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West Wing: Now on DVD

westwing.jpgI just finished burning my first West Wing DVD. It's not a scientific process at all - I have about 12 episodes on my TiVo (and a new one every week) that I'm putting onto DVD, two per disc. I enjoy the show tremendously, but want to regain the use of the space on my TiVo, so for $3 a pop it's worth putting them onto DVDs.

I went all out, too. I took the credits/title screen and stripped out the audio, then compressed it to a nice 30 seconds. I took the 50-second theme song, found a point at which it loops back around at 37 seconds, and sped it up to 30 seconds. Both done, of course, so that I can have a nice 30 second loop, iDVD's limit. The result is a pretty spiffy little title screen if I do say so myself.

Next, I chose a theme. As you can see here (below), I went with the one that shows the black and white faded version behind a smaller color version ("Picture in Picture" it is called). Two episodes per disc equal about 1 hour and 25 minutes of video, complete with chapter markers (set at each commercial break). There's no way to have chapter selection for more than one movie, so I simply bring two episodes into the same iMovie project, strip out the commercials, and do the chapter work there. I pop it into my saved iDVD template and burn burn burn.


Now what's interesting is that I'm probably doing something illegal somewhere in here, but I fail to see why or how. I am not selling the DVDs. They are purely for my own use - and I mean that quite literally, because I haven't been able to talk anyone into watching it with me besides Dave. Yet what I've done is no different, really, than leaving episodes on my TiVo so that I can watch them at any time. The TiVo is portable - I could plug it in to someone else's TV at someone else's house and watch the episodes there. Sure, it'd be easier to loan them a DVD, but I can also loan people audio CDs without issue. Or my purchased DVDs. Either way: nobody's lost money on this deal, the makers of DVD media have made some money, and I'm satisfied that I can watch episodes of my favorite TV show for years to come.

I did run into some annoying things in iDVD. For example, when you freely position titles, you can't drag more than one title at a time, nor does holding shift constrain a title to a vertical or horizontal axis. This makes aligning titles tedious. Next, there seems to be no way to save a custom theme. (Correction: there's a "Save as Favorite" button.) I've created the media, so recreating my custom theme shouldn't be that hard. Still, it'd be nice if I could save it. (Correction: duh.) A few other minor things here and there annoyed me, but I'm probably really in need of a DVD Express (DVD Studio Pro being overkill).

P.S. "Arctic Radar" and "Swiss Diplomacy" were the subject of the first DVD, as the screenshot indicates. I think I actually have 9 more currently on the TiVo, so by the time I get done with those around next Friday, I'll have six discs. Total cost: $18 and a whole lot of time spent burning discs and making sure I haven't made any typos in the chapter titles.

7 Responses to "West Wing: Now on DVD"

  1. Erik,

    First, thanks for letting me see those episodes 😉

    Second, you bring up a good point about the "legal" issues of DVD burning. (Careful! Eisner and Disney might be pounding on your door. But really, why?) Do "they" think making some custom CDs/DVDs for your personal use is going to reduce your buying tendencies so they go out of business? I've found it somewhat the opposite (like your DVD purchases) experience ... the more I custom create, the more I buy commercial as well. Why? Simple, I'm more involved.

  2. Hi,

    Amazing, I am making West Wing DVD's as well. I was wondering if you move the files directly from your Tivo or you utilize a capture card. Any info is appreciated.


  3. I am putting the s-video and audio cables out to my Sony DSR-PD150 (dv camera), then into the Firewire port on my Mac, and just playing them on the TiVo, through the camera, onto my Mac. Then I crop out the commercials, set the chapters at each commercial break, and burn to DVD.

  4. Hey I just missed the 02/04/2004 episode because my Tivo somehow screwed up again - it recorded the show because I checked to see if it was recording while I worked and then erased it??

    Any chance you recorded the episode tonight and I could get a copy of your DVD?


  5. I believe that would be illegal, Scott.

  6. Not illegal - you can buy a tivo dvd recorder on the tivo website. 🙂

  7. HI,

    I was supposed to tape West Wing for my husband last night (Oct. 27, 2004 episode) and completely forgot! He was driving in from out of state & he is going to be so upset with me. Is there anyone who would let me borrow or purchase theirs?

    Thank you!