Convert PAL DVD for PC Playback

Sam asks, "How do I convert a PAL DVD made in Europe to NTSC?"

I've experimented with a handful of ways to convert PAL format video to NTSC, with none of them yielding perfect results. If you have a friend in Europe who sends you a DVD created in the PAL format, you might have problems playing it back if you don't either have a DVD player with PAL support or a computer that knows how to playback PAL format content. One way around this is to convert the PAL DVD to either a digital file on your PC or converting the file to an NTSC compatible DVD.

Making a PAL Video File

The easy solution to your problem is to simply convert the PAL DVD to a digital file on your computer. While there are rules about DVD drives supporting multiple regions or both NTSC and PAL, software doesn't care what format a digital file is in, it simply plays the file.

To convert the PAL DVD to a file, you need VLC Player. You can download VLC Player here.

Put the PAL DVD in the DVD drive in your computer (even if your computer is set to playback NTSC DVDs) and open VLC Player. From the File menu choose Open Disc. Click the radio button next to DVD and check the box next to Stream/Save, then click the Settings button.

On the Settings dialog box, check the box next to File, choose a name and location to save your file. Select the button next to MPEG PS, which stands for Program Stream. In the Transcoding options section, check the box next to Audio codec and choose either mp2a or mp3 as the output format. I use 192 kbps as the bitrate for marginally better quality. Last, check the box next to Select all elementary streams.

After clicking OK, click OK on the Disc Open menu to start copying the contents of the disk to a file. Depending on the disk, this will take about 30 minutes to copy the full contents to a file on your hard drive.

If all you need is a digital file, you can either quit here or convert the .mpg file to something that takes up less space, because a full dual-layer disc will create a 7GB or greater file.

Read on for details on converting the PAL format video file to NTSC.