. It's not too bad when you can skip them, but some DVDs disable the "next" button, forcing you to sit through them.

If it's a movie you only watch once or twice it may not be a big deal, but if it's one you want to see over and over again it is especially irritating. When this is done with kid's movies it's almost unforgivable, as they tend to enjoy watching the same video many times.

K9Copy will allow you to re-author your annoying, but beloved, DVD to skip all the content that annoys you, while letting you keep the movie and extras that you enjoy, resizing the movie to fit on a 4.7 GB disc if necessary. It will also let you put the original DVD away from harm. Any horrible accidents involving your DVD, peanut butter, and the dog will be restricted to the copy.

K9Copy should be available in your distribution's repositories. If not, there are packages for various distributions here.

We are going to re-author Shrek 2. It's a great movie, but there are almost 5 minutes of splash screens and previews before you are allowed to get to the menu, and they are not skippable. We're going to make a good DVD even better.

Insert the DVD into your DVD drive and open K9Copy. If you don't see a list of the DVD titles in the window, clicking on the folder at the top left will open the DVD.

Click on the top box beside the DVD disc title, in this case where it says SHREK_2. This will select all the titles, and we can now remove the ones we don't want.

Now we have a long list of titles, but what are they? Which to keep, and which to pitch? If you highlight a title (not a titleset) and press the camera icon at the top, it will play that title for you.

The first six titles (titlesets one through four) are either blank or annoying previews and splashscreens. We can uncheck those titlesets, and the movie and extras we want to keep will be intact.

If you want to keep the original menus, check the Keep original menus box at the bottom left hand corner, otherwise K9Copy will reauthor the DVD with no menus. If you decide to go with no menus you can select the order in which the titles will be played in the right pane of the window.

I only have the one DVD drive, and K9Copy has a nasty habit of crashing on me when the output device I select is the same as the input device, so I'm selecting ISO Image as the output, and we'll burn it to DVD separately.

Click on the DVD icon on the toolbar, and select where to save the ISO image. You'll have time for a coffee now, so go ahead. We'll wait.

We're almost done. Insert a blank DVD. If you use Gnome you can open Nautilus (the file manager), find the ISO image and right click it. Choose Write to Disc, and Nautilus will burn the image for you.

It's almost as easy in KDE. Right click the ISO image in Konqueror, select Actions, then Write CD Image with K3B.

Now you can watch the content you paid for in the way you want to, giving you back control of your DVD player.

Do you have any other suggestions or questions? Let me know by leaving a comment or emailing me.

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