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Using DVD Architect I show how to compress and fit a long video onto a DVD, by calculating customized Bit Rates and pre-rendering the video.

This is one of the most popular tutorials on Movie Studio Zen now. If you are a beginner you may feel a little overwhelmed with all the instructions you have to follow. Don't get overwhelmed ! Go through each step one at a time and take it slowly. Once you have learnt the workflow and practised a bit with a test project, you will discover that it is actually very easy compress videos for DVD. If it does not work for you, make sure to read the new Troubleshooting Guide I have added to the end of this article.

There are two ways you can compress and fit videos onto a single DVD. In this tutorial I will be showing you an Advanced Method that will give you the highest quality video possible. There is also a much simpler method you can follow by using an inbuilt tool within the DVD Architect program, however the results may not be as good. Follow this link for easy method.

I will be using three programs during this tutorial. Sony Vegas Pro, DVD Architect Pro and Mark's DVD Bit Rate Calculator. You can also use Sony Movie Studio Platinum and DVD Architect Studio instead of the Pro versions. My instructions will work exactly the same in Movie Studio Platinum and DVD Architect Studio.

Steps involved

These are the steps you will follow in this tutorial. Please remember to watch the video tutorial at the top of this article, which contains much more detailed information than I can cover with just words here,

1. You may need to use a video converter if the videos you want to import into Movie Studio are using a video codec that Movie Studio cannot read. Convert them first, then import. Watch this tutorial here if you need more help with this topic.

2. Create and Edit your project in Movie Studio Platinum or Vegas Pro.

3. Improve your videos by adding some colour correction and remove any black borders.

4. Use the Bit Rate Calculator to get custom bit rates, so you can render a Video for DVD to a very precise file size that fill fit perfectly onto a single disc.

4. Use Render As to create a new video with custom bit rates

5. Import new video created with Movie Studio Platinum or Sony Vegas Pro into DVD Architect Studio or DVD Architect Pro

6. Burn your DVD

Why would you want to compress/fit a video onto a DVD ?

Many people record programs off the TV or save videos from YouTube and would like to store them on a DVD. If you attempt to fit anything longer than 60 minutes of video onto a DVD, you will soon discover that this can be a frustrating and wasteful task when you work out how many discs you will need.

A standard 4.7GB Single Layer blank DVD like a DVD-R or DVD+R can only hold one hour of good quality MPEG2 Video. These discs can be purchased in bulk spindles for an extremely reasonable price and are the most common you will find.

Dual Layer 8.5GB recordable DVDs like DVD-DL can fit up to two hours of good quality video, however they are a lot more expensive to buy than their Single Layer smaller Brothers.

So the best solution is to learn how to compress your videos so that you can store up to double the amount of video on the same size disc. With the method I am about to show you, you will be able to fit 2 hours of video on a 4.7GB DVD and 4 hours of video on an 8.5GB DVD.

DVD Bit Rate Calculator

This is the most important tool that you must have to follow along with this tutorial. Mark's DVD Bit Rate Calculator is a little app that will automatically calculate the exact Bit Rate settings you will need to make your videos smaller in file size. There are other apps like this floating around the Internet, so you are welcome to use something else if you find something that does just as good a job. Click the download link below, un-zip the file and then install.

Download Bit Rate Calculator ►

In my video tutorial I show exactly how to calculate your Bit Rates using the app. You will use this calculator AFTER you have created and edited your project in Sony Vegas Pro or Movie Studio Platinum. This is because you need to know the exact length in time the video project will be. Once you know what the time value is, you can then do your calculations with the Bit Rate application. The three Recommended Bit Rates will be entered into Custom Settings window for your Mainconcept MPEG2 Render As template. More about that in a moment.

UPDATE FOR WINDOWS 10 USERS: Installing the Bit Rate Calculator in Windows 10

If you are having problems using or installing Mark's Bit Rate Calculator in Windows 10, you can install the program using Compatibility Mode. Please read the following FAQ article for more detailed instructions.

How to install Mark's Bit Rate Calculator in Windows 10?

bit rate calculator

Improving the Quality of your Video Project in Vegas

In the video tutorial I show a few ways you can improve the quality of your video, before you render it into an MPEG2 Video file. I show how to do the following:

  • Add some simple Colour Correction
  • Crop the video using the Event Pan/Crop Tool
  • Adjust the Audio to remove any clipping
  • Add Chapter Points to make it easier for Fast Forwarding in a DVD Player

Rendering the Video to MPEG2 and AC3 Dolby Digital Audio

Now that you have reached this stage, you can finally use the customized Bit Rate settings to compress/fit your video perfectly onto a Single DVD.

Whenever you prepare a video that will be added to DVD Architect, you always render the Video and Audio Files separately. This is just the way it is done and gives the best results. You must also name the separate Video and Audio files the exact same name and save to the exact same folder location.

Related Tutorials for Beginners that teach the basics

If you have never made a DVD with Movie Studio Platinum, Vegas Pro or DVD Architect, it might be a good idea that you read/watch some more basic tutorials first on how to create DVDs with DVD Architect or just follow along when you watch the video tutorial on this page. I highly recommend the three tutorials linked below. The first and second tutorial contain the most up to date information. The third tutorial is a bit older and covers every single step you could ever possibly need to know - it is an in-depth tutorial for nerds who like to know everything.

How to Render Video for DVD/Blu-ray with Menus using Sony Movie Studio Platinum
How to Render Video for DVD/Blu-ray with Menus using Sony Vegas Pro
How do I render video in Vegas Movie Studio for DVDs using DVD Architect Studio

The following screen shots are shown in the video tutorial and are explained what they mean.

mpeg2 renderas

Render As window in Sony Vegas Pro 12 showing MPEG2 Rendering Templates

custom settings

Here is a screen shot from Sony Vegas Pro 12 showing where you input the Bit Rate settings.

ac3 render

Here is the best Audio Template to use to make your Audio Track

Importing Video into DVD Architect Pro 6.0 or DVD Architect Studio 5.0

Now you are at the final step. Open DVD Architect and create a New Project.

Make sure to select the correct template that matches the type of MPEG2 Video you created with Sony Vegas Pro or Movie Studio Platinum.

Next you can Import just the Video file you rendered. You don't have to worry about the Audio file, because DVD Architect will automatically match and import it for you.

Refer to some of my older tutorials on how to use DVD Architect if you are unsure about how to make Menus. You can press this link here for the full list: Articles about making DVDs

Once you have finished you can burn your disc. The End.

Troubleshooting Common Problems with using Custom Bit Rates

 Now I am going to go through all the most common mistakes people make, when they attempt to compress DVD Video using the Bit Rate Calculator.

Using the Bit Rate Calculator

1. (red arrow) Set the Disc Type you are going to burn your discs to. It should be 4.7GB for Single Layer discs or 8.5GB for Dual Layer discs.
2. (blue arrow) Set Audio Encoding. I normally use 224 Kb/s by default for all projects - this is a safe setting.
3. (orange arrow) Set Motion Menus Running Time. I normally set to 1 minute for basic projects, however technically this can be left at zero. If you have created multiple menu screens with moving backgrounds, you need to up this setting.
4. (green arrow) Set the number of Fixed Menus.
5. (yellow arrow) Setting the Safety Margin is the most important setting of all. I have found that 4% is a safe setting. You can go lower once you gain more experience and understand exactly what is going on.
6. (black arrow) Set Total Video Time. This is an equally important setting. Go to the very end of your timeline in Movie Studio Platinum or Vegas Pro and place cursor here. Now transfer the Total Time for project into the Bit Rate Calculator.
7. (purple arrow) Make sure to change Bit Rate Outputs to VBR (variable bit rate) setting.

bit rate calculator

Inputting Bit Rates Correctly into Movie Studio Platinum / Vegas Pro

The Bit Rat Calculator displays Bit Rates in Kbps (kilo bytes per second), whereas the Custom Video Settings for MainConcept MPEG-2 in Movie Studio Platinum and Vegas Pro display Bit Rates in bps (bytes per second).
This means you must add three zeros to the end of your Bit Rates from the Calculator.
Here are the conversions for my example:
Minimum Bit Rate = 3776 Kbps = 3,776,000 bps
Average Bit Rate = 6296 Kbps = 6,296,000 bps
Maximum Bit Rate = 7864 Kbps = 7,864,000 bps

bit rate calculator 2

Make sure Make Movie / Render As settings are set identically in DVD Architect

If you DO NOT Match all your settings the same in Movie Studio Platinum/Vegas Pro and DVD Architect Studio/Pro, this will destroy all the good work you did rendering to custom bit rates. If you have set your your Project Properties incorrectly in DVD Architect, what will normally happen is the program will say the video is WAY TOO LARGE to fit on the disc. This is because the video you have imported is in PAL or NTSC and the program is set to NTSC or PAL - so DVDA thinks it has to convert the video, which means all your custom bit rates will be destroyed and DVDA will want to re-render all your videos to normal high bit rates. When this happens to people, their normal response is to think that the Bit Rate Calculator did not work and that I don't know what I am talking about. You must have a PAL/PAL match or NTSC/NTSC match, if that makes sense.

The whole point of using the Bit Rate Calculator, is to get Movie Studio Platinum or Vegas Pro to do all the hard work. If you have rendered your videos correctly, DVD Architect should not have to re-render anything. It can simply burn your custom made videos directly onto the DVD.

For the majority of people on planet Earth right now, you will be using NTSC MPEG2 settings or PAL MPEG2 settings.

If you are in an NTSC country and rendered your videos to DVD Architect NTSC Widescreen video stream, you MUST also set your DVD Architect Project Properties to the same settings.

If you are in an PAL country and rendered your videos to DVD Architect PAL Widescreen video stream, you MUST also set your DVD Architect Project Properties to the same settings.

There are two ways you can set your DVD Architect Project Properties correctly.

#1. Go to File - New. This is what you do if you have not started your project yet.

If you used NTSC settings, you should be using the template marked with red arrow.
If you used PAL settings, you should be using the template marked with blue arrow.

bit rate calculator 3

#2. If you have already started your project and think you may have set your project up incorrectly, you can edit your Project Properties.

Go to File - Properties.
Make sure you have selected the correct "disc size" Target Media Size (GB) - 4.7GB or 8.5GB.
Aspect Ratio should be 16:9 for Widescreen Settings - no one uses 4:3 any more.
Resolution will be either NTSC or PAL, depending on which country you live in. If you set this incorrectly, it will completely muck up everything.
Frame rate is 29.97 fps for NTSC users and 25 fps for PAL users.

bit rate calculator 4

Why can't I hear any Audio in the Video I just rendered for DVD ?

When you prepare videos for DVD Architect using Movie Studio Platinum or Vegas Pro, the Video and Audio files are always rendered/exported separately. So if you try to play the Video in Windows Media Player, you will not hear any sound. This is normal because you did not render the audio with the video file.

After you have imported the Video files into DVD Architect and use the Disc Preview function, you will hear the audio for your video files. That is because DVD Architect automatically imports the separate Audio file for you.

If you still cannot hear any Audio in the DVD Architect Preview window, that means you did not name your files correctly and/or did not save them into the same folder location. When you render the Video and Audio files separately, you must give them the exact same name and save them to the exact same folder. If you don't do this, the automatic file match up cannot work.


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About Derek Moran
Derek Moran is the author of all articles on Movie Studio Zen.
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