So you've encoded a few movies, and are now looking to improve your technique, or perhaps to use subtitles. In this guide, you will find everything you need to make rips of superb quality.
(We are not responsible for any laws you violate while using our guide; it is intended for legitimate backups of DVDs you already own.
With current legislation, it is impossible to know exactly what is legal without a lawyer, and we don't claim to.)
Ogg DirectShow Filters (tobias.everwicked.com/oggds.htm)
SRT to SSA Converter (www.divx-digest.com/software/srt2ssa.html)
Subtitler Filter (www.virtualdub.org/virtualdub_filters)
Smart Smoother Filter (neuron2.net/smooth.html)
Encoding Ogg Vorbis Audio
Open OggDropXP. Right-click on the window and select Encoding Options. If your movie has lots of music in it, or you want it to be particularly high-quality for some reason, set the Quality slider to 3.00. The bitrate might look low, but believe me, it will sound good. For the average movie, Q=1.50 or 2.00 are sufficient. If your movie's sound track is totally awful already, you might even experiment with lower bitrates. Once you have selected your bitrate, and checked "Delete files after encoding" (if you're lazy like me), just drag and drop the WAV file you ripped with DVD2AVI onto OggDropXP. It will begin encoding at once, and will inform you of the average bitrate as it goes along. Be warned: it takes significantly longer to encode to Ogg Vorbis than it does to encode to MP3 with RazorLame, but it is worth it.
In VirtualDubMod, when you press F7 or go to "Save As" during the final steps, all you have to do is make sure to select ".ogm" as the output instead of ".avi". Your movie will be in the OGM container format, and will require the Ogg DirectShow Filters to play, but will be otherwise the same as an AVI file. Also, the OGM format can store separate subtitle streams alongside the video/audio stream, so they can be turned on and off. Lastly, the OGM container format NEVER gets video and audio out of sync, unless they were originally encoded that way. There is some feature that simply prevents it from ever happening.
Open SubRip (I recommend using at least version 1.14). Click the button (near the File menu) labeled "VOB" with a picture of a disc on it. The "What to Do?" window comes up. Click "Open IFO". Find the IFO file associated with your movie (already stored in your rip directory), or pick the associated IDX file (same place). Either one works as a subtitle source, though I prefer to use the IDX for no good reason. Choose the appropriate subtitle track under "Language Stream". Some movies have one for titles only, and one for subtitles and titles, or perhaps two different languages for subs). You will know you chose the wrong track if you end up with only 10 subtitles for a 2 hour movie. Reset the timecode on the right side to all zeros by pressing "Reset". Make sure all the VOBs for your movie are selected on the left. You wouldnít want to make a subtitle file for only part of the movie. Make sure "SubPictures to text via OCR" is checked on the right. Click "Start".
The program will now scan through your movie until it encounters a subtitle. It will ask you to pick a color scheme such that the subtitle appears as white on a black background with NO outline. It is important that you choose the correct color scheme here. Now, a new window will appear. This is the window you do the dirty work in. SubRip should have highlighted the first character it sees. In the box below, you are to type your best guess as to what the character is. Type the character carefully, double-check it, and press OK or hit Return. Do this with every successive character presented to you. If a character is italicized, it will most likely ask you for it again, as it appears to be a completely different letter to the program. In such a case, type it as usual. There is really no need to go out of your way making italicized subs, because the SRT to SSA converter will not support them, so just type the character as usual, non-italicized. You will have to get the program Sub Station Alpha if you want to do fancy, animated subtitles, something I have never cared to learn to do. Plain subtitles take a lot less work, I'm sure, and are just as informative.
Something that will happen occasionally is SubRip highlighting two or more characters as one. Donít be alarmed, just type exactly what is highlighted. If it selects "rst" as one letter, just type "rst" and hit OK. Capitalization is also important here so make sure to type exactly what is shown, unless you want to make it hard to read for some ridiculous reason.
Something else to watch out for: If you notice in the "Subtitles" window that your subtitles have "t oo ma ny sp ace s in th em" or "toofewspaces inthem", you will need to start over and do the following. Go to "Options, Advanced OCR Setup" in the main window. If your subs have too many spaces, try a higher number for Space Width Setup. If your subs have too few spaces, try a lower number. Donít overcompensate, though. A change from 7 to 8 can make a large difference. Now start over and this time select the new Space Width Setup number. When you are finished extracting all the subtitles, leave SubRip running and go to the next step.
Converting SRT to SSA
Open Conversor.exe. Load the finished subtitle file (SRT format) into the Conversor by clicking the first "Browse" button and selecting your SRT file. The program will automatically fill in the first two fields, so leave them be. Now you must choose how you want your subtitles to look. I recommend using a font with no serifs, such as Arial or Verdana. Most people will agree these look nicer, and they also have a smaller "perimeter to surface area" ratio than fonts with serifs. The more boundaries you have between chunks of color, the more file space the DivX codec has to use defining the boundaries, and the worse your file will look in the end.
You can pick three colors to use for your subs. The first color is the inner text color, the second is the outline color, and the third is anything else that might come up (it never does, though). I suggest using Black for your outlines and something light-colored, but not pure white, for your text. White on black is rather hard on the eyes. Adjust the settings as you wish, but pay attention to the size of your font. If you wish your final product to be high-res, such as 712x400, you will want to stick with 26 pt. font (the default), as the magnification factor when going to full screen will be small. If you are encoding to a smaller resolution, such as 512x384, use 22 pt. font. Basically, use your instincts as to how much the picture will have to be magnified when playing full screen and choose a font size accordingly. You donít want to end up with huge subs when full screened, so donít use 26 pt. for a 320x240 encode. Similarly, you don't want tiny subtitles for a high-res file which won't be magnified much when going to full-screen, so don't use 12 pt. for a 712x400 rip. For the math-inclined, the geometric mean of the Height and the Width, all divided by 20, should get you a decent subtitle size. X = Sqrt(H*W)/20. Anyway, click Convert and you're instantly done. Close the Conversor.
Subtitles and Animation in VirtualDubMod
Put the filters in VirtualDubMod's "Plugins" directory. Open your AVS file in VirtualDubMod as usual. Add your MP3 or Ogg soundtrack in the Streams section. Go to "Video - Filters" and click "Add...". If your movie is animated, select Smart Smoother, and set Diameter to 5 (the default), and Threshold to about 50. If your video needs subtitles, go to "Add..." again, and select the Subtitler plugin. Click the "..." box and select your SSA file. It is important to apply the Smart Smoother filter before subtitles, because you don't want to blur the subtitles. The subtitles should rest "on top" of the blurred and smoothed video, and should be perfectly crisp. Now you can continue the encoding process as normal, but save as ".ogm" if you used an Ogg Vorbis stream instead of an MP3.