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[one-liner]: Using tcprobe to Detect a DVD's Video Format, PAL or NTSC, via the Command Line

Background

Having kids I’m always dealing with DVDs, either backing them up or repairing them. Recently we received a bunch of DVDs from a friend of various kid movies. Some of them just refused to play in our DVD player and being a geek who’s curious I wanted to better understand why. Turns out the DVDs were in PAL format, here’s how I figured this out, using the little known tool, tcprobe.

Solution

tcprobe is part of the package transcode, available in the rpmfusion repo. I was able to install it via yum on my Fedora 14 laptop like so:

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% sudo yum install transcode
...
...
====================================================================================================================================
 Package                       Arch                       Version                          Repository                          Size
====================================================================================================================================
Installing:
 transcode                     x86_64                     1.1.5-5.fc14                     rpmfusion-free                     1.4 M
...
...

With it installed, you can run the following command to pull some useful info off of a video DVD:

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% tcprobe -i /dev/dvd -T 1 -H 10
libdvdread: Using libdvdcss version 1.2.10 for DVD access
libdvdread: Using libdvdcss version 1.2.10 for DVD access
[dvd_reader.c] mpeg2 pal 4:3 U0 720x576 video
[dvd_reader.c] ac3 en drc 48kHz 6Ch 
[dvd_reader.c] ac3 fr drc 48kHz 6Ch 
[dvd_reader.c] ac3 nl drc 48kHz 6Ch 
[dvd_reader.c] ac3 pl drc 48kHz 2Ch 
[dvd_reader.c] ac3 hu drc 48kHz 2Ch 
[dvd_reader.c] ac3 ar drc 48kHz 2Ch 
[dvd_reader.c] DVD title 1/26: 21 chapter(s), 1 angle(s), title set 1
[dvd_reader.c] title playback time: 01:15:38.05  4539 sec
[tcprobe] DVD image/device
[tcprobe] summary for /dev/dvd, (*) = not default, 0 = not detected
import frame size: -g 720x576 [720x576] 
     aspect ratio: 4:3 (*)
       frame rate: -f 25.000 [25.000] frc=3 
      audio track: -a 0 [0] -e 48000,16,2 [48000,16,2] -n 0x2000 [0x2000] 
      audio track: -a 1 [0] -e 48000,16,2 [48000,16,2] -n 0x2000 [0x2000] 
      audio track: -a 2 [0] -e 48000,16,2 [48000,16,2] -n 0x2000 [0x2000] 
      audio track: -a 3 [0] -e 48000,16,2 [48000,16,2] -n 0x2000 [0x2000] 
      audio track: -a 4 [0] -e 48000,16,2 [48000,16,2] -n 0x2000 [0x2000] 
      audio track: -a 5 [0] -e 48000,16,2 [48000,16,2] -n 0x2000 [0x2000] 
V: 113475 frames, 4539 sec @ 25.000 fps
A: 69.26 MB @ 128 kbps
USER CDSIZE:  650 MB | V:  -69.3 MB @ -15999.9 kbps
USER CDSIZE:  700 MB | V:  -69.3 MB @ -15999.8 kbps
USER CDSIZE: 1300 MB | V:  -69.3 MB @ -15999.7 kbps
USER CDSIZE: 1400 MB | V:  -69.3 MB @ -15999.7 kbps

NOTE: The key line in the tcprobe output being this: [dvd_reader.c] mpeg2 pal 4:3 U0 720×576 video. This line tells us that the DVD is in the PAL format and its size is 720×576. A standard DVD for the US market is in a format called NTSC. The difference being basically the size of the video & the frames per second, aka. frame rate.

  • NTSC - 720×480 @ 29.97 fps
  • PAL - 720×576 @ 25 fps

Further details can be found here

The Arguments

  • -T 1 | Probe for DVD title #1
  • -H 10 | Scan 10MB worth of VOB’s input data

References

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NOTE: For further details regarding my one-liner blog posts, check out my one-liner style guide primer.

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