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Faster project creation times - bypass re-encoding with EMC8


jcbodin

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I've seen LOTS of complaints about the time it takes to encode projects in EMC8, and I've experienced it myself -- fortunately, I've found some work-arounds that I'd like to share with everyone:

 

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If you are starting a DVD project using source files (AVI, MPEG, etc.) that are not DVD compliant (ex: 480 x 480 MPEG-2 TiVo files, DivX-encoded AVI files, etc.), then EMC 8 (MyDVD) must re-encode the video into a proper DVD-compliant format. Unfortunately, re-encoding with EMC 8 takes a LONG time, as you have discovered. I have essentially the same problem you have, but I have found a work-around that is VERY efficient -- I use gui4ffmpeg (which is FREEWARE) to convert my non-DVD compliant files to a more friendly DVD-compliant format BEFORE I add them to my video project in MyDVD. You can find gui4ffmpeg here:

 

http://www.videohelp.com/tools?tool=gui4ffmpeg

 

And here is a great little tutorial on how to use it (the tutorial says it's for converting DIVX/XVID to DVD, but it actually works for converting virtually ANY file -- avi, mpeg, etc. -- to an DVD-compliant mpeg file):

 

http://forum.videohelp.com/viewtopic.php?p=1345948

 

With the latest version of gui4ffmpeg (version 1.3) you will find an "Options" menu selection between the "Batch" and "?" selections at the top of the giu4ffmpeg screen -- if you select "Options" and then un-check the "Presetting" selection, the "width" and "height" selections will be un-grayed, allowing you to type in custom height and width settings directly. If for example you're dealing with 480 x 480 MPEG-2 TiVo files (which are NOT DVD-compliant), you would want to re-encode the files with gui4ffmpeg using a 352 x 480 pixels MPEG2 (Called Half-D1) resolution -- this resolution will give you EXCELLENT quality video that will be virtually indistinguishable from the original TiVo source, and you never gain anything from trying to make a small resolution file larger ("stretching" a 480 x 480 TiVo file to a "full-size" 720 x 480 Full-D1 resoltion will gain you nothing in terms of picture quality).

 

I'm only using TiVo resolution as an example here, but note that I don't work with TiVo files -- I'm a DISH Network user, and the native capture resolution for my DISH Network PVR is also 480 x 480, so when doing video captures (I transfer video from my DISH Network PVR using an analog capture card, rather than directly transferring the digital DISH Network MPEG streams) -- in order to save space on file sizes for my video captures, I do my capture at 480 x 480 resolution because anything more than that is overkill since my DISH Network PVR output resolution is already 480 x 480. The encoding time using gui4ffmpeg to convert my 480 x 480 MPEG-2 captures to DVD-complaint files is VERY fast (see below for actual encoding times) -- then, once the encoding is completed, I create my DVD project by adding the re-encoded 352 x 480 mpeg files to my MyDVD project.

 

The ONE thing you have to remember when using this method is that you MUST go into the File --> Project Settings menu in MyDVD and change the video resolution under the Default encoding settings section -- click on the Custom button and set the resolution to 352 x 480 and adjust the bitrate to fit the needs of the file you're re-encoding. You must do this in order to prevent MyDVD from re-encoding your files yet AGAIN (note that if you use the "Fit To Disk" selection, then MyDVD will also try to re-encode your new DVD-compliant mpeg files). If your video is using MP2 audio instead of AC3 audio, I believe you will also need to select the MPEG button under the audio section.

 

NOTE also that ALL of your videos in the same project MUST be the same resolution, framerate, and I believe they must also all use the same audio type (either ac3 or MPEG audio) -- if you try to mix-and-match full-D1 720x480 resolution MPEG-2 files and half-D1 352x480 resolution MPEG-2 files in a single project, then EMC8 will try to do some re-encoding depending on the resolution and audio settings you selected in the Project Settings menu.

 

Anyway, using this method, once I create my project using DVD-compliant files, EMC 8 no longer tries to re-encode when creating an ISO file and the whole process takes about 25 - 35 minutes. After that, I simply burn the ISO file to disk, and I'm up-and-running in a little over an hour-and-a-half total. This method is still a bit of a pain, but it REALLY speeds up the process when trying to create a project in MyDVD using files that aren't DVD-compliant.

 

FWIW, I am a BIG fan of freeware tools -- if you need a good MPEG editor to remove commercials and such, I would recommend Mpg2Cut2 (another nifty piece of freeware . . . I use this for editing-out commercials before transferring TV shows and cartoons to DVD):

 

http://www.videohelp.com/tools?tool=Mpg2Cut2

 

Remember, if you re-encode your source files into a DVD-compliant format, editing the resultant files using VideoWave will result in yet ANOTHER round of re-encoding by EMC 8 when you try to create your ISO file in MyDVD. That's why I use a separate tool (typically Mpg2Cut2) to edit out commercials prior to the re-encoding step with gui4ffmpeg. NOTE, however that adding chapter points in MyDVD does NOT result in re-encoding (which is VERY nice).

 

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Just to give you some idea of how long it takes to create a DVD using gui4ffmpeg to generate DVD-compliant MPEG files instead of letting EMC 8 do the encoding, I actually timed the process while creating a DVD for a friend:

 

I started with two dissimilar, non-DVD-complaint MPEG files (one was 352 x 240 resolution, and the other was a full-D1 720x480 resolution), and I wanted to re-encode them at 352 x 480 half-D1 resolution in order to burn to DVD. I normally wouldn't have bothered sizing-up the smaller 352x240 file to half-D1 352x480 (you gain nothing in terms of picture quality when increasing the resolution of captured video), but both files MUST be the same size in order to select a custom size for the project settings, which is what allows you to bypass the re-encoding step in EMC 8 when generating an ISO file or burning to disk.

 

Anyway, the two programs made up a total of 1 hour and 43 minutes of video (the larger file was 1.52 GB after re-encoding, and the smaller file was 652 MB after re-encoding); I started encoding at 8:10 PM, and encoding was done at 9:08 PM, so the total encoding time for both files (103 minutes of programming) was just 58 minutes. I am now going to add the files to my project in MyDVD, and then generate an ISO to be burned to disk -- this makes for a HUGE time savings over the amount of time it would have taken to re-encode these files in EMC 8.

 

Using the files mentioned in my previous post, I started the "Burn Project" ISO creation in MyDVD @ 9:33 PM; the ISO creation was completed @ 9:43 PM -- that's a complete ISO file created in exactly 10 minutes with no re-encoding required.

 

THAT should effectively illustrate the benefit of creating a project using files that do not require EMC 8 to do any re-encoding.

 

Final size of ISO: 2.06 GB

 

Total time for re-encoding using gui4ffmpeg and ISO creation using MyDVD / EMC 8: 68 minutes total (not counting background generation and menu layout time, which was minimal).

 

The last step was to creat a DVD from the ISO file generated above by using the "Burn from Disc Image File" option in Roxio Creator Classic (EMC 8) -- started burning at 10:24 PM, burn complete at 10:47 PM.

 

Total burn time: 23 minutes

 

Total project time (re-encoding two files using gui4ffmpeg, ISO creation using MyDVD/EMC 8, and DVD burn using Roxio Creator Classic/EMC 8): 91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)

 

This may seem a bit involved because you have to do a few things outside of EMC 8, and you have to figure out how to use gui4ffmpeg, but this process has been fool-proof for me, and it is without a doubt much faster than doing the encoding using EMC 8. FWIW, my video rig is a meager Athlon XP 1800+ CPU (not overclocked) with 768 MB of RAM, a Radeon 9700 Pro video card, and a Lite-On DVD burner; my operating system is Windows 2000 Professional.

 

One last thing to suggest -- if you're doing AVI conversions from a variety of source files containing a variety of different capture resolutions, I would also recommend grabbing another piece of freeware called Video Inspector:

 

http://www.videohelp.com/tools?tool=VideoInspector

 

Video Inspector will allow you to see the resolution and framerate of your video file so you can determine the optimum DVD-compliant resolution to use when converting to MPEG files -- if you're working with a 352x240 resolution AVI file, you gain nothing in terms of video quality by converting it to a full-D1 720x480 DVD-compliant file; you're much better off (and you save a TON of space) converting it to a half-D1 352x480 resolution, or you could simply encode it as a 352x240 resolution MPEG-2 file and leave it at that (and save even more space in the process), since increasing the resolution won't necessarily make it look any better once burned to DVD (pre-existing artifacts like macroblocks will still exist if you size-up a small 352x240 file to full-size 720x480 DVD format)

 

DVD-compliant resolutions are listed here (scroll down a bit -- I presume you want the North American NTSC spec, and not the PAL DVD spec):

 

http://www.videohelp.com/dvd#tech

 

Hope this helps!

 

:)

 

EDITED TO ADD:

 

I don't know if I emphasized it enough above, but I strongly recommend using the ISO creation option, rather than trying to burn directly to disk -- this method creates an ISO file (DVD image) on your hard drive that can be later burned to disk. This way, if you start your project and for some reason it tries re-encoding, you can cancel the project without wasting a disk.

 

Now, that said, once you start to burn your project in MyDVD (whether burning to disk or creating an ISO image), here is how you can tell if MyDVD/EMC8 is trying to re-encode:

 

If you see a preview of your video in the small Encoding Preview window, then EMC8 is re-encoding;

 

If you see a light gray box with concetric ellipses in lieu of a video preview in the Encoding Preview window, then EMC8 is not re-encoding.

 

EMC8 refers to this method of creatin DVD files from MPEG-2 sources without re-encoding as "smart rendering," I believe -- as ggrussell posted in another thread:

 

You will know that smart render is working when you see a grey still image with the work MPEG in the render preview window. If you see your video, then smart render is not working and the video is being re-rendered.
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I've seen LOTS of complaints about the time it takes to encode projects in EMC8, and I've experienced it myself -- fortunately, I've found some work-arounds that I'd like to share with everyone:

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

If you are starting a DVD project using source files (AVI, MPEG, etc.) that are not DVD compliant (ex: 480 x 480 MPEG-2 TiVo files, DivX-encoded AVI files, etc.), then EMC 8 (MyDVD) must re-encode the video into a proper DVD-compliant format. Unfortunately, re-encoding with EMC 8 takes a LONG time, as you have discovered. I have essentially the same problem you have, but I have found a work-around that is VERY efficient -- I use gui4ffmpeg (which is FREEWARE) to convert my non-DVD compliant files to a more friendly DVD-compliant format BEFORE I add them to my video project in MyDVD. You can find gui4ffmpeg here:

 

http://www.videohelp.com/tools?tool=gui4ffmpeg

 

and etc. ..........

 

gui4ffmpeg has saved the day for me. I am starting with TiVo "medium" (480x352) files and want to edit out commercials and make DVD's that will play on my standalone player and a few others. I can make DVD's that play great on my 5 year old JVC with the process:

 

VideoReDo (edit commercials)-->DVDStyler (author)-->DVDDecrypter (burn), keeping the 480x352 resolution so transcoding isn't needed.

 

However these do not play well on a friend's player. I have tried to use MediaWave and MyDVD8 but everything either just didn't work at all or had audio-synch problems or video format problems on my friend's player. When I use MyDVD8 to author, the buttons do not highlight when selected on my player. I tried having MyDVD re-encode to D! (480x720), which takes a LONG time and still didn't make the DVD's play right on my friend's player.

 

Finally, thanks to JCBODIN, I tried putting a transcoding step with gui4ffmpeg between the editing and authoring steps. I forced a re-encoding to a DVD format with the D1 (480x720) resolution at 3 Mbps bit rate. This runs at about 40 frames/sec on my computer thus taking 75% of content viewing time, which is about twice as fast as D1 re-encoding with MyDVD. This resulted in good-playing DVD's on both my- and my friend's players. Thus the process is:

 

VideoReDo -> Gui4ffmpeg -> DVDStyler -> DVDDecrypter

 

All steps except the re-encoding are relatively fast, and VideoReDo's automatic transition detector ("Ad Detective") works really well. Note that I am saving from VideoReDo as .vob and then renaming the files to .mpg before they go into Gui4ffmpeg. I don't know whether this is really needed -- but it works!

 

DVDStyler is available at no charge from SourceForge (just Google). VideoReDo is available uncrippled in a trial version and only costs $50. DVDDecrypter is free (just google) but any good burner should do.

 

I assume MyDVD8 would work instead of DVDStyler in this process but haven't tried it. It should not take a long time because re-encoding should not be needed since the input would already be D1.

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Wow, that just sounds crazy to anyone not some kind of whiz. I went through a lot of these different suggestions without acceptable results. The main point is wanting to view the Tivo files again. I found the best way (which may not work for everyone obviously) was to just view them directly from the computer with Media Player and run S-Video to the TV via the video card. There are also new wireless solutions to view the computer through the TV that seem a better way to go all around. Just a thought.

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