I'll just start off by saying that I'm clueless when it comes to video conversion... It doesn't seem like what I want to accomplish is difficult, but none of the software I've tried is doing what I want.
What I want to do is to take a VOB file that I've pulled from a DVD (not a professional DVD, home-made by a relative) and upload it to YouTube.
Just dragging the VOB file to YT works, but the quality of the video is ruined. My goal right now is to take the VOB file, and output a 960x720 res file with as little loss of quality as possible, but none of the software I've used is doing it right... Output ends up having ugly interlacing, it gets stretched out or ends up too narrow, bad compression artifacts, etc.
I have a feeling that my main issue is the 4:3 aspect ratio of the original video.
My best result so far was obtained in a pretty wonky way (and still doesn't look great). I just played the DVD using some media player and captured my screen using some other software.
The original video looks crisp and perfect, none of my encodes look as good. Does anyone have any ideas?
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If you get interlacing artefacts while converting, your DVD content is probably already interlaced, so you may have to deinterlace during your conversion (or inverse telecine, if it is Telecined NTSC; try to detect that with certainty, there is only one correct countermeasure for each type!). If you didn't notice that in your DVD player software, it probably removed the interlacing during the playback.
YouTube will always re-convert your uploaded video (with some ffmpeg version), and it does that certainly not with the best possible options. Low-res video recreated by YouTube in H.261 or H.263 will almost always be blocky, maybe except you are a premium user who earned some additional bitrate, who knows... Uploading in a HD resolution will give you at least one HD download option with H.264 video, so far the best video format supported in Flash.
Pillarboxing (adding borders to the left and right to fill up 16:9 aspect ratio) is probably recommendable before uploading the result.
AutoGK and it'll analyze it to find out what has to be done (deinterlace, IVTC) before then encoding it to your specs. You could go into the advanced settings and set the width for 960. You could also run a single pass quality encode for the default 75%. The result should be a pretty good XviD AVI suitable for upload to YouTube. XviD AVIs are a bit old-fashioned these days but YouTube accepts them and since you don't know what you're doing, its automatic analyzing phase is still unmatched.
It doesn't seem like what I want to accomplish is difficult, but none of the software I've tried is doing what I want.
2. How do you know what you want if you don't even know what you have and how it should be handled?
Just dragging the VOB file to YT works