DVD Conversion Guide

Original Page URL: http://www.digital-digest.com/dvd/articles/dvd_convert.html
Author/Publisher: Digital Digest
Date Added: Feb 14, 2001
Date Updated: Feb 14, 2001

DVD Conversion Guide
Version 2.0 (14 February 2001)

Introduction DVD DIGEST
    As you probably know, DVDs are encoded in an MPEG-2 format and encased in a file called a VOB (Video Object) file. For those interested in backing up their DVDs, it is almost impossible to do a 1:1 copy due to the un-availability of writable DVDs and the small sizes of CDs (650MB vs 8000 MB for DVDs). Conversion, therefore, is needed if you plan to back up your DVDs to CDs.

    This guide briefly introduces some techniques to convert these very large VOB files to a format less space consuming, like VCDs, SVCDs and DivX, using the many software and techniques available.

    Note, this guide is fairly advanced and is purely optional for those who seek to explorer more into the world of digital video editing and conversion. And also, please respect the copyright laws in your country.

DVD Conversion Guide

Choose your format DVD DIGEST
    Choosing which format you'll want to convert the DVD to will require you to know how exactly you plan to use the converted movie. The table below lists the properties that a converted 2 hour movie (at their typical resolution) will have depending on which format you choose. Note that the stated "low, medium, high and best" values are relative to the original DVD quality (with "low" meaning low quality, while "best" means same quality as the original DVD). Hopefully, the table below will help you choose which format you'll want. Once you have decided which format you want to use, please use the "INDEX" below to skip to the section you want.

    DivX (MPEG-4) VCD (MPEG-1) SVCD (MPEG-2) MiniDVD (DVD-on-CD)
    Video Resolution 560x240 (Widescreen - variable) 352x240 (NTSC) 480x480 (NTSC) 720x480 (NTSC)
    Video Quality Low-High (SVHS) Low (VHS) Medium-High (SVHS) Best (SVHS)
    Audio Resolution Stereo, 16bit, 48kHz (MP3 - variable) Stereo, 16bit, 44kHz Stereo, 16bit, 44kHz Dolby Digital (AC3)
    Audio Quality Low-Best Medium Medium Best
    File Size (2 hour movie) 300 - 1000+ MB 1000+ MB 800+ MB 3000+ MB
    Play on Standalone? No Yes Maybe * Maybe **
    Why this format? Widely available on the net. Variable quality/file size. Proven and reliable format. Playable on standalone. Playable on standalone. Same quality as original DVD.

    * - Most DVD players made for the Asian market will support this (official) format. Features limited interactivity (1 menu with play button).

    ** - Only 1 or 2 (Aiwa, Affrey - more details here) DVD players will play this (non-official) format. Full DVD interactivity.

DVD Conversion Guide

    DivX is based on the MPEG-4 compression format. MPEG-4 is a new standard of video compression that is both high quality and low bitrate. They are usually only a fraction (around 15%) of the size of a standard DVD, even at 640x480 resolutions, making them the best home video format thus far. They only take half the time to encode, and yet at the same time is smaller in size than MPEG-1 - due to their incredible compression technology - some have even called MPEG-4 the "MP3 of the video world". Quality ranges from net-streaming quality to near DVD due to the flexibility of the format.

    For a DVD to DivX conversion guide, please refer to this page.

    For more information on how to convert, encode or playback DivX content, please refer to our this page.

DVD Conversion Guide

    MPEG-1(.mpg, .dat) is the predecessor to MPEG-2 used for DVDs. MPG files are a lower quality/bitrate format usually at half of the resolution of DVD VOB files. They encompass CD quality 2 channel audio, as opposed to the 5.1 channels found in some DVD VOB files. Quality depends on the encoder used, and can be quite good if done properly.

    VideoCDs (VCDs) are simply MPEG-1 data (at a specific resolution/data rate - ie. VCD compliant) burned onto CDs using a special CD writing format. You don't need special CD-Rs to make a VCD (any blank CD-R will do), but you'll need a CD writer tool that supports VCD burning. The .mpg files will then appear as .dat files on the VCD. VCDs can also feature limited interaction (VCD version 2.0), and one popular use for VCDs is for Karaoke. The best thing about VCDs is that they are playable in almost all standalone DVD players (that supports CD-R or CD-R/W reading). A usual 2 hour movie will usually require 2 CDs.


    Below are some useful statistics :
    • Format : .mpg
    • Resolution : PAL - 352x288 @ 25 FPS ; NTSC -352x240 @ 23.976 or 29.97 FPS
    • Bitrate : 650 MB stores around 50-60 minutes
    • Quality : VIDEO - Similar to VHS ; AUDIO - CD Quality (44kHz, stereo)
    • Encoding time : 1-2 frames per second on a PII-350


      You'll need a suitable VCD burning software like Nero Burning ROM, you can download a fully working 30 day trial version here. These VCD burning tools will usually check to see if your MPEG-1 file is VCD compliant and will give you a warning if the file isn't compliant. In most cases, if you convertd the MPEG-1 file using the "Resolution" information listed in the "STATS" section above, and you shouldn't get an error, and even if you do get an error, the file may still play as a VCD, but you may encounter display problems (eg. not full screen, frame skipping, distortions ...).


      Below are some players for VCDs

      DVD Decoders Cards Most DVD decoder cards also support MPEG-1 playback, and hence VCDs
      Multimedia players Players such as Microsoft Media Player and DivX players can support MPEG-1 playback, but you may have to manually load the .dat file from the VCD to start playback.
      Software DVD Players Most software DVD players can playback VCDs.
      Standalone DVD players Almost all standalone DVD players supports VCD playback

DVD Conversion Guide

    Super VideCDs (SVCDs) are based on the MPEG-2 video compression algorithm. SVCDs offer qualities of somewhere between VCDs (MPEG-1) and DVD (MPEG-2) but is a CD based format, just like VCDs. Best of all, some DVD players (mostly those made for the Asian market, since SVCDs is common format used in China) are compatible with this format, making it the perfect replacement for the aging VCD format - for a list of compatible players, see the links in the "resources" and "how to playback SVCDs" section below.


    Below are some useful statistics :
    • Resolution : PAL - 480x576 ; NTSC - 480x480
    • Bitrate : 650 MB stores up to 94 minutes
    • Quality : VIDEO - Similar to SVHS ; AUDIO - CD quality (44kHz, stereo)
    • Encoding time : Encoding 50 minutes of video takes 3+ hours on a PIII-650
    Super VideoCD


      Below are some players for SVCDs

      Software DVD Players Most software DVD players can playback SVCDs.
      Standalone DVD players Some standalone DVD players also supports SVCD playback - for a complete list of compatible players, click here


DVD Conversion Guide

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    MiniDVD is an unofficial format which basically allows you to have DVD content (complete with interactivity) on a CD media. Of course, this means that you'll only have a limited amount of video per CD (around 15 minutes of DVD quality video), but may be perfect for your DVD trailer collection or DVD music videos. You can also choose to downgrade the quality by decreasing the resolution/bitrate, and hence increase the amount of video per CD. And with increasing popularity, some new standalone DVD players will also now support this format (please refer to the "How to playback MiniDVDs" section for more information).


    Below are some useful statistics :
    • Resolution : PAL - 720x576 ; NTSC - 720x480
    • Bitrate : 650 MB stores up to 15-20 minutes
    • Quality : VIDEO - DVD quality ; AUDIO - DVD quality (Dolby Digital AC3)


      Below are some guides for the conversion and burning process :

      Conversion Tools
      DivX Tools Many DivX tools such as DVD2AVI can also be helful for the MiniDVD conversion process
      DVD Tools Many DVD tools such as DV-Tool, ReMPEG2, VOB Merge, can also be helful for the MiniDVD conversion process

      Guides on this site
      Odedia's MiniDVD Guide A step by step guide on DVD to MiniDVD (with downgraded video quality) conversion

      Guides not on this site
      MiniDVD Tutorial A Brazilian Portuguese MiniDVD guide
      Robshot's Creative Corner Contains guides for DVD to SVCD and MiniDVD conversion


      Below are some players for MiniDVDs

      DVD Decoders Cards Some decoder cards, like the Hollywood+, can also support the playback of MiniDVDs
      Software DVD Players Most software DVD players, except PowerDVD, can playback MiniDVDs.
      Standalone DVD players A few DVD players now supports MiniDVD playback - for more information, please refer to Robshot.com

For additional help, you may want to post a question in our forum :

  • Digital Video Forums - forum about digital video conversion

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