I bought a Sony DCR-HC24E for the purposes of recording my wedding ceremony. I could have borrowed my parents', but it's an ancient analogue thing and although I don't really have a use for a camcorder I talked it through with Katherine (making it clear that part of the appeal was just sheer toy value) and we went ahead with it.

(I should point out the driver for recording any of the wedding came from my mother-in-law and I wasn't that fussed about the whole thing, but having experienced the "day was a blur" thing I'm glad we have it. Though I've watched it too many times as I'm about to explain.)

The Sony comes with both USB and Firewire. My desktop doesn't do Firewire, but I figured USB would be fine. First issue is that Linux doesn't seem to support it in USB mode. I don't know if this is easily solved, as reading the manual I discovered that Sony claim USB isn't as good quality and Firewire is better. Huh? It's all digital. What gives? The best I could come up with is that Firewire is better at guaranteeing latency/bandwidth so you don't end up with dropped frames.

Anyway. I buy a Firewire cable and dig out a Via EPIA-M board which has Firewire. Some poking about leads me to the conclusion that I want dvgrab. I fire it up, it seems to do the right thing, I end up with a huge file. Point mplayer at it and discover it's dropping frames. It appears raw DV is about 30Mb/s. The HD in the Via is an old 6GB one that only does ATA-33. So I find a newer ATA-133 capable one, double the RAM in the box (on Adam's recommendation) and try again. This goes better.

So now I have a bunch of AVI files, all of them about 1G in size. avimerge is employed to combine them (I might have been able to just get dvgrab to output a big file, but I was wary of large file support). Then I did ffmpeg -i bigfile.avi -target dvd smallerfile.mpg resulting in a couple of DVD format MPEGs (one for the ceremony, one for the speeches).

My first attempt at a DVD image was with DeVeDe. It seemed to work fine, but I ended up with something that the DVD player didn't like and neither did mplayer or xine. So I fell back to qdvdauthor, which I've used in the past but don't deem the most user friendly of programs. I finally end up with something that mplayer and xine seem happy with in terms of a menu and a pretty picture of us signing the register and working video.

And so to burning a DVD. I used growisofs for this. Firstly with a DVD-R, which mostly worked but had annoying pauses on my real DVD player. So I tried with a DVD+R and this seems to be much better, however there are some minor pauses. This might be my ancient DVD player not coping well I guess.

I'm sure DVD creation shouldn't be this painful. I bet if I ran Windows I could point and drool my way to a DVD with the software Sony supply with the camcorder. All I wanted was a basic menu with a background picture and some video attached to the menu options. I'm pondering doing a version with a picture gallery as well, but can I be bothered with the hassle?