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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD Apps
iDVD is a wonderful, simple app that's great for knocking together a quick DVD with some nice menu themes. But it has limitations as compared to its big brother DVD Studio Pro, among which are the kinds of footage it allows you to use. While it happily imports AVI files, it won't accept MPEG2 video. I could burn the MPEG2 straight to DVD, then use ffmpegX to make a Video_TS folder easily, or use something like sizzle, but then I would lose out on all the flashy themes and menus that I get with iDVD.

I've always found this to be a frustration, especially when I wanted to burn recordings from my EyeTV box. The only way to do it was to re-encode the MPEG2 to some intermediate format such as AVI/MOV, import it into iDVD, and then watch it convert it straight back to MPEG2 to burn to DVD. Not only does this take a long time to re-encode the file twice but with every re-encode you're losing quality as compared to the original. So I set out to find a way to get around this.

Programs needed: ffmpegX (available ) iDVD (I tested this on iDVD 5)

Note: This process looks long, and it does make it longer to create a DVD, but once you understand it doesn't take too long, and the idea behind its quite simple. If you're using MPEG2 files and you compare it to the time needed to re-encode the files for iDVD and then encode back to DVD, it's a big time saver. The plus side is that you're maintaining the original quality of your MPEG2 files.

1. Create dummy AVIs using ffmpegX. You can either use one AVI repeatedly or create one for each clip/episode/movie in iDVD. Either use any AVI clip or use ffmpegX to convert a small bit of your MPEG2 file to AVI. These can be clips of anything: make them short, rough edits and low quality to save time making them and keep them for use again in the future.

2. Author your DVD in iDVD. If you use any videos clips as part of the menu/theme, these should be the ones you want to use for the final DVD. iDVD will encode these, but since they are short and only for the menus, the quality is not a problem.

3. When you add the main feature bits to the DVD, drag in your dummy AVIs. Label them and place them as if they were the real footage you want to use. You can use the same dummy AVI for each feature and just label it differently each time you insert it, or you can use separate clips. Separates clips will make life a bit easier later, but will also take iDVD longer to encode.

4. Tell iDVD to make your DVD, but make sure you ask it to create a disk image. It should be quite small: something like 100MB, depending on what type of menu you've created and how big your dummy files were.

5. In the meantime, find the MPEG2 files that you want on the DVD. Load up ffmpegX, go to the Tools tab and then to demux. Browse to the MPEG file and click demux and let it do its business.

6. Demuking will produce a .m2v (video) file and a .mp2 (audio) file. Go back to ffmpegX and click the mux tab under Tools. Browse to the video file and the audio file (add the latter to audio 1). Make sure "Mux as" is set to DVD and "Author as" is set to DVD (Video_TS) and click the mux button.

7. Repeat the last two steps for as many clips or sections there are in your final DVD. You should now have Video_TS folders for each of your sections.

8. Mount the image produced by iDVD and copy the Video_TS folder to your hard drive. Select all the contents, press Command-I to display the Get Info window, and set all the items to read and write and unlock them.

In the DVD image you should have the following files: VIDEO_TS.BUP VIDEO_TS.IFO VIDEO_TS.VOB VTS_01_0.BUP VTS_01_0.IFO VTS_01_1.VOB VTS_02_0.IFO VTS_02_0.BUP ..etc

The VIDEO_TS files correspond to your intro/menu section (don't touch these) while the VTS files refer to each section in your DVD; at the moment, these refer to your dummy AVIs

9. Merge the contents of your ffmpegX authored Video_TS folders and iDVD's Video_TS folder. If you have created different dummy AVIs then you can immediately see how to number your ffmpegX-created VTS files. Just play the VOB file and see which one it is. Find the clip you want to replace it with and replace all its VTS file names with the correct numbers and copy them into the folder overwriting the ones for the dummy AVIs. (Ignore the VIDEO_TS.BUP etc files created by ffmpegX; you don't need them). If you have only used one dummy AVI file, it may be a bit hit and miss. They aren't necessarily in the same order as you added them in iDVD and you'll need to load the Video_TS folder in DVD player to make sure you've got the new files in the right order.

10. You now have a Video_TS folder with the iDVD VIDEO_TS files for the menu and the ffmpegX-authored VTS files for each of your sections. Go back to ffmpegX and choose img under Tools and Browse to this Video_TS folder. This will create a disk image that you can burn to a DVD with Disk Utility.

11. Bingo! You have your DVD, with lovely iDVD menus and themes along with good quality MPEG2 video that hasn't been re-encoded twice.

Important Notes: ** You can't just use the "author" section under ffmpegX to take the MPEG2 file straight to Video_TS. You may have better luck, but for some reason my MPEG2 files from EyeTV weren't accepted. You have to demux them and then remux them as Video_TS. However, ffmpegX can queue up jobs so you can set it up for all your files and go get a coffee; it doesn't take long to do the demux/mux.

** You can't just create the final disk image file in Disk Utility. This file has to be in UDF format to be able to play as a DVD, and Disk Utility can't do this. You can only do this in ffmpegX, or in something like DVDImager. However I couldn't get DVDImager to work and image my Video_TS folder so ffmpegX it was.

** I haven't tried working with 16:9 format videos. iDVD 5 has trouble displaying these properly. See this link for more information on what to do in that situation. The perl script on that page should work, even with this method.

** Remember your final image has to be less than 4.3GB to fit on the DVD. Depending on how the MPEG2 file was originally encoded and its resolution and bit rate, the amount of footage you can fit on the DVD will vary. For instance, I have two MPEG2 files here, one at 4Mbit and on another at 2.5Mbit. While they are the same length, they are not the same size. I believe if you want to be able to play the final DVD on an external DVD player, you'll need to make sure it is of a standard resolution and bit rate. For instance, you can't have a bit rate greater than ~10Mbit for a DVD. More info here.

I hope this works for you. Do post your feedback and say whether you've got this to work, or if you have found different ways to do so.

[kirkmc adds: I haven't tested this...]
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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: i5m on Apr 24, '06 08:24:53AM
This is great, thanks. I was going to try this idea, but it's good to know of a way that definitely works.

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: rackerby on Apr 24, '06 09:00:03AM

You haven't had a problem with the length of your iDVD-created VOB files and your ffmpegX-created VOB files being of different lengths?

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: Wazzoo on Apr 24, '06 09:56:54AM

No, suprisingly not. To be honest when I tried this out, I was just waiting for it to fail and not work. I thought that if I just dropped the ffmpegX created files into the DVD from iDVD there would have to be something that didn't fit or work. But it had no problems

I've tried it by making a DVD made of four episodes of a TV show, each about 40mins long and about 1gig in size. I was using one dummy file four times over. As long as I replaced all the files (VOB, IFO, BUP) for each of the episodes/dummy file and didn't touch the VIDEO_TS files it worked fine.

I guess there's nothing stopping you from messing about with the bitrates of your MPEGs you feed into ffmpegX to make a DVD thats longer than the default 180min. This is basically what apps like DVD2one and ffmpegX's DVD>DVD4GB tool does I assume?

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: Anonymous on Apr 25, '06 06:29:09AM

Break out your!

You can grab the transcode source from and build it (the messy part)... there's a utility in there called tcrequant. Run it after you demux like so:

tcrequant -i videopart.m2v -o -d2 -f 1.5

The 1.5 is the requantize value. 2.0 is roughly half size. Then you mux the new one back together with the audio...

...or you could just use another DVD.

This may be handy to squeeze some BIG movies on to one disc, though. Or you might just get it down to a simple batch process, since this suite does demuxing too.

I haven't tried the above on my Panther. I have done it on Linux though, and the quality remains very good, and the conversion speed is still definitely faster than reencoding. Downloading the source right now.

Don't know if this helps any...

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: smkolins on Apr 24, '06 09:17:10AM

Since iPhoto (since 5) could import mpeg2 from digital cameras I was wondering about publishing them through other forms (included options for iPhoto usually drop the mpeg files but some work - (not iweb, export to web, or quicktime) and I'm warming up to look at iDVD taking these in (perhaps even a slideshow??)

Possess a pure, kindly, and radiant heart!

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: Wazzoo on Apr 24, '06 10:05:33AM

I realise the hint above is very long and detailed about the method. If you're already a dab hand with video editing and DVD creation, here's the shorter version:

1. Convert your MPEG 2 files to VOBs in ffmpegX. Use demux and then mux as DVD(VIDEO_TS), not author.(Tools->demux/mux)

2. Create an image of your DVD in iDVD, but use a small/short dummy avi clip where you want the MPEG file to be.

3. Copy the files from the image to your HD and replace the files related to the dummy avi with the ffmpegX produced files (three each.. (IFO, VOB, BUP) for each clip you want to replace). Leave the VIDEO_TS files, thats your menu.

4. Re-image the VIDEO_TS folder with ffmpegX (Tools->img)

5. Burn the image to your DVD

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: sd on Apr 25, '06 03:50:45AM


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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: krrcwl on Apr 14, '08 11:11:03AM

Hi, I realise this post is a little old now, and I'm now using iDVD 08, but I tried it anyway:

I created a multi-title iDVD project using some short dummy video for each of the six 'episodes'. Then I used ffmpegX to create VIDEO_TS folders for each of the original MPEG2 transport streams, which are my good sources. I've tested the output VOBs and they play fine in VLC. However, when I copy over the VTS_0*_1.VOB, VTS_0*_0.BUP and VTS_0*_0.IFO into the iDVD-authored VIDEO_TS and then test it with the DVD player, all I get is the first title playing, no menus. The same applies if I make a disk image containing the VIDEO_TS file and mount it.

If I DON'T copy over the VTS_0*_0.BUP and VTS_0*_0.IFO, the menus reappear but the titles then are too short (i.e. the length of the dummy media I used) and soundless.

I am somewhat confused as to what I did wrong :S

If you an shed any light, it would be much appreciated.

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: rackerby on Apr 24, '06 12:20:01PM

I think this hint, while useful, is a misnomer. You cannot use MPEG2 footage in iDVD with this hint. This is just mucking around with DVD files on a DVD that happened to be created with iDVD.

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: Anonymous on Apr 25, '06 06:12:30AM

The VOB files are MPEG2, they're just from a different source.

Replace "Use" with "Inject" and you have a go!

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: sjk on Apr 24, '06 12:36:20PM

Interesting hint but, wow, that's not something I'd enjoy doing on a regular basis just to have iDVD menus/themes on EyeTV recordings I burn to DVD. :-o

I'm satisfied (enough) with the minimally interactive convenience of Toast 7 and its menus/themes.

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: dave1212 on Apr 26, '06 03:16:07AM

Me too, but some people can't afford Toast and won't pirate it.

Tips on using the open source tools are always helpful.

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD - MPEG-2 component?
Authored by: RideMan on Apr 26, '06 08:51:44AM


iDVD will import just about anything that QuickTime can play. If you have the QuickTime MPEG-2 playback component, can you then use MPEG-2 clips directly in iDVD?

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD - MPEG-2 component?
Authored by: joshMV4 on Apr 26, '06 12:56:21PM

No, you cannot.

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD - MPEG-2 component?
Authored by: bbell2000 on Jun 28, '08 04:28:20PM

Not necessarily. QuickTime doesn't support muxed MPEG-2. I spent an entire day trying to get around that flaw when I found this post.

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Another way...same end result
Authored by: joshMV4 on Apr 26, '06 02:50:56PM
I agree with the comment above. This isn't using mpeg2 files in iDVD, but rather using iDVD to get fancy menus for your existing mpeg2 footage.

I used to do a lot of this sort of thing, but recently gave up due to the monotony. If you are interested in this sort of thing, here is some of my knowledge...This is many, many, many hours of research online, and trial and error....This is simply another method, actually very simple and fast, once you get the routine down.

First of all, the DVD File Structure DVDs have two folders, an AUDIO_TS and a VIDEO_TS. I have never seen an AUDIO_TS folder with any data. I suspect it was for the "DVD Audio" format that never went anywhere, but was talked about a little many, many years ago. (I think that Toast 7 can make these, but few commercial players will play the disks...anyway). Here is a typical layout of a VIDEO_TS folder.


This is three parts. The files beginning with VIDEO_TS..... are for the menu that starts automatically when you play a DVD and is necessary. The files beginning with VTS_01_... are the first main video on the disc and is necessary. The files beginning with VTS_02_...would be for an additional (but not necessary) 2nd video on the disc, similarly with VTS_03_...

The files ending in .vob are the actual mpeg2 video files. The files ending in .ifo are the information the DVD player uses to properly display the vob file. The files ending in bup are the same as the ifo files (bup => backup file) with a different extension.

The VTS_0x_0.VOB files are not always there (x meaning 1 or 2 or 3, etc...). These are sub-menus. If you press "MENU" while watching the movie, and it jumps to a sub-menu, it is this file. Some DVDs don't have this, and jump right to the main DVD menu. Sometimes this file is there and is just a space filler, from what I can tell.

Disk Organization Using VLC, or MpegStreamClip (with the AppleMpeg2Playback Component), you can view the VOB files on your mac to see what they look like...(Most commercial DVDs are encrypted, and you often can't view these). If I were to look at the VIDEO_TS.VOB file from the disk above, it would be my main menu that I see when I play the DVD. It may have motion, or it may not. It may span various "scenes" for a complex menu, or it may be a static picture with a few links. This particular one, at minimum, has two links to get the the two videos on this disk. The links are not really in the VOB video, but in the VIDEO_TS.IFO file, (which I personally don't know how to read). Using your remote for the DVD Player, clicking on the "first movie" in the menu, triggers the player to start playing the first video on the disk, which is really the first VTS_01_file...For the actual movie, the same story applies here. The Movie is the VOB file, and the IFO file is info about the movie (how long is it, where are the chapters, how many audio tracks, what kind of audio, the resolution (4x3 or 16x9), ntsc, etc...). The file size limit on the VOB files is 1GB (or 1024MB), so depending on length and quality, there may be more than one VOB file for each movie...(Before anyone gets any ideas, I already tried cannot use Hi-Def mpeg2 VOB files on DVDs. The DVD standard written years and years ago didn't allow for any higher resolution than 720x480--Apple DVD player supposedly plays HD-DVDs, and I don't know anything about how this works...)

SO, what this author is doing in this hint, is "stealing" the menu files from iDVD, and linking them to the eyeTV mpeg2 files. (I do this all the time. Think of the VIDEO_TS files as the alias on the desktop and the VTS_01_...files as the real file.) I don't know why he has to demux and then re-mux his VOB files. All he should have to do is rename so the menu VOB points to the correct VTS_ files. Just make sure you keep all the original video segments together (i.e. if renaming from VTS_01_xxxx to VTS_02_xxxx, make sure you get all the BUP, IFO and VOB files). If it doesn't work, it may be some proprietary thing eyeTV does to the files it creates, and de-muxing and re-muxing gets rid of this.

dvdauthor...GEEK alert If you want to keep the same mpeg2 files and add chapters, without re-encoding, you can use ffmepgX to make an mpg file out of the VOB, then use dvdauthor to re-make the VOB files with the new chapter positions where you want them. (dvdauthor will make new VOB files, and also makes the IFO and BUP files.)

Documentation for the program "dvdauthor" is poor unless you are a total geek, so here is what I found after many, many hours....due to my unknown knowledge about the laws of the gnu license, I'll leave it up to you on getting the program. It is free, and even is included with ffmpegX (hint...hint) place the dvdauthor binary file in some directory. You will also need an xml file in the same folder. Command line alert! To run the program, open terminal, change to the directory with the program, and then run it by typing

 ./dvdauthor -x filename.xml 
, where filename.xml is the xml file I mention earlier. Note the period before the /dvdauthor, that isn't a typo.

Here is a sample xml file. Create this in a plain text editor. I use TextWrangler (free), and it even color codes the file

<dvdauthor dest="/new/">
<pgc entry="root">
<post>jump vmgm menu;</post>
<video aspect="4:3"></video>
<vob file="/CSI/CSI#221.mpg" chapters="0,2:12,9:41,19:19,28:48,43:49"></vob>
<post>call vmgm menu;</post>

I won't go through everything, most of it is necessary. There are many other options to expand this file, and with enough searching, you can find it on that internet thing, but info is scarce. Especially since programs like iDVD are so good and cheap anyway, most people don't care about things like this....

**The top line is the destination directory. This is an absolute file path. Your VIDEO_TS folder will be created inside the directory /new/ in this example.
**Aspect ratio is 4:3 in the example above. Another option is 16:9.
**VOB file is the source mpg file. Here my file was called CSI#221.mpg in the folder /CSI/. Again another absolute file path. I am adding chapters at the positions above. Note, commas separate chapter times, format is h:m:s . If no hours is specified, defaults to min:secs.

Putting it all together
Depending on the length of your video, it can take several minutes for dvdauthor to make the folder/files. When finished, it will make a VIDEO_TS folder in the destination directory above. If you do a second video, and keep the same destination directory, it is smart enough to know you already did a first video and rename the second video files accordingly. SO, THE SHORT ANSWER IS move the three VIDEO_TS...files created by iDVD into this new VIDEO_TS folder, and you are good. Preview the VIDEO_TS folder with Apples iDVD player to make sure everything works right. To burn it to a watchable DVD, you need to use either ffmpegX to make a Disk image, or use Toast. Burning the folders directly with Disk Utility will not work.

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Another way...same end result
Authored by: Wazzoo on May 05, '06 02:11:27PM

Wow, very detailed and useful. Thanks josh, it explains a bit about why what I did worked, whereas I just kinda bumbled through.

The thing about the demux/mux bit I had to do was, if I just tried to take the eyeTV mpg file and author it as a Video_TS folder ffmpegx couldn't read the file properly. I think its something that eyeTV does to the mpg..I've found on more than one occasion that mpgs produced by eyeTV don't behave the way they should and work in every other program. Demux/muxing was the only way I could get around this.

But thanks for the info, definately will look into messing around with dvdauthor.

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a slight variation, which seems to REQUIRE the use of dvdauthor
Authored by: baronworm on Nov 15, '06 01:38:41PM
I found this hint as I was trying to make a tiny change to an existing home-made DVD:

The ORIGINAL dvd was an ultra-simple home movie: one title, one movie.
The NEW dvd needed to be the same, but as a "kiosk" disk where the movie would autoplay and loop.
I tried to use this hint's instructions, but my experience was that the addition of the loop behavior meant that just replacing the three VTS_ files won't work so well.

So instead I went the dvdauthor route, and once I got 'fink install dvdauthor' to work, it was a piece of cake to just pull off the VTS_01_0.VOB file from the original DVD and then tell dvdauthor to make a new DVD with that VOB as the sole, looping, movie.

For others who are looking at dvdauthor, I recommend this excellent page full of xml file syntax examples:

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: mcarland on May 01, '06 02:08:28PM

This *mostly* worked for me last night. I had a lot of trouble because the source files were recorded from an ATSC DT source, and the audio tracks were AC3. demux didn't understand the audio tracks, I had to do a second pass to extract the audio as ac3, and could then mux them back together.

I was able to create a dvd that had four items on the main menu for my four vobs, and it all worked in the Mac DVD player. But when I burned the DVD, only the first menu item would play, the other three caused my Sony DVD player to display a C 19 code, and I had to eject the DVD to get it to work again.

Might it be that the Sony is cranky about some size field that is off because of using the four small stub avi files? Is there some tool that can "validate" a DVD image?

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: Wazzoo on May 05, '06 02:16:50PM

I guess it has something to do with the source files you were using. (emphasis on the guess bit, I'm just speculating)

From what josh says above, if you've kept all the VOB, IFO, and BUP files together for each clip then thats all the info the player needs to play each one. However there are standards that DVDs are meant to conform to in terms of bitrates and resolution etc. So while you can make a DVD that has a crazy res or something, its not guaranteed to be supported by all hardware players.

Apples DVD player seems much more forgiving in that respect. For instance, the 16:9 bug in iDVD..when you create a 16:9 DVD it will happily play in DVD player, but most of the time it won't come out right on a standalone player.

Sorry that doesn't help much though, if you do find some way to validate the DVD then let us know. Or if someone can find the official specs for a DVD and what a standards compliant DVD player will allow you to play.

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: sjk on May 05, '06 03:44:24PM
It's been awhile since I looked but there used to be a lot of detailed info about DVD authoring on or around the myDVDEdit site if that's relevant to what you're interested in.

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: bbell2000 on Sep 02, '08 06:32:55PM

I realize this is an old post, but I thought it might solve my problem so I gave it a go. I needed to master a new DVD with two videos from existing DVD's and a slide show. Everything went fine up to the point where I was trying to test the finished img. From DVD Player, I couldn't use the Menu button to return to the main menu from either of the videos. I kept getting an error at the top of the video window that said "Not allowed".

I loaded the img into myDVDEdit and discovered that the post-commands for each of the two videos were missing.

While much of this information was useful, it seems that the end result is not quite the same.

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: bbell2000 on Sep 04, '08 03:53:13PM
Yahoo!!! I finally got this to work by tweaking a few of the steps. What I did differently is a little too wordy to post here, so I put it on my web site at

And many, many thanks to Wazzoo. While this process didn't work exactly as described for me, it did get me far enough that I could figure out where I needed to diverge.

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Use MPEG2 footage in iDVD
Authored by: djmnet on Jul 28, '09 05:16:25AM

To make the menu button work again, use the Finder to Duplicate the VIDEO_TS folder that iDVD made. After replacing the dummy VTS*VOB,IFO,BUP files in the copy VIDEO_TS folder, open in myDVDEDit both the unchanged VIDEO_TS folder and the copy where you replaced the files.

Then go through and change the settings in the copy VIDEO_TS folder to match the original iDVD-authored VIDEO_TS folder. Create new empty PGCs in the each replaced menu VTS as needed to match what the original has. In each PGC (select them by clicking on them in the left column), check the Pre cmds and Post cmds. Select all with command-A and delete the ones in the copy, then select and copy (command-C) the ones in the original and paste (command-V) them into the copy. For the video's VTS and menu VTS, set the aspect ratio, language, and audio mode to match the originals if needed.

After doing that, Leopard's DVD Player, VLC 1.0, and my JVC DVD player all play a DVD with pre-authored MPEG2 footage fine.

I saw another web site suggesting not replacing the IFO and BUP files, as a way to keep the menus working. I tried that, but then using Leopard's DVD Player's seek bar crashed the program because the IFO file for the dummy video specified the wrong playback time (duration). So you do need to replace the IFO with the one for your real VOB and then replace its pre and post commands, etc.

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