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Convert .mp4 or .mkv to burn and then play in a standard DVD player?
January 11, 2014 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Please note: I am using Mac OS X. While I have managed to burn two playable DVDs from one of my .mp4 files (once with Burn and once with Toast), the video, which is widescreen, ends up in 4:3 on the DVD, and I don’t know why. (When I tried to convert an .mp4 file to “DVD” using FfmpegX, I let the conversion run overnight, and it was only 33% finished by morning.) Details re: the video files and the software I have at my disposal inside.

What I want to do:

Burn a video file to a DVD-R so that it is playable on a plain old standard DVD player.

What I have:

A MACINTOSH COMPUTER (MacBook Pro with SuperDrive)

OPERATING SYSTEM:

OS X Mavericks 10.9.1

VIDEO FILES:
Three .mp4s around 600 MB each, and three .mkvs around 1.7 GB each

APPLICATIONS:

Handbrake 0.9.9
FfmpegX 0.0.9y-L r2
MPEG Streamclip 1.9.3b8 beta
QuickTime Player 10.3
VLC 2.1.2
iMovie 10.0.1
iDVD 7.1.2
Burn 2.5.1
Toast Titanium 10.0

What I DON’T have:

money to buy any other software.

Assume I know just enough about all of these programs to do things right some of the time, but not all of the time. Any help at all will be much appreciated!
posted by tzikeh to Technology (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
The DVD specification only allows certain aspect ratios. It isn't as flexible as the BD spec.

No matter what aspect ratio is chosen, the video is transformed into 720*480 anamorphic MPEG2. Then there's a choice field that tells the player how to resize it on playback.

If the frame rate is 29.97 then the only choices are 720*480, 704*480, 352*480, and 352*240.

The only way to encode widescreen is to letterbox the video before encoding it onto the DVD.

In other words, you can't get there from here.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:58 PM on January 11


Chocolate Pickle: In other words, you can't get there from here.

Yeah, you can. I have done this on and off over many years; I just can't remember how now since it's been a while.
posted by tzikeh at 3:12 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I think I read that wrong.

The four sizes I coded are the only sizes for the intermediate VOB file. On playback if you chose 720*480 for the VOB, the only choicse are 640*480 (1.35:1) and 852*480 (1.775).

Sorry about that.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:56 PM on January 11


The mp4 files, as long as they're not too long, you should be able to just drag into iDVD and it should do the conversion for you. Make sure you're working in a 16:9 project, not a 4:3. It will even preview it for you to make sure the aspect ratio is correct. If you aren't obsessed with quality, you may want to make sure that the project is set for "Best performance" under Project > Project Info

I'm less certain about the MKV files. You may need to convert them to a format that iDVD will recognize.
posted by topher74 at 4:05 PM on January 11


What is the frame rate of your MP4 source?
posted by infinitewindow at 4:56 PM on January 11


Is there a setting on your standalone DVD player to force widescreen rendering? (Widescreen SD is usually accomplished through defining pixel aspect ratio).
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:43 PM on January 11


Handbrake can handle mkv on Windows, so hopefully it can on Mac. It should be able to get you directly to mpeg2/ac3 for dvd authoring, but if not, convert to mp4 with the highest quality possible. It shouldn't take long since most likely you have h.264 or x.264 in both files. Handbrake seems to be faithful to native aspect ratio.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:57 PM on January 11


VIDEO FILES:
Three .mp4s around 600 MB each, and three .mkvs around 1.7 GB each


What's the resolution and aspect ratio of these files?
posted by Sphinx at 10:35 AM on January 12


Keep in mind that if you need to convert the MKV to an intermediate format, say AVI or MP4, don't use Handbrake. Handrake will recode the file in the process, decreasing image quality (encode of an encode). You need to "remux" the MKV which is a lossless method of changing the container format without altering the video and audio content. It is also a very quick. MKVTools is a popular tool for the process: MKVTools Home. The older MKVTools 2 has now been split into several different packages. Basically you would choose to use either their MP4tools or AVItools depending on which format you need.

But you will need to convert the MP4 encoding in the video stream to MPEG2. So you will lose some visual fidelity regardless. But here is one process you can try:

1) Remux MKV to MP4.
2) Create new project in iMovie and import your MP4.
4) Setup and finalize the movie (including whatever menus and subtitles you might want to include)
3) Use the Share menu (Share->iDVD) (this will convert the video to MPEG2)
4) Use iDVD to burn to a DVD.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 11:43 AM on January 12


infinitewindow: What is the frame rate of your MP4 source?

The MP4s are all 25 FPS.

Sphinx: What's the resolution and aspect ratio of these files?

Aspect 720x404. No idea what the res is, or how to find that info. I'm sure it's simple, but I'm not coming up with it.
posted by tzikeh at 3:58 PM on January 13


tzikeh: "infinitewindow: What is the frame rate of your MP4 source?

The MP4s are all 25 FPS.

Sphinx: What's the resolution and aspect ratio of these files?

Aspect 720x404. No idea what the res is, or how to find that info. I'm sure it's simple, but I'm not coming up with it.
"

I wish I'd mentioned that at first glance, you have 1.8GB of .mp4s and 5.1GB of .mkvs, which would be too much non-compressed data for a single layer DVD. Can you use Handbrake to knock those .mkvs down to something easier to put on a DVD? Like h.264? .mp4's in h264?

You should be able to make a disk image in Toast and then simulate it and if it works, burn it to a DVD. You got it, the resolution is 720x404. I don't like that 25 FPS though.
posted by Sphinx at 7:57 PM on January 13


Sphinx: I wish I'd mentioned that at first glance, you have 1.8GB of .mp4s and 5.1GB of .mkvs, which would be too much non-compressed data for a single layer DVD.

Oh no, that's not the problem. Each file is going on its own DVD; there's plenty of room on a DVD-R for one file apiece. :)
posted by tzikeh at 11:40 AM on January 15


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