Digital Video (DV) to DVD-R Basic Guide
Ulead VideoStudio 6
Other video editing solutions will work, but I know VS6, and it can author, including menus, without re-encoding the MPEG2 clips you have produced.
Reasons for this method
VS6 can produce DVD-Rs all by itself. However, VS6 doesn't have a very good encoder (to create a DVD compliant file, known as an MPEG2 file, from the DV source file). Moreover, VS6 will often insist on re-encoding a file it has already encoded. VS6 has the wonderful feature "Smartrender" which avoids re-encoding (aka rendering) files already encoded, but in my experience this works less than 75% of the time, and almost never with a final product. That is, if you cut the file into clips in MPEG2 format, assemble the clips with transitions, VS6 will have to re-render to produce a final product. Re-encoding reduces quality and should be avoided. Interestingly, if you create the clips with TMPEGenc Plus, VS6's smartrender seems to work better than if you created the clips with VS6.
Editing AVI versus MPEG2
Note that the best (highest quality) strategy is to use TMPGenc to render the desired clips from AVI files created from your DV tapes. However, that means keeping 13GB/hour AVI files around, which requires a lot of disk space. Moreover, if you decide to change clips in a production, you will need to encode from AVI to MPEG, a lengthy process. An alternative is to encode the entire file to MPEG2 and write the whole thing to a DVD. This produces a DVD you can watch at your leisure to identify the clips you want to use in your production, and also creates a backup of the file in case the tape is accidentally erased, stolen, etc. If you have done this, you might as well work with the MPEG2. The only big downside to working with the MPEG2 is that you may have encoded it at too high a quality to fit in a final output (requiring a re-encoding to a lower bitrate; it would be better for quality purposes to encode from AVI to the lower bitrate) and you have coarse editing control over timing, because of the way MPEG2 is encoded -- it can only be cut every 18th frame (out of approximately 30 frames per second). So if you want frame-accurate editing, edit the AVI file.
I edit audio at the same time as video. This has the advantage of minimizing synchronization problems, but the disadvantage of not maximizing the quality of the audio. The best procedure is to strip out the audio and process it separately, but such a procedure will generally require synching it back up, which is too miserable when you are producing, say, 25 separate clips which will be put together. Using an external encoder in TMPGenc helps, see settings at the bottom. Moreover, at 384Kb/sec, the quality seems quite good.
Step 1: Create AVI file.
Tool: Ulead VS6 makes this really easy.
- Connect your DV camcorder to your PC with firewire, aka IEEE 1394, aka ilink.
Put your camcorder in "VCR mode" where it will play, rewind, fast forward. Launch VS6.
- Go to Start tab and choose new project.
Settings: Choose NTSC DV AVI and set a working directory for the files to go.
You need 13GB/hour of video to be captured.
- Choose capture tab.
Settings: NTSC (or PAL if Europe) DV
Scene detection: If checked, will produce individual files corresponding to scenes rather than one big file.
Your choice. Individual scenes means keeping track of many files but having them already clipped.
- Play the tape for a fraction of a second then capture. (Alternatively, use batch capture to capture a bunch of clips. See manual for details.)
- Once captured, rename file(s) for mnemonic storage.
The files are 13GB per hour, so you need some disk space.
Step 2: Encode to DVD-compliant MPEG2
Tool: TMPGenc Plus
First configure TMPGenc settings and save them, see below for settings. This is only done once.
- Load video file from on main page of TMPG (I don't use wizard because it doesn't have a highest quality setting)
- Audio should automatically indicate the same file.
- Choose the output file. Push START and go away for a long time, how long varies with the PC. Pentium 3 800Mhz takes me about 12 hours or so per hour of video. Note that TMPGenc is pessimistic -- it often takes half as long as the initial estimates of 24 hours.
Step 3: Produce DVD Backup (step not necessary)
Tool: Ulead VS6
- Open VS6, Start tab, New Project. Choose DVD format and a destination directory. [You may have to edit the setting if you encoded at higher bitrates than Ulead's 6000Kb default. (click on tools (a wrench/hammer pair), Templates Manager, and edit the bitrate, ditto for make movie manager.)]
- Choose Storyboard tab, and open the file you have created (little folder in the bottom left). This inserts the file in the timeline.
- Still on Storyboard, choose Export then ULEAD DVD Wizard. This will let you add navigational points at the first screen, by inserting a time and then clicking ADD. (I just put them every five minutes to make navigation easier.) Follow the instructions to burn to DVD.
- Play DVD or file on hard drive to identify the clips desired for your movie, and plot out your movie. Here you should identify in and out points.
Step 4: Create the desired set of clips.
Tool: TMPGenc Plus
In the previous step steps, you already identified the clips you want in your movie. (These clips may come from several DV source files, of course.)
- Start TMPGenc. Load saved DVD settings.
- Choose File/MPEG Tools menu
- Choose Merge and Cut tab
- Add source file, set in and out points. The built-in player helps find the precise points.
- Choose a file name to export.
[These names should either be mnemonic ("Dropping the cake.mpg") or numerical (1.mpg, 2.mpg,...) to make inserting them in the timeline easier.]
[NOTE: Editing MPEG2 lets you choose only to the nearest half second, because of the way MPEG is encoded, with independent scenes (I frames), frames that store only changes from previous (P frames) and frames that average earlier and later (B frames). (This is what GOP structure is about). Clips can only begin on I frames, which show up every half second or so. The program will select the nearest I frame given the time you insert. This is an advantage of editing the original AVI files, which yield frame by frame precision. Editing AVI files can be done in Ulead. To repeat: the problem with editing AVI files is the size of the AVI files. If you have the tapes available, that is a high quality solution, although best to cut and encode with TMPGenc.]
This step is repeated to produce the clips, and you should have a set of clips which will be the material for creating the final DVD.
You can play the clips in Cyberlink PowerDVD, opening the file, to check that you like the result. Note that if played in other players, interlacing artifacts -- odd numbered lines moving after to even numbered lines -- will appear but will not appear in the final output. It is an advantage of PowerDVD that it handles interlaced video well.
Step 5: Assemble, add title, credits, transitions, and author DVD
Tool: Ulead VS6
- Open Ulead, choosing DVD template.
- Import the clips (Storyboard tab, lower left folder; opening several at once doesn't necessarily import them in the desired order!)
- Add transitions (Effects tab) if desired.
- Add titles (Titles tab), which you may want to read about in the manual. Pretty cool titling is possible, but requires a fair bit of copying and editing of titles.
- Finish tab: Create DVD
- Choose a file location -- be sure the smartrender box is checked! This is what preserves the quality of TMPGenc's encodeing.
- Go away for a while -- how long depends on your system. Then come back to
- Enter the menu times. Ulead will locate clip start times for you (use the >| buttom), but you may want to add more menu times if you have long clips. You can also opt to insert a leader that plays before the menu appears. Click next.
- Label the menu times. Click Next. You can preview the DVD if desired. Click Next.
- Burn DVD
You have two options in addition to burning the DVD. Create VIDEO_TS folders will create the files which can be burned on to a DVD using, for example ImgTools and Decrypter. Or Ulead lets you create the img file, which can be burned directly with Decrypter. (www.doom9.net site has a guide.) I create an img file so that I can view the DVD, and if I want to produce additional copies, I burn the img file using Decrypter.
Note on compression:
The advertised storage of "4.7 GB" of DVD isn't accurate. PC storage is generally calculated in powers of two -- a kilobyte (KB) is 2 to the tenth power, or 1024 bytes, a megabyte (MB) is 2 to the 20th or 1,048,576 bytes. A gigabyte is 1,073,741,824 bytes. Both hard disk manufacturers and DVD manufacturers went to using gigabyte to mean "billions of bytes" rather than 2 to the tenth, as a way of making their capacity appear larger. Thus, a 50 GB disk could be advertised as 53.5 GB. For DVD, the translation is 4.3 actual gigabytes is 4.7 billion bytes.
Create settings (done once and saved; more info and the original source of these settings at http://pwp.netcabo.pt/0165394101/TMPGEnc_Template.html and at http://www.vcdhelp.com/tmpgencexplained.htm)
Note that the wizard chooses somewhat low quality settings for its "high quality" choice!
Stream type: MPEG-2
Size: 720x480 for NTSC, (720x576 for PAL)
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Frame rate: 29.97 for most NTSC camcorders (25 for PAL Europe)
Rate control: 2-Pass VBR (for best quality) Click settings to set
Average: 6000 (75 minutes = 1 DVD)
Minimum: 2000, pad if necessary unchecked
Profile and level: MP@ML (DVD standard)
Video format: NTSC (North America), (PAL if Europe)
Encode mode: Interlace
YUV format: 4:2:0
DC component precision: 10 bits (for best quality)
Motion search: Highest quality (High Quality also works quite well for me and takes about 60% as long.)
Video source type: Interlace (if it's DV)
Field order: DV is generally bottom first ("Field B"), analog formats are usually top first. This is confusing because TMPEG calls bottom first "Field B", while Ulead calls DV and bottom first "Field A."
Source aspect ratio: 4:3 (this should match the "aspect ratio" setting in the first section)
Filters: none checked (Not generally necessary with high quality)
GOP structure: 1/5/2 is the default and fine for most purposes. (You may want to use 1/2/2 if there's lots of fast motion.)
Closed GOP: Check if you plan to edit the file, otherwise unchecked (e.g. for clips).
Output interval of GOP header: Always use 1 (important!)
Detect scene change: Checked
Force picture type: Unchecked.
Matrix: For video, use the MPEG default. For animation, use CG.
Output YUV as basic YCbCr: Checked
Use floating point DCT: Checked
No 1/2 pixel motion search: Unchecked
Soften block noise: Unchecked for DVD
Two more tabs will appear if you select Video+Audio instead of Video only as the stream type. These are Audio and System. The audio options are fairly straightforward (use the settings that correspond to the original sound format and a bitrate between 128 and 384 for stereo; I use 384 for good quality sound), and the system tab lets you pick the kind of stream you want to create.
Save these settings (lower right hand side button on main screen; I save one for big files and one for clips). Bear in mind that saving doesn't seem to save interlace type (bottom first), so if you change this for a different use, you will have to change it again. Every time you use TMPGEnc, remember to load that template so your settings are restored. If you install a new version of TMPGEnc, you should re-create the template manually.
Before closing TMPGEnc, go to the Options menu, pick Environmental settings and make sure the folder for temporary files is in a drive with plenty of free space. You may check the other options here, but most of them aren't very relevant (and the default settings are fine).
You should use an external audio encoder because TMPGEncs own audio encoder is not the best. One of the best audio mpeg layer 2 encoders is tooLame, which is free. Download from doom9.net and extract all files to a folder. In TMPGEnc under Options->Environmental Settings->External tools select Layer 2 and browse for the toolame.exe. THis is important if you don't want to separately encode the audio.