Nero came with probably the best
AAC audio codec out there and a package called NeroVision that allows
you to create and edit video and put it on (S)VCD or DVD discs. It also
came with an application called Recode, which could be used to transcode
DVDs to make them fit on a standard DVD�R/W disc.
But at the same time,
it enter the "back up your DVDs to a single CD" market, which was
started 4 years ago with the DivX codec. Instead of developing yet
another MPEG-4 codec, Nero go to
a different route. The NeroDigital solution is an entire package
for video, audio and subtitles, based entirely on the MPEG-4 standard.
It includes an MPEG-4 Advanced Simple Profile video codec, a High
Efficiency AAC audio encoder, using the standard MP4 container to
contain both audio and video (and subtitles, but in a nonstandard form).
The container also supports chapters which are taken from the original
DVD. And instead of offering the tools separately, NeroDigital has been
included in Recode 2. Recode 2 begins where Recode 1 left of. Users of
the previous version will immediately feel at
home since the GUI is so familiar. And as Recode 1, Recode 2 can also be
used to transcode DVDs to a DVD�R disc and in addition to put multiple
DVDs on a single DVD�R disc. And then of course there's the NeroDigital
mode which converts a DVD to an MP4 file using NeroDigital.
Step 0: First time setup
You'll only have to perform this
step once. First time setup involves setting many parameters which then
help to make subsequent DVD backup projects a lot easier.
To get started, you'll first have
to select Recode's operating mode. As this guide is about Nero Digital,
you should select Copy DVD to Nero Digital.
Press the More button to show
The first thing to look at are the
profiles. You can define a number of profiles to select from. Profiles
contain information like which movie items should be prioritized in
terms of quality, and what audio and subtitle tracks will be included by
default. Press Profiles... to configure and
the New button to create a new profile, or just go on editing the
existing default profile.
Set Quality distribution to
the option you prefer. By default, Assign best quality to the Main
Movie is selected, meaning that if you include extras or menus in
the output (menus are not possible for Nero Digital output), the main
movie will get more bitrate than the rest, and thus end up looking
Also only applicable for DVD
output is the Keep all menus in original quality option, which
does just what the name says: keeps the menu on their original form (and
Then let's go to the audio tab:
you can select audio tracks that will be preselected for your output.
Press the Add button to add more languages, and select a language and
press the Remove button to remove a language again.
You can also select what type of
audio is preferred by selecting the appropriate audio type from the
dropdown box. By default, Dolby Digital tracks are preferred, but Recode
allows you to select any other type of audio there might be. But on most
DVDs, you'll have a Dolby Digital track. For DVD output, you could
select DTS to preserve the high quality DTS track (but since it has a
higher bitrate it takes always space that could otherwise be used for
Last but not least Select all
tracks if none meets my selection criteria will lead to preselection of
all available audio tracks, if none of the languages you've specified
are actually present.
Then you can make the same
language preselection for the subtitle streams and press OK to save your
Then press the Configure button.
first thing to configure are the DVD input options.
The Prompt to include DVD data
files when importing only applies to DVD output and can be used to
include DVD-ROM files that might be present on the DVD in your final
Remove P-UOPs removes any
user prohibitions that might be on the disc (such as ads you cannot skip,
the impossibility to switch the language while watching the movie, etc.).
Remove Layer Break will remove the
layer break that might be on a dual layer DVD.
Both Output DVD options
only apply to DVD output.
Then proceed to Nero Digital.
option obviously only applies to Nero Digital output.
You can decide if Recode should
ask you to perform a 2nd video encoding pass if the quality of the first
pass isn't as impressive. Quite a good choice imho, but then again, Nero
Digital is as fast that you're probably going to encode everything in 2
pass mode anyway.
The UI Options are not
important now, so let's proceed directly to the
Preview Window tab.
Recode allows you to preview every video item with audio.
Set the Audio preview
option to whatever best fits your current audio setup. Always downmix
to 2-channel stereo will work everywhere, whereas Multichannel
requires an analogue 5.1 audio output (and of course that output has to
be connected to some speakers somewhere down the line ;) and SPDIF
requires a digital connection between your PC and your receiver.
Now press OK to get back to the
main Recode window.
Step 1: Ripping the DVD
As Recode does not support
encrypted DVD content, you have to rip the DVD to your harddisk first.
Otherwise, if you have an on-the-fly decryption
driver like AnyDVD
or DVD Region-Free,
you do not have to perform this step as they allow Nero
Recode to rip and encode on the fly.
Step 2: Backup up the DVD
Press the Import Titles button to
select your source.
Initially, this dialog will be
rather empty and you'll have to press the Browse button and select the
source path of your DVD (the VIDEO_TS directory either on your HD or DVD).
If you're opening the DVD for the first time, Recode will quickly
analyze the source and show you the progress in the following window:
After the analyzation phase you'll
get a listing of all video items available on the DVD, ordered by 3
categories: There's the Menus which are not interesting for Nero Digital
output, the Extras and the Main movie. In case of an episodic disc you'd
have multiple main movies all having about the same length. And if you
have multiple main movies and the disc does not contain episodes, use
the preview window to find out which Title you want to back up.
In the Info tab, Recode will also
show you some more information about the video stream.
Once you've made your decision,
select the appropriate title and press the Add Title button. You can add
multiple titles by repeating this procedure, then press Finished to
finalize the selection and get back to the main window.
Now you'll the list of titles that
are going to be in your project:
default, Recode will automatically set the slider such that all titles
will fit onto the default size you've set:
forget that Recode doesn't split the output before you select a 2+ CD
In case you have multiple titles,
you can still remove any you don't like. Simply select it, then press
the Delete button.
If you decide to manually
configure the bitrate by moving the slider around (increasing the video
bitrate for one title will automatically decrease the bitrate for the
rest such that the output will still have the same size), you can also
use the Lock Ratio button to finalize the bitrate for one Title. From
that point on, the automatic size adjustment will no longer be active
for the selected title and you'll see a small lock symbol in front of
the appropriate bitrate slider.
To the left of the preview window
and below the list of Titles, you can also configure the audio and
default, the first audio track in your preference list (recall the setup
in step 0) will be included in your output (and you can't keep two audio
You can decide between 2 channel (Stereo)
and 6 channel audio (5.1-channel surround). Keep in mind that in
order to use 6 ch audio, you'll need an analogue 5.1 output that is
hooked up to your speaker system. SPDIF will NOT work!
In the subtitle tab you can also
decide on a subtitle track that will be included in the output (once
again only one track is possible).
Before we go into detailed audio
and video configuration, there's also the Start/End feature.
If you rather not include the entire movie, you can set a start and end
point manually in this screen.
The usage is pretty
straightforward so I doubt you'll have any problems.
Back in the main screen let's
configure audio and video.
this screen you can configure both 2ch and 5.1 ch output by selecting
the appropriate option from the Audio channels dropdown list.
Recode will pick a bitrate by
default, but you can manually configure it by selecting Custom
profile. Using the High Efficiency Nero Digital Audio codec enables
high quality low bitrate audio encoding.
The bitrate should be
self-explaining. Using HE AAC you can use 64kbit/s and while it won't
sound as good as 128kbit/s MP3, it gets pretty close (and of course you
can still increase the audio bitrate).
For 6 ch audio, a bitrate of 256
kbit/s is suitable.
The next step is the video setup:
first option is deinterlacing. Recode automatically detects if the
source needs it and select the appropriate option so you should not
interfere here unless you know that the decision is wrong (for instance
if you see horizontal lines in the preview window and deinterlacing is
disabled, you should enable it).
we have the crop options. As competing programs, Recode will
automatically crop away black bars. If you think you can do it better on
your own, select Custom Crop and press the Custom Crop
You can use the slider below the image to go to anther position in the
movie, and then use the white lines around the movie to set the actual
Your actual crop settings will
also be shown to the left of the movie preview.
Press OK when you're done.
Last but not least there is the
Resize tab, where you can also set a custom size, but keep in mind that
Recode doesn't automatically adjust the resolution such that it still
corresponds to the proper aspect ratio. So, if you change either
resolution, make sure you adjust the other as well to preserve the
proper relationship between horizontal and vertical resolution.
Once you have configured both
video and audio, we're almost ready for encoding. Before pressing the
Next button, select the appropriate Nero Digital profile from the
There are several profiles that
target specific hardware devices. The Home Theater profile is the most
suitable and targets standalone DVD players (but keep in mind that
currently no player can handle MP4, AAC and the subtitle format used by
Nero Digital). Selecting HDTV or Maximum Definition allows
you to select more advanced features later on. Since you can currently
only play the output on PCs anyway, select the Maximum Definition
profile, then press Next.
By default, Recode wants to go
directly to burning, but you'll want to configure some more first, so
select Nero Digital Settings.
By default, Recode only shows you
a selection between one pass and two pass encoding. Two pass encoding
obviously takes longer (not quite twice as much because the audio is
only encoded once), but also yields better quality.
It is also here that you can
change existing profiles or create new profiles by selecting a profile
from the list and change its options, or press the New button to create
a new one.
Check the Expert mode checkbox and
you'll get access to the advanced settings, which are structured in a
tree like structure:
Encoding method corresponds to the options available in the easy mode.
In one pass mode you can also set a minimum and maximum quantizer (compression
factor) if you want, but using the entire range (1-31) is usually fine.
In the Quality / Speed section, the fun begins:
using one of the predefined Performance / Quality ratios, most options
will be grayed out, which is just fine. Setting Performance / Quality to
Custom allows you to configure everything, but be careful: you should
really know what those modes do.
EPSZ2 is the default higher
quality motion search method and NC Prediction is not useful for PC
Scene cut configures the
automatic keyframe insertion at scene changes.
Fast ME enables a faster
and lower quality motion estimation that should not be used for DVD
The Low Noise and High
Noise options can be used to optimize the encoder for slightly or
highly noisy sources but normally you don't need those options.
High BVOP quantisation
enables higher compression for B-frames which can degrade quality.
The Maximum MV Range can be
used to increase or decrease the search range of the motion estimation.
The option decides how far an object can move between frames and still
be recognized. Higher values are better but also degrade performance
because a larger area of the picture has to be searched.
Finally, the Psycho-Visual
quality level use properties of the human visual system to leave out
things we wouldn't see in order to have more room for details we can
actually spot. The High mode is the default, and operates on a
macroblock level, whereas the Low mode operates at a frame basis (and is
thus less accurate but faster).
The next batch of interesting
options can be found in the Advanced options.
Simple profile unchecked or you won't have access to many of the
advanced features Nero Digital offers.
Then you can switch between H.263
and MPEG Quantisation. The former option gives a somewhat softer
image and is better suited for smaller filesizes (1 CD), whereas MPEG is
more suited for larger sizes (2 CDs and above).
Then there's the motion estimation.
Half pixel is the default, Quarter pixel enables a more accurate motion
estimation, which decreases encoding speed but can help image quality (although
not everybody likes the effect QPel has). Note that QPel is not
available in the Home Theater profile (and below).
Spation prediction enables
dc/ac prediction which reduces the bits necessary for intra macroblock
coding by looking at good predictors in surrounding macroblocks.
Predicted VOP should be
checked in every case, as without it your quality is going to be
degraded as every frame is encoded independently (MPEG compression is
based on the idea of only storing the difference between frames to keep
the filesize down).
Unrestricted Motion Vectors
allows object tracking outside of the frame, which leads to a better
Check 4 motions vectors per
macroblock to use more motion vectors and thus increase quality
Bidirectional VOP is the
more scientific notion of B-frames, and you can safely turn this on as
well to increase quality.
Then we have Support of
interlaced VOP, which would support encoding interlaced content (that
is if the Deinterlace option hasn't been enabled), and Global Motion
Compensation (this is 3 warppoint GMC which currently no standalone
player can handle, and the option doesn't really improve quality notably).
In the Keyframes section you can
set a minimum and maximum distance between keyframes (that is frames
that are encoded as a whole, not as difference to other frames). The
default work just fine though and with today's auto keyframe insertion
mechanisms you should not have to reconfigure those options.
Finally, it is also possible to
use custom quantization matrices for both I-frames (Intra) and P-frames
(Inter). But if you know what quantization matrices do, you'll probably
not need a guide anyway and won't have any problems handling them on
Once you've gone through the
expert settings, a few more things before you can start encoding:
Recode can automatically shut down
your PC when encoding is done. All you have to do is check Shut down
computer when finished.
If you plan on using your PC while
Recode is encoding, also set Priority to Low. If you're not using
your PC, Low can't hurt either, as you won't notice a difference in
Now it's time to go to the Burn
have the choice between writing to your harddisk (select Hard Disk
Folder and a Target folder), burn directly to a CD / DVD by
selecting the a CD/DVD burner and the appropriate Writing speed
and Number of copies you want to burn.
The 3rd option is Image Recoder,
which would create a CD image file to your harddisc, which you can burn
to a CD at a later point.
In every case, you'll have to
select a folder to either store the output files, the CD image or
temporary files (in case of burning). Make sure there's enough space
left on the device you select.
Then it is finally time to get
started. Press the Burn button.
will show you a preview of what is currently being encoded (that you can
switch off and should switch off to get a slight speed increase), and of
course there's the status indication where you get to see the actual
number of frames encoded per second, the elapsed and remaining time and
progress bar with percentage indicator.
Once encoding (and burning) is
done, Recode will show you this friendly message.
If you're interested in knowing
what Recode did, press Yes.
Then press Next and you get to a
screen where you can burn the project again, start a new project or
design a cover for your project.
case you haven't burned the project, simply create a regular CD ISO
project in Nero at any point, add the MP4 file to the project and burn
it whenever you feel ready for burning.