DVD-R discs that wont play in DVD players

I’ve been trying for ages to create DVDs on my computer that will work on my DVD player. In theory, with a little knowledge and know-how, it should be pretty straight forward. In my case, this was not so. By doing a bit of research, I was finally able to successfully create discs that will actually play on a DVD player.

The DVDs that I make are photo slideshows for clients of my wife’s wedding photography business. For each wedding, there will be around 150 images that we create a slideshow of using Microsoft Photo Story 3. This software does really nice transitions that look quite elegant. You have the option of outputting your project in WMV format in DVD quality at 768 x 576 along with a few other formats.

The authoring software I use is Adobe Encore CS3, which is an excellent product for creating menus and planning the project. What it isn’t good for is transcoding WMV files into a format suitable for DVD. Apparently many of the shipped codecs are quite screwed. I was receiving a PGC error before the DVD burn would even start. I read a good forum that discussed how to fix PGC errors. This lead me to software called Sorenson Squeeze which is used to pre-encode your movie so that Adobe Encore doesn’t have to.

One of the common pitfalls in producing DVDs is the use of cheap media. TDK are fairly reputable as are Verbatim. My main burner is a Lite-On that is about a year old.

I was now ready to burn my DVD project to disc. Encore completed the burn without error messages. The disc would play fine on my computer however it would not play in my Panasonic DVD player. For a while I believed that my DVD player was not compatible with burned media. This issue was frustrating as I didn’t know which was at fault. Was it the disc or the player or a combination of both?

Later I read about a technique called Bitsetting. This is where you use special utility software to change the Book Type of your disc to trick DVD player into thinking the disc is a DVD-ROM. DVDs that are mass replicated are identified as DVD-ROM as the book type. They are not burned with a laser. Instead they are created with a stamp that is from a glass master. It costs hundreds of dollars to do this and is not a viable option for a one-off disc. Bitsetting does not work on DVD-R. It only works on DVD+R/RW discs. As it turns out none of my DVD writers were compatible with the software so I had to try something else.

I contacted a local DVD authoring and replication outfit in Auckland called Express Video mainly just to find out the cost of making a glass master. I wondered how they went about creating one-off DVDs for clients and if they had any issues with discs not working in their clients’ players. I emailed Jon and the advice that he gave me was to use quality media (They use Verbatim DVD-R discs). He also said to burn the discs at a slower speed. All of my previous attempts were at 16x. I tried again at 8x speed. This disc played but the audio and video kept dropping out. The slowest speed that my Lite-On writer would do was 6x. On this attempt, the disc played with fewer video and audio dropouts but it was still far from perfect. I found another older DVD writer under my desk. I considered scrap and I didn’t even think it was working. I’m not sure what brand it is but it allowed me to burn my DVD at 1x speed. At last this disc played flawlessly on my Panasonic player.

So if you’ve had problems creating discs that will play on DVD players, maybe this advice will help: Use quality DVD-R discs and burn at the slowest speed possible. Good luck.

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