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So how do
I convert a AVI/DivX to a VideoCD, Super VideoCD or DVD using
MainConcept MPEG Encoder?
A common situation: you have a DivX
movie (*.avi or *.divx, see Ripping
DVD to Divx and Downloading
Movies from the Internet for details).
Your problem: you want to playback the movie on your DVD
player that's standing in the living room and you don't want to
use the TV-out option which some computers have (actually: it's
the video card offering this option - if at all).
Solution: Since current DVD-players cannot
playback DivX, we must convert
the movie to a different format. We use MPEG1 for
DVD players that support VideoCD,
or we use MPEG2 for those that support Super
VideoCD. The latter is much better in quality.
The only tools we need are the DivX
video codec and the MainConcept
MPEG Encoder. The MPEG
Encoder can be downloaded from the MainConcept
Note: It's not free, but a trial version
is available. Compared to it's competition (Cinema
Craft Encoder): it's a lot cheaper, app. $149 -
compared to the $1600 for Cinema Craft Encoder) and MPEG Encoder
performs just as well and sometimes even better. For example: CCE
cannot resize, MPEG Encoder can ...
Tip: Although we are discussing here
the conversion from DivX to MPEG, the same tool
can also be used for converting DV (camcorder)
and other AVI video
formats. In fact: it's actually made for that purpose.
Note: MPEG-Encoder by MainConcept
DOES support AC3 audio in AVI
Note: Converting a movie to MPEG does
NOT improve the quality! So don't expect a DivX with a lousy quality
to become excellent by converting it to DVD or SVCD!
Note: don't forget to read the disclaimer!
The subtitle issues has been fixed. It took us a while and with
the help of Benjamin we found
that the only workable solution is to use FFDShow, for details,
see the MainConcept MPEG Encoder with subtitles
Introduction: What format should I choose?
Tip before we start: take a good look at the Video
Formats page, for details!
First of all, we need to know if our standalone
DVD-player can handle CD-R or CD-RW media.
Newer models, specially those that support MP3 playback,
usually are capable of dealing with both media types. Older players usually
don't. You will have to simply test this.
If CD-R media doesn't work, then please try to use CD-RW
media, since the reflection behavior of CD-RW is very similar to DVD.
I tried this once with my old Toshiba DVD player and it usually works.
If neither media type is supported (CD-R and CD-RW),
you're out of luck. Consider buying a new DVD player.
If either of these do work, then you're ready for the
What format should I use? VideoCD or Super VideoCD?
Well this depends again on the capabilities of your
Does it support Super VideoCD? Then Super VideoCD (SVCD)
is the choice to make because of the higher image and sound quality.
If the DVD player does not support SVCD, then go for
VideoCD (VCD). Unless that's not supported either, then you're back to
the "buy a new DVD player" solution.
See also the Video Formats
page for more details on the two formats.
So now we know the MEDIA TYPE and the
VIDEO FORMAT we want to use.
The required software
Software for movie playback
First try if you can playback the movie on your PC using
the Window Media player.
If not, then we will need to install (if not already)
the Video Codec. For DivX go to the DivX
This is needed for playback. MPEG Encoder uses the codec
suitable for the movie, just as it does with basically any AVI file format.
Software for transcoding
Here we are at the core of our conversion process (called
"transcoding"). Download MPEG
Encoder from the MainConcept
website. First use the trial version to see if it works the way you
expect it. I know I'm convinced that this is a tool worth it's money,
but make sure you do too. Install it and run the application.
Let's do some TransCoding
After starting the MPEG
Encoder, you will see this screen (can differ per version, I used
Click the "Open ..."
button (A) next to the Video Source
field and select the DivX movie you want to convert.
Note: In case
MPEG Encoder didn't enter a filename at the "Audio Source"
field, you might want to click button (B) for selecting
the audio file. If there is no seperate audio file, then just select the
same file as you did with "Video Source".
Button (C) allows you to set path and filename of the
result MPEG file.
Usually it takes a few second for MPEG
Encoder to recognize the file format and "start" the engines
(video codec and audio codec). Something like this might appear:
In this example we see some info that might
be very usefull.
Here we see the Video Source
and the Audio Source filenames. Usually with DivX
(and other AVI formats), the audio track is included
in the movie file. So for the Audio Source we use the same filename.
Also very nice to know what the Output
Filename is, which is the 3rd of the these 3 fields.
In this example we see that the input movie runs at
23.976 frames per second, at a resolution of 544 x 304 pixels. The entire
movie is about 1 hour and 19 minutes long.
C: Audio input info
Here we see details on the audio track: it's stereo
(2 channels) at a bitrate of 48 kHz (pretty good quality).
D: Output format
Here we need to do some settings. These settings can
VCD (= VideoCD)
SVCD (= Super VideoCD)
Video and Audio
Program (Video and Audio)
Transport (Video and Audio)
Naturally, all these settings can be pretty confusing.
Here we can select MPEG1 if we want to tune the settings to our needs.
However, if you want to make a VideoCD, simply select
VCD as this will guarantee that the movie will be VCD
The same goes for MPEG2, we can fine tune it to our needs, but for Super
VideoCD select SVCD and for DVD
select ... well erhm,.. DVD. Just to make sure you're
working in compliance with the standards.
Also rather important. If you live in Europe, choose
PAL, if you live in the USA take NTSC.
Note that most PAL equipment can playback NTSC pretty good, however almost
all NTSCH devices are not capable of playing PAL video's!
This is a bit harder. You can choose to use Video only, Audio only or
Video and Audio.
But, what's with the "Program" and "Transport" setting?
Well, "Program" is used for VideoCD,
Super VideoCD and DVD. "Transport"
is used for broadcast.
Here we can set the type of compression for audio. For VideoCD
and Super VideoCD I recommend using "Layer
2". Only DVD has the additional option of using LPCM.
The "Details" button brings
you to a more advanced screen;
Here we can do some detailed settings on
the framerate, quality (Search method and range) and audio. However, when
clicking the "Advanced ..." button, we come
to a more interesting screen.
The "Video Settings"-tab
shows use some really cool settings on the bitrates and aspect ratio (4:3
= normal TV, 16:9 = widescreen TV). Here we can enter values we can calculate
with for example the WeetHet-bitrate-calculator,
to make sure the move we are converting fits on a specific number of CD's.
Enter the calculated bitrate into the "Average"
field. Make sure the "Minimum" bitrate is lower
than the "Average". I usually enter 500
kbps in the "Minimum" field.
The "Audio Settings"
tab allows us to tweak audio a bit. I usually use 224 Kbps for bitrate
and usually don't change any of the other settings.
The final tab "Multiplexer
Settings" is one of my favorites. It allows you to specify
at what point the file should be split. So you won't need a cut and paste
tool afterwards to make sure it fit's on a CD. MPEG Encoder will do that
Usually a 80 minutes CDR or CDRW can hold
almost 800 Mb of data for VideoCD or Super VideoCD. To be on the safe
side, choose something like 795 Mb as 800 Mb might result
in a slightly too big a file for an 80 minutes CDR.
Pressing the "OK"
button twice, will bring us back to the begin screen.
Simply click "Convert"
to start the process.
In the lower right corner you will see
the progress (the gauge next to the "Abort"
button). Next to the gauge you will also see some details on how long
it will take to convert.
In this example a AMD Duron 700
Mhz took only 3 hours and 45 minutes to convert
the movie to SVCD! That's FAST! Not even to mention the great quality!
On my Pentium 4, 2.8 Ghz it take app.
1 hour and 40 minutes, my AMD Athlon XP (2800) does the same job in less
than an hour!
Note: if the
original file is bad of quality, then please do not expect the converted
result to be any better!