DVD to XviD Encoding with Mencoder

Posted by admin on September 19, 2012 under Tech Tips | Be the First to Comment

If you would like to copy a DVD to an XviD video file using Linux, doing so from the command line offers a number of flexibility benefits over many graphical tools. Two fantastic tools for the job are lsdvd and mencoder. I like lsdvd because it provides a great deal of information in an easy to read format, and mencoder is just a phenomenal tool for multimedia encoding.

There are some pre-requisite applications you need in order to follow along. Be sure to install mplayermencoderlsdvdlame, and if your DVD’s are encrypted, the libdvdcss2 libraries. If using Ubuntu, Debian, etc, then all are available in the repositories, except libdvdcss2 which is available in the Medibuntu repositories.

Quick XviD Encoding Examples (For the Impatient)

In the following examples, we’ll use mencoder with the most basic of options, allowing mencoder to decide which video and audio streams to use. Mencoder’s choice may not be what you want, and the audio will also be converted to a high quality VBR stereo MP3. Adjust any settings as you see fit.

Single-Pass Encoding

Fixed Quantizer Value of 4 (Good quality, decent file size)

mencoder dvd:// -oac mp3lame -lameopts q=0:aq=0
-ovc xvid -xvidencopts fixed_quant=4:autoaspect -o video.avi

Fixed Quantizer Value of 2 (High quality, larger file size)

mencoder dvd:// -oac mp3lame -lameopts q=0:aq=0
-ovc xvid -xvidencopts fixed_quant=2:autoaspect -o video.avi

Two Pass Encoding

Pass 1: (no need for audio or quality settings such as bitrate)

mencoder dvd:// -nosound -passlogfile pass1.log
-ovc xvid -xvidencopts pass=1:turbo:autoaspect -o /dev/null

Pass 2 Option 1: (VBR ~ 1500 kbps)

mencoder dvd:// -oac mp3lame -lameopts q=0:aq=0 -passlogfile pass1.log
-ovc xvid -xvidencopts pass=2:autoaspect:bitrate=1500 -o video.avi

Pass 2 Option 2: (VBR ~ Restrict final video size to 1.5 Gb)

mencoder dvd:// -oac mp3lame -lameopts q=0:aq=0 -passlogfile pass1.log
-ovc xvid -xvidencopts pass=2:autoaspect:bitrate=-1500000 -o video.avi

Basic Source Selection Examples

If you are copying a DVD directly from a physical disc as the examples throughout this post will assume, the following two examples will work. The first automatically selects title 1, and the second specifies title 2.

mencoder dvd:// (other options)
mencoder dvd://2 (other options)

If you’re encoding a DVD from an ISO or similar image file, or have the contents of a DVD extracted to directory, use the -dvd-device option as shown below.

mencoder dvd:// -dvd-device video.iso (other options)
mencoder dvd:// -dvd-device /path/to/dvd_directory/ (other options)

Basic Audio Examples

To encode the selected audio stream to a high quality VBR stereo MP3 format.

mencoder dvd:// -oac mp3lame -lameopts q=0:aq=0 (other options)

If the source audio stream is encoded as AC3 or DTS 5.1 (6 Channels), you can simply copy the stream, but remember to specify 6 channels. The default is 2.

mencoder dvd:// -oac copy -channels 6 (other options)

To exclude all sound, which is useful for the first pass of a two-pass job, or if you prefer to multiplex the audio later, use the -nosound option.

mencoder dvd:// -nosound (other options)

Gathering Source Video Information for Informed Encoding Decisions

First you should identify which DVD title tracks are available, so you can determine which one you want to copy. Most DVDs will place the movie as the first track, but you may not always be that lucky. You can use lsdvd to list the number of titles, chapters, and audio tracks on your DVD.

lsdvd /dev/dvd
Disc Title: DVD_TITLE
Title: 01, Length: 01:26:08.200 Chapters: 13, Cells: 13, Audio streams: 02, Subpictures: 01
Title: 02, Length: 00:02:01.120 Chapters: 01, Cells: 01, Audio streams: 02, Subpictures: 01
Title: 03, Length: 00:02:26.120 Chapters: 01, Cells: 01, Audio streams: 02, Subpictures: 01
Longest track: 01

In the example above, we found that Title 01 is the longest at 1 hour 26 minutes, has 13 chapters and 2 audio streams.

Use lsdvd again to gather additional information about video properties of this specific title.

lsdvd -v -t 1 /dev/dvd
Disc Title: DVD_TITLE
Title: 01, Length: 01:26:08.200 Chapters: 13, Cells: 13, Audio streams: 02, Subpictures: 01
VTS: 01, TTN: 01, FPS: 25.00, Format: PAL, Aspect ratio: 4/3, Width: 720, Height: 576, DF: ?

From the output above, we see that this video is in the PAL format at 25.00 frames per second and an aspect ratio of 4/3. Use mplayer to play this title and verify it’s the one you want.

mplayer dvd://1

Gathering Source Audio Information

Use lsdvd to give you more detail on the available audio streams for the title you’re working on.

lsdvd -a -t 1 /dev/dvd
Disc Title: DVD_TITLE
Title: 01, Length: 01:26:08.200 Chapters: 13, Cells: 13, Audio streams: 02, Subpictures: 01
Audio: 1, Language: nl - Nederlands, Format: ac3, Frequency: 48000, Quantization: drc, Channels: 2, AP: 0, Content: Undefined, Stream id: 0x80
Audio: 2, Language: en - English, Format: ac3, Frequency: 48000, Quantization: drc, Channels: 2, AP: 0, Content: Undefined, Stream id: 0x81

The output above shows that there are two audio streams, both AC3 Dolby Digital, however only the second one is in English. Mencoder and mplayer allow you to specify your desired audio stream by language as shown in the following example.

mencoder dvd://1 -alang eng (other options)

If your source has multiple English streams, you can specify which particular audio ID (aid) you want. Mplayer can be used to display all available audio identifiers of a DVD. The following command is a little long but it should serve you well.

mplayer dvd://1 -identify -frames 0 -vo null 2>&1 | grep aid
audio stream: 0 format: ac3 (stereo) language: nl aid: 128.
audio stream: 1 format: ac3 (stereo) language: en aid: 129.

From the output above, the English AC3 audio stream we want is identified by aid 129. It can be specified when using mplayer and mencoder as shown below.

mencoder dvd://1 -aid 129 (other options)

Advanced Single-Pass XviD Encoding

As mentioned before, you can encode your video using a single-pass fixed quantizer mode. It may not be as efficient in size and quality as opposed to a two-pass method, but it can save some time and complexity. Here’s the more advanced encoding options I tend to use for virtually all of my XviD encoding jobs, coupled with the information we gathered from above. A fixed_quant value between 2 and 4 work very well. The lower the number the higher the quality and larger the resulting file size.

mencoder dvd://1 -alang eng -oac mp3lame -lameopts q=0:aq=0
-ovc xvid -xvidencopts fixed_quant=4:autoaspect:max_key_interval=25:
-o video.avi

I added a number of quality settings as discussed both in the mencoder man page and this useful link here.

One option that seems to lack a lot of documentation is the max_key_interval setting. It influences the seekability of the encoded video. By default, the max_key_interval is set to a value of 250, which adds an I-frame at a maximum interval of 250 frames. This equates to approximately every 10 seconds depending on the frame rate of your source video. I like to set the value to 25 which is pretty low and results in a slightly larger file, but provides a seek accuracy of about 1 second. That’s just my preference, so feel free to change it as you wish.

Advanced Two-Pass XviD Encoding

Using the same advanced XviD encoding options as above, here’s what a two pass encoding job would look like.

mencoder dvd:// -nosound -passlogfile pass1.log
-ovc xvid -xvidencopts pass=1:turbo:autoaspect:vhq=0:max_key_interval=25
-o /dev/null

mencoder dvd:// -oac mp3lame -lameopts q=0:aq=0 -passlogfile pass1.log
-ovc xvid -xvidencopts pass=2:autoaspect:max_key_interval=25:bitrate=1500:
vhq=2:bvhq=1:trellis:hq_ac:chroma_me:chroma_opt:quant_type=mpeg -o video.avi

Cropping Black Borders

If your video source has black borders, you can crop them out to reduce the overall size of your video. For example, you video may resemble the following diagram.

movie uncropped

Video with black borders



These borders can be cropped with a video filter -vf crop=w:h:x:y where w, h, x and y are the width, height, x and y coordinates. To help determine which crop values are appropriate, first play your video with mplayer using the -vf cropdetect option, and seek through the movie to bright points of the movie where the black borders are clearly visible. Dark opening scenes may give you inaccurate edge readings.

mencoder dvd:// -vf cropdetect
(snipped for brevity)
[CROP] Crop area: X: 6..711 Y: 0..575 (-vf crop=704:576:8:0).0 0
[CROP] Crop area: X: 6..711 Y: 0..575 (-vf crop=704:576:8:0).0 0
[CROP] Crop area: X: 6..711 Y: 0..575 (-vf crop=704:576:8:0).0 0
[CROP] Crop area: X: 6..711 Y: 0..575 (-vf crop=704:576:8:0).0 0
[CROP] Crop area: X: 6..711 Y: 0..575 (-vf crop=704:576:8:0).0 0

Copy the values that mplayer displays in the background terminal as the example above shows and use them like the following.

mencoder dvd:// -vf crop=704:576:8:0 (other options)


I hope this post provides you with detail that helps you with your DVD encoding endeavors. Please feel free to post your comments, questions and tips. If needed, I’ll adjust the post to include your valuable input!

Convert Video Files to DVD

Posted by admin on November 11, 2009 under Tech Tips | Be the First to Comment

If you have a video vile that you wish to convert and burn to DVD, you can do so from a Linux command line very easily. We will use FFmpeg for the video conversion, DVDAuthor to create the DVD file system structure, and Growisofs to burn the DVD.

Using FFmpeg, simply specify your input file, the target format, resolution and an output file name. While the following is an over simplified example, it will more than likely work very nicely in most scenarios. The source video file is movie.avi, the target will be formatted for NTSC, and a standard DVD resolution of 720×480 will be used to create a new video file called movie.mpg. There are many additional options that FFMpeg can use to increase quality, so be sure to check out the documentation.

ffmpeg -i movie.avi -target ntsc-video -s 720x480 movie.mpg

Next, you will need to take your new movie.mpg file, and create a DVD file structure that you will burn to disc. Just create a folder that will serve as the parent directory of your DVD. I Like to name it after the title of the movie. Then you will use dvdauthor to create a title set and table of contents and no DVD menus. The movie will just play. :-)

dvdauthor -o MOVIE_TITLE/ -t movie.mpg
dvdauthor -o MOVIE_TITLE/ -T

The dvdauthor -t option creates a title track in the VIDEO_TS directory. If you list the contents after running the first command, you’ll see the corresponding VTS_01_0.BUPVTS_01_0.IFO, and VTS_01_X.VOB files. The -T option creates a table of contents for all title sets in the file system, which are listed as VIDEO_TS.BUP and VIDEO_TS.IFO.

You are now ready to burn the DVD. In the following command, we will use the -Z option to burn an initial session to the disc, the -dvd-video option to generate a DVD-Video compliant UDF file system, and the -V option to give the disc a Volume ID. This Volume ID is read by your computer to and displays as a nice human readable title typically underneath the icon representing the disc. The -dvd-video and -V options are actually part of the mkisofs (genisoimage) command sets, so they do not show up in the growisofs man pages.

growisofs -Z /dev/dvdrw -dvd-video -V MOVIE_TITLE MOVIE_TITLE/

Notice, you do not need to generate an ISO file to burn the DVD. This would only waste space if your intention is not to distribute or store the video as a disc image. To create the image however, that’s as easy as the following.

genisoimage -o MOVIE_TITLE.iso -dvd-video MOVIE_TITLE/