As some of you may remember, I wrote up a tutorial for converting Blu-rays to standard DVDs (that can be played in a regular DVD player) using AVStoDVD. Well, I’ve found a “better” way. The secret is multiAVCHD.
UPDATE: There is now a video screencast version of this tutorial, as can be found here.
multiAVCHD is a fantastic program for the conversion of multiple video sources (AVI, MP4, MKV, Blu-ray, HDDVD, DVD, etc) to several different output formats varying from standard Blu-ray to AVCHD to (the one we’ve all been waiting for) SD-DVD.
SD-DVD is what many of us think of as the standard what-you-buy-for-your-kids-in-Walmart DVD. It’s completely compatible with any standard DVD player and is very portable. It is encoded with the MPEG2 codec instead of the new MPEG4/AVC codec that is used in your PS3 or Blu-ray player.
Well, enough blabbering. The main reason why multiAVCHD is so great for dealing with Blu-ray to DVD conversions is that it was specifically designed to handle Blu-ray content. AVStoDVD is not. AVStoDVD is great for handling AVI to DVD conversions with menus for example, but it’s Blu-ray support is a little lacking. And that’s okay, because that is not what it was made for.
multiAVCHD on the other hand is a very robust conversion application that is both free and actively supported by the developer, Dean Kasabow. He has helped me through my Blu-ray troubles, and now I hope to do the same for you.
Okay, let’s get started. First make sure that you have ripped your Blu-ray to your hard drive.
Note: One thing that multiAVCHD does not (yet) support for SD-DVD output is menus. But, the fact of the matter is that most of us don’t really care about menus when we are only going to be watching the main movie anyways. If you want to create your own menus, use AVStoDVD, else multiAVCHD is just fine.
Note: multiAVCHD requires the usual suspects: Avisynth, Haali’s Media Splitter and FFDShow. Make sure you have them installed and working before using the program.
Start up multiAVCHD. You should be a window like the one below. If it alerts you about an update that is available, go ahead and download it. Like I said, the author is very active and new features are added almost daily.
First off, we are going to configure our output settings. Swing on over to the Settings tab and select your MPEG2 encoder as I have shown below. In this case, I went ahead and chose the QuEnc 1-pass profile but feel free to chose which ever one you want. The HCenc 2-pass profile may yield a better quality result but can also take longer. In the latest version, HCenc 1-pass was also added. It is about 2x faster than HCenc 1-pass, and is still very high quality. Choose whichever you want.
Now, swing on over to the Author tab, and select your desired TV System output. In this case, I’m running an NTSC setup, but for those of you in PAL country (mostly Europe), you will want to change this.
Okay, now we want to load our source. The way that is recommended by the author is to use the AVCHD / BDMV / DVD folders button. This way, multiAVCHD can scan all of the playlists in the BDMV.
Why do we want the playlists, you may ask? We want the playlists because they offer a more dependable support of input files (as you can see in the comments) and they support cases where the main movie is split up over multiple m2ts files.
Once you have selected your BDMV folder, multiAVCHD will spend some time analyzing your input files. When it is done, remove any unnecessary playlists (such as extras, or special features) using the Remove button in the input files area.
An alternative way: In the top left corner of multiAVCHD you should see a button labeled Add video files. Click it, and navigate to your Blu-ray folder and select the m2ts with the largest size, as I have shown below. This tends to be a little faster than the playlist method, as it doesn’t have to scan the whole BDMV folder and it’s playlists, but it can be less dependable. The author recommends that you use the playlist method, but I use the Add video files method from time to time when I know I won’t have any problems with my source.
multiAVCHD will scan and analyze your input file and display it in the source window like below. You can also see that your input has been added to the overall compilation by looking at the Compliation area and seeing the name of your file or movie (00010 in this case).
Now, click on your source in the compilation area. You only have to click once, and then wait as multiAVCHD loads your properties.
Ex. I clicked on the “1. 00010″ and multiAVCHD popped up the window below.
In recent versions of multiAVCHD, support for multiple audio and subtitle tracks has just been added. In this case, I kept my HD DTS audio and removed the other two, since I knew that the first track contained the main (english) audio track for my movie, and the rest were foreign languages.
To edit your subtitle tracks, simply swing on over to the Subtitles tab and add (external subtitles) or remove subtitles as you see fit. Currently, external subtitle tracks take priority over internal subtitle tracks. What this means is that an external subtitle track will appear first in your subtitle selection menu when playing the output DVD.
Now, we need to set out title for SD-DVD output. On the right side of the window, you should see the Transcode button as I have highlighted below. Click on it.
You should now see a window like the one below.
On the bottom right, you will see a drop-down box. In the screenshot above it is set to Blu-ray/AVCHD compliant. Set this to Create SD-DVD title as I have done below.
Now, we are going to choose our output size. Then encoder area should now have changed to display your desired MPEG2 encoder name (QuEnc in my case). Click on the Bitrate Suggestions button as I have highlighted.
You will now see a list of output sizes and bitrates. Since I want to encode burn my output to a single layer DVD, I select the DVD-5 option from the list and click Use.
Now, at this point we are pretty much done with the transcoding window. However, some of you may want to hardcode an external subtitle onto your output. To do this, use the drop-down box on the bottom left of the transcode window like I have shown below. Again, since I don’t want to hardcode a subtitle onto my output, I have disabled this feature, but it’s there if you need it.
Once you are done setting up your transcode parameters to your liking, go ahead and click Apply.
Okay, it looks like we are almost done. Two things that I like to do while I’m still in my title’s properties window is to give it a name in the Title Name field, and then to save the current project using the Save button down in the bottom right. Save the project file some place that you will be able to remember later (like your Desktop) so that it will save you some time in case a problem occurs.
Once you have configured your title properties correctly, you can safely close the properties window and return to the main program.
Okay, the hard part is done, I promise! Now, in the bottom left of the main window, there is a little field called the Output Suffix. I usually fill this in with some clever short hand so that if I happen to do a bunch of encodes and save them to the same directory, I will be able to quickly tell which is which because the root folder will contain my clever distinguishing phrase.
Well, THAT and I like to be thorough in my projects. Do what you will.
Well, that about covers it. Now we are just going to go ahead and save one more time (because it never hurts!) and start the encode.
After pressing Start you should see a window like the one below. As you can see, multiAVCHD supports a plethora of output options, but in this case we only want the SD-DVD option. Again, in the interest of being thorough, I go ahead and give my compilation an appropriate name. Then push the button and sit back and enjoy the ride!
Note: Depending on how you have multiAVCHD configured, you may get a nice preview of your output while the encode is running. I personally disable the preview, but that’s entirely your option.
As the author has pointed out to me, if you are comfortable with the default choices of multiAVCHD, you can safely load your source files and jump to Step 11 if you are so inclined. multiAVCHD will prompt you to fit your compilation to DVD-5 (single layer DVD) and mark your title for transcoding to MPEG2 automatically. In addition, it will adjust the output resolution and select the first audio and subtitle tracks for your output automagically. Cool huh?
Again, this is if you trust in multiAVCHD to make the right decisions (which there is no reason why it shouldn’t) or if you don’t want to adjust any of the output options by hand.
For those of you who want to read up on / get support for multiAVCHD, you can access it’s Doom9 thread here.