Creating a PAL DVD

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the March, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Dennis writes:

Enjoyed your PowerUp training in Miami. [I’ve converted NTSC video, with Graeme Nattress’ help, to PAL.] Now I need to get all my segments ready for PAL DVD. I need to ship them to Switzerland so they can be duplicated. Can you tell me a simple way to get my segments into a form for DVD while maintaining high quality? My segments cover three days of a conference. Day one is approximately 3 + 1/3 hours, day two is 4 + 1/3 hours and day three is 3 hours. I assume I’ll need to put each day on two separate DVDs.

Larry replies: Thanks for writing, Dennis.

It is impossible in an email to tell you everything you need to know to create a DVD using DVD Studio Pro. I have a 6-hour training video DVD that explains the whole process.

However, if all you need to know is the setting in Compressor to create a PAL MEG-2 file, that’s easy.

Once your file has been converted to PAL, import it into Compressor.

In the Settings tab, twirl down Apple, twirl down DVD, and drag the ENTIRE FOLDER for the DVD Best Quality that best represents the duration of all the video on one disk of your project.

Given the length of your videos, I would suggest creating a dual-layer disk. This allows you to double the amount of storage on each DVD, without decreasing video quality. If you use the DVD Best Quality 120 minute setting, you can fit up to four hours of material on one DVD disc.

NOTE: All DVDs are always SD. If you need to create a disc with HD video, you’ll need to create a Blu-ray Disc, which DVD Studio Pro does not currently support.

However, now things get complex. Because you are delivering a DVD master to replication, and because it is not a single-layer disk, they will probably require a CMF-format disc (Cutting Master Format) for each layer of your DVD.

You need to verify with your replicators what format they need. Unlike a single-layer disc, you can’t just send them a DVD or the VIDEO_TS folder. Replicating dual-layer disks require a master for each layer of the disc.

Or, as you suggest, you can split your movie into 2 two-hour segments, put each segment on its own disc, and package each seminar as a two-disc set. This would also work, and your compression settings would remain the same.


George Buttle asks:

I was able to create an MPEG 2 file for my HDV movie by using Quicktime Conversion.


To make a DVD, I read in one of your articles to go to QuickTime and import as an asset into DVD Studio Pro. However, when I try I get a warning that says “Import Assets, Incompatible Format. I’ve always used compressor in the past because by choosing Best Quality DVD 90 min. it give me two files, one video and one audio. I put them in my Movie folder and they import fine under assets in DVD studio pro, I just drag each one to its place on the timeline.


What’s wrong?

Larry replies: George, first you need to remember that DVD SP only works with SD video, not HD. So, if you are trying to create an HD DVD, you’ll need to use FCP 7, or Roxio Toast, or Adobe Encore, but not DVD Studio Pro, and create a Blu-ray, or AVCHD, Disc.

Also, keep in mind that there are dozens of variations of MPEG-2. The files you need to create are called “MPEG-2 Elemental Streams” — and the best way to create them is using Compressor, not QuickTime Conversion, because two separate files need to be created — one for video and one for audio.


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2 Responses to Creating a PAL DVD

  1. Egon Freeman says:

    Always great tips, Larry!

    I have a question, however. I’ve noticed that DVD Studio Pro has many quirks as to its encoding and quality – for example, I pretty much always feed it a separate AC3 audio stream nowadays due to size constraints. I use Squeeze to compress my videos into MPEG-2 and AC3-audio for use with DVDSP, because the compression done with DVDSP is just awful (and Compressor doesn’t always play nice). Is there any way to improve the compression quality in DVDSP?

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