Burn Baby Burn

DVD BurningThe so-called “SuperDrive” in my new 12″ PowerBook G4, while not the first DVD-RW I’ve ever had access to, is the first one I’ve personally owned. So, with a little bit of free time this past weekend, I decided to sit down and see if it was possible to burn myself a copy of one of the movies that I own in DVD format — for fair use, back-up purposes only, of course.

Burning DVDs for Dummies

The effort required to do this is not significant, but it’s also not as simple as burning a music CD from iTunes, say. This is mostly owing to the fact that the process involves several steps and several distinct software applications — it’s just barely complicated enough that it might dissuade the most casual of users from undertaking the task.

Furthermore, all this effort doesn’t even yield a true back-up of the entire contents of a standard DVD. The recordable DVD-R discs available today aren’t sufficiently roomy to copy all of the extra features and menus found on a typical manufacturer’s disc. This means that some compromises must be made when one engages in this kind of activity, though it’s still completely possible to produce a pixel-perfect duplication of the movie itself — sans all the interactive extras — which is good enough for me.


I cribbed most of this process from various sources, so for the benefit of others, I’m posting my notes here. They’re not the most detailed notes ever, but anyone with a moderate comfort-level with new software will be able to fill in the blanks easily. If you’re running Mac OS X Jaguar or Panther on a system that more or less resembles mine, then these steps might work for you, but I warrant nothing and, due to a severely limited expertise in this subject, can’t offer support or answer questions. Also, I have to assume that everyone who uses these instructions intends to use them exclusively for legal back-ups of their personal, legally-owned DVDs… right? I know that’s how I’m using them, Mr. Aschroft.

How to Back-Up a DVD Movie

  1. Load the DVD to be backed up into your Macintosh and play it for at least a few seconds with Apple’s built-in DVD Player software. This effectively authenticates the disc, so that you’ll be able to use it with other software.
  2. Use DVDBackup to extract the DVD content from the disc onto your hard drive.
  3. Purchase and install DVD2OneX in order to package the saved DVD content so that it will fit on a standard DVD-R disc. Before using it for the first time, one of the program’s key features — the ability to output a disk image file — must be enabled in a fairly manual fashion through the addition of a third-party software component:
    • Enable the “Create image” feature by installing MKISOFS — I don’t know what it means or stands for — by downloading the DVD Imager utility. This download will include a ‘Source’ folder, inside of which can be found MKISOFS; this needs to be installed as a part of the DVD2OneX package. To do this, locate that application, then control-click on its icon and select “Show Package Contents…” to reveal its hidden structure. Find the folder called ‘Resources’ and copy MKISOFS into it.
  4. Use DVD2OneX to locate the DVD contents saved to your hard disk and then select the contents you’d like to back-up. Make sure “Create image” is selected, and be sure to name the output file using all capitals and no spaces. Click on ‘Save’ to create the disk image on your hard drive.
  5. Use Apple’s Disk Utility (or Disk Copy in versions of Mac OS X older than Panther) to burn that disk image to a brand new DVD-R. All finished.


  1. great article. if you run OSX10.2 and have an aftermarket dvd burner that features a pioneer 106D drive (common to LaCie and QPS) you need to be picky with your media (no firmware upgrades for mac are available). RITEK 4X DVD-R SHINY SILVER (DVD 01X0120) work for me.

  2. The DVD Imaging seems like a bit of work – but I note you’re using Disk Utility to Burn the resulting DVD. I do this all the time, but just burn the resulting VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folders (after running DVD2OneX) to a DVD using Toast, in the DVD/UDF Format. No need to worry about naming conventions of the DVD, for they play in my home machine no problem.

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