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Encoding From DVD to AVC with AutoMKV



As the x264 MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) video encoder has gotten popular for both its price (free) and high quality. With its open source development model, x264 has been able to rival, and in many people's eyes surpass the quality of excellent commercial alternatives from MainConcept and Ateme (in Nero). Since x264's command line interface can be intimidating for the casual user a number of programs have been released to add a friendly user interface (GUI) to not just x264, but also a number of other programs required for the journey from DVD to MKV or MP4 file.

Why Use AutoMKV?


AutoMKV is probably most notable, as the name suggests, for a high degree of automation. In addition to supporting a number of presets in the form of profiles, similar to those used in MeGUI, a number of decisions on things ranging from the best deinterlacing strategy to the best resolution for your desired output size can be taken care of for you. After your souce is selected and you set options like audio tracks and subtitles to keep, and if necessary the output size desired, you can walk away and let AutoMKV do the rest. If you prefer to set a few options yourself you can do that as well, overriding AutoMKV's internal decisions.

While manual profile editing and the ability to add and replace command line options do allow nearly any type of customization to x264's settings you can think of, if you find yourself making a lot of changes you may want to consider either creating your own custom profile or even switching to software like MeGUI that's designed for people who like to verify and tweak settings themselves. In either case you'll have access to a wide variety of profiles that cover the necessary settings for everything from standard computer playback to specialized devices like 3G phones, iPods, and Blu-ray players.


Keeping It Simple


Like AutoMKV itself, this guide will focus on automating as much as possible. If you're new to video encoding you can start with the simple instructions on the next page and see what you think of the results before you decide to dig further into AutoMKV's advanced settings. If you prefer to get under the hood and change some settings manually keep reading for help with deinterlacing, resizing, and more.




Required Software




AutoMKV

AutoMKV is a GUI that automates encoding with XviD and X264, and even Windows Media Video 9 (which VC-1 is based on). As the name suggests, it can output Matroska (MKV) files, as well as MP4, AVI, and of course WMV for Windows Media encoding. Although installation is very straight forward you can get help in our guide titled AutoMKV Installation and Configuration.




AviSynth

AviSynth is a powerful open source editor, commonly used to provide input for encoders such as Cinemacraft Encoder for MPEG-2 and x264 for AVC. You can find more information on AviSynth in our guide on Using AviSynth 2.5. It includes not only basic instructions for AviSynth, but also descriptions of a number of built-in filters, as well as third party plugins.




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Page 2 - Basic Source and Output Settings



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Additional Reading


Customize x264 Profiles with MeGUI

Since many of AutoMKV's settings can only be automatically set via profiles (XML configuration files), you may find it necessary to create your own custom x264 profiles. Although AutoMKV has no tool for this, the profiles are nearly identical to the ones used and created by MeGUI. For more information read our guide on how to Customize x264 Profiles with MeGUI.

Written by: Rich "vurbal" Fiscus
Last updated: 4 May 2011