Panasonic DMR-E100H HD / DVD Recorders

Transferring Video To PC Using DVD-RAM

To get this to work, there are some factors that must be right:

Recorder Setting

Ensure that ...
     Hybrid VBR Resolution
... is set to Fixed, otherwise video from the recorder may have multiple resolutions which authoring programs on the PC may either refuse to read or split at the points of change.

You can correct existing recordings made with the wrong setting by correcting the setting and then dubbing choosing one of the FR, XP, SP, LP, EP formats that re-encode the file rather than High Speed which is just a file copy.  However, reencoding may lead to some loss of quality.

DVD-RAM Compatible Drive

You need to be able to read the DVD-RAMs at the PC hardware level, that is, a drive with the right laser and other hardware characteristics to read the patterns of digital 0s and 1s stored on it; for example, I have an LG GSA-4167B.  If you're unsure as to whether yours can, but have Nero installed, the Info Tool should tell you on the Drive tab, otherwise, check the specifications in the drive's documentation or on the manufacturer's website.

DVD-RAM / UDF2 Compatible Driver

The digital 0s & 1s read at hardware level must be interpreted as a DVD-RAM's file structure:

This is the role of a driver.  DVD-RAM is a sub-specification of Universal Disk Format2 (UDF2), so in theory any UDF2-compatible driver should read the drive, but in practice this doesn't always happen.

In Linux, the drive should be readable with the UDF File System installed.  However, if the video must be copied to a Windows PC for authoring, neither Samba nor FAT32 can handle files larger than 2GB  DVD-RAM files are commonly 4GB+  so transfer will have to use NTFS or FTP.

In Windows, InCD v4+ should be able to read DVD-RAMs, and on my PC (Windows 2000 SP4) v4.1.0.0 does so.  However, when I tried a later v4.x on the same hardware, same build, that didn't work, while others report problems with the version that works for me!

The Panasonic KXLCB30A.EXE drivers usually seem to work  they are no longer available from Panasonic's site, but can still be downloaded from elsewhere on the web.  For non-Panasonic drives, Panasonic installation is disabled, KXLCB30A.EXE just installs UDF2.

In general, in Windows, there does not seem to be a guaranteed way of getting this to work, but here are some tips for how to approach troubleshooting:

  1. Ensure that your PC has no 'ghost' devices from old hardware, particularly CD/DVD drives.
  2. Ensure that only one driver is installed, for example, either InCD, or the Panasonic, but not both.
  3. Avoid installing any unnecessary software that installs services or drivers that might affect a DVD-drive.

PC drives that both write and read DVD-RAMs cannot usually format them to be readable by Panasonic recorders, so DVD-RAM transfer will usually only go from recorder to PC, not vice versa.

I recommend transferring each time just one programme, not as many as will fit on a DVD-RAM.  The resulting PC files can not be directly edited, only have video extracted from them, and, depending on the extraction method, information such as aspect ratio may not be preserved.  To preserve this you would then have to keep a whole 4GB+ file of several programmes from which you want maybe one.  Whereas, if you reformat the DVD-RAM in the recorder before dubbing a single programme to it, the resulting PC file will only be as big as the original programme plus a little file-system overhead, so you can then store and manipulate each programme individually, until you are ready to author it to DVD.

Authoring & Other Video Software

Video can be extracted from the DVD_RTAV folder by programs such as Project X, PVAStrumento, TMPGEnc DVD Author, and Ulead DVD MovieFactory.

Some authoring software may work better from a copy on hard disk of the DVD_RTAV folder than from the original on the DVD-RAM.  If, when working directly from the DVD-RAM, the resulting video is shorter than expected, extraction halts with an error, or there are blemishes in the result that didn't seem to be there when the programme was playing back on the recorder, try copying in the normal way DVD_RTAV from the DVD-RAM to a hard disk; if the copy succeeds, try working from the copied folder; if the copy fails, there may be a flaw on the DVD-RAM surface, to which they seem to be quite vulnerable, so try using another DVD-RAM disk to make the transfer.

Other video blemishes may originate in the source programme  glitches in the signal source, etc.  Sometimes these can be got round on the recorder by re-recording the source, for example when dubbing from VCR, or if the programme is repeated, or by dubbing the video to the DVD-RAM in real-time, which re-encodes it, rather than in fast mode, which is simply a file copy, though re-encoding will usually entail some loss of quality.

Possible Alternative Method

Although I haven't tried the following method, reportedly it can be used to retrieve programmes directly off the hard disk.  I am indebted for this information to <a href="" target="_top" title="">scott16</a> (link now dead):

  1. Attach the Panasonic recorder's hard disk to a PC.  This is probably most easily and reliably done with a desktop PC, as a laptop would probably need to use USB, and USB-connected HDs can sometimes get corrupted.
  2. Make an image file of the recorder's hard disk  scott16 used Winhex to do this, but I would imagine any drive imaging software will do, as long as it can create a plain sector-by-sector image with no headers or custom internal format.  The file can be played by VLC media players.  (It may be possible to skip this step and read the HD directly in the next.)
  3. Extract the video *.VRO files using suitable software  scott16 used ISOBuster, but I suspect that some of the software listed above for DVD-RAMs will also work, as the format is the same.
  4. Edit and author to DVD as for any other video  scott16 mentions 'repairing' it using MPEG Stream Clip, but I suspect that this is only necessary when the flag Hybrid VBR Resolution is not set to Fixed.  As with video from many other such sources, some sort of conversion may be required.