Converting a PAL DVD to NTSC

A coworker of mine asked me to convert her PAL DVD to NTSC because her player for whatever reason would not play back the PAL DVD.  Before I continue I would like to make a point of saying that I suppose the applications and concepts I demonstrate here can be used for copyright circumvention, which I in no way am a proponent of. The intent of this short howto is to demonstrate a way of playing back a PAL DVD, that you own,  without having to purchase a PAL TV and PAL DVD player (which are hard to come by here in NTSC North America).  That said, on to the howto!

The first approach I took was to remove the region lock from the DVD.  This is as easy as downloading DVD shrink, creating an ISO from the original DVD, and finally reburning the DVD as region 0. 

The theory behind this is as follows:  DVD video is simply an MPEG video that has been encoded in a special manner for playback in compliant hardware. 

Once I had removed the region encoding, playback was possible in some players -- my xbox 360, for example.  The DVD however, did not play back on her DVD player.  Next step, try to trick the DVD player into thinking that it's playing back an NTSC file.  To do this, I downloaded an IFO editor and modified the encoding type to NTSC and the frame rate / resolution accordingly in the IFOs for each title.  This allowed  the DVD to be played back in PCs, at funny resolutions, but her player still would not play back the DVD.

It looked like I was going to have to do this the hard way :-(

I needed to:

  1. Extract and recode the content using a DVD transcoder.
  2. Re-encode the DVD to NTSC format.
  3. Re-author the DVD for playback.
  4. Burn :)

I was at around step 3 when I found an alternative solution.

DVD2AVI

This made it easy as could be and performed all the steps I needed to do usign automation.  The software has a mode titled ISO mode where it turns a VBO into a DVD iso for burning.  This feature supports PAL to NTSC conversion and authoring!  I simply filled out the wizard and ran it and, woot!  NTSC DVD.

Rather cool eh?