Avi to DVD -- with no DVD burner?
December 16, 2010 9:39 PM   Subscribe

I need to get a few small .avi files burned onto a DVD that will play in a standard DVD player. Complication: I don't have a DVD burner. Are there any shops in Manhattan that will do it for me while I wait?

Around 2 pm today (Friday), I'll get a few .avi files online. I can save them to my flash drive if that's helpful. By 8 pm, I need to go from .avi to DVD, and from midtown Manhattan to Alphabet City.

It would be really easy if I had a DVD burner, but I don't, and since this is a one-time thing, it doesn't make sense to buy one. Is there any type of shop in Manhattan that will accept my .avis (by e-mail or on my flash drive) and convert them into a DVD to watch on a standalone player?

Again, there's a tight timeline, so I can't drop anything off overnight -- I would need a turnaround of a few hours max. It's also really important that we can watch the video on a TV+player setup without a computer. And of course, I would really, really appreciate a reasonable price.

Any other creative solutions? Is it possible to rent an external DVD burner? I'd love any workable suggestions. Thanks!
posted by booksandlibretti to Technology (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's not just a matter of having a burner. If you really want it to play on any standard DVD player, you have to create a DVD format. That means VOB files, for instance. AVI don't make it. You'd need a DVD mastering program.

DVD is a digital storage device, and you can directly burn your AVI files onto a DVD, easy as all get out. But not every DVD player will understand the result, especially if you're using an MPEG-4 codec. Real DVDs have certain specific files that have to be stored on them, with specific names, and specific kinds of information inside. The VOB files, for example, MUST be MPEG2 and MUST be 720*480. (The aspect ratio of 640*480 or 853*480 gets distorted to fit into 720*480.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:57 PM on December 16, 2010

Response by poster: Right, I know. That's why I was talking about conversion instead of just burning, and why I was being so clear about what I wanted to do with it. There are a bunch of previous questions asking how to do exactly that conversion (and the answers seem to be pretty straightforward with some basic freeware) -- but those don't help me; I can't do it myself because I don't have a DVD burner. That's why I'm trying to find a shop that will do the conversion as well as the burning for me.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:17 PM on December 16, 2010

Yes, you can use something like ConvertXtoDVD (my fave for simple authoring) and create an ISO file. Ask your friends or coworkers if any of them have a Windows laptop purchased in the past 5 years, if so it will have a DVD burner. Then you can take a blank DVD (purchased just about anywhere) and your ISO file (USB key) and burn it to the DVD. Just copy the ISO to the laptop, right click the .iso file and select "Burn to disc" (or whatever).
posted by rhizome at 10:38 PM on December 16, 2010

Or maybe you could take a blank dvd to a nearby library and burn it there?
posted by meta87 at 10:50 PM on December 16, 2010

Given a choice, you should burn DVD-R rather than DVD+R. A lot of DVD players can't read DVD+R.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:53 PM on December 16, 2010

On another forum I have seen DOI Camera recommended fairly often (mainly for standards conversion & tape transfers) - but I hesitate to recommend them myself because a) reviews I see on Google are mixed (at best), and b) I have no personal experience because I'm 9700 miles away.

But also be aware that a 1-off job like this - particularly a rush job - is likely to cost more than a cheap external DVD burner.
posted by Pinback at 11:28 PM on December 16, 2010

I'm going to echo the suggestion that you at least get the DVD conversion process done yourself, so that at the very least, you're that far along into the equation. I also recommend ConvertXToDVD, although it's not a free program. There are free alternatives, but that one is the simplest I've found.

At that point, all you have ahead of you is a 10-15 minute task, burning the DVD. You just have to find a burner. The "find a friend/coworker/acquaintance with a burner" seems like the best option to me, since it'll be free, and they likely won't make you wait until tomorrow to do it.

Barring that, try popping into a computer repair shop and explaining your dilemma. It's extremely likely they'll have a computer with a DVD burner there, and they might accommodate this request for some nominal fee.
posted by katyggls at 12:45 AM on December 17, 2010

Just to clarify, the reason I recommend doing the converting yourself is because it can take awhile. It takes about an hour and a half to 2 hours for my computer to convert 3 350MB avi files to DVD format. This will vary based on both the file and the machine of course.

I'm just thinking that if you convert the files to DVD yourself, and are just bringing whatever business/entity you decide upon an ISO file to burn, which takes all of 15 minutes, max, this increases your chances of getting it done within the time frame you specify.
posted by katyggls at 12:54 AM on December 17, 2010

Find someone with a recent Mac and use iDVD. If iDVD doesn't like the AVIs, use the free program MPEG Streamclip to convert to DV format.
posted by omnidrew at 7:39 AM on December 17, 2010

If you don't know anyone, try craigslist. Someone's bound to do you a favor.
posted by CodeMonkey at 9:52 AM on December 17, 2010

As a last resort, why don't you pre-encode the DVD and burn it in an Apple Store? Nobody will really care (especially in the busy 59th st location) and if anyone asks you any questions, you can always say that you're testing your workflow on the computers.
posted by suedehead at 9:57 AM on December 17, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! GregNog volunteered to do it, which is really awesome of him! Thanks for the conversion tips/links. If I hadn't been able to find a friend with the capacity, I especially liked the Mac store idea!
posted by booksandlibretti at 2:38 PM on December 17, 2010

If this really is critical, you may want to try a dry run, using other AVI files, just to see if it will play in the DVD player you're going to use come the day.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:56 PM on December 17, 2010

Response by poster: It was actually literally today (well yesterday now) and it worked perfectly. GregNog is very nice and I owe him drinks because the day was saved yay!
posted by booksandlibretti at 2:37 AM on December 18, 2010

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