VOB's your uncle

Lately, I've been getting an increasing number of requests about editing VOB files - the video content on DVD movie discs - and whether it's possible to convert them into a format that's more readily editable or shareable. I'm sure the reason for this curiosity is that you want to use footage from old DVDs that you've created, and not because you're up to no good with your copyright-protected retail DVDs.

If you fall into the latter camp, then you should know that, while tools like DVDFab Decrypter can strip the content protection from your DVD movies, to do so is still illegal in Australia, even with the new copyright laws being drafted (see All rights reserved). So if ARIA goons teargas your spare room and steal your PC, don't say I didn't warn you.

Let's drive

Fortunately, most new consumer video editors (Adobe Premiere Elements, Ulead VideoStudio, Pinnacle Studio and Sony Vegas MovieStudio) have the ability to either import these VOB files directly, or at least turn them into a file format that can be edited. However, if your software is a little behind the times, you may find that it can't. If that's the case, you may be able to trick your software just by renaming the VOB files with an MPG extension instead. I can't guarantee that this will work, but it's worth a try - obviously you'll need to copy the files to your hard drive before they can be renamed.

In Ulead's VideoStudio, you'll find the import tool hidden in the File menu. Click on File-Insert media file to library (or File-Insert media file to timeline if you don't want to trim it first). Then select DVD/DVD-VR, browse to the VIDEO_TS folder on the DVD and select OK to bring up the import dialogue - see Figure 1. This will then let you preview and select the individual chapters that VideoStudio will convert to MPEG files and add to your project.

Pinnacle Studio works in a similar fashion. Just click on File-Import DVD titles to bring up the title selection box and preview the elements you want to convert. The only real difference here is that Studio lets you choose the name and location for the imported MPEG files.

Ironically, while Adobe's high-end editor - Premiere Pro - can't handle or import VOB files (though the MPG renaming trick works here), its little brother Premiere Elements has no such difficulty. Unlike Studio and VideoStudio, Premiere Elements works directly with VOB files, so you can either import them just as you would a regular video file (click the Add Media button and select Files or folders), or you can use the Add Media-DVD camcorder or removable drive option. The latter will bring up the Media Downloader; just select your DVD from the "Get media from" drop-down menu, and check the thumbnails of the VOBs you want to keep. The shortfall of this method is there's no way to preview the content, so some guesswork is involved - see Figure 2.

That said, at least it's not as peculiar as Sony Vegas MovieStudio, which is all over the place. There's no explicit DVD import function, but you can use the File-Import-DVD Camcorder disc option, which will convert the VOB files to MPEGs, but this has no preview or scene selection, so you'll be forced to import the entire disc, which is hardly ideal.

However, while it's not immediately apparent, MovieStudio actually supports raw VOB files, but it can be a little shy about letting you know this. When you select File-Import-Media and navigate to a folder on your hard drive, VOB isn't listed under the default "All media files" view: you won't see them until you switch the "Files of type" drop-down menu to "All files" (see Figure 3). You can then import the ones you want, and work with them without conversion.

Final note

You should already know this because I've said it often enough; MPEG-2 video is a bad format for editing. As well as significantly increasing the amount of time it takes to edit your video, it's already been heavily compressed once, and it's never a good idea to re-compress video unless you absolutely have to. This will introduce noise and compression artefacts into your export. When you've finished editing, use a high bit rate for your exported file (at least 6Mbps for DVD-video) to minimise the compression damage.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Laurence Grayson

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?