AVI to VCD with TMPGEnc
No doubt about it! If you want the best quality
SVCD or VCD then TMPGEnc is the way to go and what's more, its free
baby! The bad news is only the older versions gave us full support
of SVCD and VCD. This is a very important point, only use
TMPGEnc upto version 12a don't download version 12b or any later
versions unless you want to buy the product of course! And you will
need the English patched version too or it will be unreadable.
If you intend on converting a DVD into a
VCD with TMPGEnc then you probably should frameserve
it with Flask Mpeg. If you intend on just using the Ligos and WinDVD
filters as explained breifly in my DVD
to VCD guide, then you may need to extract the audio first with
Graphedit and add it to the movie seperately or audio may not appear.
This guide basically assumes that you are
converting an AVI file but all the same settings will apply to any
file you can open in TMPGEnc or frameserve to it.
Load TMPGEnc. As usual any new utility looks hard to use at first
but is actually not too bad. Take a look at the picture below.
First we will choose the AVI file we wish to make into a VCD. Do
this by hitting the 'video source' Browse button (A);
(If you are frameserving you will choose the *.avs file instead
of the *.avi). The audio source (B)
is not needed unless you have a seperate audio track that needs
multiplexing to the video file. This is sometimes the case if you
needed to normalize or edit the audio for any reason but keep in
mind that TMPGEnc can also normalise audio for us. Finally we can
choose where we wish to save our final VCD Mpeg file (C).
TMPGEnc is great because it can do everything we need. You can
use it to convert just audio alone to Mp2 by not selecting any video.
You can use it to convert just video to Mpg by saying 'Video only'.
You can even use it to cut and join Mpeg files in any way you like.
The selection boxes (E) allow
us to choose what TMPGEnc will give us. Always choose: System
(Video+Audio) if you want an Mpg with video and audio.
The Load and Save
buttons of the 'output sytream type' just let you save all the settings
you used to create your movies. This can be very useful if you need
to set custom settings for your movies, but we will not need any
in this guide. If you download anyone elses settings you can load
them using these buttons too. Anyway, lets configure TMPGEnc to
make our VCD. Press the configure button (D),
and this box appears:
The Video tab are the most important ones, so here is what the
options are all about.
|(A) Obviously since we
are making a VCD we must select Mpeg-1.
|(B) Then we must choose
a Video CD standard size. No other sizes will work except: 352
x 240 for NTSC movies and 352 x
288 for PAL movies. Even if you are not making a perfect
whitebook standard VCD then its a good idea to choose one of
these settings anyway because its a nice standardized format
|(C) Aspect ratio should
be set to 4:3 PAL for PAL VCDs
or 4:3 NTSC for NTSC VCDs.
|(D) The framreate must
be set to 25fps for PAL VCDs or
29.97fps for NTSC VCDs.
|(E) You must use Constant
bitrate (CBR) for VCDs able to play on standalones.
|(F) You must always use
a bitrate of 1150 kbit/sec.
The rest of the options are greyed out because they do not apply.
(G) For motion search accuracy
I suggest you either use Normal or
High Quality. It doesn't matter which
one you choose apart from one obviously looking slightly better.
If you are a quality freak you can set the thing on highest quality
instead. Obviously the higher the quality the longer it will take
to compress. There is not a huge difference between the normal and
higher quality modes so experiment to see what you think is best
before you do a full movie.
That should be all you need to set! Press OK to get out of the
Configire section and press the large Encode
button - Bingo!
For a VCD you can usually keep all other setting default and everything
should be fine. But these extra filters are absolutely wonderful
and no other mpeg encoder I've seen has come close to the options
offered with TMPGEnc! This includes the big names such as the Panasonic
Mpeg Encoder, Xing and Ligos - they are total rubbish by comparison!
Unfortunately to explain how to use everything would take many articles
and a lot of time. So instead I will give a breif overview and let
you play about with them yourselves.
Lets go back to Configuration and click on the next tab, the 'Advnced'
|(A) Non-interlaced or
interlaced, this option is only used to make the resolution
larger or smaller. Just use non-interlaced.
|(B) Field order. With
an interlaced video the picture is made up in two parts one
of all odd lines and the other of all even lines, see my interlace
article Here for more details on
this subject. Basically it shouldn't make any difference to
your video, it will either do it in A field order starting with
the top field first (i.e. AB AB AB), or B order first starting
with the bottom field (i.e. BABA).
|(C) This lets you change
the Aspect ratio of the video to make it either widescreen or
normal screen. You will always use 4:3 for VCD's. An aspect
ratio of 1:1 means no change at all and 16:9 is usual for widescreen.
|(D) The center
option helps to centralize your video if it is has been resized
or cropped previously.
(E) Here is where things get
really interesting. There are a whole bunch of filter that can be
applied to the video before the encoder transforms it into Mpeg.
Many of these can be done to the AVI in VirtualDub, but isn't it
nice of the programmer of TMPGEnc to include so many options :).
To select them just tick beside the boxes, but to configure
them you must double-click on the selection you picked or
the options box wont appear. Again there are too many settings to
explain in detail so I will just highlight a few of the most useful
Crop Video: This is the one you will probably use most of
all. It crops the sides of your AVI to the size you want it, its
very easy to use. Double-click on it and up will pop a preview of
your video. Then increase the numbers in the Top, Bottom, Left and
Right boxes to cut the video to the sizes you need. It also gives
you the option of keeping the size but just blacking out the edges
like a letterboxed video.
Audio Effects: The main point of this is to make video that
has low sound volume louder. It does this by normalizing the wave
file before it converts it to MP2. Normalizing, as I'm sure you've
read in my guides before, is a way of amplifying audio to go as
loud as possible without 'clipping' off the scale and causing corrupted
parts. I'd say always use a normalization of 90-100%; I always use
100. They've also thrown in the option to fade in and out at the
start and end of the movie which is more useful for small video
clips that tend to end suddenly.
Edge Enhancement: Another beautiful feature that allows
you to control the general sharpness of the picture without significantly
effecting the soft tones. If used correctly this can be set to produce
some very nice mpeg videos that are both sharp and clear.
Basic Color Correction: This is useful if the original AVI
has a green or reddish tinge to it. You can change the brightness
and contrast too. The option to adjust the Gamma is usually for
better PC viewing and may make the picture look too light on a Normal
TV; you must try and play a clip on TV or whatever you intend to
view it with before you decide on the best colour corrections to
do. The gamma is different from the brightness and contrast in that
it changes the midtones rather than how bright the colours start
and stop. I will write more about colour correction in other guides
and you can learn a bit about colour in my 'More Filter Tricks'
section Here if you want.
Custom color correction: This is harder to use but gives
better control over image colour values. To start you have to press
the 'Add' button to add an adjustment
layer over the image or you cannot mess about with the settings.
Ghost reduction: This helps to prevent flicker and ghosting
effects. You can either set it yourself or let it automatically
guess the best one for your video clip.
Noise Reduction: Another excelent filter although hard to
get good settings with so if unsure try the default settings. It
has the option for temporal filtering or spatial filtering (if I'm
using the term correctly). Just mess with the settings for a good
result. Be very careful with this because it can actually cause
ghosting effects. For details on how noise reduction works it may
be useful to check out my guides on the VirtualDub filters Here.
Deinterlace: If you find that your video file looks like
this picture below, especially in scenes with lots of action then
you will probably need to use the deinterlace option. Usually Blend
(adaptive) is the way to go. The theory is that you shouldn't
get this problem with PAL video but you almost always do with video
capture cards. With DVD's you will only sometimes get this problem
with the extras and not the main movie.
Inverse Telecine: Inverse Telecine is a method that changes
an interlaced 29.97 frames per second movie back into its original
framerate of 23.976 frames per second. This is no use for VCDs or
even SVCD's because the framerate must be either 29.97fps or 25fps.
If you have problems with interlace artifacts you will be better
off using the deinterlace filter. Its also the hardest possible
thing to get right and a simple solution is beyond me!
GOP is short for 'Group Of Pictures'. It sounds realy complicated
but the idea is simple enough: I-frames are whole 'keyframes' in
other words whole picture is like a photo. B-Frames represent just
bits of the picture that are different from the previous frames
(i.e. when there is a motion change). For an explanation of Keyframes
and Delta check out my appendix on it Here.
The I, P and B frames are arranged into GOPs that produce a good
balance between good compression highest quality motion reproduction.
In short I think these settings should be left default for VCD's
to avoid any problems. A lot of research has gone into the best
settings by the Mpeg orgainazation and the default settings are
great for just about anything.
I frames only: Using this option turns the MPEG into a sort
of MJPEG movie without any half frames, only full frames. This eliminates
motion macroblocks almost completely but will either increase the
filesize or, in the case of VCDs because its a constant bitrate,
may actually make much worse quality! The main reason people use
I-Frame only is because they can cut and edit the video in VirtualDub
or another video editing application frame by frame like they can
I and P frames only: This is only really useful for custom
very low birate movies. By skipping B frames you are able to produce
video that is much smaller than normal MPEG files. The bad news
is this will result in slighly jerky video that is not well suited
for any kind of quality VCD and probably wouldn't be playable on
a standalone VCD player.
I'm not sure exactly what settings are best for Quantizer Matrices.
They are designed as filters to prepare certain types of video for
compressing. Generally I'd say stay with the defaults because they
are tried and tested settings. Apart from being able to change the
patten of each mpeg macroblock by setting different numbers in the
table, there are a bunch of pre-defined settings that you can choose
from the drop-down menu. You may, for example, find that the CG
gives better results on animated images and MPEG on real life movies
or vice versa.
Looking a little lower we have the 'Special settings' section.
These again are for either special video types or for just increased
or just different 'looks' for the final movie by encoding in a certain
Use Floating Point DCT: This option will spend more time
making sure that the mpeg video remains true to the original image.
You must remember that these settings will servely slow down encoding
and you may not notice much difference in quality - if you are a
quality freak just use it.
Soften Block Noise: Since the Mpeg format compresses blurry
images better than it does sharp images, it has a prefilter designed
to soften the image without loosing too much sharpness. Again this
is a matter of taste; take a look and see the results. If you think
the bluriness is not too much you will get less noticable macroblocks.
If sharpness is more important then keep it as normal. To increase
the blur just increase the block noise numbers, 35 is a good setting
anyway though. Intra blocks and non-intra blocks are basically the
same as saying 'keyframes' (i.e. intra) or 'non-keyframes'. You
may find that more softening on non-intra blocks produces better
results in action scenes or vice-versa - experiment!
Do not perform half-pel motion in still scenes: This option
helps to get rid of slight macrolock-noise in non-action scenes
where there is very little movement. This works quite well but can
give the apperance of slightly unnaturel motion at certain points.
Again I suggest you do some tests and see what you prefer, some
notice it while others do not.