What software would best utilize my computers resources for dvd authoring.
December 7, 2010 6:51 PM   Subscribe

I just bought two sapphire 6850's and want to do some dvd authoring plus I have a 6 core amd 2.8Ghz. What can I use that would utilize this the best way possible.

My signifigant other wants to encode up some dvd's for the parents for xmas. I want this to run as fast as computationally possible as it will probably want to use up most of my computers time.

Software that I have used in the past for said operation include: Nero, Super, DeVeDe (ubuntu linux).

MeFi tell me what you think that I should do.
posted by Chamunks to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: GPU decoding (via CUDA or whatever ATI's equivalent is, for applications without a renderer) on Windows at this point commonly extends to MPEG-2, H.264, and VC-1 content. If your input is not one of those formats, don't consider your GPU when looking at a decoding workflow. Even if your content is one of the above, I would be surprised if there were a meaningful speed difference between GPU accelerated decoding and CPU decoding because with 6 decently fast cores CPU is probably not the bottleneck.

GPU accelerated encoding of MPEG-2 content for DVD is a mixed bag. On the one hand, applications like Badaboom tend to have low visual quality output because the encoders have not been subject to as much quality-focused development (to say nothing of competition) as pure CPU encoders like Cinemacraft, Procoder, HCEnc, etc. On the other hand, at DVD resolution and given a generous bitrate and a maximum of 2 encoding passes you may not notice the difference. This is really down to your eyes.

For creating DVDs from arbitrary input, I'd recommend DVD Flick, because it is free, the GUI is simple, and it uses FFMPEG as the encoder (VERY fast thanks to assembly optimization, decent visual quality).

TMPGEnc Xpress is a reasonable commercial option; Windows DVD Maker is a limited one (though apparently free if you already have Windows).

If it absolutely has to be very high quality video and freeware, I would look at HCEnc (free) running on top of Avisynth (free) and with a suitable decoder for your input formats. Aften (free) for AC3 audio is reasonably good. However, for advanced authoring, there are no freeware options that don't involve a completely ridiculous workflow (more ridiculous then encoding using Avisynth, which is powerful but not intuitive). If I weren't on a budget, I'd buy Cinemacraft's cheapest MPEG-2 encoder and whatever prosumer grade authoring app is the favorite these days.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:06 PM on December 7, 2010

Response by poster: Will any of these properly use all six cores on my processor? its a 64 bit I'd like to be able to use it the best way possible.

You talk about cpu not being the bottleneck what would be? I have a solid state drive for this purpose if you're thinking that might be an issue.
posted by Chamunks at 8:11 PM on December 7, 2010

Inspector Gadget has covered some of the technical details, but I'll add on by pointing out there's 3 basic steps involved:

(On preview: you ask about authoring, but seem more concerned about the processor-intensive step of encoding. I'll leave my answer stand as-is, since it clarifies the difference)
  1. Editing - cutting up your raw footage into final presentations/movies/whatevers.
  2. Encoding - since you're targetting DVD, you'll be encoding to MPEG-2 (with MPEG-1 as an unlikely outside option).
  3. Authoring - the collation of all your edited and encoded results into a DVD structure (menus, movies, and all the behind-the-scenes stuff linking them together).
Steps 1 & 2 may be somewhat interchangeable, depending on your source files. Personally, most of what I do these days comes to me in MPEG-2 format, so I'll skip the encoding bit. If I need to do encoding, I'll generally either use ffmpeg, mpeg2enc, or HCEnc (each has their minor strengths / weaknesses).

Editing: Depends on what I need to do. Since my sources are mainly MPEG-2, and often don't need any more than basic cut-type editing, I'll often use Cuttermaran. It's not fancy, has no transitions or anything, but does the job - and, importantly, it's a) free, and b) can edit MPEG-2 without wholesale re-encoding (it only re-encodes the GOPs around cuts) so it preserves picture quality. If I need transitions and the like, I'll generally use Mediachance's Edit Studio Pro (mainly because I have it handy). Sometimes I'll do the whole thing there & live with the total re-encode; if I'm feeling particularly picky I'll just create and export the transitions in ESP and use Cuttermaran to put it all back together. I'm not aware of anything that'll do both decent transitions and only re-encode as little as necessary.

Authoring: Mediachance's DVD Lab Pro - it's only thing I know of that's a) reasonably cheap, b) can produce commercial-quality completely user-defined menus, and c) can do all the relatively complicated things (e.g. conditional branching, multi-aspect menus, multiple aspect ratios on the one disc, etc) that the pro-level authoring tools can do. The Basic & Studio versions are more restricted than the Pro, but are still good and offer (I think) better functionality and a better interface than things like TMPGEnc Authoring Works. And Mediachance has a free trial (30 days, IIRC) so you can use it for your Christmas DVDs ;-)
posted by Pinback at 8:28 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Will any of these properly use all six cores on my processor? its a 64 bit I'd like to be able to use it the best way possible.

Most of them should handle multithreading just fine (DVD Flick has an explicit option for setting the number of cores to use in ffmpeg). HCEnc is multithreaded, and TMPGEnc's encoder should be (don't know about the decoder-> encoder intermediate steps). Anything using Avisynth can be multithreaded if all the filters in use are multithreaded or are made so by using a special filter called MT(). However, some decoders used to feed content to Avisynth don't multithread decoding because for whatever reason it breaks random access to the input video.

In short, it's safe to assume all competitive encoders handle multithreading well but you'll need to verify that the decoding/frameserving side does too. With commercial products you might as well look into a trial; with freeware, and particularly Avisynth or ffmpeg based workflows, Doom9 and Doom10 will be the best resource. I'm not sure how a solid state drive might affect bottlenecking but MPEG-2 encoding with HCEnc + Avisynth tends to be light on RAM use unless you're doing heavy filtering. I haven't used TMPGEnc recently enough to know about RAM use without heavy filtering, but it was much slower than HCEnc on the same content with similar settings.

An x64 operating system can go either way when it comes to video encoding. Obviously you'd like to get the predicted slight speed increase from using native 64-bit applications, but most consumer grade or freewarevideo editing and encoding stuff doesn't make 64-bit builds available. It's only been within the past year that a free, complete 64-bit DVD/Blu-ray to H.264 workflow has become viable, and that's without many of the old standby filters for applications like denoising. I would count on using 32-bit applications to avoid frustration, but at worst you're taking a small speed hit because it's the really rare encode that needs 4 gigs of RAM.

I get ~60fps on Pass 1 and ~50fps on Pass 2 of a heavily filtered DVD-to-DVD-compliant encode here using 32-bit HCEnc on my laptop (C2D 2.53GHz, 4 GB, ordinary 7500 RPM drives). You'll be working quickly regardless of minor foulups.

Anyway, it's 11:30 EST so I'll check this thread tomorrow.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:34 PM on December 7, 2010

Response by poster: Wow these responses are far more than I was hoping for and everything that I've wanted to know about all of this sort of thing. I wish I had more detailed questions about this, I'm going to have to read through quite a bit more stuff, you two have given me much to research and play around with.
posted by Chamunks at 11:01 PM on December 7, 2010

Response by poster: @Inspector.Gadget, You make mention of "Filtering" I'm going to have to look into this.
posted by Chamunks at 11:05 PM on December 7, 2010

@Inspector.Gadget, You make mention of "Filtering" I'm going to have to look into this.

When your input is commercial DVD or Blu-ray, you probably don't need many filters beyond deinterlacing or inverse telecine, crop, and resize (and perhaps color correction if for instance you're resizing from HD to SD and want to make sure any renderer that eventually handles your output video will display the correct range). The exception to this general rule is anime content, which has its own set of common problems (rainbows on line edges, obvious aliasing, etc.) and tends to be encoded poorly (blind standards conversion from NTSC to PAL or vice versa) for retail discs.

With home video, problems can run the gamut from tape wear artifacts to interference that shows up as chroma distortion on digital captures. The nice part about working with home video, whether old or recently shot in HD, is that people tend to have definite feelings about what they don't like ("Why does this look like the camera was out of focus? Why does Aunt Hilda look green?"). In watching any home video before incorporating it into a DVD project, you'll notice things that bother you and will hopefully have a chance to correct them (much of this can be done in Avisynth and previewed in WMP or any other DirectShow based player), but for complex color correction and the sort of advanced editing Pinback mentions above, you're going to want to work in some sort of dedicated application (Vegas, Premiere, freeware attempts at creating equivalents, etc.).
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:10 AM on December 8, 2010

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