I am a l33t v1d30 pir8

After several nights, two operating systems and $125 I finally burned a DVD that will play in a DVD player. What a pain!

It all started when I found a website that hosted fan-subtitled episodes of a Xenosaga anime that isn’t available in the US or for Region 1 DVD players. As a fan of Xenosaga I really wanted to watch them, but wasn’t interested in doing so on my PC.

[Legal footnote: I realize the fans that make these versions of anime are violating copyright, as am I by watching them. It’s impossible to come up with a legal justification here, but my understanding is that the sites are really good about pulling down episodes of any show that gets licensed for US distribution, and that most of the anime studios know about these fan-dubs and fan-subtitlings and let them slide. When a studio complains, again the sites take the versions down..these are people who love anime and are trying to spread the message of it. On a personal note, I’ve promised myself that I’ll buy or rent the American version of these if they ever come out.]

Anyway, first I tried to burn the episodes onto SVCD (video CD is putting video onto a CD, rather than a DVD). I figured blank CD’s were cheap and I could put 1 episode per cd. After a lot of futzing around in linux I DID manage to make one, but the quality was horrific.

So I went out and spent $25 on some blank DVDs. I should add that I only recently noticed that the CD-RW drive in my system was also a DVD-RW drive. DOH! Only had the system for 18 months or so before I noticed!

So back in linux, I tried about half a dozen program ‘systems’ that I could find. Most were a combination of command line encoders with some kind of GUI overlaid on them, then some kind of “DVD creator” with another GUI, and lastly burning software of some kind.

I did manage to get an avi encoded, but never had much luck creating the DVD or burning. After a night of that I went back to Windows.

I grabbed a freeware decoder (that only works for 30 days) and a demo version of a TsunamiMPEG DVDAuthor. Encoded the avi’s which seems to go ok, then burned the DVD using the built-in software and produced a coaster. Hmph. Tried producing a DVD iso instead of just the data files. Ran a “test burn” and damned if that didn’t fubar another blank disk! It didn’t burn it, but it somehow caused the system to see it as not being empty. Anyway, it didn’t report problems so I burned it for real…and produced coaster #3. I was ending up with disks that, if I tried to explore them, would hang my system.

OK so that Tsunami junk probably has lousy burning software. I decided to burn the ISO image using Alcohol 120%. And produced coaster #4. Then I got wise and tried to load the ISO into a virtual drive and low and behold…nada. OK so the ISO is garbage.

At this point I was pretty aggravated so I went to the Roxio site and bought Roxio Easy Media Creator 7.5 for $100. It comes with about 95 different programs. Jesus. I finally figure out which one I wanted, I thought. Oddly none of them mention encoding. But the one I picked lets me load avi files and takes forever to encode them so I figure I’m on the right track.

Hit start and come back a few hours later to see “Error writing TOC” pop up at the very end of the process. Another coaster.

Now I’m ready to go out and buy a new DVD-RW drive, thinking this one must be crap. I google the drive and found a thread telling how this drive (a Sony OEM) is the same hardware as a better drive but with different firmware, and a way to patch the firmware to “make” the drive into the better version. I try it and it works. Windows sees it as a totally different drive. And that drive’s firmware is out of date so I patch that, too.

Finally I try Roxio again and go to work. When I got home tonight, the burn had finished and I can play the DVD in my DVD player!!! The quality is ok; not great. I’d much rather see an ‘official’ version of the show. But it finally worked.

But what an aggravation. And a lot of the fails took a LONG time to burn, only to find that I had another coaster.

I think, in retrospect, the problem was the media. I think my drive as shipped burned at 2.4X, and the media I bought was 16x. The software packages, I think, were burning at 4X. When I upgraded the drive’s firmware, it “made” the drive into a 4X. Included in the media wa sa warning about upgrading your drives for 16x discs but I of course ignored it. Now I read it and it says “2.4 DVD+RW drives cannot recored DVD+R discs.” DOH!

In the end I’m kinda glad I bought the Roxio suite since it looks like you can do a lot of fun things with it. Maybe I can figure out a better way to compress the data, since I could only fit 3 episodes onto a DVD.

Hopefully the anime will be worth it. And if it is worth it, hopefully it’ll come out in the US since I’d rather have a nice clean copy.