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Copy your DVD into DivX format - Guide for 4:3 movies


This guide is no longer maintained. It is stored mainly for future historians to investigate. For more up-to-date information, please see our other guides.

NOTE! This guide contains few errors and therefore you should use 16:9 guide instead. For 4:3 movies, change the resize to 640x480 for NTSC movies and 640x512 for PAL movies, otherwise follow the 16:9 guide as it is. 16:9 guide can be found from here

This guide is an alternative to my previous DVD to VideoCD guide. Only real difference between these two guides is the format that we are using in here. So, now I suggest you to decide whther you want to use DivX4 or VideoCD format for your backup copying:

  • DivX4 offers extremely good video quality when one average-length movie is stored in 2 CDs, but in other hand, DivX movies can't be used with stand-alone DVD players.
  • VideoCD quality can be compared to VHS quality -- and I don't mean your personal TV recordings, but to those brand-new VHS cassettes that you buy from video stores. DivX quality is significantly better anyway, but in other hand, VideoCD discs can be played back with almost any regular stand-alone DVD player.

So, if you wish to create VCD, read this guide instead, but if you prefer DivX, continue reading this one.

Aspect ratio


Ok, now you need to check the back of your DVD movie in order to see what aspect ratio the movie has, because we have three different guides for three different aspect ratios. So, once you've found your aspect ratio, make your selection:

4:3 aspect ratio - continue reading this one
16:9 (anamorphic) aspect ratio - please go to this guide


Requirements


Ok, I try to make this guide a no-brainer, but unlike in VCD, good quality DivX encoding requires more tweaking and thinking. First of all, I really recommend that you encode DivXs with fast PC, as the process is _slow_. Then, you need helluva lot of free HDD space -- not hundreds of megs, but appx. 7-10 gigabytes of free HDD space for this process. And finally, in hardware section, you need to have DVD-ROM drive.

Then, you need to have bunch of free tools for this process, you can download them from here:


You might also need some sort of a DVD ripping software.


The process


In this guide we aim to create a DivX backup of DVD movie encoded with DivX4's 2-pass technique and with LAME's MP3 encoding algorithms and to adjust the data consuming so that the movie would fit perfectly on two regular 74 minute CDs. Some people prefer encoding videos to one CD, but that is a significant compromise on quality and we wont do that in here.


DVD ripping


Sorry, this section of the guide had to be removed by the AfterDawn administration to comply with Finnish Copyright Laws that went into effect on 1 January, 2006. For more information please see this link -> http://www.afterdawn.com/guides/archive/afterdawn_guides_copyright_law.cfm

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DVD2AVI


DVD2AVI is a tool that can convert VOB files into AVI files. But we don't use it for this purpose (actually we use, but not exactly in the old-fashioned sense) because it doesn't allow certain filters etc to be added to the decoding process. Instead, we use DVD2AVI as a frameserver for VirtualDub. In this guide, we downmix the audio to 44.1kHz because most of the soundcards don't handle 48kHz very well and we want to create DivX videos that can be played with most of the PCs.


Creating a DVD2AVI project


Open DVD2AVI and select from File menu option called Open. Now you should see the file dialog, navigate yourself into the directory where you ripped your VOB files and select the first one (as they are named continuously, DVD2AVI understands to select the other ones as well). Now click OK and you should see the first frame of the actual movie in the main window.

Hit F5 and DVD2AVI starts previewing the movie. Just let it run for few seconds -- you should see a statistics box to appear next to the main window and information should appear in the boxes soon after this. After you see text in most of the boxes, click Esc in order to stop the previewing. Now, write these things down to a paper: Video type (PAL or NTSC), Frame type (progressive, interlaced, etc), Aspect ratio (16:9 or 4:3) and Frame rate (29.97fps for NTSC, 25fps for PAL and 24fps for NTSCFilm).


DVD2AVI audio settings


Ok, ok.. This is a part that some people will whine about, but this my opinion is that this is the easiest way to deal with the audio ripping, although there are methods that produce better-quality sound, but as said: I'm not going to make this an experts guide, but just a very brief and basic DVD->DivX4 guide. Ok, now go to Audio menu and select Track number -- this normally selects the language of the movie. To ease your pain in here, you can watch the VOB files with your software DVD player (like PowerDVD) and check the language selection list -- the order is exactly the same as in here, normally English audio track is the Track #1. Select the correct audio track from the list.

Now, still from Audio menu, select 48 -> 44.1 and choose High or UltraHigh. After this, go to Dolby Digital menu and select Decode and Dolby Surround Downmix.


Save the project


Now you just go to File menu and select Save project and choose the destination -- note that this destination should have appx. 1.5GB of free HDD space because the decoded WAV is going to be stored in that directory. Decoding and creating the .d2v project file takes about an hour with P3/800.


VFAPIConvert


VFAPIConvert is a tool that allows us to convert DVD2AVI project file into a pseudo-AVI. This is required, because VirtualDub can't open VFAPI supported files. Pseudo-AVI is an extremely short AVI file that looks like a normal AVI to VirtualDub, but once VirtualDub opens it, the codec that handles the AVI kicks in (VFAPI Reader Codec) and loads the information it needs from DVD2AVI's .d2v project file and from original VOB files and passes that information back to VirtualDub in uncompressed video stream.


Convert .d2v to pseudo-AVI


Now, just open VFAPIConvert, click Add job and select the .d2v file. Then select both Video output boxes and click OK and hit Convert. That will generate a pseudo-AVI file for you.


DV-Tool


DV-Tool is an excellent bitrate calculator that we use to determine best possible video bitrate for our DivX video. In the storage media box you should manually modify the entry and change it to 1200 MB. Then change the audio to 160Kb MP3 and enter your movie length in the length box in minutes. Note: we use 1200MB in here, so you can fit the movie into 2 74min CDs and leave a little bit room if you want to include infos, cover art or maybe the subtitle files into the CD as well. Now you should see the optimal bitrate in its box (in green font). Write this down.


VirtualDub


VirtualDub is the free video editing tool in the world. It basically processes the video we have and encodes it into DivX4 in this process. First of all, choose Open video file.. from File menu and select the pseudo-AVI we created with VFAPIConvert previously. If the video doesn't open, you didn't install VFAPI Reader Codec correctly.

Now, go to Audio menu and select WAV Audio and load the WAV file DVD2AVI created for you in project saving phase. After that's done, select Full processing mode from Audio menu and then select Compression.

From Compression menu, you should select MPEG-3 (dumb name as it really is MPEG-1 Audio Layer III). This is kinda tricky one, because you might have more than one entry in the codec list with name 'MPEG-3'. Click first one and you should see the available formats in smaller box appearing -- if formats have (Lame) after their specifications, you've found the correct codec; if not, try the other one. If none of the MPEG-3 codec have this addition in their available formats, you haven't installed LAME codecs correctly.


Anyway, select the one that says 160Kbit/sec, 44.1KHz, stereo -- this produces very good quality audio and is more than suitable for most of the movies (in case of musicals, I recommend using 192Kbit/sec). After you've selected this one, click OK.


Basic video settings


Now, let's go to the Video menu. Make sure that Full processing mode is selected. After this, select Compression. Here you can see all your encoding-capable video codecs. Select the one that says DivX Codec 4.XX (XX being the current highest version number). In right side box you should see some information about the codec. Don't care about this, but just click Configure and you get into the most important page of this process.


DivX4 2-pass, first pass settings


Now, in here you can make various modifications to the video encoding algorithms. I recommend leaving most of the fields as they are, but certain values need to be changed. Most important one to change is the bitrate or Output video bitstream at XXX kilobit/second. Now, enter here the exact value you got from DV-Tool earlier in this guide. Then change the Maximum key frame interval to somewhere around 200-400. Then make sure that Deinterlace is NOT selected. Leave also the Max CPU usage selection unchecked and don't touch to the Default postprocessing level slider either. Then, from Variable bitrate mode select 2-pass, first pass. For Performance/quality select Slowest -- this produces the best quality and that is what we're looking for in here. Ok, now you're done with this one. Click OK to return to codec screen and click OK again to return back to VirtualDub.


Inverse Telecine (IVTC) if video is in NTSC format


Note: This part only applies to you if your source DVD is in NTSC format, meaning basically that it is purchased from United States or Canada (region 1)!

Inverse telecine is used to avoid audio synch problems with NTSC material to convert the video back to its original source framerate (23.976). Go to Video menu and select Frame rate. Leave the Frame rate conversion as No change and in Inverse telecine selection, select Reconstruct from fields - adaptive. After you've selected this one, just click OK to close the window.


Crop the video


Ok, now we need to get rid of the unnecessary black lines in the video -- normally there's only few pixels, but it takes up space anyway. Go to Video menu and select Filters. You see your filter list in here. Now, click Add and select Null transform filter from the list and click OK. Back in the filter window, click Cropping.. and you get into a window that allows you to get rid of the unnecessary parts of the picture.

Use the four adjusters to cut off the black lines of the video. Don't crop other than the black lines!. You should be able to figure out this one pretty easily -- use the slider in the bottom to view some frame from the middle of the movie so you can see the picture clearly. Once you've made your adjustments, click OK (note: if you use some small resolution, you might not see the OK button -- it is in the bottom of the window, so change your resolution to a higher one, 1280x1024 is good for this one) and you're back into filter list.


Deinterlace


If your video is in interlaced mode -- you should have seen this from DVD2AVI -- you need to deinterlace it, otherwise you can skip this part. Now, select Add again and from the filter list select Deinterlace and click OK. VirtualDub opens a small window for you to select the deinterlacing method. Select Blend fields together (best) because it really is the best method :-) Then just click OK.

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Ok, now you can close the filter list window -- simply click OK.


Save the first pass


Ok, now we're done with the first part of this encoding process. Now go to File menu and select Save AVI. Select your destination directory and type the filename. Filename should be named something like this: moviename-firstpass.avi. And this one is IMPORTANT: remember to select the Add operation to job list and defer processing - this HAS TO BE DONE, otherwise the 2-pass encoding doesn't work!!


The second pass


Now we need to create the second pass encoding job. Go to Video menu and select Compression. Select DivX4 codec and click Configure. From Variable bitrate mode select 2-pass, second pass and leave other settings untouched. Just click OK to return back to codec list and click OK on that again to return back to VirtualDub. Now go to File menu and select Save AVI again. Select a directory and type in the filename. Filename should be different than in first pass phase, I recommend naming the second file something like moviename-secondpass.avi. Then, once again, remember to select Add operation to job list and defer processing. Then just click Save.

Finally you should go to File menu again and select Job control. You should see your two AVI processes in here. Just click Start and go to sleep, it takes a while :-)


Splitting the file


Now you just need to split the AVI in half in order to fit it into CDs. This is relatively easy process and, not surprisingly, we're using VirtualDub for this one as well.

This part will be added shortly.
Written by: Petteri Pyyny
Last updated: