Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How to Make a DVD from avi files

Just a quick suggestion for those who download torrents but don't want to watch them on a PC or buy a DivX dvd player. This program (which you can try a demo of) is, I discovered the other day, the easiest and most intuitive DVD creation program ever.


It took me half an hour to make a full playable DVD of the 1975 series of Sykes, with menus and extras and the like.

Step 1: Converting your avis

So you've been to your favourite torrent site and on your PC you have a big folder full of episodes of season 28 of Doctor Who that you want to make a DVD out of (to watch just now, obviously and then buy the official DVD when it comes out* ).

Avis are no use for DVDs so the first thing you have to do is convert them to MPEG-2 files (with an .mpg extension). I use ImTOO MPEG Encoder, but any similar program will do, just ensure that the audio sample rate is 48000 and the video size is 704 x 576 (other settings may well work but those definitely do).

Once you've got the settings right, choose a directory for the mpeg output file and click encode. Ten minutes later - voila, a nice shiny mpeg-2 file, ready for use.

DVDLab Pro Window

Step 2: Importing your files into DVDLabPro

  • When the program starts up, it will present you with a pop-up window headed 'Default Project'. Click either PAL (UK DVD) or NTSC (US DVD) and hit OK.
  • In the bottom pane of the main program window which then appears there is an icon liek the 'Open File' icon in Word. This is the Import button, used to..well, import...your mpg files into the project for use on the DVD. Click it and import as many mpg files as you expect to fit onto your DVD.
  • Once a file is imported, the program will demux the file - basically split it into its audio (.mpa) and video (.mpv) components. Let it finish doing that before you do anything else**.
  • Once the file has been demuxed, you can drop it into your DVD. To do this, click on the top left hand panel, where it says 'Movie1'. Doing this will fill the top right hand panel with a sort of timeline affair, headed Movie 1.
  • Simply drag the newly generated .mpv file from the bottom panel into the row in the timeline which starts with a film cell icon, and then the .mpa file onto the row which starts with a green box titled 'Audio 1'.
  • Repeat with as many files as you wish, placing each set of mpa and mpv file sint a new Movie tab (to generate new movies - eg Movie2 - hit ALT-M).

Step 3: Creating a Menu

  • Click on the left hand panel on the button which reads 'Menu 1'. This will open a black box in the right hand panel - this is the starting point for your menu.
  • You can leave it black if you want, but if you want to add a background, either use one of the pre-configured ones (available by selecting the 'Background' tab at the very bottom of the screen) or press ALT-2 to bring up the Preview window, which shows the currently selected video file. To use an image form the video file, select Movie1 again and then drag the mouse along the video until you find a suitable still. Then select Menu1 again and hold down the shift key while dragging the Preview onto the menu.
  • Once you're satisfied with your background, select the Text button at the side of the Menu screen and, one at a time, type in the names you wish to give the various video files you want on your DVD (eg Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3 etc).
  • Finally, drag each of your Movie buttons from the left hand panel (e.g. Movie 1, Movie 2 etc) and drop them onto the appropriate text box.***
  • Add any other text you want - a title, for instance.
Step 4: Making the DVD

  • Now that you have everything in place, all you need to do is actually make your DVD.
  • As a first step, you can compile the DVD by clicking on the Compile DVD button ont he program taskbar.
  • In the Compile DVD pop-up window, select an output and temp folder for the compiled DVD and then click Start.
  • In five minutes or so, the DVD will have compiled and can be burned for use. The safest thing to do is select Project->Burn DVD from the toolbar and then, in the pop-up window which appears, tick the box 'Create ISO image on Hard Drive'. This creates a .img file on your hard drive rather than directly burning the DVD. You can then change the extension to .iso and use Nero or a similar program to burn the disc, just by opening the iso file.
You can do all sorts of other things, like have animated menus, add sound and mix radio and video files, but I'll leave that as an exercise for you to figure out for yourself (as slightly lazy and stupid teachers tend to say).

* especially since it's going to be a normal shape and not a stupid looking bloody Police Box which doesn't fit on any normal shelf
** If you get a warning about GOPs, just ignore them, they're not terribly important and won't stop your DVD from playing fine.
*** You can also make a text link which leads to another menu, for Extras**** say - just create a seocnd Menu and then drag that onto the text link.
**** By which I mean addiiotnal material, like interviews, and not the woeful TV show starring the smug and curiously one-note minor talent, Ricky Gervais


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Blogger alienvoord said...

"woeful TV show starring the smug and curiously one-note minor talent, Ricky Gervais"

oooh, you didn't just go there.

6:51 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Actually I take the 'curiously' back - he's 'smug and one-note' - there's nowt curious about it :)

2:44 pm  
Blogger SAF said...

This is a very helpful guide for those of us who don't much like watching stuff on the computer. The downside for you is that - what with us not having Sky One and the Lord only knows how long it'll be before any channel we do have gets around to showing it - it makes me want to beg for some Battlestar Season 3! ;)

12:57 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

I'd be happy to oblige Simon, but a hard drive failure at Christmas means I only have the last couple of episodes on GSB 3 (it's great though and well worth a Demonoid.com or tvtorrents.com download - I can send you an invite if you don't have one?)

1:48 pm  
Blogger SAF said...

That'd be grand. I was only saying to a mate last night it was about time I got more use out of my broadband connection!

3:10 pm  
Blogger Scott Liddell said...

Take me Google, take me! I prostrate myself naked before you in the hope that you will receive this into your amble bosom so that I may drink bountiful hits from your ladybits.

10:36 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Scott: "Take me Google, take me! "

That'll be providing interesting content - an alien concept I know :)

7:53 pm  
Blogger frank castano said...

i got a question, im trying to do a NTSC DVD, but when the DVD pro lab is demuxing files, it creates PAL video, i don`t know if the DVD will work like this, but when i click compile button, it says that might not work becuase of this, anyone can help with this, there is a way to fix it? ._.
thanks alot

7:04 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Well I only eve rmake PAL discs but there is a pop-up when I start the program that asks if I want to make PAL or NTSC. Possibly it's been disabled in your copy?

9:12 pm  
Blogger frank castano said...

yea, when it pop ups that window, i put NTSC, but when im demuxing files, the demuxed video files says are on PAL format, don`t know what that means....so im not sure if i burn the DVD it will works like a NTSC DVD.

4:52 am  

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