DVD Authoring

Trick out home videos with a fun, featureful menu system that viewers can navigate from a regular DVD player.

As previously mentioned, a DVD can have up to 32 different subtitle streams in a VTS. Although they're called subtitle streams, they actually are implemented as overlaid picture files rather than as a text representation, so they can do other things as well. An example of this is the “White Rabbit” feature seen on The Matrix DVD. Subtitling is fairly easy, as it's essentially the same process as creating menus, only without the background layer. Figure 5 shows an example subtitle picture, providing a title for a photo. A sample submux description for this title that keeps it onscreen for two seconds would be:

sub1.png 00:00:00.00 00:00:02.00 0 0 0 255 0 255

Figure 5. A Subtitle Image

In this application, I'm working with separate, short MPEG-2 clips, so each has to have a separate submux description. For longer clips, a submux file probably would have multiple entries.

Putting It All Together

Having made the video slides, subtitling them and creating the menus, the only thing left to do is assemble everything together using dvdauthor. dvdauthor works in two modes, one for normal titles and another to define the VMGM menu; the VMGM can't have any video information apart from the menu. Let's start with the first title:

dvdauthor -o tmp -m -P \
-b 239x397-489x457,subtitle32+vts1 \
-b 239x500-489x560,vmgm1 \
-b 27x223-127x263,subtitle32+vtsm.2 \
-b 165x184-325x305,subtitle32+vts1.1 \
-b 352x184-512x305,subtitle32+vts1.2 \
-b 539x184-699x305,subtitle32+vts1.3 \
title2/titlemenu1.mpg -m -P \
-b 239x397-489x457,subtitle32+vts1 \
-b 239x500-489x560,subtitle32+vmgm1 \
-b 27x223-127x263,subtitle32+vtsm.1 \
-b 165x184-325x305,subtitle32+vts1.4 \
-b 352x184-512x305,subtitle32+vts1.5 \
-b 539x184-699x305,subtitle32+vts1.6
title2/titlemenu2.mpg -t -P \
title2/v1.mpg title2/v2.mpg title2/v3.mpg \
title2/v4.mpg title2/v5.mpg title2/v6.mpg \
 -i post=3Dvtsm

This code defines two title menus with six buttons each, six MPEG video clips (dvdauthor defines the transition from one clip to another as a chapter point) and a post-video instruction that returns the DVD player to the title menu. The coordinate system is the same as The GIMP's, so you can use that to get the necessary regions. A button can perform various actions (see dvdauthor --help for a list of possibilities). In the example above, the first button sets the audio track to zero, sets up the required subtitle stream (stream 0 is bizarrely numbered 32, stream 1 is 33 and so on) and plays the video associated with the title. The second button returns the player to the main VMGM menu, and the third button moves the DVD player to the second title menu. The other three buttons move to specific chapters within the video stream, corresponding to clicking on one of the thumbnail pictures. The -o option is for an output directory, in this case the image/ subdirectory. The program works incrementally, so running the same command line twice creates an additional title set rather than updating the original.

For the main menu, you need to pass the -T option to dvdauthor so it knows it should create the required VMGM information. Then, link in the VTS files it already has created:

dvdauthor -o tmp -T -m \
-b 497x89-693x136,vtsm1 \
-b 497x138-693x187,vtsm2 \
-b 497x189-693x239,vtsm3 \
-b 497x240-693x289,vtsm4 \
-b 426x405-490x474,vts5 \
-P mainmenu/mainmenu.mpg

Testing and Burning

It's a good idea to test the DVD image before burning it onto disc. This can be done using xine; all you need is to give xine an argument like this:

xine dvd:/path_to_dvd_root/VIDEO_TS/

and xine should act as though it is playing the information from a DVD. As dvdauthor is incremental, you should be able to use xine after creating each separate title to ensure that you're doing things properly.

Once you're happy with your DVD, it's time to burn. I used the cdrecord-prodvd application for DVD-R burning. The operation is the same as cdrecord, so first you need to create an ISO image using mkisofs:

mkisofs -o <output_filename> -dvd-video \

Then use cdrecord.prodvd to burn it:

cdrecord.prodvd dev=3D0,0,0 -pad -dao \



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

The tutorial was great, but I

JR's picture

The tutorial was great, but I am still confused about something. I wanted to know more about the process of authoring a DVD to work on as many players as possible. This was still about creating cool menus and stuff like that. Where do I read more about the authoring process? Thanks.

latest advancements

crackpipe's picture

Still one of the best tutorials out there, all these years later. I wonder if there is a similar tutorial written recently with the latest linux command line and gui front-ends for authoring and editing. I've found the devil is in the details with linux authoring. It takes several tools to get the background music and menus to be just right. Or wipes and graphics. These tools seem to be around in windows so I know there must be much better linux analogues?

Bake your own!

Marcus Brown's picture

You might like to check out an application I've written that does the work for you:

A other tutorial

Brunetton's picture

Here is a other tutorial, in French this time. May be usefull


Although dvdauthor doesn't ha

Anonymous's picture

Although dvdauthor doesn't have the easy-to-use interface of professional applications,

This is insulting. Although many new-media monkeys today use point and drool applications in a professional setting, a professional applications is quite likely to have a scriptable "small and sharp tool" interface that will allow it to be automated, pipelined or in some other way made to fit the working environment and methods.

The programmer(s) can't know how (another) user will use the tools and should make no assumptions! And it is particularly the professionals that need to be able to throw away repetitive wizards and other joe random user interfaces and make work after work happen the right way. Every time. And when a change is needed, you make the change and only the change and re-run the process etc.

Maybe Milk of Magnesia would

Anonymous's picture

Maybe Milk of Magnesia would help you.

DV tape w. DateTime > Subtitle in Linux ?

Anonymous's picture

Is there any programs for linux that grabs the datecode from a dvstream and creates subtitles accordingly ?

I've been using DV sub maker for windows to grab the datetime but would like to go linux.
- http://icqphone.ru/video2tv/


Re: DV tape w. DateTime > Subtitle in Linux ?

Anonymous's picture

You can try http://dv2sub.sf.net

Re: DVD Authoring

Anonymous's picture

I've posted a DVD Authoring on Linux primer at my website. It's still a work in progress but might be usefull to others as it is.

Anders Dahnielson

Re: DVD Authoring

ianpointer's picture

Just a couple of points:

I got mixed up between Japan's placement in Region 2 and what TV format it uses. Although the country is in Region 2 like Europe, it uses NTSC instead of PAL/SECAM. Apologies for that error.

Secondly, in the time since I wrote this article, the dvdauthor team have been busy improving the application. One of the main changes has been to switch to using XML to lay out the title information, thus eliminating some of the huge command-lines in my tutorial. They have a brief guide to the new format here.