In the past I always used to perform the standard burning test in Nero CD-DVD Speed in order to test new media. As most people already know, you can allow Nero to select random files to burn, and in this case Nero picks files up to a 4,700,372,992 bytes for a DVD+R or 4,706,074,624 bytes for a DVD-R, these are the nominal capacities for these kinds of media. Or, you can specify to burn your own previously created image files. What I wanted was to be able to create image files with my own content, but make them as close to the above maximum nominal cpacities as possible in order for my test burn to use as much space on the disc as possible within its nominal capacity.
This wasn't as straightforward as I thought. Most of the mainstream recording software allow you to compile images from your own content, but as you add files to your project the space these files occupy is usually measured in Mb. You don't want to create an image larger than the media's nominal capacity unless you want to overburn, (and not all writers can do that), so most of us add files up to 4482Mb. This will leave a little bit of unused space at the end of the disc and this always annoyed me. I wanted to use the full nominal capacity of the disc (or at least as much of it as possible) and at the same time burn my own files too. I also wanted to create some images that are larger than the nominal capacity of the media because I wanted to test the overburning ability of my BenQ DW1650. Sometimes a few bytes is the difference between success and failure while overburning, so I wanted to create images with very little size difference between them in order to be able to pinpoint the exact maximum overburning limit for certain media.
The solution was easier than I thought. Lets say that I want to create a DVD image which is as close as possible but not exceeding 4,700,372,992 bytes, and which contains avi files converted to xVid from my own holiday footage. All I need to do is put my avi files in a folder and then add MP3 files to that folder. Then select to sort files by size. This way my largest files - in this case they are my avi holiday clips - will be at the bottom of the window and the smalest file, which is the smallest MP3, will be at the top. I then select all my clips and add MP3s to the selection (by pressing and holding CTRL and then clicking on inviviual files) until my selected files reach a capacity that is as close to 4,699,996,546 bytes. For a DVD+R 4,699,996,546 bytes is the maximum size that I can use when adding files, in order for my resulting image to be 4,700,372,992 bytes. I can check the exact size of the selected files by right-clicking on the selection and selecting Properties on the mini-menu that comes up. If I'm are far from my goal of 4,699,996,546 bytes, I then change your selection slightly and check the combined files properties again, it is easy to do that if you know that the smaller files are towards the top (that's why we sorted them by size).
As you can see in the screenshot, in this case I managed to select files of 4,699,996,546 bytes, which will result in an image of 4,700,372,992 bytes exactly. It is not straightforward to reach this size, just a matter of luck and selecting different file combinations and checking their combined properties.