- Format versus media.
A DVD-R disk is just a type of computer disk that works with inexpensive home
DVD burner drives. They can hold 4.7 GB of data. This data does not have to be
video, it can be anything.
A DVD video disk has very specific requirements for the format, both of the
actual video and audio files, and the way the files are burned onto the disk.
If you don't meet the format requirements, the disk will not play in a
standard DVD player.
- Video formats
There are many different kinds of video formats. (This is not quite the
same as codecs, if you've heard that term, but it's close enough for basic
work.) Some examples include: Windows Media Player (.wmv), Quicktime (.mov),
RealVideo (.rm or .ram), MPEG-1 (.mpg), MPEG-2 (.m2v or .mpg), MPEG-4 (.mpg),
DivX AVI (.avi), DV AVI (.avi), other AVI (.avi), etc.
DVD video must be in the MPEG-2 video format.
- MPEG-2 video
MPEG-2 video is a format that produces very high-quality files with reasonably
good compression. It's not as good as MPEG-4, which is a more recent format,
but it's the one that was accepted as a general standard by manufacturers,
so it'll be with us for a while.
You have to get your video into MPEG-2 format in order to put it onto
a DVD. To do this, you have to get an MPEG-2 encoder. Because MPEG-2 is a
commercial video format, you will have to pay for any piece of software
that does MPEG-2 encoding. Most commercial video editing tools include
MPEG-2 encoding now, and TMPGEnc
(www.tmpgenc.com) includes a 30-day trial
of MPEG-2 encoding and is inexpensive if you want to purchase.
- Basic settings for MPEG-2 encoding
There are many different possible settings to use in MPEG-2 encoding,
and going into detail is way more time than I'm willing to spend. Look
online, there are many useful guides. The most important basic ones are:
- bitrate: stick with 5300 kbps and only increase it if you
get a poor quality file with pixelation. Never go above 8000 kbps.
It's not going to get better from there and many players will
actually have stuttering with higher bitrate files.
- constant vs. variable: use variable bitrate if your encoding
tool supports it. It saves space by not using the max bitrate for
parts of your video that don't need it, like black screens.
- multiplexing: this refers to mixing together the video and audio.
Turn this off. If you multiplex, you will get
a single ".mpg" file. This is fine for playing on computer, but for
actually authoring a DVD, you will have a much easier time of it if
you have separate video and audio files. The video file will have
an ".m2v" suffix.
- audio: the audio MUST be in 48000 kHz frequency. If it's not,
the DVD won't work. This trips up a lot of people because when you rip
audio from a CD, it is in 44100 kHz frequency.
If you turn off multiplexing, then most encoding tools will either
make an uncompressed .wav or .aiff file, or a compressed .mp2
or .ac3 file. If you have a choice, AC3 format is best. MP2 is
worse quality audio, and wav/aiff are huge files.
If you're making an AC3 file, 192 kbps or 256 kbps is fine for the
- DVD authoring
Once you have MPEG-2 video files and 48000 kHz audio files in either WAV/AIFF
or AC3/MP2 format, you are then ready to actually author a DVD. You will need
a different piece of software for this. Most DVD-R drives now come with at
least some primitive kind of software, or you can get the inexpensive and
nice DVD-lab software
($79 currently, but see note below), or really pricey pro software like
For Mac, there's DVD Studio Pro.
Basically, you will import your video and audio files into the
authoring program as "assets". (At this point, the better authoring programs
will tell you if there's something wrong with the format of your video or
audio.) Then you will make one "title" or "track" for each vid, and insert
the matching audio and video files for the vid into the title. Then you
can also make menus that point to the different titles.
The details depend entirely on the specific software, so you'll have
to consult the help file for your software.