Most efficient way to encode 2hrs, 45min to DVD?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by cwright, Mar 1, 2006.

  1. cwright macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2004
    I'm working on a DVD project with 2:45 worth of video... and I was just curious what others use for mpeg-2 compression when trying to squeeze so much video onto a single-layer DVD?

    I know encoding the audio to AC3 will help, but other than that, what would you recommend? There's lots of black/dark backgrounds in the video and I don't want them to appear blocky. Is there a better encoder than Apple's Compressor? And what settings would you recommend?

    I need to be able to get all that video onto one disc (can't split it onto 2 discs) with room for menus and such, but still retain as much of the original image quality as possible. Time is not an issue–I don't care if it takes a week to encode if it makes it look better!

  2. Texas04 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 2, 2005
    Try h.264 if that works, but keep us posted. I would also like to know whta the best would be. The Apple in me is saying h.264, the editor in me is daying a type of mp4 or divX but i dont know if those would work in iDVD
  3. stoid macrumors 601


    Feb 17, 2002
    So long, and thanks for all the fish!
    AFAIK, if you encode in h.264 it won't be able to be played back in a DVD player.

    Is dual-layer DVDs a possibility. I know that they are much more expensive, but it might be worth it, especially if you only need a few copies.
  4. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2004
    I know that it has to be in MPEG-2 format... I'm just looking for the best software encoder or encoder settings to use to get the best image.

    h.264 is the standard for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, but won't work for Standard Definition DVDs.
  5. lordmac macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2004
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Well i have never tried this but perhaps is their a way in iDVD to export the movie as a video_ts folder rather then burning it. Because if I imagine you could encode the movie in mpeg 2 at fully quality and then compress and burn it using something like the app Popcorn, which i find does a decent job of maintaining quality. Unless are you just trying to get your movie compressed as efficiently as possible and don't care if it can play on a standard dvd player? In which case compress it in H.264 from imovie for sure. Its a great and amazingly efficient codec.
  6. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    This is likely a completely stupid question, but, assuming you need to use MPEG-2 so as to be playable, is it possible for you to compress certain segments more than others so as to be able to enhance quality in the key ones?

    Obviously, DL would be best, but I figure you don't have a DL recorder....
  7. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2004
    I have a DL Recorder, but this is for a project that I'm selling copies of for I'm not willing to pay for the overpriced dual layer DVDs.

    And yes, this has to be for a DVD. I just need to compress it to and mpeg2 file to drop into DVDSP. I may try the popcorn/dvd2one apps and see how they work. If not, I'll just mess around with the settings in Compressor.
  8. 3dit3r macrumors member

    Nov 18, 2005
    DVDSP will compress to fit onto 1 disc. You don't need to do it beforehand. You probably should make your menus very simple to save space. Also set a conservative bitrate to keep it under 4.7GBs. I'm also assuming you are expecting fullscreen playback.

    But to be perfectly honest, if you are selling this for a profit, it sounds as if you are trying to provide a lower quality product to pad your pocket. Attempting to compress 2.5 hrs. worth of video and audio onto 1 DVD-/+R will not provide quality or professional results. You will always see blocking, especially in blacks, movement across the frame, or a heavily detailed scene. It's best not to burn bridges, especially if you are just starting out.
  9. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    If you have a lot of time and patience you could try compressing different segments of the project separately. For example, using less compression on action shots and more compression on static shots. This would require a lot of effort on your part, but it might.

  10. giffut macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2003
    You ...

    ... definitely should try out FfmpegX to encode your MPEG2. There you have plenty of options to weight in between quality and size using two-pass or triple-pass encoding, four motion vectorizing and such. I had great success in dealing with lower bitrates while maintaining overall quality of the source video. It will increase the encoding time, of course, but depending on your machine – you have at least a G4 I guess - this is not much different to other MPEG2 encoders. Actually I think Ffmpeg´s engines are one of the fastest. And their quality is not bad, too.

    A commercial option would be to use Innobits´Bitvice MPEG2 encoder (
  11. filmamigo macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2003
    Two options/suggestions for you:

    1) The best quality MPEG2 encoding I have ever seen comes from BitVice. I ended up using it to encode my 100 minute feature film to fit on a single sided DVD-R. The quality meets or exceeds that on commercial (i.e. dual layer) DVDs. (Remember, commercial DVDs often have MANY hours of extras -- you can't just count the main show.) BitVice is no speed demon, but it comes in different versions tweaked for different processors. I ran the G3 version on an iBook G3 700, and it took a week to encode that feature film. :eek: But man, was it worth it. :D

    2) If you are using Apple's Compressor, you can set markers to indicate "challenging" sections where the compressor should allow for higher bitrate. You are "helping out" the two-pass encoding process by essentially making a first pass with your human eyes and judgement. I haven't had need to use this feature yet, but I think it's the smartest way to achieve high quality within a tight bit-budget.

  12. mac000 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 6, 2005
  13. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2004
    Ok, I'm a dumbass.
    I misread the timecode in FCP to say 2hrs, 45 minutes because it adds an extra '1' at the beginning for some reason. And I didn't have the common sense to realize that 2:45 was too long. :eek: So anyway, it's just under 2 hours now... sorry!

    Anyway, I've been experimenting with bitrates and file sizes. It's going pretty fast, so I've just been encoding the whole project a couple times at different rates. At 4.0–7.5 mbps VBR with 2-pass encoding and 192kbps AC3 audio encoding, the project takes a total of 3.33 GB. So I started it again at 5.0-8.0 mbps with the same audio. I think that setting will be about right and will look really good.

    But I'm still interested in experimenting with this FFmpegx application. I installed it, but I don't see any way to do 3 or more passes on the encode. Is there any benefit to doing this anyway? I have the time to spare, but I can't find any programs that will do 3-pass encodes. Also, the MPEG2 encoding in FFmpegx saves it with a .mpg extension, rather than a .m2v extension. Does this make any difference when bringing it into DVD studio pro?

    Thanks again for everyone's input!

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