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Review: TFDVDEdit 2

January, 2004

***The following Company is no longer in service***


DVD Utility and Re-Authoring Software

Alex Alexzander


System Requirements:

  • Any version of MacOS X or OS 9.22
  • Apple's MPEG2 Playback Component
  • 200 MB or better recommended for OS 9.22 users
  • DVD Authoring Software (such as DVD Studio Pro)*

Price: $699.00* [link]


  • Comes with one-year membership to TFDVDEDIT.COM with professional forum-based support [link]
  • PDF-based Program Overview [link]
  • Sample Project (Included) [link]
  • Public Forum (Free) [link]
  • Free program updates for one year


Trai Forrester is a well-known DVD Guru, consultant, and solution provider for many of the DVD industries' common problems. Trai is perhaps best known for assisting so many with DVD-9 layer break issues and for his TFDVDEdit utility and re-authoring application. This is a review of the TFDVDEdit 2 application software. More information about Trai Forrester. [link]

TFDVDEdit 2 is not a stand-alone DVD authoring package, but instead a sophisticated .IFO and .VOB editor. This refers to the .IFO and .VOB files contained inside the VIDEO_TS folder of any DVD project that has been sent through the BUILD (Multiplexed) process after authoring.

TFDVDEdit 2 is sold as a utility to make simple modifications to a DVD. Some of the outlined modification examples outlined in the Program Overview are:

  • Region settings on the DVD
  • Menu button highlight colors
  • Denying remote control user operations
  • Changing video attribute settings
  • Many other functions all the way up to re-authoring the DVD entirely can be achieved as well.

Getting Started

One of the biggest reasons you would likely buy this application is that you are looking to fill some kind of a shortcoming in your own authoring application. Now these shortcomings are not the kind of issues the non-professional will likely ever care about. Because of that reality and because of the sheer complexity of this application, I want to make it clear that this application is not just a professional tool, it's a professional's tool.

DVD authoring software isn't perfect, and much of the time a good forum and community can help you resolve an issue over functionality that you wish to author within your project. Still at some point, you may hit a wall and realize that perhaps the functionality you want is simply beyond the scope of the authoring application. The problem is, just as some features and functions may be missing from the authoring application, some features may be incorrect by your own standards.

Let me bring up an example. In one my conversations with Trai Forrester, the subject of region encoding came up as a compatibility issue in which DVD Studio Pro 2 doesn't quite honor the region settings offered inside the application as we see in the image below. This becomes especially important as we begin to use Toast to format our changes to DVD-R and DLT.

"The important thing to know about setting the disc to truly all regions is if you're writing a DVD-R with Toast, and/or a DLT with Toast; those region settings must be changed to match Toasts output of the region setting it will put in the lead-in of it's formatting for DLT, and DVD-Recordable should have truly all regions set, as it doesn't have any region info written to its lead-in, since it's a DVD-R; so the IFO files should be set to "0" for the region value." - Trai Forrester.

Test Project with All Regions Selected for Build Process

Here is my test DVD build with all regions selected. Note that I have selected the country codes 1 through 6 as well as the Reserved 7 region, and the In Flight Entertainment 8 region. The region code mask should be set to 0, which is all regions enabled, but instead we can see regions 7 and 8 are both designated as disabled and the mask is set to 192 rather than 0. This test build is created using Apple's DVD Studio Pro 2.0.4 on January 9th, 2004. We are using TFDVDEdit 2 version 2.0.3 to view these settings in the Video Manager of the build from the VIDEO_TS folder. According to Trai Forrester, this is not limited to DVD Studio Pro. Other systems will leave 7 and 8 disabled as well and this can confuse some players.

Corrected Region Code Settings with TFDVDEdit 2

TFDVDEdit 2 allows you to easily fix this after the build process. The image above is my going into the Video Manager right from the multiplexed VIDEO_TS folder and editing the regional code settings, changing 7 and 8 from disabled to ok. This changed the mask to 0 from 192. Now, once I have done this, I need to take this edited VIDEO_TS folder and Format (burn) it to a DVD and verify it functions properly. To do this, we are using Roxio's Toast 5.1.2 or better. I will be using Toast 6.0.3 as my review burning application.

Roxio's Toast 6

- Preparing to burn a corrected DVD

It is important to note that once we are ready to burn using Toast, we must first delete the .LAYOUT and .LAY file from the VIDEO_TS folder that DVD Studio Pro 2 would normally delete for us during its own format procedure.

- Adding the VIDEO_TS

Once this is completed, we add our VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folders to Toast as shown below. In this example, I have used Toast's advanced settings which give access to the DVD-ROM (UDF) setting inside the DATA folder option. This will retain my entire project without allowing Toast to generate its own menu.

Roxio Toast Titanium 6.0.3

Here I have brought in my edited test project into Roxio's Toast 6 and burned a DVD-R sample of the TFDVDEdit 2 modified VIDEO_TS folder. Since we are able to read the .IFO and .VOB data, I am also able to check the VIDEO_TS folder of the burned DVD-R I created in this test to verify that the region codes have in fact been modified. From this, you can see that the authoring still takes place with your DVD authoring software. After that, you may choose to edit the multiplexed VIDEO_TS folder with TFDVDEdit 2 and at that point, take that finished work and complete the format procedure.

TFDVDEdit 2 can be used to fix issues you may encounter, now and in the future. By giving you access to edit the .IFO and .VOB information, you have a general-purpose tool that allows for both examination and correction if needed. That is a very simple example of a correction you may wish to make.

Next, I want to show you how TFDVDEdit 2 may also be used to add functionality beyond the scope of the authoring application.

Adding Functionality

A popular menu technique used by DVD Studio Pro 2 authors is the ability to create an animated menu with a loop point. The purpose of this kind of animated menu is simple. You want to have an animation play first as an intro and at a certain point the menu selections become available seamlessly as part of that animated introduction. Once these menu selections are made available, we would like the animation to continue to play seamlessly. Of course, this cannot go on forever so when the end of the animation is reached, it replays from the loop point to the end again. This way, we don't keep watching the introduction. We only need to see that once.

This works perfectly for the DVDs you rent and not so perfectly for the DVDs we author. The problem is each time the user returns to the menu, we see the introduction again. While there are many ways to mask this issue, the true solution would be to tell DVD Studio Pro 2 to check and see if that intro has played once already and if it has, then not to play it again. This is where TFDVDEdit 2 comes in.

Ian Shepherd, a beta tester and contributor of a very good article on Trai's Web site, shows how to solve this issue with TFDVDEdit 2. Ian instructs that I create a flag inside my DVD Studio Pro 2 project that I can use later inside TFDVDEdit 2 to re-direct which part of the animated menu my user will return to based on a condition of playback. For example: If the user has already watched a track asset, then going back to the menu should not cause us to re-watch the intro again. Following Ian's recommendation I created a GPRM 7 value of 1 that is set when any track asset is selected from the looping menu.

Ian's flag script

Ian's idea is, we will modify the root VTSM PGC of the looping menu. Using TFDVDEdit 2 we can see the Pre-Commands and Post-Commands from the abstraction layer that DVD Studio Pro has authored on our behalf into DVD-SPEC commands. Ian's flag of GPRM 7 with a value of 1 is set when a track plays as shown in the pre-script. Here in TFDVDEdit 2 we have added a single command, which is command 16 marked by the text "Modification". You can also see that we have three red arrows pointing to VTSM PGC 7 (2 Programs), which is the root container for our looping menu, and inside of that are PG 1 and PG 2. PG 1 is the first part of the looping menu up to where we set the loop point inside DVD Studio Pro 2. I'll call that the Intro. PG 2 is the repeating loop part of my looping menu.

Editing the looping menu root Pre-Commands

By adding line 16, Ian is in effect interacting with the flag set in his pre-script here in TFDVDEdit 2. Line 16 instructs that if r15 (GPRM 7) is equal to 1 then play the loop. That is to say, the intro is skipped when our flag set in DVD Studio Pro 2 has a value of 1. This happens anytime a track is played. That means, when we burn this DVD, the user sees the intro, the loop, then makes a selection. That sets GPRM 7 to a value of 1, which in DVD-SPEC for DVD Studio Pro is r15. When the user goes back to the menu, the intro portion of the looping menu is skipped. We are sending the user back to PG 2, which is not an option inside DVD Studio Pro, but is through the DVD-SPEC. You can see that with a simple modification, Ian has solved a problem that many would love the answer to. This is another example of the general-purpose utility nature of TFDVDEdit 2. Once you have access to this kind of editing, there are many more useful problems that can be solved.

So in addition to fixing a problem that you may face with your build, you also have the opportunity to add functionality that goes beyond that of the DVD authoring application on its own. Even greater re-authoring capabilities mixing multiple VIDEO_TS assets are supported.


- First the bad news

Now as shown in the last demonstration of TFDVDEdit 2, Ian had to know that the abstraction layer inside DVD Studio Pro 2 uses 8 of the 16 GPRMs for its abstraction layer functions. He also needed to know that what Apple leaves us for our own use, GPRM 0 through 7, is really DVD-SPEC GPRMs r8 through r15. Ian is careful to explain this point, but it brings up yet another point about TFDVDEdit 2.

TFDVDEdit 2 is not a tool you should expect to master immediately. This is a DVD-SPEC-based editing tool and requires some knowledge on your part or a willingness to learn. Good articles like Ian's go a long way toward educating you. The Product Overview document, which is the TFDVDEdit 2 product manual, can be a difficult read the first time. It's chock full of terms that are DVD-SPEC terms. Trai Forrester has done a good job keeping the layout of the editor in sync with the Outline Tab inside DVD Studio Pro 2. This will help you when you see things that are familiar in layout and function. In addition to that, Ian's simple tutorial, which part of this review is based on, can be very exciting and educational as well as very helpful.

There are no other forum-based communities at the time of this review that I know of for support and other user opinion. This is a point I think would help potential customers. Part of the reason applications like DVD Studio Pro 2 sell in the first place is that the customer feels best when there is much written about a topic. The larger the support community and the more open that community is, the more the user is allowed to make an educated decision for or against the purchase of an application. I personally hope to see growth in this area in the near future. I would imagine third-party forums and an open exchange of user written tutorials not unlike those we see on LAFCPUG,, and Creative Cow would help foster user acceptance in a dramatic way. For the time being, you are limited to Trai's forums for support.

- Now the good news

This tool can absolutely save you, educate you, and give you much more control over many aspects of DVD authoring. It is general purpose in nature, which means that what-ever uses you have today will only expand in the future. Once you have access to this DVD-SPEC-based editor you have a whole new world of opportunity. This tool was not designed to solve the specific problem Ian solved. Instead, Ian saw the opportunity to use the tool to solve an existing problem with this existing tool. As I have become more sensitive to the tool's capabilities I can see many more solutions down the road that could be addressed by this tool.

Trai Forrester has created an open and free forum for anyone interested in TFDVDEdit 2. He welcomes you to ask any question you would like to there. In addition to that, you are welcome to download the product manual. This is a great way to get an in-depth overview of the entire application without actually buying it. With that, and the open question and answer forum, you can now get the answers to your tough questions before you purchase the software. Trai also provides professional forum support for the product for an entire year with purchase in addition to product upgrades for an entire year. There are already members asking questions and getting answers that also serve to educate the user-base as to the capabilities of this application.

- The Interface

Using the preview as a guide

The interface is thoughtfully designed. There is a lot of information available to the user, and the interface handles this massive amount of information logically while keeping parity with the DVD Studio Pro 2 Outline tab. This is especially good for the first-time user.

TFDVDEdit 2 makes use of Apple's QuickTime MPEG2 Playback Component, and the two combined really help guide you visually through the editing process. Here I can see my motion menu as authored inside DVD Studio Pro 2. I can even play it and watch the black bar at the bottom change from Cell ID 1 to Cell ID 2 as it passes over the cells that create this motion menu.

Underneath that, I see my Cell 1 and 2 wrapped inside PG 1 and PG 2. On the left pane of TFDVDEdit 2 interface, highlighted in blue, the VTSM PGC 7 highlight shows I am in the root of my motion menu. If I click on PG 1 and play it, it is obvious this is the intro PG 1 cell. Clicking on PG 2 and playing it previews only the loop cell. As you learn where things are stored, this ability to see menus and tracks as well as cells really helps you reinforce what you are learning.

Examining PG 2 Nav Packs

Here the interface allows me to drill deeper into PG 2 and see the button structure and assignment created inside DVD Studio Pro 2. I see my looping section, the buttons, their assignments, color schema, and more. I can play this section in the preview independent of PG 1, the intro cell into the loop. There can be no mistaking what part of my looping menu I am sending my user back to with this kind of visual representation. Remember, this is all edit able as well. For example, I can change the color highlight palette colors here as well if I wanted to.


As I hope I have shown you, this application deals with complex DVD-SPEC authoring, and that is not as easy to understand as your DVD authoring application likely was for you. If you rarely script, rarely dig deeper, and rarely like to explore the inner-workings of the DVD authoring application you already use, then this might not be for you. If on the other hand you are a professional DVD author, you need this tool. Regardless of your knowledge you will at times need to verify, change or modify, or add functionality that simply goes beyond the authoring application. For those that fit this description, I would take Trai up on his offer to read the free manual and ask questions, as many as you like, in the free forum. The very solution that eludes you might be a simple edit away and that can save you a lot of time, money, and grief.

No one review can answer everyone's questions. This is the first review I know of for this product and as such I wanted to give you a general sense of what it is and what it can do for you. I was surprised how quickly the looping issue can be solved with this. I was able to add that functionality in just minutes without prior experience. So much more awaits you with this tool and as I consider what I now have to work with, I can't help but feel much more in control of my projects. This is one product I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to review and use.

©Copyright 2004 Alex Alexzander
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