I’ve used various guides programs etc over time to capture and author DVDs and lately moving to HD playback. I’ve listed my way of doing it(!) below, based on my experience and trial and error, and I hope it helps others. (At least it will help me to remember how to do it).

One point to remember, I have no interest in speed of processing. Overnight is fine. I’m only interested in a quality product. Some will say that they can get as good using lesser settings, that has not been my experience, and I’ve processed a lot!

My target is to play back DVD on any DVD player/TV/monitor/PC setup and to play back the HD on a 32” LCD. The times gives are based on my setup, the speed will completely depend on your processor speed.

Ok, first the capture.

My hardware setup is a Sky+ box directly connected to my video card (an old pinnacle card) and sound inputs on the PC.

Software required is VirtualDub, with the Huffy codec installed.

Step by step as follows:

• File – Capture AVI
• File - Set Capture File … and give it a sensible name
• Video – Preview
• Video – Preview acceleration – Both fields … so you can see what you are doing!
• Video Capture Pin – Compression UYVY and output size 720 x 576. NTSC may require a different size, but use the biggest.
• Video – Compression – Select Huffyuv, and configure predict median and predict gradient
• Calculate roughly the length in seconds of the programme to be captured.
• Capture – Stop Conditions – and enter the time in seconds calculated for the ‘capture time exceeds’. This is strictly necessary, but it means you can set it going and forget about it.
• Now when you’re ready, Capture – Capture Video.

• The files will be big, about 20GB per hour.

Next the cleanup:

Load the file back into VirtualDub. Edit out the commercials etc. Depending on your PC setup, you may have to adjust the sound. On mine it lags the video by about 120ms. Audio – Interleaving and set the delay audio track by -120 (in my case). Play around with it until you get the setting to suit your setup.

• Video – Direct Stream Copy
• Audio – Direct Stream Copy
• File – Save as AVI … give it a name and off you go.

It should take about half real time to complete. You now have a file you can convert to DVD MPEG2 and or Divx for HD.

Lets make a DVD.

Buy TMPGEnc Plus for this step. It’s the best, simple and cheap.

• File – Project Wizard
• (1/5) select your format. In my case, PAL. Select ‘VBR MPEG-1 Layer II Audio (MP2)’.
• Next
• (2/5) select your edited file.
• Next
• Other Settings
– Video Tab
o Size . 720x576 (or NTSC size). Rate Control Mode . 2-Pass VBR (VBR). Encode Mode . Non-interlace. DC Component Precision . 10. Motion search precision . highest quality (very slow).
– Advanced tab
o Sharpen edge . Set horizontal and Vertical to 70 and enable the filter. Trust me it’s worth it.
• Ok
• Next
• For a full size file, set the % to 96%, otherwise, set the video bit rate to 6000
• Next
• Give it an output name and Ok.
• It will take at least 4 times real time, but it’s worth it. The file will be 4.1GB.

When it’s finished burn it with your DVD authoring software (I use TMPGEnc Author, but any will do). Put in menus if you want (hence the 96% above!)

I’ve a 32” LCD TV and I wanted to get the best playback, using a recorded source, as above, played back from the connected PC. Using the Huffy file above would be very good, but the file is too big. Divx is the only real option. Follow the steps below and the result is a very good quality 4-6GB file (better than the DVD above). I keep them on-line on a 1TB NAS, but you can burn them onto a DVD.

Buy the Divx pro codec. It’s cheap and well worth it.

Using VirtualDub…
• File – Open video file … the cleaned up Huffy above.
• Video – Full processing mode
• Video – Filters
Add – HSV Adjust and set the Saturation to x92%
Add – Sharpen and set to 20
Select the sharpen filter and press the Cropping button
If there are black bars above and below, increase the Y1 and Y2 offsets by up to 85 each. Total offset must be divisible by 2.
If there are bars left and/or right, increase the X1 and X2 offset to remove them, but the amount must be divisible by 4.
• Ok.
• Ok
• Audio – Direct stream copy
• We’re going to do a 2 pass Divx compression.
• Video – Compression – select Divx 6.5.1 Codec – select Configure
Main Tab – High Definition Profile
Rate control Mode - Multipass 1st pass
Bit rate – I use about 5100, use the calculator to check, but don’t have it less than resulting in a 4GB file.
Codec Tab – tick enhanced multithreading and select Adaptive Multiple consecutive for the coding
Video Tab – Custom size 1280 x 720 (to suit the 32” screen). Resize filter Bicubic (sharp). Interlace – progressive source. Output Pixel - Square 1:1.
• Ok. Ok.
• File – Save as AVI – name it and tick ‘don’t run this job now…’
• Video – Compression – select Divx 6.5.1 Codec – select Configure
Main Tab – Rate control Mode - Multipass Nth pass (don’t change anything else).
• File – Save as AVI – same name and tick ‘don’t run this job now…’
• File – Job control. You’ll see 2 jobs there, press the start button.
It will take about 4 times real time.

The output can then be played back on your big screen from the PC, and it looks very good.

Hope this helps.