I've done a ton of searching on Google for a solution to this but so far I'm not doing too well. I think I understand the process for VCD-to-DVD conversion: extract mpeg data from .dat files, demux the video & audio, upscale the audio to 48kHz, remux to DVD VIDEO_TS, burn to disc. I've paid the reg fee for ffmpegx and tried the svcdvd tool and it has successfully done this for me. But my problem has an extra layer or two of complication:
1. These movies are in 352x288 and there are black bars top and bottom, e.g. original movie must have been 16:9, the DVD author has burnt it as 4:3 by adding black bars, and now I want to crop those suckers off, otherwise on our widescreen AV systems we end up with black bars top, bottom, left, right as the screen tries to display it as 16:9.
2. This is on a 430-foot private motor yacht. We have a million dollar+ Kaleidescape centralised media serving system and to get DVD material in, you simply throw your DVDs into the bulk loader and it rips them (uncompressed, with all original elements/features/etc, and more importantly, legally) and makes them available to all rooms on the boat. When I did an ffmpegX svcdvd conversion (without any black-bar removal) I found that the resulting DVD plays fine on my Mac, but when imported into the Kaleidescape system, you press play on the server and just get black on the screen. Note that if there was a format problem normally Kaleidescape will reject the disc - this time it imported it, but just plays black. I suspect maybe I needed to upscale the resolution to PAL SD (720x576) before burning to DVD?
Those are my two weird twists. I have been playing with MPEGstreamclip all morning because I already had it installed and lots of Google answers I found said that removing black bars is easy on Mpegstreamclip. This is true, but this software does not support the crop option if you just want to use it as a passthrough with cropping (no conversion needed, since I'm going to use ffmpeg's svcdvd tool to author it to VIDEO_TS folders later). The closest I got was "Export to Quicktime.." then select MPEG as the compression, and crop 80 lines top and bottom (each).
Can anyone help me with an easier way to do this? I'm also running XP under Parallels so I could use windows tools if I have to, but I'd prefer Mac tools if possible. This seems to be a very common conversion so hopefully someone can help me. We have foreign guests on the boat who have bought foreign "DVD" movies with them which have turned out to be VCDs But they're very rich & important guests so I need to try and get these movies into the system. The only way to do that (the Kaleidescape system won't read VCD) is to convert then author to DVD.
Ideally what I think I need to do is:
1. Import the DATs from the disc to MPG files (I have vcdgear's "-dat2mpg" action to do that for me)
2. Crop the bars off top and bottom (it seems a good idea to do the crop at this stage, before upscaling yes?)
3. Export/convert to the appropriate resolution - not sure if I need separate step, or if ffmpegX will do this automatically with its svcdvd option.
I am tempted to use svcd2dvd but would like to see if I can do it on my Mac if possible.
Any help appreciated, I hope I've given sufficient information.
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A 352x216 (what's left after removing the black bars) VCD image blown up on a big screen HDTV is going to look pretty fuzzy. But if you must...
Assuming you want a PAL DVD: crop 36 lines off the top, 36 lines off the bottom. Resize what's left to 720x576. Encode as 16:9 MPEG2 for DVD. Using a deblocking filter on the source will probably help.
I agree with Jagabo - it is going to look like crap. You have to resize to full D1 to be able to encode 16:9 - that is a big leap for your source.
If you have money for a yacht with all the trimmings, surely you can afford to buy a DVD copy of this movie.
I suspect that this is not a common conversion simply because the resulting quality is so low, very few would bother.Read my blog here.
Originally Posted by jagabo
Well between me and you the movies themselves aren't great quality anyway :P
That was well confusing - I replied to your first edit and couldn't figure out why the numbers changed between me reading it, and me looking at the quoted text!
One thing I should have mentioned - I don't have a lot of experience with this video stuff... I can crop the lines off the top and bottom using MPEGstreamclip which is a fantastic tool, but it only gives me this option with:
Export to Quicktime
Export to AVI
Export to MPEG-4
Export to DV
If I choose "Convert to MPEG..." there is no crop option, just a filename choice for saving the file. Very annoying. The closest I can get is to choose Export to Quicktime and select None as my compression and just use this process to crop out the bars. I would then have to reimport as Quicktime and export to MPEG. Seems a bit roundabout.
BTW, my source clip details:
Type: MPEG program stream
Data Size: 598.87 MB
Bit Rate: 1.41 Mbps
224 MPEG-1, 352 × 288, 25 fps, 1.15 Mbps
192 MP2 stereo, 44.1 kHz, 224 kbps
AVSEQ04.DAT (598.87 MB)
If I was to go the SVCD2DVD route, would that tool offer the option to remove the black bars? Heck, maybe I should leave the black bars in, if the video quality's going to look so bad blown up on a big screen... at least that way the movie itself will not be blown up as much..
Originally Posted by guns1inger
Ok thanks for this input... I agree that it will look crappy... BTW it's not my yacht, if it was I would hire the post-production company and make them burn it to a proper DVD! I'm just the hapless IT/Electronics Officer being asked to achieve the impossible by wealthy people who don't know anything about video codecs. Bear in mind that on their last yacht they used to bring VHS tapes with them... I think it's a big enough leap that they got some movies from their home country on disc this time!
Ok so perhaps leaving the black bars in place is an easier solution. This will not zoom the picture in so much (sorry for my crappy lack of correct video terminology) and may make the process simpler. I think I just need to upscale it to the right PAL DVD res then try pumping the resulting MPEG through ffmpegX's svcdvd tool, which merely does the m2v/audio separation and reconverting to 48kHz, I believe. Joins the dat files and creates the video_ts folder etc.
Still not sure how to do this in MPEGstreamclip but maybe ffmpegX can do it (upscaling)...
Thanks for your replies everyone, really appreciate how quickly you've gotten back to me... still interested in a solution (at least then I can show the owners of the yacht how crappy the quality looks)... if anyone has one. Money's not really an object, if I need to buy software then I am happy to, so long as I know in advance that it will definitely do the trick, rather than wasting time/money only to find that it doesn't do the trick for me.....
Originally Posted by smashingly
I can't help you with the Mac. I do all my filtering with AviSynth under Windows. But just about every decent video editor has cropping and resizing tools. This should be fairly straight forward.
Originally Posted by jagabo
Just thought you'd like to know, I got it all to work! Here's my procedure for anyone else using OS X and having problems.....
1. Your VCD probably has .DAT files with the MPEG clips contained within those files... you need to extract that info to proper mpeg format. I use vcdgear: vcdgear -dat2mpg inputfile.DAT [path]/outputfile.mpg. You run this for each DAT file. vcdgear has other options for converting other types of files to mpg. I recommend creating a subfolder "vcdgear_output" and using "vcdgear -dat2mpg inputfile.dat vcdgear_output/outputfile.mpg" where of course inputfile and outputfile are substituted for the appropriate filenames.
2. Run ffmpegX and tell it to join the mpeg files together into one mpeg file. This is under "Tools" and then sub-tab "join". Simply browse for two files and click join. If you have more than 2 then you'd need to join 2, then run join again on your first joined file + your next file to add.
3. This is all one encode-step in ffmpegx so it looks big...
3a: Run your joined mpeg file through ffmpegX - drag'n'drop the joined file onto the left hand side.
3b: On the 'target format' dropdown I chose "DVD ffmpeg".
3c: Click on ffmpegX's 'video' tab and choose the appropriate Video Parameters. As I wanted my output to be 16:9 I chose DVD 16:9.
3d: Under the Audio tab it should have already chosen a 48kHz sampling rate which is essential if it's going to be DVD compatible.. If your source material is Stereo then choose Stereo, I see no point encoding to 5.1 if it was stereo or mono to begin with? I believe you could choose passthrough or MP2 here if you wanted to but I haven't tried it.
3e: Under Filters this is where you'll do your cropping of black bars, if your source material has had them added. You can use Autocrop, this fires up Mplayer and guesses pretty well the area that needs removing. However, it tends to crash Mplayer on my Mac, and the number of lines it said I should remove (42 + 42), was more than what jagabo recommended (36+36). It is probably best to calculate the correct number of lines based on what you know of your source material to ensure the aspect ratio doesn't get distorted. Jagabo said mine should be 216 lines high which means it was 72 lines too much, so I put 36 36 0 0 into the boxes in ffmpegx. I guess this is all to do with getting the correct ratio between W x H. If you cropped too little or too much then the software would have to either crop/add top and bottom or just mess up your aspect ratio when it tries to make your file into 720x576.
3f: Options tab: under Encoding profile choose DVD. "Author as:" should be set to "DVD (VIDEO_TS)". This is handy since it will output not only the finished mpeg file but a subfolder containing AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS folders. You could also choose other options here like quality settings, 2 pass encoding, etc. But what's the point, you're scaling from crap resolution (352x216) to 720x576 and probably displaying it on a large screen, as they say in the recording industry, "you can't polish a turd".
3g: click Encode... then go have a coffee or a nap.
3h: run your VIDEO_TS folder through VLC player or some other player to test, then burn. I use "Burn" a free little app for OS X, it's a bit annoying and obtuse in some ways, but if you choose Data, then for the file system type choose "DVD-Video" you can just drag'n'drop your AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS folders in there and hit Burn and it will do the job. Don't choose the "Video" tab because most of the time it will insist on saying your video files aren't in the right format and will spend an hour reencoding them before starting to burn. But it's free and cheap and quick. Alternatively you could use ffmpegX, under Tools it has 'img' sub-tab which will take AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS folders and turn them into a .dmg file which you can then easily burn using OS X's Disk Utility.
I hope that helps some people out there, I know it's a rare conversion but if like me your employer demands that you do it regardless of quality, then hopefully what I've spent a week or so battling with, can be shared with others to save them the same hassle!
Thanks very much to the two guys who instantly answered my post yesterday. If I had a dollar for every forum site I've registered on and made a desperate plea for help and had experts come to my rescue, I would probably have around 900 dollars :P ... but seriously I hope those who contribute so much to these forums do get a feeling of satisfaction from knowing how much they help out people who - at the risk of sounding over-dramatic - reach out for help in what is usually a moment of urgent need for IT help - and they get the info they need to fix their problem. Enough of the sermon.... in short - thanks very very much.
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