I recently had to work on a project that involved me digitizing video from a VHS tape and making a DVD with a menu. You may ask yourself "But she's on Mac OS X, why doesn't she just use iDVD to make the DVD?" Well I did try iDVD and I wanted to get all my files onto one 4.7 GB DVD. iDVD only allowed me to put 90 minutes on the DVD because of the way iDVD converts the files into mpeg2 for the DVD and for DVD players to read. I will take you through the process of taking your VHS and putting it on a DVD.

First I imported the VHS video into iMovie, which converted them into BIG DV files (digital video). From there, I joined together the DV clips that made up each episode (when importing footage into iMovie, the clip only hold about 9 minutes then spills over into a new clip, example- you have a 15 minute episode, iMovie makes the first 9minutes of your episode clip 01 and then automatically continues importing the rest of the video as clip 02, so that's why you join the 2 clips and export as one file). I exported the files as mp4 files out of iMovie.

The files were rather large, 500mb, but the quality was decent. The setting I used to export the mp4 files from iMovie were as follows:

-Export Movie to Quicktime
-Click on Options
-Video Settings MPEG4 Video
-Quailty between medium and high
-Key Frames: Every 24 frames
-Data Rate: Restrict to 6400 kbits/sec
-Click ok
-Audio format: ACC
-Bitrate: 96kbps
-Click ok-Your clips start to export

Since I am more concerned with size than quality (I know, but you have to sacrifice) I brought each .mp4 file in VLC Player.

Open VLC Player. Click on File-> Open file–>Click Browse button, find your mp4 files and click choose.

Check the check box (in the open source box on your screen) that is labeled Advanced Output. Then Click on the Settings button to the right of the Advanced Output check box. I transcoded the video but not the audio.

For Output options I clicked Browse, then chose the file name and place of where the new file was to be created. For encapsulation method I chose Quicktime (from drop down). Transcode options: for video I chose mp4v from drop-down and bitrate 128. I left the video alone. Then I clicked ok. In the Open Source box I clicked ok. VLC starts to transcode your file. Like a good shampooing, I repeated this method with each chapter I had.

After I had all my reduced mp4 files, I opened up ffmpegX. I used ffmpegX to transcode my files into files that Sizzle could read to build the DVD menu and DVD from (in iDVD I could just drop the mp4 files into the program and iDVD changed them to mpeg2 files for me). Sizzle needs mpeg2 (MPG, MOV) files for video (it could import a VOB as well) and MPEG Layer-II ("MP2"), Linear PCM ("LPCM"), Digital Theater Sound ("DTS") or Dolby Digital ("AC3") for audio.

In ffmpegX, I imported my mp4 file. Then for the export settings I chose MPEG-TS, the video was mpeg2 [mpg](ffmpeg), and the audio was MP2. You end up with one file (Quicktime file) .MPG file to import into Sizzle. You can also use the DVD (ffmpeg) setting in ffmpegX as well to transcode the .MP4 file into 2 files, video file .MPG and audio file .AC3.

Once you have all your files (they increase in size because they are not as compressed as .MP4) you can open Sizzle. To add a clip (chapter) to Sizzle, click Add Title. You can then look at the bottom right window where your clip was imported into, click on your clip to highlight it, click audio above the window, and you'll see your clip again listed in the audio (or this is where you can add your .AC3 file that is associated with your video file). To have the buttons link properly to your video clips in your TOC (DVD menu) select the button (say you named it Chapter 1) and click Edit Button. In the Edit box, choose "Jump to menu" in Action drop-down menu and then choose the clip in the Destination drop down. If this doesn't give you the navigation you desire, play around with the Edit Button window until you get the settings and navigation you want. After you have the navigation linked up properly and you previewed the DVD image you can build the image (click on Save Disk Image in the top right of the Sizzle window). Once you build your image you can use a DVD burning program such as Toast to make your DVD (I used Sizzle 0.5b2, but I heard some people had problems with that and they used 0.1 version, I had no problem with Sizzle 0.5b2). I shrank the size of the DVD image by using a DVD shrink program. I did this to make sure it fitted onto a 4.7GB DVD. Hope this helps.

Enjoy that fresh panini of knowledge!

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