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Old September 16th, 2011, 04:02 AM   #1
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DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

You may have read the thread I started about managing large groups of clips for a feature length documentary I am producing.

I'm gradually getting the content down to a sensible size. I was aiming for 90 minutes but I think it might be a little over, more like 100 minutes. It's quite a niche topic (aviation history - a formation aerobatics team from the 1950s) and the target audience is more than likely happy to sit through twice that length! In fact I did a straw poll six months ago of 20+ people who had registered for updates about the DVD and I got a 100% response saying longer = better for a subject that usually wouldn't get much airtime. Note this is DVD only, no intent to broadcast.

Aside from the main feature I have three 'extra' featurettes, totalling a further 80 minutes. This would bring the DVD content up to 3 hours.

I just did a dummy run in DVDA to get a feel for the bit rate and when I optimise to fit disc I get a rate of 3.345Mbps. I will do a test burn to see if the quality is acceptable, but in advance of that, could experienced people advise as to whether this is going to look horrible?

The content for the main feature is talking heads and mainly b&w archive footage and stills of aircraft and people. The extras contain contemporary footage and one 20 minute archive film, also in colour. Regular stereo sound throughout.

If it is going to look really poor then I will have to put the extras on a second DVD but that increases the duplication costs disproportionately (the dual DVD cases are significantly more expensive than single DVD cases). I could leave them out altogether, but that would be a shame and would leave the finished item incomplete. I've been advised to avoid dual layer unless I go for replication but the master setup costs and minimum order numbers make that unfeasible (I only expect to sell a few hundred). Blu-ray? No. My audience is mostly men aged 65+ who love old aeroplanes. Some have asked me if there will be a VHS. Sigh . . .

Other notes: I rendered AVIs from Vegas for the DVDA test but for the finished article I will render DVDA-ready mpg and ac3's. The project is in PAL format. Source for the talking heads is HDV and the archive is a combination of avi and some mpg, the stills are mostly jpgs at 300dpi.

Any thoughts? Cheers.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 04:21 AM   #2
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

why avi's?

i'd simply render direct from tl mpg+ac3.

max i've done is 2.5hrs to dvd. looked fine. of course you might notice some artefacts in fast moves, etc., but what the heck, it isn't for cinema / broadcast.

make your audience happy and they'll probably watch 5hrs of ex play vhs ;-)
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Old September 16th, 2011, 04:50 AM   #3
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

Thanks Leslie. Only reason for the avi's is that I wanted a full resolution version to check through. Like I said, I fully expect to render mpg and ac3 from Vegas when the thing is ready to go.

The only fast moves are in the archive footage, but the camerawork is pretty rough anyway!

I'm rendering a test dvd now with some placeholders and I'll have a look at how it turns out. I'm keen to achieve a reasonable quality if I can, naturally.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 05:13 AM   #4
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

I'm in middle of 3+ hour video of a dance production I'm trying to get them to cut down to at most 2.5 hours. Current quality is not so great. but they are MUCH more interested in their content than in the video quality. That may be the case in a lot of instances, and you just go with what the client wants.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 05:17 AM   #5
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

3 hours is doable but I would hate to try to make a living doing it but for this job I think you'll be just fine.

I've done 3 hours in DVDA before and while seminars aren't moving it's a lot to pack in BUT it doesn't look as bad as one might think.

Us old guys 65 and older can't see or hear anything anyway so you should be fine.

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Old September 16th, 2011, 10:27 AM   #6
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

Hehehe - Don, I'm knocking on the door of 50 and I'm the same way ;-)

I have now burned a test which runs in at just over 2h 45m. (I used the first cut of the main doc, one of the actual extras and a number of placeholders). I am very pleasantly surprised.

The quality is very good - not excellent, but perfectly acceptable for the nature of the DVD. The archive footage comes out really well and there is no noticeable noise in the interview footage (and anyway I haven't started correcting any of it yet).

I'll make a final call when I have all the items completely finished off but for the moment I will be working on the premise that I will be sticking to a single disk.

Thanks for the useful input everyone.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 12:09 PM   #7
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

If you're going to a commercial replication (pressing) service for DVD, it's very worth looking at double-layer discs. They have nearly twice the capacity of a single-layer.

If you're going to a commercial service for burned DVD-R, I'm not sure, you could ask the service about their experience with DL.

If you do decide to create a DL master, you can investigate the guidance from the replication service. I've heard of trouble with DL and DVDA, but also know some are successful with it.

On the single layer DVDs, some of your material is going to look great at 3.5Mbps. Some of it won't be as easily compressible, and will show artifacts. For example, a well shot, well lit interview will look good at 2Mbps. Handheld or noisy footage will not compress well at lower bitrates.

Of course only you can decide how to balance this with audience concerns and the integrity of the project...
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Old September 16th, 2011, 12:28 PM   #8
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

Seth, I am indeed going to a commercial duplication house. They have also advised that pressing from a glass master is the way to go and would be perfect for my high content levels. Unfortunately the costs are prohibitive given that I would need a minimum order of 500. I anticipate sales of half that number given the specialist nature of the content (this is based on conversations with others who have made similar niche DVDs in the military aviation history sphere).

The duplication house also recommended strongly against going dual layer DVD-R. In fact I could feel the shudder in the guy's email!

As I mentioned, I have tested at 3.5Mbps and I am pleasantly surprised at the results across all the footage types. I used a simple interview lighting setup for every interview and there isn't any handheld footage at all (other than the archive footage, which is black and white and scratchy/grainy anyway). For the contemporary footage I used a small crew for almost everything so again the footage is all pretty high standard stuff. I also have a few hundred stills which, even after Ken Burns-ing them still look as good as the originals. To say I am relieved is an understatement!

I won't make the final call on this until I have the finished pieces and done a test burn, but the way things are at the moment I think I am going to be more than content with the quality at this rate.

Thanks for your - and everyone else's - input and advice. I'm sure it will be of help to others as well.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 07:25 PM   #9
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

Every year I film a local high school's graduation commencement and take various footage they give me and put them together on one disc. It always ends up at about 2 1/2 hours. Obviously the ceremony is tripod shot and low motion. The other stuff they give me is mostly hand held footage of pep rallies, homecoming, and parades.

I haven't had any issues to this day. Until this year I always rendered to DV-AVI and encoded with TMPGEnc Plus. I realized this year I was taking an unneeded step and render straight to MPEG-2/192kbps AC3 from the timeline and use DVD Lab Pro for authoring.

For what you're doing you should have no serious issue.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 08:41 PM   #10
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

i've done some fair dupe runs 500+, all from regular dvd (verbatum or toyo) 'masters' with no problem.

i've avoided d-l dvd's because my few attempts were a disater - mind you, that was a fair few years ago, things might have changed.

dvda is ok for d-l, but YOU should tell it where the break is.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 12:36 AM   #11
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

Hi for the last 7 years I've been the video program producer for the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society in Australia.

Yes aircraft folks like content, for the older guys 30mins seems to be their concentration limit, and yes they'll watch for longer but most have fallen asleep.

So include track markers and make sure you enable the track select and fast forward buttons on your master DVD. Clearly list the tracks on your DVD sleeve, not the label, your 3hr? disc will be in the player and a lot of older guys have short term memories :)

We use a commercial duplication house from our DVD master, and I've found a lot of the older generation still have 1st or 2nd gen DVD players, most don't like D/L discs and spit the dummy. So we can't take the chance with D/L discs, a few returns and it'll get around the place. Yep we get requests for VHS, but I've resisted doing those, too labour intensive for the return.

I did some research before starting this and was told a couple of times, it'll be like elderly train buffs, they'll buy everything.
Maybe so, but there are *working model train sets* available, the grandkids think they're terrific .. and they don't fly away somewhere. So our sales go up and down.

And lastly, one of our programs has been hijacked and sold to Euro TV, we can't seem to do anything about it, we're a charity and don't have the funds for lawyers. I'm always on the lookout for DVD protection programs so our short run shows don't get ripped off ... someone reselling our stuff grrrrr!

However .. Cheers.
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Last edited by Allan Black; September 17th, 2011 at 01:22 AM. Reason: got too upset.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 02:05 AM   #12
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

Hi Allan

I might be wrong but I think when the Panny forum was still running and you featured a lot, some guy discovered that if you physically take a metal file and put a nick in the outer edge of the finished disk it makes computers see the actual disk as faulty BUT because the DVD player plays the data from inside to outer edge (as long as you don't completely fill the disk) it will play perfectly but computers will not be able to read and copy the VOB files as the media shows up as faulty !!!

Granted you have to physically "damage" each DVD but it would sure stop people from copying it on a PC...I guess if you were doing disk to disk on a DVD recorder it might not protect the content.

Has anyone else heard of this method ... sounds crude but apparently very effective!!!

Chris
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Old September 17th, 2011, 10:03 AM   #13
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Re: DVDA - 3 hours on single DVD - am I being naive?

Replication = glass master, pressed discs.

Duplication = individually-burned DVD-Rs (or +R or +RDL or whatever).

Replication is better in every way -- including pricing once you get to the 500 mark (usually) -- you can usually get 1000 replicated for about the same price as 500 duplicated.

3 hours on a DL DVD is pushing it. 3 hours on a single-layer DVD just isn't going to happen to anyone's satisfaction.

The most I would ever be confident about putting on a DVD (DL) is 2.5 hours -- and that's generally with 24p which gives you a little more space. Anything more than that and I'd split it between two.
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