Video Conversion

Posted on by : chaplin13 Tags: , ,

I needed to create copies of some old VHS tapes, and some family videos into a DVD format. My old workflow was taking a lot of time between computers to get anything converted. I built up a linux box (command line only) and to my surprise, using a combination between FFMpeg, DVDAuthor, and mkisofs, I can quickly create decent DVDs using a command line.

Old Workflow


WinDV is on a PC in my basement. I can go down there, set the VHS to play and walk away. I’ll do that to 4 or 5 tapes, and then start the trimming process.
I decided to use WinDV because I couldn’t find a decent DV capturing program that would just take the input feed and record it to the Mac. No matter many times the tracking went off, WinDV was able to push through it and keep the Audio and Video in sync. I even tried a SGI O2 running Irix 6.2, but as soon as I hit tracking problems, the onboard MPEG conversion would not recover.


Sometimes I forget that I have a VHS recording in the basement, so I end up with a 4 hour video file that needs to be trimmed.
I use MPEG Streamclip on the Mac to open the AVI on the PC, set the in and out points, then export straight to DV. The Mac is extremely efficient in opening remote video, and I’ve only had the app crash when a wifi connection is lost (damn wifi extenders).


This is the only thing that I have changed in my workflow. MP4 to MPEG2 is a heavy lift, DV to MPEG2 not-as-much. I am probably one of the biggest Apple Fan Boi’s, and the Kool-Aid has been ingested multiple times, but Compressor is frustrating. Especially on an “older” system (8-core Xeon 2007 MacPro). Yes, I could upgrade the graphics card for around $300 and possibly get more from the GPU… but instead, I went with a headless desktop that I had (AMD Athlon X3), running linux. From anywhere I can connect, convert, and create DVD ISOs. For a 1:45:00 DV video, it took around an hour and a half.

I use screen and screen -r so I can log in and out without affecting progress of my conversions.

Current Workflow

  • A VHS deck attached to a Canopus ADVC-100, and WinDV to create AVI files.
  • Use MPEG StreamClip on the Mac to trim the AVI file from the PC.
  • Log into the linux box and use scp or rcp to copy the file locally from the Mac
  • ffmpeg -i [FILENAME] -aspect [16:9 or 4:3] -target ntsc-dvd video.mpg
  • dvdauthor -x DVDCreation/dvd.xml -o [FOLDER]
    • dvd.xml places a marker for every 5 minutes up to a length of 3:00:00.
  • mkisofs -dvd-video -V [VOLUME_NAME] -o dvd.iso [FOLDER]


    <vmgm />
                <vob file="video.mpg" chapters="0,5:00,10:00,15:00,20:00,25:00,30:00,35:00,40:00,45:00,50:00,55:00:01:00:00, 01:05:00, 01:10:00, 01:15:00, 01:20:00, 01:25:00, 01:30:00, 01:35:00, 01:40:00, 01:45:00, 01:50:00, 01:55:00, 02:00:00, 02:05:00, 02:10:00, 02:15:00, 02:20:00, 02:25:00, 02:30:00, 02:35:00, 02:40:00, 02:45:00, 02:50:00, 02:55:00, 03:00:00" />