Keeping video quality while converting



I recorded a TV documentary which was about 45 minutes long. I ripped it to my HDD using Fox DVD ripper which also converted it to mpg automatically and took just over an hour to do this. It came out at 450mb, and I then used different software called OJOsoft Total Video Converter to convert it to wmv, bringing it down to 296mb. But the quality is pretty crap. Is there a way to reduce an hours worth of documentary to 200/300mb without losing quality? If I want to upload stuff, I don’t want it to be bigger since my upload speed is slow. I have autoGK, but the last time I tried that it was taking hours to process so I gave up. But is autoGK what I should be using to keep good quality?


Quality depends on so many factors (level of compression applied, quality of original, how optimised the original compression already is, whether you transcode or do a full re-encode etc. etc.) that it’s impossible to give any sort of advice specific to your own particular recording but the following comments are fairly general.

450MB is pretty small already and it’s quite possible that this is already highly optimised.

Your scope for compressing further without significant loss in quality may therefore be very limited and as you’ve discovered, conversion to another format can take a considerable period of time.

Conversion to avi using xvid or divx may yield results more acceptable to you but you’ll need to decide as to whether or not you consider the time spent converting is worthwhile.

Personally if it were me I’d stick with the file you already have but your own priorities may be completely different.



One thing that you can do off the bat is to use fewer intermediate steps when converting to your final format, because each time you perform a lossy conversion, you’re losing quality, so if you go from your original source to mpeg to wmv, then the quality will be lower than converting straight to wmv.

If file format isn’t a concern, then encoding to h.264 is your best bet for quality/size ratio. Converting 45 min of video to 300mb in h.264 shouldn’t be a problem in terms of preserving video quality. However, this is a cpu intensive codec and will require time to compress, so if you thought that AutoGK took long, then this will take longer

Xvid (which you can use AutoGK for) is probably the next best thing. You should be able to get fairly good preservation of quality if you’re aiming for 300mb.


Thanks for the replies Wombler and AZImmortal.

AZImmortal, yes, good idea reducing intermediate steps. I have a few questions.
Let’s say I recorded something off the TV which is an hour long and is about 4GB, what sort of time should it take for autoGK or h.264 to convert a video? Are we talking 4 or 5 hours to convert and bring it down to 300mb?

What is h.264? I don’t know of it, is it in autoGK? If something is converted to h.264, what do other people need to have to view my video?

Last night, I recorded the 45 minute documentary on my DVD recorder in LP record mode, to try and reduce the size of the file when I put it into my pc. But it showed up as 4.35GB. This is about the same size as another 1 hour recording I made in XP mode which is the best quality. Shouldn’t the file size be considerably smaller depending on xP, SP and LP? However, I have no idea what [B]‘Unreferenced Material’[/B] means which you can see in the screenshot, and is over 3GB. The only thing on the disc was the documentary and it says main movie is 473MB:confused: I was hoping to rip just 473MB.

When I clicked ‘backup!’ DVD shrink started to encode, and was going to take an hour. What is it encoding, I thought it was meant to just rip in a few minutes? DVD shrink is giving me problems at the moment, keeps closing. Do I need DVD shrink, or should I rip and convert all in one program, say, autoGK?

What do you think of Magic DVD Ripper? That seems to be able to rip direct from DVD and convert to WMV, AVI and MPEG.


I literally have zero experience with standalone DVD recorders, so anything that I say is based purely on speculation, but if I had to guess, I’d say that the unreferenced material is actually your blank space on the disc while the main movie represents your recording. The reason that it’s compressing your video is because you have DVD Shrink set to automatic compression (you can see in your picture that it’s compressing to 55.8% of the disc’s original size). You’ll have to change the setting to no compression. I don’t know what people normally use to rip standalone-recorded DVDs, but see if ImgBurn works for you.

The amount of time it takes to encode something from one format to another will vary depending on your system capabilities. Obviously if you have a faster computer, then the encoding will process more quickly. You’ll just have to try and see how long it takes.

h.264 is a video codec, similar to WMV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, Xvid, Divx, etc. You can’t use AutoGK (which only does Xvid and Divx), but there are many encoders available for it (googling for “h.264 encoder” should turn up many results; if you need a suggestion, try MeGUI). In order for someone to view an h.264 video file, then they’ll need to install the h.264 codec on their system, which is also similar to other video codecs.

I don’t have any experience with Magic DVD Ripper, but there are enough free options available for video encoding that I never feel the need to use a commercial program. Most free programs are practically “one-step” after you rip the DVD to your hard drive anyway.