We have been working on instructional art videos for a local artist for well over a year now and we are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Pre-production was a minor challenge, shooting was a little taxing, but post-production---specifically compressing, has been a major headache. These three videos all need to be on SD DVDs. Each separate video is over 2 hours long. We shot everything on Canon 5D Mark III, at 1920x1080, but the market for art instructional videos on Blu-ray apparently doesn’t exist yet, so we are forced to down-scale to SD.
After much exploration and reading of forums, I finally found what I consider to be the best possible solution to fit a two and a half hour (150 minute) video onto one SD-DVD. Each of these three videos is over two hours, an average of 150 minutes, which is not an easily manipulated size, especially on hard media. I decided I would write this blog to help anyone else who may be struggling to get a quality export from Adobe Media Encoder to be used in DVD Studio Pro.
In the past, when I worked with Final Cut Pro, sending to Compressor was no problem and was the logical explanation for preparing files for DVD distribution. In the last year or so though, I made the switch to Adobe Creative Cloud. I am pleased with my decision, with the exception of it’s lack of DVD authoring software. Now I know that DVDs are going the way of the do-do, but there are still plenty of clients who are in need of a final product on a playable disc. Anyone who has worked with DVD Studio Pro knows that it requires specific file formats for your separate audio (Dolby Digital) and video (.m2v) files. Compressor has the presets for formatting 45 minute, 90 minute, and 150 minute files for DVD, but there is still the question of how do I get my video from Adobe Premiere Pro (or Adobe After Effects for that matter) to Adobe Media Encoder to Compressor to DVD Studio Pro without losing any more quality than necessary. That is what I struggled with for a couple days before realizing that I could skip the middle man, Compressor.
The first and most vital step however was to visit a bitrate calculator. I highly recommend http://dvd-hq.info/bitrate_calculator.php. It is very thorough and explains exactly what all the different settings actually mean.
After you have inserted your runtime, preferences, ect. into the bitrate calculator, queue up your finished video from Adobe Premiere Pro in Adobe Media Encoder. Once your video pops up in AME, look in your preset browser for the DVD & Blu-ray folder, and open it. Find the DVD folder and open that. Inside the DVD folder, find the frame rate settings that fit your original settings from your timeline.
Drag and drop that preset on your waiting file. From there, click where (in yellow) it says “MPEG2-DVD”. Another dialogue box will open.
Scroll through your encoder settings and make them so they match what the bit rate calculator specified as ideal settings. Audio settings should be changed to "Dolby Digital". This will decrease your file size significantly and more importantly, make your audio file compatible with DVDSP.
Lastly, but very importantly, drag the preview playhead to the middle of your file and look to see if there are black lines surrounding your video where they shouldn’t be. If this is the case (which there is a good chance there will be), go to the top of that window and drop down where it says “Scale to Fit”. Change this setting to “Scale to Fill”. You should see the black lines disappear and your video now fills the frame.
Once done, click “OK”, then hit the play button on the top right of your AME window and let it process. After the file is finished processing, import it into DVDSP. You will notice that it takes a minute more to import than what a Compressor-processed file takes. (Compressor adds a file to the encode that helps it import quicker which AME doesn’t do.) Once imported, you should be good to go!
I know it seems like such a simple solution that I should have figured out pretty early on, but I didn’t and I feel like I might not be the only one that has struggled with this. I tried quite a few different methods and this is by far the clearest, cleanest option, with the least amount of quality loss. There will of course still be lost quality, but that is expected when you are going from 1920x1080 to 720x480. Thanks for reading and I hope this helps!