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How to Make a Computer DVD Play on a DVD Recorder

Updated April 05, 2017

Now that you've got hours of video taking up space on your hard drive, you probably want to transfer it to DVD. But once you've burnt all that video to DVD, getting the disc to play back on standard DVD players can sometimes be tricky. The most common problem with playback is that a DVD disc was not finalised after the recording process. When you burn a DVD in your computer's drive, you must finalise the disc before it will be playable on other DVD machines. The second most common problem is a format incompatibility issue. For example, a DVD-R disc will not playback on a standard DVD player unless that player supports the DVD-R format.

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  1. Check the user manuals for both your computer's DVD burner and your other DVD playback machines to find out which formats of discs they support. Here's an overview:

  2. DVD-R: A write-once format supported by most recorders/players, DVD-R discs need to be finalised before they can be played in another DVD player.

  3. DVD-R DL: Just like standard DVD-R discs except that it has two layers on the same side of the DVD, allowing twice the recording time capacity on a single side.

  4. DVD-RW: Recordable and rewritable format playable in most DVD players, provided the disc is finalised after recording.

  5. DVD+RW: Recordable and rewritable format that is easiest to use for recording since the discs do not need to be finalised. This is because the finalisation process is automatically performed during the actual recording process itself.

  6. DVD+R: A record-once format, playable in most DVD machines. DVD+R discs need to be finalised before they can play in another DVD player.

  7. DVD+R DL: Just like DVD+R, except this disc has two layers on the same side of the DVD, allowing twice the recording time.

  8. Insert a blank recordable disc into your computer's DVD writer drive. Allow a few minutes for your computer to format the disc for recording.

  9. Open the digital video software program of your choice. Some popular video editing/transfer programs are Roxio, DVD Flick, and Express Burn (which also supports Blu-ray). See References and Resources for tutorials and download links for these programs.

  10. You can also just use Windows Movie Maker and Windows DVD Maker (pre-installed with Windows), which allows you to create, save and burn your video productions to DVD.

  11. Use your video authoring software to add video clips or full-length movies to the time line (also called the Storyboard in some programs).

  12. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will use Windows Movie Maker. You can use the "Add Video Clip" command, or simply drag-and-drop your video clips into the time line.

  13. Arrange your video clips in the order you want them to appear (select the video, then drag-and-drop it into place).

  14. Add musical backing tracks or narration if desired by clicking "Add Audio" or simply drag-and-drop your audio files into the time line.

  15. Click "Finish Movie" when you are satisfied with your final movie mix. (Hint: you can preview the movie in the preview window on the right side of your screen.)

  16. Click "Save to My Computer." The "Save Movie Wizard" will open.

  17. Type a name for your movie in the file name box. You can also choose a folder to save it in on your hard drive by clicking the "Browse" button. Then click "Next."

  18. Move forward to the "Movie Setting" page, click "Show More Choices," then select the format settings you want from the drop-down list. Standard for DVD playback is DV-AVI (NTSC is the U.S., PAL in the U.K.). Then click "Next."

  19. Wait while Windows Movie Maker renders your movie (this can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the length of your movie).

  20. View your finished movie and make sure you're happy with the results before burning to DVD. Make adjustments/edits as necessary, then click "Publish Movie."

  21. Select "DVD," then click "Next." Windows DVD Maker opens (this should already be pre-installed on your system).

  22. Add your finished movies to the DVD by clicking "Add Items." Keep adding movies until the disc is full (watch the disc space indicator at the bottom of the window). Then click "Next" when you're done adding videos.

  23. Add chapter titles and select menu options on the following screen. Click "Next." Your video will start burning; this process may take several hours to complete.

  24. Eject the finalised DVD from your computer's drive and insert into your DVD Player/Recorder. Press "Play" or select a chapter from the Main Menu.

  25. Enjoy your movie!

  26. Tip

    You may want to start burning your DVD before bedtime so the movie will burn while you sleep. It's best not to use your computer during the burning process, as this consumes a lot of your PC's resources. If your disc still won't play back after being finalised, try it in a friend's DVD player. For other troubleshooting tips, see Reference 2.


    (VCD) Video-CDs will only play on certain DVD player equipment. Don't forget to finalise your disc! DVDs that have not been finalised will not play on standard DVD players/recorders. Using disks that do not support your burner's write speed will cause unpredictable results. Make sure your write speed matches the capacity of the disc itself.

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Things You'll Need

  • Video editing/authoring software
  • Computer with DVD burner
  • Standalone DVD player or recorder
  • Blank recordable DVD discs

About the Author

Lori Spencer has written professionally since 1986. She is the author of three nonfiction books, is writing her fourth and provides content for eHow and LIVESTRONG.COM. She also produces and hosts a weekly radio show. Her subjects of expertise include history, media, music, film and the performing arts.

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