Ecuador's DVD -to- DivX ;-) Beginners Guide v1.3
Last Update : November 5 2002
Homepage : http://ecuador.ebodyform.com
There is a newer guide (v2.x) at my PC-DVD pages : http://www.ecuadors.net/pcdvd/
This guide is intended for beginners. It describes the easiest
way (but quite slow) to produce MPEG 4 (DivX) video CD's with
subtitles and MP3 Dolby Surround sound. Each CD can hold from
50 to 100+ min of video (depending on quality) and can be played on a fast
A while ago I preferred to use a different technique that produced MPEG 2/AC3 CD's. This technique was very complex and fitted a movie in 2 or 3 CD's with probably inferior quality video (although the sound was Dolby Digital).
The new technique is possible thanks to Microsoft for their MPEG 4 codecs and the DivX team for hacking them in order to be used in formats other than asf.
*This guide was first written in 2000. Newer and faster methods for DVD to DivX conversion exist, so only use this guide if other methods fail in your system or fail for a particular DVD title. The guide was updated on Nov 5 2002 but the update was only about a couple of newer program versions, the method stayed the same.
First, you will need a fast computer both for creation and playback
of DivX CD's. For smooth playback you will need at least a PII-350 or K6-2
450. As for ripping, something faster will help finish earlier the difficult
task. For example, it takes my Athlon 750 about 12 hours to convert a 2 hour
movie. Actually, the best processor for the task is currently (Dec 2000) the
Pentium 4, then comes the Athlon and then the Pentium 3
Moreover, a decent SVGA card is required (almost all 8MB+ cards will do, as well as several 4MB units). A large hard disk is also mandatory. If the DVD is not copied to the HD first, then 3-5 GB's of free space will be sufficient. If the DVD is first copied to the HD, an additional 4-7 GB's will be required. As for RAM requirements : a stable Windows 98/Me/2000 environment is required, which means 64-128 MB RAM (more is always welcome).
Next, you will need some software :
DivX ;-) codecs, a CSS decryptor, like DVDDecrypter, DVD2Mpeg Squeezer v1.16 (with WinDVD filters and Panasonic Plug-in), VirtualDub and Ecuador's AVI Bitrate Calculator DX. Note that DivX 3 was the best codec when this guide was written, however newer codecs (like DivX 5.0.2) with better features like B-frames can be used, but only in 1-pass mode.
The above software can be found in my rip-pack, which can be downloaded form my PC-DVD pages. From there you can also download the latest version of Ecuador's AVI Bitrate Calculator.
If you want to change the region of your DVD-ROM then I would suggest that you download DVDGenie from DVD infomatrix.
Make sure you have DirectX 7 and DX Media 6.0 (or later versions of these) installed on your system. You probably have them if you have been playing some recent 3D games. If not, download them from Microsoft.com.
Install the DivX 3.11 alpha codecs by clicking on the .exe. The installation is complete after you click on the "run me first" icon. You can also install the VKI "scene change detection" patch (just copy the files to your windows/system directory replacing the old ones). The patch can make a difference in low bitrates.
Install DVD2Mpeg Squeezer V1.16. Install the Panasonic plug-in to the SAME directory as DVD2Mpeg. Copy to the same directory the files "cm-mpeg-pwi2.0e.prm" and "avidll.dll" found in the rip-pack.
Virtual Dub, DVDdecrypter and Ecuador's AVI Bitrate Calculator just need to be copied to a directory.
The ripping procedure consists of 5 steps, 3 of which are optional. The times shown are very rough estimates for a 2 hour movie based on my Athlon 750 system.
I. Decryption (15-35mins) - Optional
If you don't want your DVD drive to be reading the disk for many hours you can first copy the entire DVD to your hard disk (as long as you have about 4-7GB to spare). For this task I mostly use DeCSS. The program is very simple, just enter something like "c:\video_ts" as the target folder, select all the files and press the button. Unfortunately, DeCSS has problems with some newer DVD's and does not work for me under Windows Me (but it is OK under Windows 2000), so VobDec should be used in those cases, preferably with the help of a GUI.
II. Rip / Mpeg 4 encoding (9-12h)
Load DVD2Mpeg Squeezer. If you have copied the DVD to
your hard drive go to "file" and "change DVD root...".
Find the video_ts.ifo file on your drive.
Go to the "options" menu and click on "capture settings". This is the first set of settings crucial to the resulting movie. I will help you with these:
Target Size : PAL DVD's have a resolution of 720x576 and NTSC DVD's 720x480. It is better if you enter a lower value, since the bitrate will be kept to a minimum. Keeping in mind that the DivX movies will be mainly viewed on 4:3 monitors, and probably computer monitors, for very wide movies I use a resolution of 640x480 which provides the best quality and viewability on the PC monitor (along with the "add bands" and "zoom" - see below). If the source is 16:9 then I use 640x368 without the "add bands" option. In any case, test by yourself. Ecuador's AVI Bitrate Calculator has an Aspect Ratio / Resolution calculator that can provide you with resolutions supported by DivX (divisible by 16).
Max. Framenumber : Enter a number of frames after which the capture will end. For most cases enter a large number like 99999999, since you don't want your capturing to finish before the end of a movie.
Audio Output Format : Since most PC audio cards cannot handle well 48kHz sound it is usually best to choose the 44100 Hz WAV setting. Use the higher quality 48 kHz sound only if you are sure it will not be a problem for your system. Forget the MP2 setting, welcome to the MPEG4/MP3 era.
MP2 Bitrate : No use for DivX movies. Look above.
Resize Filter : Here you have some options that affect the quality and speed of the rip. The lowest quality setting you should use is "Triangle". I personally prefer the "Bicubic" method. The conversion slows about 25% but, depending on your resize settings, the quality slightly improves. If you have CPU power to spare you might also try the Lanczos or Hanning Windowed Sinc. I must warn you that I have encountered a couple of movies that had problems on very bright areas (like the titles) with any filter other than Triangle, so be careful.
Interpolation Method : No interpolation.
Framerate : Not much to do here. You just enter your source's framerate (PAL : 25 fps NTSC : 23.976 fps)
Stop Capturing by titlechange : Check this for the capturing to end at the end of the title.
Add Bands : If you are planning to do a manual Pan & Scan, i.e. to make the black horizontal bands thinner using the "zoom" then check this box.
Precise Resizing : Yes.
Use Xing Video decoder : Generally: No. If you are having problems though, you could try this decoder.
Zoom : Zooms the picture, minimizing the black bands, but, on the same time cutting part of the frame (left & right). Use it if you don't want to watch a 2.35:1 movie as a thin line on your 17" monitor.
Next step is to go to "playback" and "initialize graph and encoder". If you have installed the program and codecs correctly the two tests will be passed. Then, the codec selection window pops up. This is another crucial set of settings.
Codec : Use the Low Motion DivX codec, even for "fast" action films. The Fast Motion is really bad for normal scenes, plus it will probably not use a decent bitrate regardless of your setting. So, select the Low Motion and press the button to configure it:
Keyframe every : The default value of 10 secs indicates that the movie can be cut and fast-forwarded at 10 sec increments. You cannot use a value lower than about 5 secs unless you are using a high data rate, as the quality will be downgraded. For data rates over 1500, a value of 1-2 secs should be more appropriate. If you are using the VKI patch with motion detection, then a keyframe will also be created each time there is a keychange. Generally, with the patch installed you should use higher values than you would have otherwise.
Compression Control : For a reasonable bitrate leave the crispness to 100, for the sharpest image. For really low bitrates you can try something like 75. As always try other settings yourself.
Data Rate (bit rate) : This setting will decide the resulting quality and filesize. First you have to decide how big the file will be (will it have to fit one or two CD's?). Generally, to ensure decent quality do not exceed about 105 min of video per CD. To find the (approximate) resulting video file size use the formula: filesize (Kb) = bitrate * movie length (min) * 60 / 8 . The same goes with the sound. When interleaving the video with audio the final file will be slightly bigger in size than the two source files separately. For your convenience use my bitrate calculator program available at my website. Generally, for movies with somewhat "slow" scenes, bitrates from 800-850 kbps are acceptable, but you should aim for 1000 and higher. Of course, for "fast" movies the bitrate should be even higher. Take notice that these values refer to a resolution of about 640x368 pixels. If you want to use lower bitrates then you have to lower the resolution as well.
Select "play" in the "playback" menu. You can select languages and subtitles by the "special" menu, or you can navigate through the DVD menu using the cursor and Enter keys (just be sure to have the small Squeezer window active at the time). As soon as you have selected your languages start the movie and choose "start capturing" from the "playback" menu. The capturing will finish at the end of the title.
Hopefully you have ended up with an MPEG 4 video-only AVI and a 44.1 (or 48) kHz PCM WAV file.
III. Audio Normalization (5-10min) - Optional
I have seen many DivX movies with a very low sound volume. It is recommended to amplify your WAV so that the resulting quality (after the MP3 compression) will be the best possible. The maximum amplification possible without the adverse effect of clipping is called normalization. You can launch Ecuador's AVI Bitrate Calculator DX, open your wav file with the WAV Normalizer, press "Scan for Peaks" and after the scanning finishes: "Normalize".
IV. Multiplexing / Audio encoding (1-1.5h)
For the final step open Virtual Dub. Select "file"
"open video file" and open your newly created (video only)
AVI. You don't want it altered in any way, so in the menu "video"
select "direct stream copy".
Now, in the "audio" menu go to "interleaving". I usually enter "400ms" for the first two values. Leave the third at zero. Next go to "compression". Most tutorials suggest the DivX audio codec at 64 kbps. Well, this codec sure is fast but the quality is too low for my standards. So, I am using the Mpeg Layer 3 codec, mostly at 128kbps (and sometimes at 96, 112, 160 or 192).
If you haven't converted to 44.1 kHz choose from the 48 kHz codec options.
Next, in the same (audio) menu select "WAV audio" and locate your wav produced after steps II and III.
Finally select "Full processing mode" for audio, as you want the sound actually compressed using the settings you entered.
Your multiplexed AVI will start being created as soon as you enter the target filename ("file", "save AVI").
I. AVI segmenting (10mins) - Optional
If your AVI fits on one CD then skip this section. If not,
then open it with Virtual Dub and I will explain the 2 CD procedure (You
can go for even more CDs of course).
Find where you want to cut the movie. To do this, look at the size of the big avi file, we will represent it with FS. Now, if you want the resulting segment size to be SS and the total (big avi) frames are TF, then you must cut the movie at about SS*TF/FS frames. Go to that point and press "Shift-Left" to move to the previous keyframe and note down the frame number. Press "Home" to set selection start, move the horizontal slider to the last frame and press "End" to set selection end. Now press "Delete" to delete the selected section. Finally select "Direct Stream Copy" on both video and audio menus, set your audio interleave (make sure you have "AVI audio" selected) and save your new avi under a new name.
For the second segment the procedure is similar but this time set selection start (Home button) to frame 0 and selection end to one frame less than the one you noted before. Delete the segment and continue as before.
You can also use Ecuador's AVI bitrate calculator 2 to find the cutting frames.
5. What next?
Of course, you can say your task is done and you have a perfect
.avi file which you can burn to a CD. But, what about the extra stuff on the
DVD? Like the trailers, or the special effects video... An idea is to rip
them and create an autoplay menu for your CD's which will let you launch them.
There are even programs (Autoplay Menu Studio) that will make this task very
easy. Of course, not everyone is prepared to take this extra step...
Something often done is the encoding of a movie using 2 different bitrates and then joining the two files to one using programs like "Project DivX". This way you can decide which scenes deserve more bitrate. The process takes a lot of extra effort but results in the best quality the DivX codec can provide for a given filesize. For Project DivX make sure you have the DivX VKI patch installed.
6. Contacting the Author.
You can always visit my homepage: http://ecuador.ebodyform.com
Send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find me on the Greek irc (GR Net). Connect to one of the servers (e.g. phoenix.irc.gr, nana.irc.gr) and find me after midnight local time (GMT +2) on the Physics University of Athens students channel #fysiko.