This page links from the review of the Sony DCR DVD92E camcorder and is sponsored by WCW Media, click on the link below to visit their site.
The common advice for editing movies from dvd camcorders has been to search for a DVD ripping programme, convert the vob file to a dv-avi and insert into your editing programme.
I decided to test this out, so went on a search of free programmes that could do this.
Firstly, the cam I had did not come with a cable to connect to the pc or any software. Only the models higher up the range then the Sony DCR DVD92E come with this facility.
To get the dvd video file to edit, it's simply a case of remove the dvd from the camcorder and pop it into your dvd drive in the pc.
To start with I used the programme listed on the top of my useful programmes page, STOIK. It seems relatively easy to use, a quick look at the buttons and you can work out what needs to be done. On selecting the file to be converted you need to choose all files to view, as the files on the dvd are vobs. Now you will have ifo, bup and vob files on the disc, so make sure you choose the right one. My first trial with one file made a quick start, with it reaching 31% of the file in no time at all, but then the app froze and got no further. I closed down some unneeded programmes and tried again. This time it reported that it had converted it all, but on playback I only had a one second clip. Let's try again. It froze. OK, I'll load it onto my better video editing pc, incase this one can't cope with the work. My office/test pc, is an Athlon 750mhz, 384mb ram with a 120gb hdd. The video editing one is a Pentium 4 3ghz, 2gb ram and 500gb hdd. This wouldn't do it either, giving me a video clips not defined error. I tried changing the file extension from .VOB to .MPEG, still no joy.
I found a programme called DVD to VCD SVCD AVI converter, which I tried, but it has a very limited free trial and only produces DivX avi files, which are not the best in quality, I'm trying to get to DV-AVI.
My next find was OSS video converter. This wouldn't take the vobs as they were either. So I changed the file name to mpeg and tried again. This worked.... in a way. It converted the video but not the audio.
I tried Virtual-Dub Mpeg2. It recognised the VOB files straight away and nice and easily converted them to avi files. But these weren't recognised by Movie Maker.
Now, as I am trying to achieve an easy and cheap method of importing these files into Movie Maker, I'll have to say I have failed. I could go on, with separating the video and audio and move up to programmes which you have to pay for. That's not what I'm after though.
My next step was, well if it can't be converted easily for free, can you get a relatively cheap programme to do the editing?
I use Ulead products in my professional life, so thought I may as well start there. I went to their download site and got a trial copy of VideoStudio 9. For 30 days you get a fully functioning copy of the programme. When the 30 days are up you can just pay over the internet and unlock your trial copy and carry on working. At the time of writing, the charge was £38.29.
I have always found Ulead products pretty intuitive to use, and this one is no exception. You can import the vobs directly from the dvd disc and edit them, adding titles, music, transitions etc. Save in a variety of formats, and even make a new edited dvd from the same programme.
OK the quality is not up there with a dv-avi file from a mini dv tape camcorder, but it's pretty darn good.
So, my recommendation for dealing with editing the movies from these DVD camcorders, is invest a little bit more money in Ulead VideoStudio 9 and use this. It'll save you lots of hair pulling in trying to convert a file to use in MM and if you haven't got a dvd authoring programme, you do now!
Some people have found it better to buy the actual disc containing the programme from Ulead. I didn't have any trouble downloading my copy, but I do have a very fast connection, and I then backed it up to cd.
You may also want to look at Pinnacle Studio 9, or as will be out shortly, version 10. This programme offers similar facilities to Ulead. I didn't get the opportunity to test this programme, but the earlier versions have again all be very easy to use, but maybe not as reliable as Ulead.
Since writing this tutorial Ulead have now brought out VideoStudio 10 and 10+, both of which are excellent, Adobe have Premiere elements, which is a cut down version of the mighty popular professional app and is excellent. Pinnacle are up to Version 10 as well. My recommendations would be in that order.