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Convert DVDs to SVCD or CVD using DVD2SVCD


Converting your DVD movies into a standard compliant CVD or SVCD can be both easy and fun. So why bother converting your movies to MPEG-4 when you can use a format that's already compatible with your current DVD-player!


System (and user) requirements


First let's briefly go through the process to get an idea what we're doing here, and what the system requirements are. First we'll rip the title on the hard disk drive. This will take anything from 3 to 9 gigabytes of hard disk space. In addition to this, the temporary files take up about 1.5GB per CD, so for a two hour movie you should have atleast 15 gigabytes of disk space available. You can probably survive with a bit less if you choose to delete unnecessary files in the process, but I wouldn't recommend that.

After ripping the DVD files (the VOB files), we'll feed them to DVD2SVCD, set it up, and let it do it's magic. Setting up DVD2SVCD is very easy and shouldn't take more than fifteen minutes. The conversion process itself takes several hours -- even on the fastest of the machines, so you'd better make sure you can let your computer keep running for a long, long time. Converting a two-hour movie can take anything from 10 hours to a couple of days depending on the amount of memory and sheer grunt your computer setup has. The example movie, A.I. (140 minutes), took about 20 hours to complete (excluding ripping).

Of course you need to make sure you have all the required software before moving on. We need:
  • DVD2SVCD - for the conversion process
  • TMPGEnc - for use as the MPEG-2 encoder for DVD2SVCD (the free version has 30-day limitation for MPEG-2 encoding, but you can purchase the full version of TMPGEnc Plus from here)

To process CSS encrypted DVDs a DVD ripping software might be needed.

Since not many can afford the higher quality Cinema Craft MPEG-2 Encoder we'll use TMPGEnc instead. It's pretty much as good, but not quite as fast. So install all the above software before moving to the first step.


Ripping the DVD


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


The Magic is about to happen


Next launch DVD2SVCD. First go to the Conversion -tab and click the Open Icon next to the IFO file -field.

Browse to the directory where you ripped the DVD to in the previous step, and choose the IFO file (usually called someting like vts_02_0.ifo), and click Open.

Select the audio track(s) you would like to hear on the disc. You can have two audio tracks on the disc -- eg. the original English audio track as well as a dubbed track. Just check the Selected boxes for the language(s) you want. If the movie is in anamorphic widescreen (16:9) format, set the aspect ratio to 16:9 (borders added, encoded as 4:3) if you want to view the encoded movie on a computer or on a TV/DVD -set with no support for manually setting an 16:9 aspect ratio. If you can manually force your TV to 16:9 mode, then choose the Anamorphic (no borders, encoded as 16:9) -option and enjoy tons of more resolution.

If there's both a 5.1 and a 2.0 audio track available in the language you want always choose the 2.0 to preserve Dobly Pro Logic encoding.


Let's start with the settings


Then we go to the Misc -tab. Here you can change the output folder by clicking the Default output folder -button and choosing the destination directory. If you don't want to keep the temporary files, uncheck the Don't delete any files -box. Set the Process priority to Normal and DVD2SVCD level to Advanced. Input file type should be DVD and Output file type MPEG-2.


Cover picture from IMDb


You can just skip the Finalize -tab and move on to CD Image. Click on the Movie info (IMDB) -button, enter the title of the movie in the Search IMDB -field and hit enter. Choose the correct title from the result set and click OK. Make sure that the VCDXBuild -radio button is active, as well as the DVD chapters -radio button. There should be checks in Title picture, ChangeCD pic, Include movie info on CD, and Include XML on CD -boxes, and no checks in the other boxes.


Subtitles, anyone?


Now the subtitles are a bit tricky in SVCDs and CVDs. You can have them, but not all players support them. So if you absolutely want to make sure the subtitles are visible on all the players around, the best choice for now is to burn them on the picture. Anyone with basic knowledge of MPEG encoding knows that this is a horrible thing to do, but there aren't really any options. So if you want subtitles, check the Rip subtitles -box on the Subtitles -tab, choose the subtitle language of your liking and check the Permanent subtitles -radio button.

Click here to view a list of DVD players supporting selectable SVCD subtitles (courtesy of VCDHelp.org).


Encoder settings


You can leave the bbMPEG, Pulldown, and Matrix -tabs alone and move on to the Encoder -tab. We're going to use TMPGEnc as our encoder. Click on the Open icon next to the TMPGEnc x.xx -field and locate your TMPGEnc.exe (it's in the directory you installed it to earlier on). The Save in folder should read the path to your output folder, usually
C:\Program Files\DVD2SVCD\Movie\
Next choose 2-pass variable bitrate (VBR) as the Rate Control Mode, and set the Motion search preceision to Highest quality (very slow). It might be slow, but we'll only settle for the best. No need to fiddle with the Advanced settings here.


How many discs do we want?


Move on to the Bitrate -tab. Here we, in essence, decide how many discs our movie will be on, and of which size. If you want, you can go with the default settings, or you can change the CD size etc. settings to suit your needs. I prefer 740MB (ie. 74min) discs myself, so I made sure that the movie (running time of 140 minutes) will go on three 740MB CDs.

The Between xxx and yyy -section defines the running time interval. So if your movie is 90 minutes long it falls into the Between 80 and 100 mins interval. The next box on the line defines the number of discs to use, and the last dropdown the size of the disc (74 or 80 minutes, which is 700MB or 800MB for SVCDs). The last column displays the bitrate that will be used for that time interval. The first number defines the bitrate used for the lower limit of the interval and the second one is for the upper limit. The bitrate should not exceed the SVCD maximum of 2756kbit/s, so you want to keep the checkbox checked. The bitrate is the total bitrate for video + audio so if you have two 224kbps audio tracks, the maximum bitrate for video is 2756-2*224=2308kbps.

A good thing to remember if you're encoding for DVD-R is that you can fit 6*740MB=4400MB of video nicely on a DVD-R disc, so it would be smart to use the 740MB image size.


SVCD or CVD?


Next we decide the format for our disc. Go to the Frameserver -tab and use the Resize to -pulldown menu to choose a format of your liking. I've chosen CVD, because of the fact that the resolution it uses, 352x480/578, is compatible with DVD as well. So you can use the CVD MPEG-2 files with a DVD authoring software without re-encoding them. The SVCD resolution of 480x480/576 doesn't offer this alternative. But if you don't give a rats ass about future compatibility with the DVD standard, you can just go ahead and choose SVCD instead. The difference in final image quality isn't really noticeable between these two.

Whichever resolution you choose, make sure you also change the Resize method to BicubicResize with b value of 0 and c value of 0.75. Also check the Sharpen -box and enter a value of 0.40 for it. Note! If the original film material is noisy, the sharpening filter might "enhance" the noise and make it more visible. Obviously this is something we don't want to see. So if there's alot of noise on the original DVD, leave the sharpening box unchecked.


Audio? Definately gonna want some of that


Smoothly slide your pointer on the Audio -tab and click it ever so gently. If you did it just right, you should see a page filled with (well almost) audio settings. Choose stereo for the Output mode, and 224 for the Audio bitrate. If you want to make a standard compliant CVD, check the downsample 48 -> 44.1 -box. On the other hand DVD doesn't support 44.1kHz audio, so in that case you will need to rip the audio again if you want to make a DVD from your CVD. You can also choose the audio language priorities here, but it doesn't really matter now, since we've already set them earlier.


Almost there


Now go back to the Conversion -tab, and click on Go!. No no, we're not quite ready yet. Choose the Preview video (still picture) -option, and check that everything looks ok.

The preview will look a bit funny, but that's ok. Just make sure that it is actually the movie you want and the subtitles are showing. You can get a new frame by clicking the (surprise surprise) New frame -button. The subtitles shown on the screen change with every new frame, but don't worry about that either - they will be correct in the final encoding. So they're not the actual subtitles that will be encoded. Here you can try out different resize methods, sharpening, resolutions, deinterlacing etc.

If you're happy with everything, click OK to get back to the DVD2SVCD screen.


Let's go already!


Now we're done with all the settings. All there is to do is verify the subtitle selection. Hit Go! and choose Start conversion.

After a short while a dialog with examples of the subtitles pops up. The default selection should be correct, but if it's not, check the box for the subtitle language you want to rip and click OK.

And wait..

And wait some more.


After hours of waiting


You should have two or three BIN/CUE -image files in your output directory. Ready to burn with your favourite BIN/CUE -burning software (e.g. CDRWin, FireBurner, or Nero Burning Rom). And that's it! You're done with the DVD2SVCD conversion.

If you have any questions regarding the process or anything else, don't hesitate to visit our discussion forums at:

http://forums.afterdawn.com/

and posting your question there.


Version history


1.0 - (09/01/2002) Initial version
1.1 - (09/02/2002) Added notes to sharpening, changed the subtitle wording, clarified the bitrate-section a bit, added notes about the preview view
1.2 - (10/18/2002) Changed recommended audio settings, and a preference to use DVD2SVCD's "internal" DVD reading routines instead of SmartRipper.

Written by: Jari "Ketola" Ketola
Last updated: 14 August 2007