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Old November 29th, 2003, 11:16 PM   #1
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DVD menu problems

I'm doing this for a friend who has made his own 20 minute short film, we're trying to make a DVD from it that looks somewhat professional. A simple root menu with two options (PLAY MOVIE and CHAPTER SELECTION), and then all the chapters (13) displayed on one screen as a list of a few words that describe each chapter. Motion menus would be nice but not required.

I have 20 minutes of DVD video that is 1.5 GB (broken up into two .vob files), it seems to have AC3 audio.

I have read all the guides at dvdrhelp and doom9, but as you can see below I have yet to find a working solution.

I spent hours getting the menus to look just how I wanted using DVD Lab 1.3beta, but when I compiled the DVD, the buttons don't do anything, even though I think I connected them properly. Other weird things were happening such as when you select an item, the highlighted text shows up somewhere else on the screen, even though everything was working properly in the preview mode. I "compiled" the DVD, which basically writes another 1.5GB of .vob files that this time include the menu data to whatever output directory you want, and I opened the VIDEO_TS.IFO file in WinDVD. It didn't work properly, and since my friend wants to give this out to friends and potential employers he wants it to look professional and so it has to work in both standalone players and on a computer. I didn't bother burning to a DVD, but it is possible that it would have worked properly in a standalone player, but that's just not good enough.

So then I tried out TMPGEnc DVD Author, this worked perfectly and even makes motion menus fairly easily, but it restricts you to use certain menu templates, none of which looked the way I wanted them to.

So then I tried Adobe Encore DVD, this seems to be really powerful software that is integrated with Photoshop/Premiere/Aftereffects, but it wouldn't take my .vob files, so I'll have to convert the .vob files to .mpv format first I think. Can anyone suggest an easy way to do this?

Lastly I tried Ulead DVD Movie Factory, this accepted the .vob files but popped up an error message saying it doesn't support AC3 audio. Is there an easy way to convert the audio stream to something else that will work with this software???

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old December 1st, 2003, 11:37 AM   #2
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Use Adobe encore.

You will need some sort of DVD rip software which will convert the vob file to an MPEG 2 file. I believe that a few are mentioned on DVDrhelp.

With out the MPEG 2 file you will be unable to create a DVD using Encore (I believe).

Is there any chance that you could get the orginal MPEG2 footage, your friend would have used to create the vob file?

Hope this helps,

Ed
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Old December 2nd, 2003, 01:05 AM   #3
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Thanks Ed for the suggestions;

My friend sent the physical film to a lab that transferred the movie onto a DVD. He was quite dissapointed at first because the DVD authored by the guy at the lab wouldn't play on my friend's standalone DVD player. (no menus, feature film only) So he sent it back since he paid a lot of money to have the DVD made, and the guy sent back a second DVD which didn't work either. So my friend brought both DVDs to me, and we found that both DVDs played on my standalone DVD player (Apex 1500) and my computer. However on the computer monitor there was a noticable amount of junk (black boxes that come and go, crooked edges of the film) at the top and bottom of the screen that aren't visible on a TV using a standalone DVD player. My friend called the lab to ask about that and the guy said that the computer shows a different resolution than the TV, so this junk visible on the computer is "normal". Since all the frames seem to have this junk on the screen, I don't think it would have been difficult to crop the same amount from the top and bottom of each frame, that is of course if one wanted to do a good job about it. [/rant]

So I think my answer is no, we don't have the original MPEG2 footage. I have no idea how the digitization process works when transferring from physical film to digital, but I guess it is possible that the guy in the lab has MPEG-2 files lying around, if he hasn't already deleted them.

If they don't exist, then in order to get MPEG-2 files I suppose I have to encode them from the .vob files, which seems silly to me because Encore will then re-encode back to .vob anyway to compile the DVD. (Won't this introduce artifacts?) The film quality is pretty crappy anyway (grainy and it's in black and white), so there probably won't be a noticable difference, but common sense tells me to minimize the handling/manipulation of the data.

If it makes any difference, the original audio track I do have access to on a CD, so it seems unecessary to have AC3 (= 5.1???) sound on the DVD since it's only stereo (there isn't even any dialogue, just music and some sound effects). It is really strange that the original audio CD sounds wonderful because it was recorded in a professional sound studio, but on the DVD there is a fairly loud hissing and the levels seems to be horribly balanced.

At this point my best guess as to the most efficient strategy would be to demux the video and audio streams, convert the audio to some other simpler format that Ulead DVD Movie Factory can handle, and author the DVD menus using that software. At the same time I'll probably try some noise reduction on the audio track or maybe remux the original audio track from CD instead. It's strange that the lab my friend sent his film to would do such a poor job, I doubt that they will get many repeat customers judging from the quality of their work.

The next software I'll try will be Scenarist, I have read a lot of rave reviews about it.
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Old December 2nd, 2003, 03:55 AM   #4
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Hi Bruce,

Thanks for replying with a detailed explanation. As far as I was aware of most authoring progams need the MPEG 2 file. Converting the vob to MPEG 2 should not reduce quality, after all you are converting it back to its orginial state.

AC3 audio is said to be slightly more compatible than a PCM stereo track when playing a DVD back. But as you said the easiest route at the moment would be to use ULead, and convert the audio.

If you have the money Scenarist would be good, its what the film studios use.

Cheers,

Ed
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