The necessary file structure for a DVD to be playable


The backstory: I've purchased a DVD via online download (from The files appear in this kind of directory tree:

DVD Name
|   +-- (various video files)
+-- cover/
|   +-- (a couple of .jpgs of the DVD cover art)

I'm trying (on a Mac using Disk Utility) to burn this to a DVD. I've created a DVD/CD master image of this structure in a couple of different ways and then burned them, none of which have produced a DVD that is viewable in my DVD player. Here's what I've tried so far:

  1. Make an image of the whole structure shown above. Basically, pointed Disk Utility at the "DVD Name" folder.
  2. Make an image of the whole structure shown above, minus what seems to be metadata that might not be necessary – I removed the cover subdirectory as well as the file, and pointed Disk Utility at the "DVD Name" folder.
  3. Make an image of part of the structure above. Basically, pointed Disk Utility at the "VIDEO_TS" folder.

So I'm wondering what contents the filesystem image needs to have. What's the right structure so that my DVD will play in a regular DVD player?

Oh, I believe the medium itself isn't an issue. I'm using DVD-R discs, and both DVD players I tried these burns on claim to be able to play DVD+/-R discs.

Best Answer

In a technical sense, the VIDEO_TS folder already contains the video data in DVD format. A Video DVD is the contents of this VIDEO_TS folder burned onto a DVD+/-R disc in a hybrid ISO9660+UDF filesystem. As Steve Rowe has mentioned, Video DVDs use UDF v1.02.

See Doom9's DVD Structure article for details of the filetypes. When burned as a Video DVD, the files in the VIDEO_TS folder are layed out on the disc in a particular order. For example (notice the files are not layed out in alphabetical order):

VIDEO_TS.IFO         -- VIDEO_TS.* is the first play item
VTS_01_0.IFO         -- VTS_01 is the first title set
VTS_01_0.VOB            -- the _0.VOB is the title set's menu
VTS_01_1.VOB            -- the _[1-9].VOB is the title set's video content
VTS_02_0.IFO         -- IFOs contain navigational information
VTS_02_0.VOB         -- VOBs contain Video, Audio & Subtitle streams
VTS_02_0.BUP         -- BUPs are backup IFOs

Many data burning utilities can create Video DVDs, but you need to make sure they don't try to burn as a data DVD -- data DVDs won't necessarily lay out the files in the proper order, and may use the wrong filesystem for the disc.

If you have the mkisofs command available (in the Terminal on MacOSX and Linux, or Windows with Cygwin), or the hdiutil command on OSX, you can make a ready-to-burn ISO with one of the following commands (source):

# INPUT_FOLDER is the folder that contains the VIDEO_TS

mkisofs -f -dvd-video -udf -V VOLUMENAME -o OUTPUT.iso /path/to/INPUT_FOLDER

hdiutil makehybrid -iso -joliet -udf -udf-version 1.02 -default-volume-name "VOLUMENAME" -o OUTPUT.iso /path/to/INPUT_FOLDER

The output ISO file can be burned with any burning utility program.