Trev's Articles

Tivo - Converting from NTSC to PAL

and writing to DVD

April 2007

 

There are several shows I capture on my Tivo which my friends and family may find interesting to watch in the UK. But, the Television picture format is different and so you cannot just burn the Tivo files directly to a DVD as by default they will be in 'US' (or NTSC) format.

This guide provides my methods for converting NTSC Tivo files to PAL MPEGs (or AVI's) and writing them to DVD.

I testing different scenarios to see which provides the best results.

 

Instructions

 

1. Download TV program from the Tivo device to your PC using Tivo Desktop

 

2. Use Direct Show Dump Utility to convert the Tivo file to a raw MPEG file

Note: You can also use VideReDo to edit the Tivo File directly (e.g. Strip out Adverts) and then Save as an MPEG

 

    The Raw MPEG file will have the following properties (NTSC frame rate):

            Size: 480 x 480

               Bit Rate: 110481 (High Quality, Best Quality is a Higher Bit Rate)

               Frame Rate: 29.97 fps

 

Standard NTSC and PAL Format info

 

  Horizontal Vertical Frame Rate
NTSC 720 480 29.97
PAL 720 576 25

 

3. Quickest method is to Click here for using Cucusoft AVI to VCD/DVD/MPEG Creator to Convert MPEG to PAL & Create the DVD

 

4. There are also several options to convert the MPEG file to a PAL Format for use with other DVD software to allow you to author/customize your DVD (e.g. add Menus/Chapters)

 

Click here for using Windows Movie Maker

Click here for using Cucusoft AVI to VCD/DVD/MPEG Creator

 

5. For the converted source files generated in Step 4, there are several options for writing your DVD

 

Click here for using Sonic/Roxio MYDVD LE (Free with most DVD Burners)

Use a commercial DVD Authoring package (such as Adobe Encore or Premier)

 

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Using Cucusoft AVI to VCD/DVD/MPEG Creator to convert an MPEG to a PAL DVD

 

Note: These instructions will create the DVD source directly from the MPEGs i.e. There is no editing of the video files. If you want to edit the MPEGs this must be done before following these instructions.

 

    a) Download CucuSoft's AVI/MPEG creator from here I think you need the Pro version to set the correct PAL Settings in the Advanced Options, have not tested the 'lite' version.

 

    b) Add your .MPG file to the list of files to convert, and ensure you have selected 'To DVD'

 

c) From the main screen, make sure you select 'PAL' and to get the correct picture format on the DVD, select Stretch to Fit

 

 

Note: If your combined MPEGs are expected to be larger than a DVD can hold (approx 4.5GB) then you can use DVD Shrink to reduce the size to fit on a DVD. I think this is a much better option than splitting your MPEGs across multiple DVDs.

To be able to use DVD Shrink, you must set the Split Target Movie Every to 8000 Mbytes (Just Switching it off makes it default to 4.5GB the standard size of a DVD). Obviously this is only valid if your MPEGs are bigger than the default setting of 4200 MBytes.

 

 

 

    d) Click on the Advanced Options and set the correct image settings for PAL:

 

 

    You may want to set the Output Quality & Speed to a better Level

 

I have had some instances where the audio has been missing from part of the final DVD image. To correct this problem I recommend from the Audio tab that you set the Audio Synch as shown below.

 

 

e) WARNING: Don't change anything else on the main screen as this can reset advanced options. You must go back and reset Advanced options shown in (d) if anything is changed.

 

f) Click on Convert and Burn to create the Directory containing the DVD image.

 

The DVD image will be created in the directory specified (in this case C:\OutputDir).

 

Your DVD Source directory (C:\OutoutDir) must be less than 4.5GB before attempting to write your DVD. If it is larger than 4.5GB use these DVD Shrink instructions instead of CucuSoft to fit and write your Image onto a single DVD.

 

For DVD Images smaller than 4.5GB:

 

    a) Click on the DVD Burner Button which will launch the following Window:

 

 

 

 

    b) Click on the Open Button, and select your Directory (C:\OutputDir) followed by DVD_Disk1 (which is the directory created with the DVD source files).

 

    c) Click on the Burn Button and it should show you a DVD Drive to use:

 

 

    d) Click on Next to begin the DVD Creation.

 

 

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Using DVD Shrink to Shrink your DVD Source and Write your DVD

 

If your DVD source files (directory) created by CucuSoft or Sonic are bigger than 4.5GB, then use DVD Shrink to compress the MPEGs to fit on a single DVD. The loss of quality is negligible and its a lot nicer than having to change a DVD part way through a show!

 

First you will need to download DVD Shrink Information is available from here. You will also need DVD Decrypter to automatically write the DVD after it has been shrunk.

 

a) Load up DVD Shrink:

 

 

 

b) Select Open Files and select your Directory (C:\OutputDir) followed by DVD_Disk1 (which is the directory created with the DVD source files).

 

c) DVD Shrink will analyze the DVD Source files and display the details of the DVD:

 

 

Note: When selecting No Compression  from the Video selection, the Colored bar shows how far over the capacity of a regular DVD the image is (shown in Red).

 

d) Select Automatic from the Video Selection (the Bar will go all Green) then click on the button.

 

e) As long as you have DVD Decrypter installed, you can use that to automatically Burn the ISO image created by DVD Shrink:

 

 

f) The only other [optional] setting you need to set is the Burn Settings to allow you to specify the name of your DVD:

 

 

g) Click on OK and DVD will re-image your Source Files, create an ISO image of the DVD,  and then launch DVD Decrypter to automatically burn the ISO image to a DVD.

 

 

h) Don't forget to delete the Source ISO image file, and the Source Files in C:\OutputDir as combined, it is using over 9GB of space on your drive!

 

 

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Using Windows Movie Maker to convert an MPEG to PAL

 

    a) Windows Movie Maker will allow you to edit the file then save as either WMV or AVI.

 

    Set the Advanced option to PAL:

 

    b) Drag in your MPEG and edit your Movie as required and then Save Movie File...

    When prompted for the Movie setting, select DV-AVI (PAL) for later writing to DVD:

 

   

    Any other setting will produce a low quality WMV file not suitable for DVD production

 

    c) You now have an AVI file you can use with your preferred DVD Authoring software.

 

Click here for options to write your DVD using the AVI file

 

 

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Using Cucusoft AVI to VCD/DVD/MPEG Creator to convert an MPEG to a PAL MPEG

 

Note: These instructions will create new PAL Format MPEG files There is no editing of the video files. If you want to edit the MPEGs this must be done before following these instructions.

 

    a) Download CucuSoft's AVI/MPEG creator from here I think you need the Pro version to set the correct PAL Settings in the Advanced Options, have not tested the 'lite' version.

 

    b) Add your .MPG file to the list of files to convert under the Batch tab, and ensure you have selected 'To MPEG2'

 

    c) From the main screen, make sure you select 'PAL' as the Output format

 

 

 

    d) Click on the Advanced Options and set the correct image Frame Rate and Aspect Ratio settings for PAL:

 

 

    You may want to set the Output Quality & Speed to a better Level

 

e) WARNING: Don't change anything else on the main screen as this can reset advanced options. You must go back and reset Advanced options shown in (d) if anything is changed.

 

f) Click on Convert and Burn to create the new PAL MPEG files

 

The PAL MPEG files will be created in the directory specified (in this case C:\OutputDir).

 

g) You now have your MPEG file you can use with your preferred DVD Authoring software.

 

Click here for options to write your DVD using the MPEG file

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using using Sonic/Roxio MYDVD LEto convert an MPEG to a PAL DVD

 

Sonic allows you to produce basic DVD's with Menus very easily. You can create your DVD in PAL or NTSC, so its a convenient but very slow way to convert your Tivo files to a useable PAL DVD.

 

a) Start Sonic MyDVD and Create a new DVD Video Project

 

b) Select File...Preferences... from the Menus and choose PAL/Secam as the Television Standard:

 

c) Drag your converted PAL MPEG/AVI file onto the MyDVD screen to auto create a button for that MPEG/AVI:

 

 

 

d) You can add as many MPEG/AVI files as you like, until you reach the capacity of the DVD (Bottom Left hand corner).

Tip: If you go over the 4.7GB limit, Use Tools.... Make DVD Folder (to write the DVD to a folder rather than a Disc), then use DVD Shrink to shrink to 4.7GB and then create an ISO to Burn to DVD. You can click here for an example on how to Shrink the DVD.

 

e) Click the to Burn a PAL DVD! (Note the transform process take a very long time)

 

 

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Conclusions and Quality of each method

 

1. Using Movie Maker with Raw AVI and writing with separate DVD Authoring Package

Longest way to generate a DVD, but most functionality, as the output files can be used with any DVD Authoring package.

I tested this by importing the AVI files into Sonic and writing the DVD with a basic Menu.

Viewing on the PC shows some 'jumping/jerking' of the picture, no problems with Sound, it is synchronized well with the picture.

Results:

Based on viewing from a standard PAL DVD player, this format was just slightly better than the others

 

2. Using CucuSoft to convert and write the DVD

Quickest way to generate a DVD, but least functionality, i.e. No menus or usable chapters.

Viewing on the PC shows some 'jumping/jerking' of the picture, no problems with Sound, it is synchronized well with the picture.

Results:

Based on viewing from a standard PAL DVD player, this format was the same as Option 3 below, but was considered least favourable as the DVD was not as easy to use as there were no menus.

 

3. Using CucuSoft to convert MPEG then Sonic MyDVD to Write a PAL DVD

Takes a long time to generate the DVD (once authored), but you can add a custom Menu and chapters and customize the DVD.

Viewing on the PC shows some 'jumping/jerking' of the picture, no problems with Sound, it is synchronized well with the picture.

Results:

Based on viewing from a standard PAL DVD player, this format was just slightly worse than Option 1 (Raw AVI) but nothing much in it.

 

4. The Effects of DVD Shrink on Quality of DVD

Nothing Noticeable from the MPEGs taken from Tivo. For very fast 'busy' moving frames, there is some blockyness for less than half a second, but not enough to be a problem.


 

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