Create AVCHD and Blu-ray Discs With MultiAVCHD
MultiAVCHD is a unique program for creating BDMV (Blu-ray movie) and AVCHD discs. It is perhaps the most versatile authoring tools for this purpose, having settings for specific types of hardware, and even for reading from exising Blu-ray, AVCHD, or DVD discs to import chapters and even entire disc structures.
MultiAVCHD can use nearly any type of source you can think of as a source. It can start with elementary (video or audio only) streams or muxed (combined video and audio) streams, and even add or remove streams from a source. With all that power, you might think it would be difficult to use. In reality it's easy to use, but can also do things that take a while to master.
All the features in MultiAVCHD create a dillema for writing guides. Some people just want to use basic, simple features, but others will want to learn everything there is. Many more will fall somewhere in between. To create a separate guide for each thing you can do in MultiAVCHD doesn't make a lot of sense. It would add unnceccessary complication and likely result in guides there is no demand for.
Instead, this guide will be AfterDawn's first to use a different approach. The first section is a Quick Start guide covering how to import sources, set basic options, and author a Blu-ray or AVCHD disc. Most of the program's options will be glossed over, allowing MultiAVCHD to automate many things you may prefer to set manually eventually. Following that is a basic Blu-ray disc reauthoring guide with instructions for removing unwanted audio and subtitles, and even complete features or menus, from an existing disc when making a backup.
It will be up to you to let us know what else you want to know. There is a sticky forum thread dedicated to the guide in the Blu-ray Ripping forum. If you have any feedback on the guide, please let us know. If you find it useful we'd love to hear about it. More importantly, tell us what else you want to know. Are there specific options you would like explained? Is there a certain source you want help with? What can we do to make this guide helpful for you? Any suggestion, no matter how small, will be considered.
Much of MultiAVCHD's core functionality is provided by other software, including AviSynth for video editing, ffdshow and Haali Media Splitter for opening video and audio files, and ImgBurn for burning discs. Make sure you have all the required software installed before going any further.
Haali Media Splitter
This section of the guide deals only with the basics of MultiAVCHD. You can use it as an introduction to get you started learning more. On the other hand, once you get through the instructions from beginning to end, you will know enough to make your own BDMV or AVCHD disc with MultiAVCHD.
Every time you start MultiAVCHD it should immediately check to see if there is an updated version available. If there is, just answer yes and wait for it to complete. Once it finishes you are ready to start.
There are a lot of options in MultiAVCHD, but we won't be looking at most of them right now. Instead we will initially concentrate on the most basic options anyone is likely to use. More advanced options may be discussed later in the advanced sections of the guide. The basic settings can all be accessed using the tabs near the top of the window. In fact, nearly everything you will do in MultiAVCHD is right there.
These are some basic options used in a variety of places in MultiAVCHD. We will ignore most of them for the moment and go into more detail in later sections of the guide.
1. 64 bit x264
If your videos need to be re-encoded, either because they won't fit on your disc or because they aren't AVCHD compliant, x264 is the program used for the job. If you have a 64-bit version of Windows (ie x64), check this box. If you are using a 32-bit version of Windows leave it unchecked. When in doubt, leave it unchecked.
2. Use ImgBurn with DVD/BD-R output
Checking this allows MultiAVCHD to automatically burn your output to a disc using ImgBurn. ImgBurn must be installed on your system first, and when you check this box it will open a window where you can browse for it. If you don't have this checked, the output will be written to your hard drive, and you can burn it for yourself.
3. Reset to default
If you ever need to reset MultiAVCHD's settings back to the default values, this button will take care of it. Just remember, it resets all the options, not just the ones on this tab.
Now that you have your basic options set, it's time to load some source files. Make sure to return to the Media tab first. Then click the Add media files button to add a file. Repeat for each file you wish to include on your disc. As you add files, they will appear in the file list.
The up and downbuttons on the right side of the tab can be used to change the order of files in the list. They will play in order from top to bottom. If you want to clear the list and start over, use the clear button. To remove just a single file use the remove button.
When all your video files are loaded, click the fit all button. This will open a dialog where you can tell MultiAVCHD what size of disc you will be using so it can determine if any re-encoding needs to be done.
Transcode and fit to media options
Unless you have a Panasonic Viera TV (check the box at the bottom if you do), the only thing you need to do here is select the type of blank disc you want to burn your output files on. If you aren't sure what kind of disc it is, check the packaging it came in. If you don't have the packaging handy, look at the surface of the disc.
After you load your files, take a look at the Compilation area and you will see them listed again. This list gives you a couple pieces of useful information. For starters, the order shown here is the same as they will play and also the order MultiAVCHD will add them to menus. More on the menus later.
Just as importantly, you can immediately see if one or more of your files has video which doesn't conform to the BDMV or AVCHD specifications. While it may be possible to author such files and have them play on your Blu-ray player without issues, sticking to the standard will make it more universally compatible. Even if your player plays it, others may not. We will look closer at how MultiAVCHD can fix this for you later.
You should also pay attention to the disc information shown at the bottom of this tab. It will tell you the total size of all the files you have added. This will not always equate to the size of the disc. For example, if your video has AAC audio it will have to be re-encoded for Blu-ray compliance. In most cases this will result in a larger file. However, if your files are Blu-ray compliant already and you don't want to re-encode them, this is quite helpful.
If the disc (or packaging) just says DVD-R or DVD+R, select 4480MB [DVD-5]. If it says DVD-R DL or DVD+R DL, select 7950MB [DVD-9]. If it says BD-R, select 23800MB [BD-R]. Click Ok to exit the dialog.
Now you can select the top video in the media list and click the Properties button. Notice when the properties dialog appears that the media list is also at the bottom. That will be a big time saver later because we don't have to go back to the main window and select each one individually. However, it also means you need to keep track of which title you are looking at.
By default, the filename of your video will be entered for Title name. This is the name which will be used on menus to identify the title. You can change it to whatever you want, but keep in mind it's best not to make it too long so there won't be any display problems.
If you click in the blank field for Poster image you can also select a file from your computer to use as a menu image for this title. The image must be in JPEG format.
Below those options you will see a series of tabs. Select the Chapters tab. Notice the buttons to the right have changed now. These are the buttons for setting or clearing chapter points.
If you don't have particular points where you want chapters to start, you can use the auto button to set them for you. The number by the auto button determines how many chapters will be used. When you click the button, MultiAVCHD will divide the total running time of the video by that number and set chapter points at that interval.
To add a chapter manually you can use the preview in the top left corner. Underneath the preview is a slider. You can drag the slider backward (left) or forward (right) to locate the frame where you want a new chapter to start. To move it just a single frame, use the <<F (back one frame) or F>> button below the slider. When you locate the frame where your chapter should start, click the c+ button.
If you select a chapter from the list in the top right, the slider will move automatically to that frame. Click the c- button to remove the chapter point.
If the resolution of your video doesn't comply with Blu-ray/AVCHD specifications, it will be highlighted in red in the Properties area at the top of the dialog. Although this can be fixed automatically by MultiAVCHD, it's best to give it some instructions yourself if you can. This is not a fault of the program, but rather something computers simply aren't that good at.
Note: The number in parentheses next to the resolution is the AR (aspect ratio). This tells you the shape of your video. Unless it is incorrect, and depending on how the video has been processed in the past it might be, you should always try to resize to match it.
Click the Transcode button and look at the Resize dropdown. There are no simple rules to use for all resizing. To keep things simple here, I will simply explain the three basic options, resizing, cropping, and letterboxing. For some sources, particularly widescreen videos without borders added to bring them to a standard DVD or DTV, or Blu-ray resolution, you will need to rely on experimentation and practice.
Resizing is complicated to say the least. Depending on how your video was processed, the exact resizing to be done can vary greatly for two files with the same resolution. However, MultiAVCHD makes it fairly simple, and once you get used to the interface you can get it right most of the time.
You will need to start with the Resize dropdown. Rather than going into a lengthy explanation of the numerous possibilities, I will just say this. For standard definition video you will pretty much always choose a horizontal resolution of 720 and most widescreen movies you should end up with a letterbox (black borders at the top and bottom) regardless of whether they are standard or high definition. TV content is the exception to this as it is often produced to fit a widescreen TV exactly.
I've chosen the example below to show you why it's important to learn how to do this yourself. The video is widescreen, but didn't come from a DVD source. Instead it was originally encoded at 800×448, which isn't as strange as it might seem. In fact that makes it the correct resolution for a lot of mobile phones.
The problem is, this doesn't match any broadcast or home video standard. However, if you look at the aspect ratio it turns out it does have a standard widescreen TV aspect ratio. There is a little error because that happens when resizing to odd resolutions, but it is almost exactly 1.78. That means I can either upscale to 720p or downscale to DVD resolution and let the player stretch it. Either is a valid choice, and more importantly both are better options than MultiAVCHD's automatic decision to just add borders to get to 720p.
4:3 / 1.33 Video
For video with an AR of around 1.33 you will almost always need to use one of the 4:3 options. That would be 720×480 (4:3), 720×576 (4:3), or 1440×1080 (4:3). You should end up with black borders on the sides (pillarbox) rather than the top and bottom. Don't worry too much if the numbers seem odd. If you do not know a lot about resizing they probably will. What's important is that the picture has the right shape. If it does, you probably resized correctly. If it doesn't, you probably did it wrong.
Once you have finished setting the resolution, close the dialog. Repeat all the steps in the properties dialog for every additional title. Then close the properties dialog.
Menus And Other Playback Functions
Next we need to look at how the videos will play, which primarily means setting up menus. Before we can set up the menus, though, we need to visit the Author tab, starting with the top section on the left under the label Menus style and options.
Create top menu
This setting determines whether you will have a main, or top menu. This is similar to the menus found on a DVD. Because of the option on Blu-ray (and AVCHD) discs to have pop-up menus, you don't necessarily need a top menu. The pop-up menus will be accessible directly from your videos.
If you are going to use a top menu, there are three basic styles you can choose from:
XMB MenuThis is the default, which displays all titles simultaneously on the screen. Not recommended for discs with a lot of different titles.
Slide Menu & Carousel MenuBoth these options will create a top menu which displays information for just a single title at a time. Each uses a different effect when navigating between titles. The names are pretty self explanatory. One slides title information into place while the other rotate it like it's on a carousel. Rather than trying to explain them, I'll leave it to you to try them out for yourself.
Next we will look under Playback sequence
Play all (sequential playback)Uncheck this if you want to return to the main menu when a title finishes playing. Otherwise when one title finishes playing, the next one will immediately start.
Finally let's look in the General section.
While there are three options here, the only ones we will consider are NTSC and PAL. Most of the time this setting shouldn't even matter. However, if you want to make sure your disc will play on a Blu-ray player connected to an old-fashioned analog TV (remember standard definition can also be on a Blu-ray disc), make sure this matches the type of TV you will be playing it on. Generally this is really only a concern for people in the US and other NTSC areas (primarily North America). However, if your video has a framerate of 25fps it's not a bad idea to set this to PAL.
Finally we are ready to start customizing the menus. Actually quite a bit of that will be done automatically based on what we already set for each video title. It's important to save this for last, or nearly last, if you want to get an accurate preview of the menus. If you didn't enable the top menu, you can skip most of this entirely, although it's a good idea to preview the other menus.
In the middle of the tab are a series of preview buttons for the various menus. If a menu is disabled in the Authoring tab, it won't be selectable here. The previews generated are not interactive. You won't be able to see the animation, for example, but you will get a good feel for how they look. This is particularly handy when you are using the XMB top menu option because spacing can get tricky if you have a lot of titles.
Assuming you did enable the top menu, there are some quick and easy modifications you can make here, starting with various text areas.
Headline, Footer, Free Text & Smart Line
These fields allow you to add text to your main menu in various positions. Simply enter the text in the field corresponding to the desired position on the menu. To illustrate where these areas are on the menu, each one is identified here.
MultiAVCHD comes with some pre-configured color schemes for the background and buttons. This dropdown allows you to pick between the three built-in menu backgrounds.
Main Menu IG Color & Sub Menu IG Color
These options determine the color of menus button, one for the top menu and the other for pop-up menus. Click on the colored square next to each one to select a different color.
Show Build Time In Footer
This is a nice little feature which puts a small time and date stamp in the corner of the menu. I primarily find this useful for my home movies to give me an idea of when I shot them. Of course it could also come in handy if you need to troubleshoot a problem you're having with the software and want to quickly determine when a disc was authored.
Creating Your Disc
The final steps in this process will be setting a destination folder to create your new files in and telling MultiAVCHD what kind of player you are making the disc for.
At the bottom left you will find the option to set the folder where MultiAVCHD will create your Blu-ray or AVCHD disc structure. Aside from making sure there is enough free space on the drive it resides on, you might not really care where this is if you have the burning option set. Of course that you might need to know where your files are if there are problems.
You can also enter a suffix here, which will be appended to the name of the folder. That way you can have all your MultiAVCHD output in folders which start with the same text and still customize each one for the contents.
The Start button will bring you to one last dialog where you need to make a decision about what kind of disc, BDMV or AVCHD, you want to make. Although they are actually quite similar, the differences can be the difference between your disc working or not on a standalone player.
Select destination and backup device type Dialog
Click the button and browse to the desired location. Since we are looking specifically at creating Blu-ray or AVCHD compilations and only for burning to optical discs, most of the options here aren't relevant for our purposes. We will concentrate here on the Blu-ray and two AVCHD options for optical discs to keep things simple.
This creates an actual BDMV disc. BDMV is the format commercial discs use. Ideally it would be great if you could use this option for every job. Unfortunately it's not that simple. However, if you are burning to a BD-R - not just with a Blu-ray burner but on an actual Blu-ray disc, this will almost always be safe.
Unfortunately Blu-ray players do not always discs authored as BDMV if they are burned to DVD media. If you your destination media is a DVD±R, whether single or dual layer, you should do some research and/or testing before burning a bunch of BDMV discs which won't play. Or you can stick with AVCHD for DVD media.
Some Blu-ray players, particularly Panasonics, are pickier about what they allow on a AVCHD disc. If you have one of these players this is the only option to use for burning an AVCHD disc. For the processes covered so far, this setting will be fine. If you have experimented with other options that may not be the case.
Once again, this will create an AVCHD disc, but with looser restrictions on muxing menus. Muxing is the process of combining video, audio and subpicture or IG (Interactive Graphics) streams. If you aren't worried about playing your disc on a Panasonic player this should be fine.
This sets the volume label you see in Windows when you look at it in Windows Explorer, and also the name MultiAVCHD will create to put your output files in. If you aren't using the automatic burning option, the contents of this folder (but not the folder itself), are what you will burn to disc later.
Encode, Author, and Burn
Once you select the type of disc to author, MultiAVCHD will perform any necessary encoding, author the files to create the disc structure, and burn with ImgBurn if selected. You may want to go ahead and put a blank disc in your burner if you are walking away from your computer while it runs.
Discuss on the forums
We have a thread on our Blu-ray ripping forum dedicated to this guide and MultiAVCHD in general. Let us know what you think, and what else you would like to see added to the guide. Did we get something wrong? Is something important to you that's missing? Help us make this guide better for you and the next person who reads it.
Click here to discuss this guide
Last updated: 1 February 2012