Page 1 of 3: Introduction + Steps 1 - 4

This guide serves a very basic purpose. It will tell you how to convert your AVI file into a DVD compliant MPEG-2 video stream (and AC3 audio file) for use in more complex DVD authoring tools that do not have their own encoder (for example, DVD-lab Pro). We will encode the MPEG-2 using QuENC, and the audio component to AC3 using Aften.

Please note that this guide is not a AVI to DVD guide, because the DVD authoring part is not covered. It merely gets your DVD compliant MPEG-2/AC3 streams for which you can use with various DVD authoring tools. This guide was written mainly for use with DVD-lab Pro (guide still to be written).

This guide is aimed at more advanced users, which would typically be the type of users that would need to do something like this. You should have good knowledge of bitrates (and be able to do bitrate calculations), command line tools and things of this nature (but even these areas will be covered, albeit only briefly). Beginners can use one of our complete AVI/Video to DVD guides, as these authoring tools which are aimed at home users will usually include their own MPEG-2 encoder.

By the end of this guide, you should have a separate video and audio stream ready to use in DVD authoring tools like DVD-lab Pro without further re-encoding. There are also some additional instructions for performing 3:2 pulldown for 24 fps material and multiplexing instructions (incase your DVD authoring tool does not support demuxed stream input) using FFmpeg.

Software you'll need (all freeware):

Step 1: Installation

Download and install Avisynth - just follow the installer, nothing too complicated. QuEnc's installer is also quite simple, just choose a directory where you want it installed and all the files are extracted to there. MediaInfo can be installed by downloading and following the installer.

If you are planning on using QuEnc to encode the audio, then you can skip all the way to step 5. Otherwise, you will need to install an AVI demuxing tool and some audio tools. Download and install AVI-Mux GUI by extracting everything in the ZIP file to a folder on your hard-drive. BeSweet can be installed simply by downloading the ZIP package and extracting the files to a folder on your hard-drive. BeLight can be similarly installed, and when you run BeLight for the first time, it will ask you to locate the BeSweet executable and do that by going to where you extracted the BeSweet package. AftenGUI's install again only requires you to extract the contents of the ZIP file. Installation of all the required components and tools is now complete.

Step 2: Source File Inspection

In this step, we examine the source AVI file and basically determine whether it is NTSC or PAL. Start MediaInfo and load in your video file, and the details about the video will be shown, including the framerate (fps).

MediaInfo: Video Details

As a rule, files that are 23.976, 24, 29.97 or 30 frame per second are NTSC. While PAL video is at 25 FPS. Multiples of these frame rates (eg. 15 FPS and 60 FPS => NTSC) are sometime used as well. For the example file I'm using for this guide, the framerate is 23.976, which makes the file NTSC. Also take note of the AVI's other attributes, such as resolution (which will be important later on) and audio type (encoding, channels, frequency ... although other tools we use later on will tell us this as well).

Step 3: Demux the AVI file's audio stream

In this step, we will demux the AVI file to extract the audio stream from it. We can technically skip all these audio instructions and use QuEnc to encode our audio as well (skip straight to Step 5), but this method gives us better audio encoding quality and support. We will use AVI-Mux GUI to demux the audio component of the AVI file. Start AVI-Mux and drag your source AVI into the "open file ..." section. Click on the now listed file and click on the "generate data source from files" button to scan the AVI file. The streams in the AVI file should now show up down below. Some information about the audio file will be displayed, including the type of audio file (MP3, AC3 ...), the number of channels (2ch, 6ch ...) and the frequency (44 KHz, 48 KHz) - take notice of these settings because they will become important later on. For now, left click on the audio stream to highlight it, and then right click to select the "Extract Binary" option to extract the audio stream from the AVI file into a separate file.

AVI-Mux GUI: Extract Binary

AVI-Mux GUI will process the file and extract the audio and when it has finished, you can close AVI-Mux GUI. If the extracted audio stream was an AC3 file, and it was 48 KHz, then this file is most likely DVD compliant already and it will be ready to use in your DVD project (the file probably came originally from a DVD, even). In this case, you can skip the rest of the steps in regards to the audio, and skip to the video encoding instructions. However, if the audio stream isn't an AC3 file or if you're not sure if the AC3 file is DVD compliant, then you can always re-encode the file to be sure, and so let's continue with these instructions.

Step 4: Convert the audio file to a DVD compliant AC3 file

Now that we've got our MP3 (or AC3, or WAV or even Ogg) file, we will now convert it to a DVD compliant AC3 file. What we will actually do first to to get our audio file into WAV format (either stereo, or multi-channel), and then use Aften/AftenGUI to encode that into an DVD compliant AC3. Why the need to go to a WAV file first? Mainly because BeLight's Aften support is a bit buggy, but it works great for getting audio files to WAV. But why not just use any old MP3/AC3 to WAV tool? Well, BeLight supports generating multi-channel WAV files which AftenGUI supports.

Start BeLight and if this is the first time you've used it, you will be asked to locate the BeSweet executable file. Once that's done, from the "File" menu, add in your audio file. Click on the "WAV/PCM" tab. If your audio file is 5.1 channels, then select the "16 Bits 5.1 Wave" option. Otherwise, select "16 Bits Stereo Wave". To the left of that, make sure "Output Sampling Rate" is checked and "48000" Hz is selected. Press "Start Processing" to begin the conversion (there are more options to configure in BeLight, but I'll leave that to you to do more research on - the options there are enough for a guide of its own). After a while, you should have a WAV file in the same folder as your input audio file. We will now convert this WAV file to AC3 using AftenGUI.

BeLight: WAV Creation

Start AftenGUI. Press the "Add" button to load in your newly created WAV file. Just like BeLight, there are all sorts of options that you can configure, such as invididual channel levels, but for most cases you just need to ensure the CBR Mode is selected and that the bitrate you want is selected. For stereo files, a bitrate of 192 or 256 kbps is enough. For 5.1 channel files, a bitrate of 384 or 448 is required. By default, the output location will be the same place as the input, but you can change this if needed. When you're done with the settings, press "Encode" to encode the AC3 file - when Aften finishes encoding, you'll get a dialog box telling you so.

Aften: AC3 encoding

That's it for the audio part. We begin working on the video part next, which surprisingly, is actually easier.



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