by Adam Pash
Click to viewPutting any old video file - like the DivX/Xvid-encoded videos you've downloaded with BitTorrent - onto a DVD to play on your TV can be a daunting task. There's plenty of software that tackles this sort of thing for a price, but as a lover of open source software, free's always my first choice.
Luckily for all of us, authoring playable DVDs from just about any video file has gotten a lot easier in the open source community. This week I'm going to show you how to burn those downloaded TV shows to a DVD you can play in your living room using the free (as in speech), open source application, DVD Flick.
NOTE: DVD Flick's almost embarrassingly simple to use, but since it's a subject that can be confusing for people who haven't authored many DVD's, and it's a question we've been asked about several times before here at Lifehacker, we thought DVD Flick deserved a quick guide.
In a few simple steps, here's how to burn almost any video file on your computer to a playable DVD.
DVD Flick is a free, open source DVD authoring tool that will take care of pretty much all of the legwork involved in authoring your DVDs. So thank the gods of open source and go download it here.
In order to make a DVD that you can play on your DVD player, your video files need to be encoded in MPEG-2 format. What makes DVD Flick special (aside from the fact that it's free) is that it handles all of the necessary transcoding of your AVI, MPG, MOV, and WMV files (among others) to MPEG-2, and then authors and burns your DVD all in one fell swoop - meaning it's very simple for anyone to use.
The DVD Flick interface is very no-nonsense - everything you need to access is available to you through the 7 buttons in the toolbar. Before we add videos to your DVD project, let's take a look at the settings and make sure everything's as you want it.
Click the button labeled Project settings. By default you probably won't have to change anything, but I do want to point out a couple of things.
The General tab lets you set the size of your target media (i.e., the capacity of your DVD). If you're burning to a standard DVD-R, you'll want to keep the default 4.3GB setting. However, you can also set your target size to Dual Layer DVD, Mini-DVD, CD-R, or your own custom target size.
The Video tab lets you set the format of your DVD player - namely whether your DVD should be NTSC or PAL-formatted. If you live in the US, NTSC is your pal. Most of Europe and Asia, on the other hand, use PAL. You can also set the encoding quality in the Encoding profile drop-down. If you feel that the quality of your authored DVDs isn't high enough, you might want to try upping the quality and ensuring the "Second encoding pass" checkbox is ticked. If you're more than happy with quality but you want to speed up the encoding process, you can lower the quality and get rid of the second encoding pass (you probably won't want to do this, but just in case, there it is).
Also of note, the Burning tab lets you set the options for the final product. If you don't have a DVD on-hand for burning, for example, you can tell DVD Flick to create an ISO image that you can easily burn to a DVD later on using a tool like ISO Recorder or ISOBurn.
As I said above, DVD Flick lets you add nearly any type of video file to your DVD project. The easiest way to do this is to open up the folder holding your video files and drag-and-drop the files into DVD Flick. The yellow bar on the left of the app shows you how much space you've used. The amount of video you can fit on one playable DVD will vary by length and quality, so keep an eye on your space.
DVD Flick is pretty no nonsense at this point; you can't build any fancy menu screens.  Instead, the DVD you author and burn will simply play each file as a chapter in the order you add them to the project by default. If you want to add chapters to individual video files, select the video/title and click on Edit title... and change the method of chapter creation. You can create chapter points every so many minutes, create a set number of chapters per title, or leave your video chapter-free.
Advanced users can add extra audio tracks (like commentary) and subtitles through the Edit title menus as well.
Before you start, pick the directory that the transcoded files will be saved to while DVD Flick works. You'll need to have a drive with a fair amount of space, so keep that in mind. You'll also want to keep that in mind so you can remove those files after the process is complete so you don't end up with a hard drive full of pre-burned DVDs.
Now that you've got everything set up how you want, click the button labeled Create DVD. DVD Flick will now start transcoding the video files and authoring the DVD while you sit back and browse the internet. If you've never done this before, you'll learn quickly enough that video transcoding takes some time and CPU horsepower.
If you don't want DVD Flick to eat up precious CPU cycles while you're working on your computer, it's sometimes useful to save this sort of operation for when you're away from the computer. Tick the checkbox labeled Shutdown when completed and you can leave DVD Flick to do its business overnight and shutdown your computer when it's finished. When you get up the next morning, you'll be the parent of a newly authored DVD!
Adam Pash is an associate editor for Lifehacker who likes his DVD creation to be dead simple. His special feature Hack Attack appears every Tuesday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Hack Attack RSS feed to get new installments in your newsreader.
 If you're looking for a free solution for authoring DVDs with nice menu screens, check out DVD Styler. The downside to DVD Styler is that it doesn't handle all the transcoding that DVD Flick does, meaning that you'll need to transcode your video files to MPEG yourself. [back up]6 188Reply 188Discuss