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Please comment on this DVD-R backup method... (LONG)

Discussion in 'DVD±R for advanced users' started by Pratticus, Jan 12, 2003.

  1. Pratticus

    Pratticus Guest

    -= PROLOGUE =-

    So, this is what I have learned in the past 5 days:

    DVD ripping is not for the faint at heart - at least a DVD9 to a single DVD-R anyway. I recently purchased a Sony DRU-500A burner and have spent the past 5 days (and I mean from morning till… , well, let's say every waking hour!) LITERALLY combing the web, downloading programs, reading documentation, ripping, stripping, transcoding, muxing, authoring and burning DVDs. My eyes are like two piss holes in the snow right about now .. but I see light at the end of the tunnel so I am almost there.

    Before I start, I am writing this as much for myself as for the benefit of anyone else struggling to get their feet wet. Collating my progress has helped me refine things a bit and give myself a nice guide that works for me.

    I should probably give a rundown of the HW/SW configuration of my rig:
    Hardware: P4 2.26, 1Gb PC2100, ATi Radeon 9700 Pro, Audigy 2, 2xWD800JB, Sony DRU-500A.
    Set-top: Samsung DVD-P421, Sony DVP-S500D (yep - an oldie!).
    Software: Windows XP Pro (SP1 slipstreamed), DX9, Omega 03.0 Catalyst, DVD software noted below.

    I want comments on my method, which, by no means is refined, but has been whittled down to this procedure. Bear in mind that, since I am new, I will outline the process for ripping the main movie only - no menus, no extras and a single audio track. Times given do not include changing settings and/or tweaking ... just CPU time and/or DVD access times. Also, the difficulties are my personal experiences with the respective programs, your learning curve may be better or worse; note that prior to 5 days ago, I had never touched any DV tools at all ... other than Nero for CDs.

    -= GUIDE =-

    1. Rip the DVD onto your HD.

    S/W: DVD Decrypter, Shareware.
    Time: 35 minutes for movie only.
    HD Space: 4.5Gb to 6Gb
    Learning Difficulty: 2/10.

    If the DVD is less than 4.3Gb, as determined from DVD Decrypter, you can use DVD Decrypter in ISO mode and simply copy the entire DVD image to your HD, then burn that image back onto a single DVD-R. Jump to step 6!

    Otherwise, you must rip the DVD onto your HD with the intent of further processing. You can use VStrip, DVD Decrypter or others - I prefer DVD Decrypter because it has a relatively simple GUI and (other than Training Day R1) has been able to rip the DVDs that I put in my burner. Set DVD Decrypter to FILE mode, pick the files you want and start it up. (I'm not going to go into the nuances of determining which files are needed. Suffice to say, DVD Decrypter does a pretty good job of finding the main movie on a DVD automatically.)

    2. Strip the unneeded streams from the .VOB and recompose the .IFO files.

    S/W: IFO Edit v0.95, Shareware.
    Time: 35 minutes.
    HD Space: 4Gb to 5.5 Gb
    Learning Difficulty: 8/10.

    Since I only want the main movie and its corresponding audio track, open the .IFO for the main movie (usually VTS_02.IFO). Set IFO Edit such that you will strip everything but what you are looking for:

    * One video stream. Many DVDs have multi-angle capability so the video is actually recorded on the DVD 2 or 3 times over.
    * One audio stream. Usually, the one you want is the 6 channel one.
    * (Optional) One set of subtitles. Originally, I didn’t want subtitles in my composition. Once I thought about the fact that the subtitles are not only for CC purposes, but also for parts of the movie where dialogue is actually in another language, I changed my mind. This will be a per-title choice - if the movie has no dialogue supplemented by English subtitles (and if you don't need CC), then I would forego subtitles all together.

    Once you have stripped the .VOB files to the movie and soundtrack and have made new .IFOs, you now essentially have a copy of the DVD reduced down to its bare elements. Check the size of the new .VOB + .IFO files for everything that will end up on your DVD. If they are less than 4.37Gb, you are all set - you can proceed to step 5 and re-author the DVD in preparation for burning. If they are not less than 4.37 Gb, you will have to compress the video stream.

    3. Convert the .VOB files to one .D2V (project file) and one .AC3 (audio) (assuming Dolby!).

    S/W: DVD2AVI 1.76, Shareware.
    Time: 3 minutes.
    HD Space: 400Mb.
    Learning Difficulty: 3/10.

    DVD2AVI takes your input .VOBs (video and audio) concatenates them, separates the video from the audio streams (.D2V and .AC3) and creates files that can be more easily manipulated for further processing. It is my understanding that DVD2AVI creates a file that contains pointers to the input .VOBs (so don't move them yet!) and various other tidbits like codecs and such.

    You can play the .AC3 file in any audio program to see if it sounds correct. You won’t need the .AC3 file again until step 5.

    4. Compress the video stream to the desired size.

    S/W: CCE SP, Demo available and AVISynth, Shareware.
    Time: 1.5 to 3 hours.
    HD Space: 2Gb - 4Gb.
    Learning Difficulty: 6/10.

    CCE uses the input stream (.D2V, which points to the .VOBs), in conjunction with user settings, to compress the .VOBs. There are a couple of ways to input the data to CCE, but the fastest and the method with the least overhead (to my understanding) is to use AVISynth. AVISynth is an odd little program that has no user interface - its more like a codec instruction set than anything else. It runs on scripts (.AVS) that you create in notepad; the most basic script (and the one that you can probably use for many DVDs when you start out) contains only the following lines:

    mpeg2source("H:\Matrix RIP\Resized\The Matrix.d2v")
    ResampleAudio(44100) <--- *may* only be needed by AMD users
    selectrangeevery(1500, 15) <--- optional, see below.

    Your text will vary in path and file name, but the concept will not change. There are a bunch of filters you can add to the script, but at this point, I'm not advanced enough to understand when I need one. Note: MPEG2DEC2.dll is a file that must be obtained separately - there are several in the hierarchy, each one catering to slightly different forums. I think any will work (MPEG2DEC.dll, MPEG2DEC2.dll, MPEG2DEC3.dll) as long as they are properly called in the .AVS script.

    Fire up CCE and right-click the central white area, say “Add” and choose the .AVS script. (You may have to play around with your CCE version using .AVS scripts. I had a hell of a time getting CCE to read my scripts.) If all went properly, you should see your file in the main CCE screen now. Right click it and say "Edit". This will bring you to the guts of CCE and where you will spend some time tweaking the settings - especially Q and the minimum, maximum and average bitrates.

    Play around with CCE until you get a file size that is manageable (approx.3.5Gb - 4Gb). I would recommend using the method created by another user (certainly not by me!). The method seems sound and should reduce your processing time with CCE to one pass. (The optional line in the script above tells CCE to take the first 15 frames of each 1500. This results in a 1/100th the time to complete a pass so you can narrow down on the Q (quality) value that is right for you, limited by file size.)

    The output will be a single .M2V file that is of the desired file size and bitrate. You can play this in any video program to see if the quality is acceptable.

    5. Convert the compressed .M2V and .AC3 to .VOBs and subsequently to an .ISO image (Authoring).

    S/W: Scenarist NT 2.0 or Adobe Premier 6.5, demo available only for Premier as far as I am aware.
    Time: 30 minutes.
    HD Space: Less than 4.3Gb!!
    Learning Difficulty: 8/10.

    Finally, you want to re-combine your video (.M2V) and audio (.AC3) files into files that are readable by DVD players; you guessed it - .VOBs! We have come full circle and now want to make new .VOB files for your newly-created DVD. This process is called "authoring" and will use very powerful tools to recreate PGCs (program chains) so your set-top DVD player can navigate your DVD once again.

    This is pretty much where I am in the process, although I have burned a few DVDs. Learning authoring program monsters like Scenarist or Premier takes some time, and a week won't cut it.

    Suffice to say, you drag and drop the .M2V and .AC3 files to the authoring program, fiddle with it then save the DVD as an image (.ISO) to your HD. If your resulting .ISO is *not* smaller than 4.37Gb, you've got problems and will have to return to step 4 and compress some more!

    6. Burn your .ISO image to a DVD-R.

    S/W: Nero, Demo available.
    Time: 30-60 Minutes depending on speed of media and size of image.
    HD Space: None.
    Learning Difficulty: 2/10.

    (So far, I have only tried using -RW media, so the write time will be higher than on -R media. I strongly recommend doing this because there is no way in hell that you are going to burn anything but garbage, or more likely coasters, on a DVD-R the first few times.)

    This is where the real fun begins: finding media that is compatible with a) your burner and b) your set-top player and that is cheap enough to warrant this whole process. On top of this, you have to decide which format you will use: +R or -R AND what speed the media can handle - daunting to say the least!

    In terms of the media you choose ... it seems apparent that you can buy reasonably trusted “No-name” blank DVD-Rs for around 1USD nowadays. The format many people seem to be using is -R and appears to be most widely compatible with set-top and console players. This really boils down to a trial and error situation because everyone has different hardware and software combinations, not to mention DVD regions.

    As for using Nero, load the .ISO and click "Write". Really, no kidding .. it's as simple as that. You may have to tweak a few settings if things go awry, but I'm betting 8/10 those defaults will work for you until you are further advanced.

    -= COMMENTS =-

    Although I would consider myself a newbie to DVD-R, I think I have a modest handle on things. My *real* reason for writing this was to solicit opinions from the DVD-R community. I *want* people to pick my process apart so I can refine and/or correct my methods. PLEASE give me any constructive criticism you may have, it will be greatly appreciated.

    To this end, I have come up with several questions that I would like answered, if possible.

    * What is Huffyuv and how can I use it to reduce the quality loss in my method?
    * What causes some video streams to skip once they have been compressed? (The Matrix comes to mind!)
    * What DVD-R media do people recommend for the Sony DRU-500A?

    Thank you very sincerely in advance,
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2003
  2. ocbeta

    ocbeta Guest

    Nice article. I appreciate spelling out the tools used for transcoding. Is it possible that you could provide links for the software downloads?


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