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So how do I convert a AVI/DivX to a VideoCD, Super VideoCD or DVD using MainConcept MPEG Encoder?

A common situation: you have a DivX movie (*.avi or *.divx, see Ripping DVD to Divx and Downloading Movies from the Internet for details).

Your problem: you want to playback the movie on your DVD player that's standing in the living room and you don't want to use the TV-out option which some computers have (actually: it's the video card offering this option - if at all).

Solution: Since current DVD-players cannot playback DivX, we must convert the movie to a different format. We use MPEG1 for DVD players that support VideoCD, or we use MPEG2 for those that support Super VideoCD. The latter is much better in quality.

The only tools we need are the DivX video codec and the MainConcept MPEG Encoder. The MPEG Encoder can be downloaded from the MainConcept website.

Note: It's not free, but a trial version is available. Compared to it's competition (Cinema Craft Encoder): it's a lot cheaper, app. $149 - compared to the $1600 for Cinema Craft Encoder) and MPEG Encoder performs just as well and sometimes even better. For example: CCE cannot resize, MPEG Encoder can ...

Tip: Although we are discussing here the conversion from DivX to MPEG, the same tool can also be used for converting DV (camcorder) and other AVI video formats. In fact: it's actually made for that purpose.

Note: MPEG-Encoder by MainConcept DOES support AC3 audio in AVI files!

Note: Converting a movie to MPEG does NOT improve the quality! So don't expect a DivX with a lousy quality to become excellent by converting it to DVD or SVCD!

Note: don't forget to read the disclaimer!

Update: The subtitle issues has been fixed. It took us a while and with the help of Benjamin we found that the only workable solution is to use FFDShow, for details, see the MainConcept MPEG Encoder with subtitles page.

Convert DivX to (Super) VideoCD ....

Introduction: What format should I choose?

Tip before we start: take a good look at the Video Formats page, for details!

First of all, we need to know if our standalone DVD-player can handle CD-R or CD-RW media.

Newer models, specially those that support MP3 playback, usually are capable of dealing with both media types. Older players usually don't. You will have to simply test this.

If CD-R media doesn't work, then please try to use CD-RW media, since the reflection behavior of CD-RW is very similar to DVD. I tried this once with my old Toshiba DVD player and it usually works.

If neither media type is supported (CD-R and CD-RW), you're out of luck. Consider buying a new DVD player.
If either of these do work, then you're ready for the next challenge.

What format should I use? VideoCD or Super VideoCD?

Well this depends again on the capabilities of your DVD player.

Does it support Super VideoCD? Then Super VideoCD (SVCD) is the choice to make because of the higher image and sound quality.

If the DVD player does not support SVCD, then go for VideoCD (VCD). Unless that's not supported either, then you're back to the "buy a new DVD player" solution.

See also the Video Formats page for more details on the two formats.

So now we know the MEDIA TYPE and the VIDEO FORMAT we want to use.

The required software

Software for movie playback

First try if you can playback the movie on your PC using the Window Media player.

If not, then we will need to install (if not already) the Video Codec. For DivX go to the DivX homepage .

This is needed for playback. MPEG Encoder uses the codec suitable for the movie, just as it does with basically any AVI file format.

Software for transcoding

Here we are at the core of our conversion process (called "transcoding"). Download MPEG Encoder from the MainConcept website. First use the trial version to see if it works the way you expect it. I know I'm convinced that this is a tool worth it's money, but make sure you do too. Install it and run the application.


Let's do some TransCoding

After starting the MPEG Encoder, you will see this screen (can differ per version, I used version 1.3):

MainConcept MPEG Encoder: Start Screen

Click the "Open ..." button (A) next to the Video Source field and select the DivX movie you want to convert.

Note: In case MPEG Encoder didn't enter a filename at the "Audio Source" field, you might want to click button (B) for selecting the audio file. If there is no seperate audio file, then just select the same file as you did with "Video Source".
Button (C) allows you to set path and filename of the result MPEG file.

Usually it takes a few second for MPEG Encoder to recognize the file format and "start" the engines (video codec and audio codec). Something like this might appear:

MainConcept MPEG Encoder: Movie data detected

In this example we see some info that might be very usefull.

A: Files used

Here we see the Video Source and the Audio Source filenames. Usually with DivX (and other AVI formats), the audio track is included in the movie file. So for the Audio Source we use the same filename.

Also very nice to know what the Output Filename is, which is the 3rd of the these 3 fields.

B: Video input info

In this example we see that the input movie runs at 23.976 frames per second, at a resolution of 544 x 304 pixels. The entire movie is about 1 hour and 19 minutes long.

C: Audio input info

Here we see details on the audio track: it's stereo (2 channels) at a bitrate of 48 kHz (pretty good quality).

D: Output format

Here we need to do some settings. These settings can be done:

Field Values
VCD (= VideoCD)
SVCD (= Super VideoCD)
Video Mode PAL
Stream type Video
Video and Audio
Program (Video)
Program (Audio)
Program (Video and Audio)
Transport (Video)
Transport (Audio)
Transport (Video and Audio)
Audio Mode Layer 1
Layer 2

Naturally, all these settings can be pretty confusing.

Here we can select MPEG1 if we want to tune the settings to our needs. However, if you want to make a VideoCD, simply select VCD as this will guarantee that the movie will be VCD compliant.
The same goes for MPEG2, we can fine tune it to our needs, but for Super VideoCD select SVCD and for DVD select ... well erhm,.. DVD. Just to make sure you're working in compliance with the standards.

Also rather important. If you live in Europe, choose PAL, if you live in the USA take NTSC. Note that most PAL equipment can playback NTSC pretty good, however almost all NTSCH devices are not capable of playing PAL video's!

This is a bit harder. You can choose to use Video only, Audio only or Video and Audio.
But, what's with the "Program" and "Transport" setting?
Well, "Program" is used for VideoCD, Super VideoCD and DVD. "Transport" is used for broadcast.

Here we can set the type of compression for audio. For VideoCD and Super VideoCD I recommend using "Layer 2". Only DVD has the additional option of using LPCM.

The "Details" button brings you to a more advanced screen;

MainConcept MPEG Encoder: Detailed settings

Here we can do some detailed settings on the framerate, quality (Search method and range) and audio. However, when clicking the "Advanced ..." button, we come to a more interesting screen.

The "Video Settings"-tab shows use some really cool settings on the bitrates and aspect ratio (4:3 = normal TV, 16:9 = widescreen TV). Here we can enter values we can calculate with for example the WeetHet-bitrate-calculator, to make sure the move we are converting fits on a specific number of CD's.

Enter the calculated bitrate into the "Average" field. Make sure the "Minimum" bitrate is lower than the "Average". I usually enter 500 kbps in the "Minimum" field.

MainConcept MPEG Encoder: Advanced Video Settings

The "Audio Settings" tab allows us to tweak audio a bit. I usually use 224 Kbps for bitrate and usually don't change any of the other settings.

MainConcept MPEG Encoder: Advanced Audi settings

The final tab "Multiplexer Settings" is one of my favorites. It allows you to specify at what point the file should be split. So you won't need a cut and paste tool afterwards to make sure it fit's on a CD. MPEG Encoder will do that for you.

Usually a 80 minutes CDR or CDRW can hold almost 800 Mb of data for VideoCD or Super VideoCD. To be on the safe side, choose something like 795 Mb as 800 Mb might result in a slightly too big a file for an 80 minutes CDR.

MainConcept MPEG Encoder:  Multiplexer included,... cool!

Pressing the "OK" button twice, will bring us back to the begin screen.

Simply click "Convert" to start the process.

MainConcept MPEG Encoder: Transcoding ...

In the lower right corner you will see the progress (the gauge next to the "Abort" button). Next to the gauge you will also see some details on how long it will take to convert.

In this example a AMD Duron 700 Mhz took only 3 hours and 45 minutes to convert the movie to SVCD! That's FAST! Not even to mention the great quality!

On my Pentium 4, 2.8 Ghz it take app. 1 hour and 40 minutes, my AMD Athlon XP (2800) does the same job in less than an hour!

Note: if the original file is bad of quality, then please do not expect the converted result to be any better!



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