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General Standard Definition (SD) DVD Edit and Authoring software

DVD (SD) authoring
For making HD DVDs (AVCHD), see my Making AVCHD DVDs page

Editing your video file(s)

If your 'source' was a DVR / PVR, then your material will have unwanted adverts = even the BBC 'fades out' endings and sticks in some 'self-advertising' at the end of programs - even when the end title video is left intact, it's often 'voiced over' by some moronic announcer 'advertising' the next program. If nothing else you will want to cut this crap out.

You might also want to combine more than one episode of a TV series into a single 'movie', or split one long sequence into separate episodes (or 'Titles' as the DVD industry calls them).

Even on the BBC, Movies are often split into two parts with 'news' inserted between the halves. Some older PVR's had a 2Gb file size limit and would automatically split a movie into more than one file. In each case you may want to combine the parts (and perhaps re-split** at a different point).**Whilst most modern PVR's have no file limit this could result in video files exceeding 4Gb - and it's amazing how often even 'commercial' video edit software falls over when called on to cope with files exceeding 4Gb ...... the reason is the 'FAT32' directory structure (often found on USB connected 'back up' drives) limits files to a maximum of 4Gb

Getting it right before 'authoring' your DVD

Most DVD Author packages focus on making Menus, Chapters and actual DVD 'burning', so generally have exceedingly poor 'edit' capability (if any)

If your Movie is just a tiny bit too big to fit onto the DVD, some Author software will automatically re-code all your video at half the original bit-rate (others will drop the bit rate in steps, usually 1Mbs), whilst some software will simply fail at the 'burn' stage (usually without warning and often by 'locking up' and loosing the just assembled Video_TS files).So rather than let the Author application drop the bit rate, you can usually find some parts that can be 'cut' using the edit software (or use "DVD Shrink", which allows you to 'recode' into a size that will 'exactly fit'.

Most Author software includes an out-of-date version of FFmpeg. So whilst this lets the originators claim to 'support' a list of Codecs as long as your arm, if you actually try to 'import' anything other than 720x576 (PAL) MPEG2 you can expect it to waste hours converting your carefully composed movie into garbage

Rather than let the Author app. waste hours 'converting' from one format (eg .wmv) to DVD mpeg2 (and risk your movie being trashed), you should 'convert to DVD standard' before going to Author. This means mpeg2 (or .avi) for video, plus .ac3, mp2 or pcm for Audio

What does your DVD authoring software need to achieve ?

Basically, it must allow you to select the material to be 'burned' and create a 'menu' structure (that allows the user to control the playback).

Some DVD authoring packages allow you to dispense with the 'menu' and create a DVD that starts to play automatically. These are good for making movies intended for play-back in 'unattended' mode eg. for display, advertising, exhibition or similar

Most 'authoring' software will allow you to add multiple clips ('titles') to the DVD. Some permit multiple menu 'pages' & some will even generate 'jump to scene' ('Chapter') bookmarks automatically.

Most have some 'default' menu profiles or set-up's, often with pre-set background images and 'customisable' title font / size / colour. You can always change the menu background image and text, and often the 'position' of 'buttons' as well. Some allow a 'mini-movie' to be used as the menu background, others allow a music track to be added to a 'static' background photo.

All authoring software will prepare the required Video_TS files. Some simply generate an ISO 'image' (that you then have to 'burn' using your existing DVD burner software), whilst others support 'burn direct to DVD'. Those that burn direct usually allow you to 'save DVD files' (even if this option is not offered you can typically copy the Video_TS from the /windows/temp folder before 'closing' the app.)

Your author software will merge together all the required material and then split it into a number of separate files for the DVD Player. To conform with the DVD Player standards, the maximum size of any one 'video object block' (VOB) file in the Video_TS folder is 1Gb (1,048,510 KB). This does not limit the movie size - each VOB file can contain multiple clips ('titles') or, more commonly, a single movie (title) is split over multiple VOBs.

What's DVD-5 and DVD-9 ?

There are two types of DVD = single layer and double layer. Single layer disks support a maximum of 5 VOB files per 'Video Transport Stream' (VTS_01_1.VOB to VTS_01_5.VOB) so are often known as 'DVD-5'. Double layer disks support a maximum of 9 VOB files per VTS (VTS_01_1.VOB to VTS_01_9.VOB) and are often known as 'DVD-9'.

A DVD can contain multiple VTS 'sets' (I've seen at least 16 i.e. VTS_01_x to VTS_15_x). One 'set' can contain multiple movies (Titles), however a single movie (Title) can't be spread over more than one 'set'. The maximum size of a VOB is 1Gb, however there seems to be no minimum

Needless to say, when it comes to preparing the VOB files, not all DVD Authoring packages are the same. Many are totally unable to cope with a single movie file exceeding 4Gb, whilst others insist on copying your movie into the windows temp folder first (and then use that same folder for the Video_TS VOB set, thereby drastically increasing the preparation time and defeating all your attempts to use different physical disks for 'source' and 'destination').

Some authoring software may fail to highlight when the total space required by your selected clips ('titles') exceeds the DVD-5 4.7Gb limit. Often the software will automatically re-code all the movie files to a lower bit-rate in order to 'make it fit'. Unfortunately, some operate on a 'divide by 2' basis .. so this can mean your reasonable quality 3 mbs movie is re-coded into not so good 1.5 mbs (half resolution) simply because you failed to notice you were a few Mb's over the DVD disc limit.

NB. Blu-ray recordable, known as 'BD-R', are available in both single layer (25Gb) and double layer (50Gb) capacities which is slightly more than 5 times the size of single & double capacity DVDs.

What data rates should you 'aim' at ?

If your 'source' material is from a PVR/DVR, you should stick to the 'input' file data rate. Most digital TV over-the-air broadcasts will be transmitted in the 1.75 to 2.25 mbs range (films often at the higher end). 'Re-encoding' to a higher rate is a waste of time, although you may have no choice - some of the dumber 'author' packages insist that all your material is 'recorded' at the same data rate, despite the fact that all DVD players can cope with variable data rates.

If your 'source' is from MS PhotoStory 3, you will want to use the 'highest possible' data rate (which, in practice, is about 5mbs, meaning you can get about 120 minutes on a standard 4.7Gb DVD)

If your material is essentially 'static' - for example, from a simple Powerpoint presentation - you can reduce the data rate to about 1.5mbs before the 'compression artifacts' start to become too annoying.

Some common DVD authoring packages

Many of the 'reviews' you find on-line are simply 'adverts' for the authors highest commission generating referrals and often based on nothing more than 'cut and pasting' the products own publicity material. You should also be aware that the term 'free' is often short-hand for "free to download feature crippled time limited trail commercial garbage that will 'take over' your file extensions, can't be removed, will write 'watermarks' all over your output and 'pop-up' adverts in your face every-time you make the mistake of launching it".

DVD Author + DVD Author GUI (Open Source)

see my Using DVDAuthor (next) page

DVD Flick (Open Source - 'abandon-ware', last version 2009)

Supporting multiple audio ('language') tracks and a 'configurable' (template based) menu system, this was my 'preferred' software. However it has not been updated since 2009 - and since it 'incorporates' versions of FFmpeg (and ImgBurn) from that date it's no longer usable for format conversion or actual DVD burning

DVDFlick is perfectly usable so long as you do NOT try to use it for format conversion (FFmpeg) or to burn DVDs (ImgBurn).If you only use it with .avi or .mpg video and .wav or .ac3 audio to prepare the VIDEO_TS (or ISO) output it works 'reasonably well', although you have to watch out for its 'part working' Menu structure (which works best only if you let it make 'language' and 'chapter' pages)

See my Using DVDFlick page

DVDStyler (Open Source - version 2.7 Feb 2014)

DVDStyler is well supported with a very good menu structure and even support for a basic 'slide show' capability. This makes it my preferred option for PhotoStory 3 and actually building DVDs, although I use VideoReDo (below) to perform edits

It's major limitation is it's limited Audio support. It permits the setting of a single audio bit-rate for the entire DVD and whilst MP2, AC3 (2CH & 5.1) and PCM are all supported, this is only at 48kHz.To preserve audio quality (and especially for 2CH Dolby ProLogic II) you must to pre-prepare your audio tracks in .ac3 / mp2 or PCM format at 48kHz and at the bit rate you intend to use with DVDStyler before 'importing' it and (hopefully) DVDStyler won't find any 'conversion' necessary

For a more detailed overview, see my Using DVDStyler page

AVS to DVD (Open Source - version 2.7.3, Jan 2014)

A 'new discovery' so I've not had time to use it. Multiple Audio tracks are supported. DVD Menu Editor with customizable static and motion menus. Video and Audio editing using AviSynth filters. Batch encoding is supported. Subtitles encoding using SubtitlesCreator/VobSub. Multiple subtitles tracks supported.

Available in a 'portable' i.e. non-installed version

VideoReDo Plus (Commercial, really good edit capability)

Available in Edit ('Plus' - $50), DVD ('TVSuite' - $75) and H.264 ('TVSuite v4' - $96) 'versions', I mention these products because they have a really easy to use video Edit GUI and the (non-time-limited) 'demo mode' is fully functional and only limited** to saving 15 minute clips = about the size your PhotoStory clips are likely to be !

**If you 'register' for a 'trial key' you get 15 days unlimited use, after which it reverts to the 15 min 'demo mode' limit again. I highly recommend making use of the '15 minutes' before registering (note - the 'trial key' you get is date-stamped, i.e. the time starts running the moment you register)The free trial will pop-up a 'nag screen' when you launch the product, however for 'free' editing it's worth it :-)

VideoReDo is aimed firmly at PVR / DVR material and the Edit function is intended so you can remove adverts (hence it's 'frame accurate' cut capability and the 'joiner' which allows you to seamlessly 'concatenate' clips together). However this means it only supports 'DVD ready' (MPEG2) material (.mpg, .ts and a number of common PVR/DVR 'container' formats), so you need to sort that out first - but that means it's 'save' is really really fast since it's not having to re-encode anything

VideoReDo TVSuite

TVSuite adds a basic DVD 'Author' capability to the VideoReDo Plus edit package. It offers only a single (optional**) menu page, so does not support 'Chapters' ('jump to scene'), or sub-titles or multiple soundtrack (language) options.

** you can make a DVD without a menu i.e. one that will simply start automatically and can even be set to 'loop for ever' (a free alternative, that will also produce auto-running DVD's is DVD Author Plus = which I have not tried).

Having previewed and edited a movie clip, you 'Add to DVD'. After collecting all (up to 12) movie clips, you can 'Make DVD' and choose a single page menu, with 4, 8 or 12 'buttons'.

By default, the Title (clip) select button names consist of a sequential number (eg '1.') plus the name of the clip. You can select a menu page with fewer buttons or edit the Menu page (set a new 'background' (image), change the title/descriptions, adjust the 'title select' button size & position or even remove (unused) buttons completely). You can 'save' your modified menu layout as the 'default' for next time.The main 'gotcha' on menu's is that it does not warn you to 'save' your changes. Menu edits only apply to the current 'session' - so if you spend hours adjusting the positions & sizes of the menu buttons etc. & then click 'close', the application will just forget the whole lot.

You can 'burn' straight to DVD or save to a Video_TS folder (or both).

WARNING If your movies exceed the DVD size limit, VideoReDo will automatically and quite happily spend 6+ hours re-encoding ALL your movie clips to get them to fit on the DVD 'exactly'. Whilst this may preserve maximum quality, it's a real pain if you are only a few minutes 'over the limit'.

To avoid this (& go back and 'chop off' some of the end titles or whatever) you must pay attention to the 'status' window that pops up when you click 'Author DVD'. If the contents are a suspiciously exact fit to a standard DVD size, check in the (very basic) details box for the yellow warning triangle 'Major re-code required'**. Note that, when you are very close to the limit, VideoReDo is quite happy to create a DVD that is a 'tiny bit over' without warning .. and will not, in fact, fit on a standard DVD+/-R

** If you have multiple movie clips, and one is the 'wrong' resolution (eg 702x576 or 544x576) the same 'Major recode' status will be shown.

Note that VideoReDo does not allow you to set data rates for individual movies. When it comes to re-encoding, it's an 'all or nothing' choice = you can manually set a 'global' bit rate, however the 4 or 5 'standard' bit rates offered in the 'settings' window will never match any of your actual movie bit rates - so if you choose one, everything will end up being re-encoded so you might as well leave it set to 'no change'

It's worth noting that if you do leave the bit rate set to 'no change', VideoReDo often miscalculates the clip size, typically showing it as double it's actual length. This means, of course, that VideoReDo thinks you have exceeded the DVD size limit and will refuse to 'burn' anything (or re-encode everything to half the size)

VideoReDo TVSuite with H.264

Adds frame accurate H.264 edit only capability (see Note 1) to TVSuite's DVD author support. Again, aimed at PVR/DVR HD material recorded from 'FreeView' broadcasts, so your clip must already be in H.264 (Note 2). The clips must be decrypted (Note 3) before using VideoReDo

Note 1. On the VideoRedDo TVSuite web page the first topic is "H.264 / AVCHD editing" = but don't be fooled .. further down you will read :-"Automatic down conversion from HD to SD While VideoReDo TVSuite does a great job of editing high definition (HD) material, {stand-alone} DVDs {players} can only play standard definition programs (SD). When you author a HD video, TVSuite will automatically downconvert it to SD."In other words, there is no support for actually making AVCHDs (for playback on BD players).Note 2. Many FreeView broadcasts are AVC video with AAC audioNote 3. VideoReDo won't decrypt anything, so is of no use to the 'Sky+' box user

"VideoReDo TVSuite with H.264" is a great choice for editing HD clips, so is a really good choice for the TiVo box user (who has paid for TiVoToGo to decrypt clips on their PC) or the Humax user (who using the free custom firmware to decrypt clips on the Humax box). Just don't expect to use it actually author AVCHD discs

Bombono (free for Linux, Windows version $25)

Includes a Video viewer (with time line and monitor), motion menus and subtitles. You can author to folder, ISO or burn direct to disk. Allows re-author by importing from an existing DVD.

"ImToo MPEG to DVD" (Commercial with a limited Trial edition - not recommended)

This application has good a Menu creation interface but the 'trial' is limited to 30 minutes of video which it refuses to 'save' (except by 'writing' it direct to a DVD)

Whilst it may be possible to 'grab' the /temp files before they get deleted, it offers nothing that other packages can't do, so I removed it as soon as the limitation became obvious

Click 'Next >>' in the Navigation bar left for how to add sub-titles

The pages in this topic are :-

  + Using DVDAuthor

  + Using DVDStyler

  + Using DVDFlick == Latest changes (modified 17th Jan 2017 11:42.)

  + Adding subtitles to a DVD

Next page :- Using DVDAuthor