Why does Nero insist on stretching my files?
December 29, 2006 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Help me make good looking movies with small picture dimensions.

My dad has a bunch of 320x240 WMV videos that he would like to burn to DVD. The problem is that Nero seems to insist on burning them at 740x480. As a result the video looks really bad on a TV screen.

I wold like to be able to create a DVD with the smaller (and better looking) resolution videos. Does anyone know how to force Nero to burn DVDs at the native resolution of the source file?

This thread (http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/27791) helped, but we would have to spend about $200 bucks for both the encoder and DVD authoring programs. Clearly, working with Nero would be better. ( I tried using the encoder to make mpeg files and then using Nero, but Nero seems to insist on re-encoding everything. I think I could use something called "smart encoding" but I'm sure if that's what I need or not.)

(My father also has Pixela so instruction on using that would be fine, also. Although I find that programs non-standard interface to be almost inscrutable.)
posted by oddman to Technology (4 answers total)
DVDs only support a limited number of fixed resolutions, of which 720x480 is the primary one. Burning at native resolution isn't the solution, or an option.

It sounds like it isn't setting the correct aspect ratio flag to tell the TV/DVD player whether it's widescreen of 4:3. Have a poke around the burning/encoding settings.
posted by cillit bang at 2:38 PM on December 29, 2006

Define "bad"? Because "bad" is subjective, and there's dozens of reasons why it might be so.

(e.g. cillit bang is saying it might be because the AR is incorrect - I wouldn't call that "bad", just "wrong", because its easily correctable.)

Yup, you won't get a DVD at the native resolution - the closest you'll get (assuming NTSC) is 352x240 (because, whilst your camera is recording 320x240 square pixels, TV/DVD pixels aren't square...).

And I'm guessing the movies are from a digital still camera? These generally look shithouse regardless of how well you re-encode them - they start off with bad colour, low contrast, overly compressed, and often 15fps, and there's just not much you can do to make them better. Blowing them up onto a TV-sized screen just makes all the imperfections more visible (otherwise known as the "real life ain't CSI" effect).

Having said that, there are things you can do. Judicious use of filters in VirtualDub may help clean things up a bit. Good MPEG encoders are hard to find (e.g. I've never been impressed with the one in Nero, though others seem to think it's not too bad) and definitely not free (MPEG licensing fees). The (legally slightly dodgy) open source ffmpeg/mencoder codec is pretty good if you can give it enough bitrate.

Personally, I'd just use something like SUPER (it's got an absolutely terrible GUI - why do French programmers re-implement everything so poorly?) to convert to 352x240 MPEG-2 @ 29.97fps at the highest bitrate you can afford (nothing under 3000kbps), and just accept that your DVD player and TV are blowing up a small bad picture into a large bad picture.

(If you'd like to upload a short source video somewhere, email me with the link and I'll take a quick look and offer suggestions.)
posted by Pinback at 5:33 PM on December 29, 2006

Oh, and the Nero DVD creator insists on re-encoding everything that doesn't meet its definition of "correct" MPEG-2 structure. It's very strict as to what it considers "correct", and often very wrong.

If you intend on doing much of this, I'd suggest using a stand-alone external encoder like Super, TMPGenc, or CCE, and a separate DVD builder. DVDLab Standard works well, is powerful enough to do really fancy DVDs, and is cheap enough ($99) to buy if you're doing home videos etc all the time.

If you're just doing a one-off thing, the free 30-day evaluation version works just as well.
posted by Pinback at 5:49 PM on December 29, 2006

I am not sure it works with windows but you can check out a nifty little program called iSquint. It allows you to make the video as large or as small as you want. The interface is super simple and it is free. Though, they appreciate donations.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:30 PM on December 29, 2006

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