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How to get Dolby 5.1 audio on DVD

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I am trying to burn a DVD from a movie file containing H264 video and Dolby 5.1 audio (m4v container).

The manual of toast mentions to set audio encoding to PCM to pass through Dolby audio, which I tried, as 20 and 24 bits, but none will work. The DVD simply has no audio at all.

The original movie file is fully decodable with VLC.

Has someone an idea how to proceed or is Toast simply not capable to handle Dolby audio ?

Thanks for some feedback.

Regards

 

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Another current topic is discussing this as well.

 

Toast won't retain a 5.1 Dolby audio track when it is required to re-encode the video. What it will do is re-encode the 5.1 track to 2.0. The reason you are getting no audio is I suspect you do not have the perian codec installed. This is available at perian.org.

 

In order to keep the 5.1 Dolby track you need to do several steps. One step is to remove the 5.1 audio track from the h.264 video so it is a standalone .ac3 file. I'm pretty sure this can be done using QuickTime 7 Pro.

 

Now you need to get a .m2v file containing only the video. This is done by adding your h.264 video to Toast's Video window with DVD Video as the setting and choosing Save as Disc Image. When that is complete don't quit Toast. Instead, go to the Roxio Converted Items folder in your Documents folder. You should see both a .m2v and .ac3 file there. Drag the .m2v file outside of the Converted Items folder.

 

Now remove the h.264 video from the Toast Video window and add the .m2v video in its place. Toast should ask you for a matching audio file. Use the dialogue box to find your .ac3 file extracted using QuickTime 7 Pro. Prepare the menu the way you want and burn your DVD with 5.1 audio.

Edited by tsantee

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Another current topic is discussing this as well.

 

Toast won't retain a 5.1 Dolby audio track when it is required to re-encode the video. What it will do is re-encode the 5.1 track to 2.0. The reason you are getting no audio is I suspect you do not have the perian codec installed. This is available at perian.org.

 

In order to keep the 5.1 Dolby track you need to do several steps. One step is to remove the 5.1 audio track from the h.264 video so it is a standalone .ac3 file. I'm pretty sure this can be done using QuickTime 7 Pro.

 

Now you need to get a .m2v file containing only the video. This is done by adding your h.264 video to Toast's Video window with DVD Video as the setting and choosing Save as Disc Image. When that is complete don't quit Toast. Instead, go to the Roxio Converted Items folder in your Documents folder. You should see both a .m2v and .ac3 file there. Drag the .m2v file outside of the Converted Items folder.

 

Now remove the h.264 video from the Toast Video window and add the .m2v video in its place. Toast should ask you for a matching audio file. Use the dialogue box to find your .ac3 file extracted using QuickTime 7 Pro. Prepare the menu the way you want and burn your DVD with 5.1 audio.

Thanks a ton for this detailed procedure. I was struggling with getting an m2v that would work without triggering re-encoding in Toast, and I never dreamed of using Toast itself to create it. I just now followed your procedure and it works! I've got a cool 5.1 surround track with my video.

 

BUT, that m2v file is only DVD SD quality. It looks way better than anything I ever did with my SD camcorder, which was pretty good, but it's not HD. (Most people might guess it was - it's very good.) I've been trying to use Compressor 2.3.1 to create an HD m2v file. Do I need to compromise on video quality in order to perform this trick to get DD 5.1? I've read that some folks have been able to use tsMuxeR to put ac3 audio together with HD video into a m2ts stream. This bypasses Toast's encoding and multiplexing, but it requires an Intel Mac. So I'm still searching.

Edited by WayneH

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Thanks a ton for this detailed procedure. I was struggling with getting an m2v that would work and I never dreamed of using Toast itself to create it. BUT, isn't that m2v file going to be at only DVD SD quality? I've been trying to use Compressor 2.3.1 to create an HD m2v file. Do I need to compromise on video quality in order to perform this trick to get DD 5.1?

You're going beyond my experience. However, if you have the Blu-ray plugin and choose a Blu-ray disc project, there may be a couple ways to get what you want. First, your existing video may already meet the Blu-ray specs in which case it wouldn't need to be re-encoded. If that's not the case you can go to the custom encoder settings window and choose MPEG 2 as the format for your HD video. Presuming Toast uses the converted items folder for its temporary location when converting video your .m2v file will be HD. As I said, this is beyond something I've tried.

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You're going beyond my experience. However, if you have the Blu-ray plugin and choose a Blu-ray disc project, there may be a couple ways to get what you want. First, your existing video may already meet the Blu-ray specs in which case it wouldn't need to be re-encoded. If that's not the case you can go to the custom encoder settings window and choose MPEG 2 as the format for your HD video. Presuming Toast uses the converted items folder for its temporary location when converting video your .m2v file will be HD. As I said, this is beyond something I've tried.

Brilliant, that did indeed work. Set to "Blu-ray Video", Toast produced a .m2v file from my iMovie AIC-export file and put the m2v file into my Documents/ Roxio Converted Items folder. And now, because Toast was set to "Blu-Ray video" instead of "DVD-Video" tried earlier, the m2v file is 1440x1080 (actually 1440x810 16:9). When dragged back into Toast, the ac3 sound file was requested. Woot! I started a burn and Toast went straight to multiplexing. Woot woot! I didn't burn a disk, but I'm pretty sure it would have worked as desired.

 

That's the good news. The bad news is no surprise: Toast encoded to a higher resolution but the average bitrate is still 8.0, and that's how the m2v plays in Quicktime. The file size is actually ~1% under the m2v file produced at DVD resolution. And the encoding took much longer. So I think in reality there is little improvement here - there is a bit better detail resolution coming at the expense of something else.

 

Next test: I'll increase the avg. and max bitrates in Toast to 14 and 17 and see if that gives a better result. If it really gives me something "twice" as good, it'll look fantastic! I believe the red laser technology of a DVD cannot exceed ~18Mbps. That is, after all, why they invented Blu-ray.

 

Gosh I wish there was a way to do this as avc instead of m2v, as this would simulate doubling the bitrate again. Is there really NO avc (mp4, H.264) file that won't trigger a re-encode in Toast?

Edited by WayneH

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Next test: I'll increase the avg. and max bitrates in Toast to 14 and 17 and see if that gives a better result. If it really gives me something "twice" as good, it'll look fantastic! I believe the red laser technology of a DVD cannot exceed ~18Mbps. That is, after all, why they invented Blu-ray.

Update: The m2v encoded at the higher bitrate is WAY better looking than the previous encode at 8 and 16. The file size is 402 Mb versus 230 Mb, and the quality is proportional. The AIC file from iMovie is 3.11 Gb and the movie is 4:03.

 

And again, upon dragging it into Toast, the ac3 file was requested and the burn went directly to multiplexing without any encoding.

 

Now if I could just get this working with an encode to H.264, all would be great. But even m2v at the higher bitrate is a big improvement.

Edited by WayneH

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Now if I could just get this working with an encode to H.264, all would be great. But even m2v at the higher bitrate is a big improvement.

It worked! I had Toast encode to MPEG-4 at 14 and 17 avg and max bitrates. The 434 Mb file that appeared in my Documents/Roxio Converted Items folder had a ".264" extension and wouldn't open in Quicktime. It didn't play well in VLC either but I was able to see images. VLC sees it as a 1440x1080 H.264 movie.

 

I compared a few frames with my m2v files encoded at the same bitrate. It was interesting: My first impression was that the H.264 image (veiwed in VLC) was superior. There is definitely more fine detail, for instance in tree leaves and fabric textures. But the m2v image (viewed in QT) had some advantages too. Colors were more saturated and overall the image showed more contrast. The H.264 image showed artifacts in dark shadows whereas the m2v image showed nice deep smooth blacks without banding. Which is better? That's a really tough call. At high resolution, or if I wanted to grab a frame, the H.264 looks more detailed. But under real viewing - such as when I get this onto my TV and view it from across the room, I have a feeling the better colors of the m2v might win, if I can tell any difference at all.

 

To my surprise, when I drug the .264 file back into Toast it prompted me for the missing audio! I hadn't had it do this with ANYthing other than m2v, so this was great. I added my ac3 surround track and went ahead to burn (yet another) test disk and it plays great. Any "softness" of the colors is not obvious. I'm not sure a side-by-side against the m2v would show any difference.

 

IMHO, I think I'll use m2v from now on because 1) it's faster to encode, 2) the files playback smoothly in QT or VLC, 3) the color depth might be a little better. If not for points 1 & 2, I wouldn't hesitate to use H.264. It produces a great image.

 

My detailed process to get Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound onto a DVD:

• Edit the movie in iMovie or Final Cut. I used IMovie 09.

• Export using QT to the biggest and best AIC file you can, to minimize loss at this step.

• Import the movie in FCP so that you can edit multiple sound tracks. Garage Band might work for this step? All you need to accomplish is getting your surround tracks added at the right times to your two-channel movie. QT can be used to add the tracks, but I couldn't figure out how to get them OUT in a way that Compressor could use them.

• Add your surround tracks. In my case, I added an aiff song file that I ultimately wanted playing out the surround speakers during a segment of my movie.

• Export each channel to a separate aiff file. This was the step I only knew how to accomplish in FCP. Maybe there's an easier way. I did it by brute force, by turning off all the other channels and just turning on one at a time for a series of exports, one for each channel. Perhaps there's a more elegant "batch" approach.

• In Compressor 2.3.1, I imported the individual aiff channel files as a surround group, telling Compressor where I wanted each channel to go. I then exported to an ac3 file.

• Use QT to delete the sound tracks from the AIC file from step 2. Save the movie.

• Use Toast 10.0.6a to encode the video from the previous step. Choose "Blu-ray Video" under the video tab on the left. Under "Options", choose custom encoding and click the "More" button. Go to the "Encoding" tab. This is where you can choose the encoding type, MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) or MPEG-2. Either will work. See comments above.

• Set the bitrate. The max should be no more than 17 to avoid overloading the red laser (max 18 Mbps for the technology), and to leave just a little room for audio. I set my average to 14. The Toast defaults of 8 and 16 gave notably lower image quality, but of course more time on a disc.

• I set "Motion Estimation" to best and "auto" for the other stuff. Audio options don't matter - there is none.

• Tell Toast to "save as disc image", DVD format. Go have a life while encoding takes place. For me its about one hour of encoding for each minute of video.

• Take the encoded file out of the Documents/Roxio Converted Items folder. Toast will delete these files automatically if you don't rescue it before your next encode.

• Delete the AIC movie from the Toast window and drag the new file there.

• With any luck, Toast will notice there is no audio and ask for the ac3 file to go along with your movie. Add it.

• Now, when you hit the big red burn button, Toast should go straight to multiplexing and it won't be long before you have your surround sound movie masterpiece on DVD!

Edited by WayneH

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Thanks for trying all that out and posting the steps that worked. I'm sure this will be helpful to others. Much appreciated!

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In order to keep the 5.1 Dolby track you need to do several steps. One step is to remove the 5.1 audio track from the h.264 video so it is a standalone .ac3 file. I'm pretty sure this can be done using QuickTime 7 Pro.

 

Can you tell me how to do this with Quicktime Pro?, I,am now using Handbrake to make a file with one audio stream with AC3

 

Peter

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In order to keep the 5.1 Dolby track you need to do several steps. One step is to remove the 5.1 audio track from the h.264 video so it is a standalone .ac3 file. I'm pretty sure this can be done using QuickTime 7 Pro.

 

Can you tell me how to do this with Quicktime Pro?, I,am now using Handbrake to make a file with one audio stream with AC3

 

Peter

In QuickTime Player 7 Pro choose Show Movie Properties from the Window menu. Select the audio track you want and click the Extract button at the top left corner of the window. Save the extracted audio file.

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