AVStoDVD Guide

vbimport

#1

One of my favorite programs for working with video over the last few years has been AVStoDVD. This is a free program that makes use of several free encoding and authoring programs and puts them into a complete package that is easy to understand and use. Its primary purpose is to make DVD video from various types of video input files.

The author of the program goes by the name of MrC, and he is a frequent poster over at Videohelp.com. There is even a troubleshooting thread in those forums for the program, and MrC responds to virtually every entry in there. Here is the link for that thread: http://forum.videohelp.com/threads/277852-AVStoDVD-Support-Thread

Many might believe that conversion to DVD video is simply not worth doing these days, as more and more equipment can playback mp4 or mkv files directly. But there is still room for DVD video done well, especially when making compilations, and when you want a menu for selection of numerous video files.

AVStoDVD has many strengths. I especially like the fact that it will import DVD video compliant streams and not lose quality by re-encoding them. Another strong point is the fact that the program can use the HC encoder. This free MPEG-2 encoder is equal to most any commercial encoder you want to pit it against.

So, enough introduction, lets get a look at the layout in AVStoDVD.


#2

To download AVStoDVD, go to this page: https://sites.google.com/site/avstodvdmain/

AVStoDVD has two types of installation, which at the time of writing are both version 2.6.0. You can have a regular installation, or you can use it as a self-contained, portable version that does not get placed in your programs list.

If you install to the programs list, you will see options to install a few auxiliary programs. MrC recommends that you have AviSynth, ffdshow and Haali media splitter installed into your system for best compatibility with various types of media files. Edit: Mr C has moved on to using the LAV filters, and I recommend using them instead. This is optional (except AviSynth), but I also believe it is the best course to take unless you have a specific reason not to install these into your system. If you already have them installed, you need not reinstall, though it should be noted that AVStoDVD needs the 32bit version of ffdshow.

Once you download and start the program, you will see a window that says AVStoDVD Quick Startup Tutorial.

Here you will have several choices on how to set up the parameters of your DVD encodes. The first section allows you to select either PAL or NTSC output. NTSC format is used primarily in North America (US, Canada and Mexico), but there are a few other areas that use it. PAL is used in most of the rest of the world.

You can also set up the primary language for audio and subtitles here.

The next section gives you some choices on which encoder to use. MrC recommends that you use the Smart Encoding option, in which the program selects which encoding engine is best suited for the type of input, and the particular specifications of your output. I personally prefer to use HCenc instead of QuEnc, so I set it to use HC in two pass configuration in this Quick Startup window. (Edit: Since writing this guide, MrC has dropped QuEnc as an option. In its place is ffmpeg)

The normal selection for conversion to AC3 audio is Wavi + Aften. But there are others, primarily using ffmpeg. I would advise using the default setting here, unless you run into an issue when converting audio streams.

Just under the audio encoder selection line are two very important boxes that should be checked. They will keep compliant video and audio streams intact when imported.

And the last section of the Quick Startup window deals with the user interface skins, default language and a box for advanced project settings. I recommend leaving a check mark in the box for the advanced settings.

If you click ok, your choices will be saved. So do that this first time through. The next time you start AVStoDVD, this same Quick Startup window will appear again, but if you don’t want to change any settings here, click on [I]Don’t Bother Me[/I]. This will stop the Quick Startup from appearing each time you start the program, but you can still access it from within the program if need be.



#3

Now we see the main window of AVStoDVD:

The first thing you should do is click on Preferences.

The first tab in Preferences is System. The only important feature that you need to look at in this tab is the box for [I]Multithreaded encoding if available[/I]. There should be a check mark in it by default.

The next tab is Paths. Here you need to set your output and assets areas on your hard drive. You can also set up an external player to preview output here. Though I don’t have one in my picture, I know that Media Player Classic and VLC will work for this.

The third tab is for AviSynth. The default settings should be fine unless you run into a specific problem that needs to be adjusted here.

The Video and Audio tabs should be set from the Quick Tutorial, but you can see the options and adjustments that are available. Some might prefer a higher bitrate for the AC3 audio, but you will be taking more space from the video.

AVStoDVD also has options for burning straight to a disc. At one time, ImgBurn was included in the package and installed with the program, but MrC has dropped that from the installer. AVStoDVD can still make use of ImgBurn and burn the DVD video for you if you enable it here in the Authoring/Burning tab by choosing which optical drive to use.

Chapter interval time and subtitle fonts can also be adjusted in this tab.

And the last tab of Preferences is Miscellaneous. Default settings work for most here.

Once you are through with all adjustments, put a check mark in the box for [I]Save Current Preferences as Default[/I], then click OK.










#4

Now we will go through the controls seen in the toolbar of the main window of AVStoDVD.

There are three controls on the left side called New, Open and Save. These deal with Projects. A project in AVStoDVD is made when you bring in a file for conversion. You can save it to do later, and you can reopen it with these controls. More on this a bit later.

The next control is DVD Size. Most DVD video is made to fit one of two sizes, either a DVD-5 for a single layer DVD or a DVD-9, made to fit a double layer disc. But AVStoDVD offers one other option, which is Custom Size. This can be very useful when making over sized DVD videos.

The next control is Output. Most of the time you will be making standard DVD video output on your hard drive using AVStoDVD. But this program is quite versatile in what you can do with it. It is possible to produce an MPEG-2 file, or separate video and audio streams that are compliant to DVD video specifications. Most authoring programs need separate streams as input, so if you want to use a different authoring program, AVStoDVD can prepare video and audio streams for you.

Two other options for output are as an ISO file, or burning straight to a disc.

The next control on the main window is DVD Menu. But to use this, you must first import a video into the program for conversion. Creating menus in AVStoDVD will take up a fair portion of this guide, but we’re not ready for that yet. Lets import a video now.


#5

There are two ways to import a video into AVStoDVD. You can click on Title at the top of the main window in AVStoDVD and then click Import new Title, or you can click on the green + sign on the right side of the window.

Every video brought into AVStoDVD becomes a separate title in the DVD compilation. Each one can be accessed in the menu, and they will play in the order that you bring them into the project.

At the bottom of the main window, you can see how much room will be taken up on the blank disc. If you only have the one video you want to convert, and you don’t want a menu, all you have to do at this point is make a DVD Label (which I have already done) and then click on the Start button at the bottom right.



#6

But many times you will want to import more than one video into your compilation. So in this next example, I have two videos and I will be making a menu to select each one.

To make a menu in AVStoDVD click on the DVD Menu button to bring up the Menu Wizard.

Once in the Menu Wizard you start in the Layout tab. You will notice that there are two different styles available. You can have static pictures as thumbnails for each title in your DVD, or you can have a motion thumbnail taken from each video. You can also have text instead of thumbnails, and you can set the aspect ratio of the menu here.

Moving to the Template tab, we find that there is really only one template to use. :slight_smile: This can be modified of course by the controls in this section. One of the more interesting controls here is the ability to enable audio for the menu.

Even more refinements can be done in this Options tab. Color and shadow controls are here. One control that may elude many is the source of your thumbnails. You can adjust the area that they are taken from the video here, and you can choose pictures from an external file.

In order to put a menu in your compilation, you must click on Run Editor. You don’t have to adjust anything if you are satisfied with the results, but it must be run to have a menu added in. Clicking Run Editor brings up a whole new window which we will soon examine.






#7

Now we are in the Menu Editor. Here is what it looks like so far:

If you are satisfied with the way it looks, just click on the X at the top right to close this window and go back to the main window of the program.

If you want to edit something, look over at the left side under Mode and select the little circle that says Edit. Once you do that, you have access to all the controls in this section. You can adjust the position of thumbnails, you can change titles or fonts, and much more. If you want to change part of the text, you need to select the item by clicking on it, then click inside the box on the bottom right side under Item Text Properties. This lets you type in new text for that item.

One part of the menu that many want to change is the background, since the standard choice is a rather plain black image. It is possible to import a .jpeg image here to use as a new background.

Once you are finished adjusting the menu, click on the X at the top right to close the Menu Editing Window.



#8

So, you are now ready to make your dvd. You can save your project, and AVStoDVD will produce an .a2d file with every setting from your project in place. This is handy if you want to do the actual encode later.

One control I didn’t mention earlier is called Jobs List. This is used for batch encoding. You can add the current project to the jobs list by clicking on Jobs List, then click the green + sign within the Jobs List window. To add many projects into it at the same time, I save each project as an .a2d file, Click Open and import the first one into the main window of AVStoDVD, add to the jobs list, then remove that first project and then Open the next .a2d file. You can have as many as eight projects lined up in the jobs list at the same time.


#9

Once you have everything set, all you need to do is click on the Start button at the bottom right of the main window to get AVStoDVD working on your conversion. Or if you are doing a batch encode, click on the little start icon in the Jobs List window.

There are a great many other tools included in the program, most of which are not necessary for day to day use, although they can be helpful in diagnosing problems. If AVStoDVD cannot decode a particular file, you should look in Codecs–>Build Filter Graph to see if your system has the codecs needed to open that particular type of file.

As I stated at the start of this guide, many believe that DVD video is getting out of date, and not very useful. But there is one trick left in this program that many might be interested in. AVStoDVD can make an over sized DVD, complete with a menu to select each video you put into it. I have used this capability to combine several DVD movies into one, then burn them as blu ray video onto 25gb discs. You can do this with no loss of quality. But AVStoDVD cannot do this by itself. You need to use a separate program called DVD2BD Express to make the actual blu ray structure. DVD2BD is free to use, but I won’t go into detail on making an over sized DVD and using DVD2BD here. Maybe it will come in another guide sometime in the future. :slight_smile:


#12

Please post a complete guide for AVSTODVD with default settings and best quality settings


#13

Kerry56

I was looking for a free DVD authoring program that would specifically allow me to burn episodic DVDs, and another forum pointed me to AVStoDVD. I burned my first DVD using the beginners guide on Videohelp.com, but I couldn’t figure out how to create a menu.

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to make this guide. I’ve just started to create my second DVD and thanks to your guide I’ve tweaked some settings and I’ve been able to add a menu. Now I just have to wait for a couple of hours to see how it turns out.


#14

Just checked the DVD, and it opens with a menu and plays both episodes just as I wanted. Thanks again.


#15

You are welcome pdrs154. Glad you have the results you need.

I am a big fan of this program, and will help when and where I can if you run into problems, but one of the perks of working with this program is that you can talk directly to the author if you run into something unexpected. The help thread I linked in the first post in this guide is still open and active over at Videohelp.com, and Mr C has proved to be very good about helping any and all with their problems.


#16

Thanks i need it


#17

Can’t seem to find a way to do this in avstodvd.
I have 1 title and chapters set where I want them. Now I’d like to make a menu page with a button or icon for each chapter.
Is this possible with the menu editor?


#18

[QUOTE=martin.kopp;2743381]Can’t seem to find a way to do this in avstodvd.
I have 1 title and chapters set where I want them. Now I’d like to make a menu page with a button or icon for each chapter.
Is this possible with the menu editor?[/QUOTE]

No, not to my knowledge. If you need a chapter page in the menu I think you’d have to use a different authoring program.

AVStoDVD is primarily a conversion program, with the added ability to make fairly simple menus.


#19

I did a check with AVStoDVD & Kerry is correct it doesn’t create a separate chapter.
menu.
I have used a menu creator named TitleWriter .
It should create a Menu like you want.
You might need to start “Play” & navigate back to the Chapter menu with it.
It depends on how your player works.
You can get it here: It’s freeware.
http://www.videohelp.com/tools/TitleWriter

Here’s a sample Chapter menu I did with TitleWriter.
I changed 3 chapter titles & could have changed them all .
Once you learn to use it it is very fast .
It doesn’t encode or transcode.
So you video will not be modified.



#22

Thanks for this guide


#23

Hi Kerry, would you know why a completed file has a sort of blurring at action scenes or at sudden fast movements in the film?

It’s not really a blur like poor quality; it has a wavy aspect to it.
All I did was take an avi file, set up the menu and for output selected ISO Structure.
Encoding is from Lav.

It did say that it was a Pal, and asked if I wanted to convert to NTSC. I said yes, but now I wonder if that is what’s causing the problem?

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this guide!


#24

[QUOTE=Saphira;2752608]Hi Kerry, would you know why a completed file has a sort of blurring at action scenes or at sudden fast movements in the film?

It’s not really a blur like poor quality; it has a wavy aspect to it.
All I did was take an avi file, set up the menu and for output selected ISO Structure.
Encoding is from Lav.

It did say that it was a Pal, and asked if I wanted to convert to NTSC. I said yes, but now I wonder if that is what’s causing the problem?

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this guide![/QUOTE]

If the original file has a frame rate that is 25fps, AVStoDVD will prefer to make a PAL DVD. To make NTSC, it needs to do a frame rate pulldown. This can result in a video that is slightly jerky. If you combine this with an encode with too little bitrate, you are likely to see the problems you have mentioned.

Did you use the HC encoder in a two pass encode?

Also, what is the running time of the video? Two and a half hours or less should be OK for most movies when making DVD video to fit a single layer disc.