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DVD to SVCD with TMPGEnc


After our extremely successful DVD to VCD guide, we finally decided to create a similiar guide for converting DVD to SVCD . This guide tries to be as easy as possible whilst still maintaining the high quality and trying to avoid all the major issues causing quality to drop.



Requirements


First of all, you definitely need a DVD-ROM drive -- regular CD-ROM drive won't do the trick, sorry guys. Secondly, you need tons of free HDD space , appx. 5 to 10 GBs. This is needed only for a short period of time, the actual SVCD you're going to get out of this process, is going to be three CDs worth of data, appx. 2.4GB. And finally, you need bunch of useful tools that you can download here:

DVD2AVI (note: you should try this new version first, but some users have had problems with it, so if you have problems opening the .d2v project with TMPGEnc, try version 1.76 from here )
FitCD
tooLame
SSRC
TMPGEnc

..and finally, if you want also to burn the SVCDs to CDs, you need to have a CD-R drive and some recording software with SuperVideoCD support , like Ahead's NERO .


Ripping DVDs


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



DVD2AVI


DVD2AVI is a tool that converts VOB files to 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 TMPGEnc.


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) , exact length of the movie and Frame rate (29.97fps for NTSC, 25fps for PAL and 24fps for NTSCFilm).


DVD2AVI audio settings


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. Count the audio tracks (ignore video and subtitle tracks) from top to bottom and see which one is the audio you wish to rip (note: DTS audio cannot be converted , so it has to be a AC3 or a lower-quality audio track) . If there is a Dolby Surround (two-channel) audio track available for the language you want, use it! The studios do a much better Dolby Surround mix than DVD2AVI can ever do. Select the correct audio track from the list.

Next go to Dolby Digital menu and select Decode . If you chose a multi-channel Dolby Digital audio track then choose also 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 anything between 30mins and two hours . Note, if your system saves this within 5mins or so, its very likely that your audio settings were wrong -- go back and check that you selected everything as instructed above.


FitCD


Ok, this part is different from our old VideoCD guide, since we're going to use VBR encoding for the video, so we cannot determine the exact length for the whole movie, but we need to do this CD by CD. And we're going to spend three CDs for this movie. FitCD allows us to determine the exact average bitrate , max bitrate and min bitrate to use for each CD.

So, first thing is to take your notebook and check the exact length of the movie. We should also be slightly careful here, so that we won't accidentally make too big video files that won't fit on CD. So, if your movie's length is 100mins, that divided by three would make 33mins and 20secs. But as we want to be careful, let's take each CDs length as 34mins, which leaves us a little bit breathing space for each CD. Now enter the length of 1/3 of the movie into the length box .

Then, select TMPGEnc SVCD MPEG-2 for MPEG Multiplexing . Change Audio1 to 224kbps . Leave everything else in this "box" as they were.

From CD Space "box", select the CD length according to the CD size you're about to use. Please remember that you shouldn't use larger CDs than 80min CDs, since not all DVD players support those. Let's assume you use standard 74min CDs, select this from the dropdown. Then, change SVCD Authoring to Nero 5.5 SVCD and change the number of menupictures to 0.

Now, look at the Stream "box" and you should see the bitrate values in there. Write down the number in kbps dialog as well as the max and min bitrates shown next to it. These three values we will enter to TMPGEnc's settings later on.


TMPGEnc


TMPGEnc is an excellent and free (!) MPEG-1 / MPEG-2 encoder and we're going to use it for the SVCD encoding in our project. Please note that if your TMPGEnc's 30-day trial period has finished, you can't complete this part, but need to purchase a license to TMPGEnc in order to encode MPEG-2 files. Note also! You need to have VFAPI plugin installed with your TMPGEnc and it has to match your TMPGEnc's version -- it can be downloaded from TMPGEnc's homepage.


Adjust the audio settings


In order to produce a slightly better quality audio, we're going to use a separate program, called tooLame , to encode the audio and separate program, called SSRC , to change the frequency of the audio from 48kHz to 44.1kHz (because SVCD standard doesn't allow 48kHz audio) . Go to Options menu, select Environmental Settings and select External Tools tab. Here, simply check the Layer-2 setting and locate your tooLame.exe file from your harddrive. Then, check the box for Sampling frequency convertor and locate SSRC.exe from your harddrive. Finally, close the dialog box by clicking OK and return back to TMPGEnc's main window.


Select the source files


Hit the Browse button next to Video source box in the bottom of the TMPGEnc's main window. From the file dialog, choose the d2v file you created with DVD2AVI. After this is done, click the Browse button next to Audio source box (just below the video source :-) and select the WAV you created with DVD2AVI.

Note! If you can't open the .d2v file, go to Options / Global Settings / VFAPI Plug-Ins tab and check if you can see DVD2AVI Project File Loader (or something like that) in there. By default, it's priority is either -1 or -2. Change the priority to 0. If you don't see the plugin in the list at all, your DVD2AVI is missing a file called dvd2avi.vfp. Re-install DVD2AVI and start it and close it (launching it will register the .vfp file to system) and return back to here.


TMPGEnc templates


Now, hit the Load button in bottom-right corner of the main window. This opens a file dialog and allows you to choose TMPGEnc's settings template from the directory that was bundled with the TMPGEnc's installation (you should be in this directory automatically, but if not, try to Find for *.mcf files from your HDD in order to locate the directory) .

Just select the correct template -- SuperVideoVideoCD (PAL) , SuperVideoCD (NTSCFilm) or SuperVideoCD (NTSC) -- this depends on the source material; hopefully you wrote down the Video type when we asked you to do that (25=PAL, 23.97=NTSCFilm and 29.97=NTSC).


Encoding settings


Now, in the bottom-right corner of the main window, select Settings . First, from Video tab you should select Motion search precision as Highest quality (very slow) -- this setting slows the encoding time significantly, but it produces better quality videos. Change the Encode mode to Non-Interlace if your movie is either PAL or NTSC -- for FILM material, I'm not 100% sure , but you should try either Non-Interlace or 3:2 Pulldown when playback . I will update this part once someone with more knowledge about FILM type of movies gives me feedback. Finally, change the Rate control mode to 2-pass VBR (VBR) . Then click the Settings button next to this selection.


VBR settings


In this dialog box, you need to change the bitrate values to match those you obtained from FitCD earlier. Set the average bitrate to match the average bitrate you got from FitCD and do the same for Maximum bitrate and Minimum bitrate as well. Keep the Max pass as 2-pass (old type) and close the dialog box by clicking OK .

From Advanced tab you should select the video settings like they were in the data you wrote down in DVD2AVI step -- set the video source type (normally something like Interlace or Progressive -- with NTSC videos this might vary) and source aspect ratio (4:3 625 lines PAL, 16:9 625 lines PAL, 4:3 525 line NTSC or 16:9 525 line NTSC) . From Video arrange method select Full screen (keep aspect ratio) if you want to watch the movie with old-fashioned 4:3 TV , but select Center (keep aspect ratio) if you have 16:9 widescreen TV AND your movie source aspect ratio was 16:9 . In case you have 16:9 widescreen TV, but the source aspect ratio was 4:3, select Full screen (keep aspect ratio) (confusing?-) . From Field order normally the correct setting is Bottom field first (at least with PAL) . Then select Source range from bottom part of the dialog box. After you've selected this, doubleclick the text " Source range " and TMPGEnc opens yet another dialog box.


Select the source range


Ok, you need to select the source range for the first CD now. Start frame for first CD should be zero . Now, move the slider underneath the preview window to the end of the movie (==as far right as possible) and you should see at the top of the window the frame number where you're at with the slider. Take this number, write it down, divide it by three and round it to the nearest integer (100frames/3=33.333... rounded to nearest integer is 33) and you got your end frame for first CD. Use the End frame box and enter this value there. Write this value down to a paper as well. Then simply click OK. Then close the settings box by clicking OK and return back to TMPGEnc's main window.


Save the first CD's project


Now, on the main window, you see the Output filename -- change this into something that's easy to remember, like first cd.mpg . Now, go to File menu and select Save project and select some easy-to-remember name for this project, like "first_cd" and save it.


Do the second CD


Now, you need to repeat the source range part and project saving two more times. All the other settings are correct already, so return back to source range and for the second CD, enter the Start frame same what you did enter as the End frame for the first CD and add one to that number (so we won't get the same frame on both CDs) . Then simply use your calculator and multiply the number you got for first CD's End frame by two and put this multiplied value as the End frame for the second CD. Then click OK and return back to main window of TMPGEnc, change the Output filename to second cd.mpg and save the second CD project with some logical name like "second_cd" .


Third CD


Ok, simply go to Source range again and take the second CD's end frame , add one and put this number as a Start frame for third CD. Then take the last frame's number (you wrote it down earlier, didn't you?) and set that as End frame . Return back to TMPGEnc's main window, change the Output filename to third cd.mpg and save the third CD's project as "third_cd" .


Encode


Now, all three CD projects have been saved and we're ready to go. Go to File menu and select Batch encode . Click Add and select the project files (first_cd, second_cd, third_cd) you created earlier. Then simply click Run and go to sleep -- and sleep well, this takes a looooooong time :-) (it might take anything from 3 hours to 20 hours, depending on your CPU, memory, other apps running, movie's length, movie's "complexity", etc) .


Ready to burn the discs


Now, please remember that MPEG-2 files cannot be normally viewed with Windows, because Windows doesn't come with MPEG-2 codecs bundled with it. But you can watch the clips by using some advanced DVD software player, like PowerDVD or WinDVD .

The next thing you need to do is to burn the discs on CDs in order to view the clips on your stand-alone DVD player. Instructions on how to burn SVCDs with Nero can be found here .


Finally


Now, if you experience problems, have comments or ideas related to this or any other guide, please feel free to visit our discussion forums where we have a dedicated section for VCD and SVCD issues and our guides. If you prefer bullet-proof solution and don't really want to know what's happening when your computer backs up your DVDs, I recommend that you check out DVD2SVCD .

Written by: James "Dela" Delahunty
Last updated: 14 August 2007