DVD to Windows Media Video Conversion

DVD LogoSo this is a little different from my usual posts here, but I thought it might be worthwhile to some people.

This is my guide on converting DVD Films and Videos to Microsoft's Windows Media format (WMV). The reason I do this is because I am a user of Windows Vista Media Center and also use the Xbox 360 as a Media Center Extender which natively supports WMV, and has the capability to convert on-the-fly the 5.1 audio contained in them to Dolby Digital 5.1 (which can then be understood in all it's surround sound glory by your amplifier).

I have posted versions of this in various forums, but this will be the most up to date version moving forward. Current as of 7:43pm AEST, 24th September 2007.

What You Need (download, purchase and install as per their instructions)

How to Do It

  1. Open TMPGEnc XPress.

  2. Choose Start New Project/Source Wizard.

  3. Insert the DVD you want to convert, click cancel if Windows asks you what to do.

  4. Choose Add a Source from DVD-Video and point it to the DVD Drive in your computer.

  5. Select what title you want to encode (the film is usually the one that has the longest running time) and the audio track (Dolby Digital 5.1) and let it copy the files across.

  6. After the DVD is loaded into TMPGEnc, you will get the "Add Clip" window.

  7. Change the Clip Name to match the Movie Title.

  8. If your movie is a Widescreen Film (16:9 Anamorphic) then choose "16:9" or "Image 16:9" in the Aspect Ratio box - nothing else (not 16:11 or anything). Note: Letterbox or 4:3 movies are currently not covered in this guide.

  9. Then choose filter, and select crop. If you scan through the movie and have no black bars top/bottom, then click OK at the bottom. If you have black bars then do the following:
    (a) Use the crop "Top" and "Bottom" up/down arrows to remove all traces of black bars.
    (b) If you have the DVD case - check the back of it for "Aspect Ratio", if stated it will say 1.78:1, 1.85:1 or 2.35:1. If it doesn't state it or you are unsure, try checking http://www.imdb.com for the film, and choose "Technical Details" down the left - this will give you the original theatrical aspect ratio. Write it down, then click OK at the bottom.

  10. Select Output Format, and choose Windows Media Video Output.

  11. Video Codec (under Windows XP) should be Windows Media Video 9.

  12. Set Aspect Ratio to "Pixel 1:1 (Square Pixel)".

  13. If you want to reduce the file size of the WMV whilst keeping good quality, in the "Size" fields, choose Width: 852, and Height to match the real aspect ratio based on this conversion table:
    2.35:1 = 854x363
    1.85:1 = 854x462
    1.78:1 = 854x480
    : You can also try using different resolutions - just pick the horizontal you want (eg 1024) and divide it by the real horizontal of the film content (eg 1.78) - this example give a rounded-up value of 576, or full resolution for the PAL DVD content.

  14. Set your video encode type - I recommend 1-pass "VBR Constant Quality" for excellent quality at a reasonable speed encode.

  15. Select Audio tab, and choose "Windows Media Audio 9.1 Professional" for the audio codec (for 5.1 output).

  16. Set your audio encode type - I recommend 1-pass "VBR Constant Quality" for excellent quality.

  17. Select the "Encode" button, then change your output path to where you want the final outputted file to go.

  18. Choose Output preview and if all looks good, either "Register in batch list" and start again with the next film, or select "Start Output".

  19. Go and find something else to do - even on the fastest machines available at the moment (such as Intel Core 2 Duo), an average length film can take 2-3 hours to encode.

I hope this helps - please post a comment if you have any questions.

Note: These instructions are tested for PAL only. NTSC DVD's may work and I will update the guide if/when I do some testing of my own or if someone posts feedback. These instructions are to be used for legitimate backup purposes of legally owned DVD's only. I don't condone piracy, and take no responsibility if you break laws in your respective territory.