Creating DVDs and Blu-ray discs with Vegas Pro and DVD Architect Pro

Back on March 31, 2011 Sony hosted a webinar: Creating DVDs and Blu-ray discs with Vegas Pro and DVD Architect Pro. Yyou can watch the webinar here. They were unable to answer all of your questions during the webinar, but have now answered most and made them available online.

Encoding, Rendering, and Video Formats

What is the recommended method for converting Vegas HD projects to standard-definition DVDs—recognizing that resizing often results in flicker and moiré patterns as well as loss of sharpness? And are we getting any help in future versions of Vegas Pro and DVD Architect Pro to assist us in this process?

Vegas deinterlaces before scaling, so there is no flicker or moiré due to interlace introduced. We recommend to go into Project Properties and in the Video tab set Full-resolution rendering quality to Best. Also, for optimal quality use one of the DVD Architect-specific MPEG templates when rendering from Vegas.

Is a Blu-ray disc burned using Sony AVC as compatible with all Blu-ray players as the Main Concept MPEG-2 option?


How do I decide which video template to use? For example, 60i or 24p?

The choice you make depends upon many factors. You could decide to use the template that matches the footage you’re using on the timeline. This would likely give you a better preview frame rate as you’re asking the computer and Vegas Pro to do less processing upon preview. Alternatively, you could set your properties to match what you need to deliver with your final render. This has the advantage of setting your Preview window to be more WYSIWYG.

When I render a movie in Vegas Movie Studio, what format should I render it in so that it is compatible with DVD Architect without having to compress it or modify it in any way?

If you’re creating a DVD, render to MPEG-2 for the video. For a Blu-ray disc, render the video as MPEG-2 or AVC (H.264). In both cases, render the audio to AC3.

When rendering to Blu-ray from Vegas Pro 9, which is the best resolution for American HDTV: 1440x1080 or 1920x1080?

1920x1080 is the better resolution of the two.

Does a WMV or Sony AVC file provide good-quality for Blu-ray burning?

You should render to either MPEG-2 or AVC (H.264) for delivery on Blu-ray disc. Either format will give you high-quality results.

What kind of video file have you used for DVD and then for Blu-ray disc? If it is MPEG-2, it is not going to be high-definition Blu-ray, correct?

Not exactly correct. You can use a high-definition MPEG-2 file or an AVC (H.264) file for Blu-ray. You can also use MPEG-2 for DVD, but you’re right that a standard DVD video is not high definition. You’ll want to create one MPEG-2 file for the DVD and another for the Blu-ray disc. Or, create a high-definition MPEG-2, burn your Blu-ray, and then change the project to a DVD project. You can then burn the DVD using the same high-definition file and DVD Architect will create the standard-definition version that is required for DVD burning.

Do you render separately for DVD & Blu-ray disc, or let DVD Architect recompress the video as needed?

You could render a high-definition version for Blu-ray and then change your project properties to DVD and let DVD Architect recompress the video for DVD. However, best practices might suggest that you render each version separately in Vegas Pro so you have more control over the process.

Will DVD Architect burn to Blu-ray disc even if your material is not high definition?

Yes, as long as you render your files to either MPEG-2 or AVC (H.264) file formats for video and AC3 for audio.

Does DVD Architect Pro support 3D videos or 3D movies?

Yes, you can create a disc that contains 3D videos in many different stereoscopic 3D modes. However, at this time DVD Architect Pro does not support 3D menus. So although your videos could be in 3D, your menus would not be.

What is the best format for Blu-ray disc?

Blu-ray discs require MPEG-2 or AVC (H.264) video format. Vegas Pro and Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum contain render templates that are specifically designed to render for Blu-ray burning. For maximum quality and compatibility, we recommend that you use these templates.

Can you upload to Youtube directly from Vegas Pro or DVD Architect Pro? What file format is recommended?

While Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum features an Upload to YouTube option, Vegas Pro and DVD Architect Pro do not include this feature. To upload a video using Vegas Pro, first render your project and then use an Internet browser to upload it to YouTube. There are several formats that will work for uploading to YouTube which Vegas Pro can deliver. For example, Windows Media Video (*.wmv) or Sony AVC (*.mp4) are both supported for uploading to YouTube. For specific information about YouTube supported formats, please visit the YouTube help pages.

Compress, recompress and bit rate settings

Why does DVD Architect recompress to finalize the menu in a Blu-ray disc? How can recompression be avoided when burning a BD-R with a menu?

All of the objects that make up the menu have to be combined into a single file. This includes all of the background, button, text, and other graphical elements. This cannot be avoided.

When burning a DVD with a menu, how is recompression avoided to shorten burn time?

Recompression only takes place when you’ve imported media that doesn’t properly match the requirements of burning the disc. If you import MPEG-2 video for DVDs and MPEG-2 or AVC (H.264) video for Blu-ray discs as well as AC3 audio for both types, the only compression DVD Architect will have to do is for the menus or any multiple video angles.

I’m trying to burn a project to disc and a Message appears that says, “The Disc Image is too large to fit on to the disc. Try changing your render settings or use a lager capacity disc.” My Estimated project is 4.68GB and I'm using a DVD+R 120 min/4.7GB disc. What is my problem?

Although your estimate is coming in just under the disc capacity, it is very close and it is just an estimate. Your image may be too large. Try lowering your bit rate slightly and see if that helps.

With the appropriate quality, what could be the total duration of my videos on a 4.7GB DVD?

That question is virtually impossible to answer in a global sense. The answer certainly hinges upon your definition of “appropriate quality.” Only you know what that quality looks like to you. My best advice is to try several experimental renders at varying bitrates. When you find the rate which provides the minimal quality you deem appropriate, try a long render and see if it fits on the disc. If not, make it shorter and try again until you finally hone in on the magic length. But be aware that what seems “appropriate” with your test footage may not seem so with other material. And at best you’re zeroing in on an estimate of the total time you can burn to the disc. Each project may yield different results, so you just have to experiment until you’re happy that you’ve found your magic threshold.

If you reduce the default bit rate, will the quality suffer?

Yes. Lower bit rate always means lower quality.

Is it best to use a bit-rate calculator and let Vegas Pro render the file to fit the Disk space or to let DVD Architect render the file?

Both methods are valid ways to work. Personal preference is the most important consideration when choosing which best suits you.

Why does DVD Architect sometimes incorrectly report file sizes? (It usually says it’s too large even though it isn’t).

DVD Architect does its best to estimate what the total size of the disc image will be, but it is just an estimate. There is no way to know the actual file size until the disc is prepared.

What's the drawback of reducing the video bit rate? Is there a guideline for how much to reduce it to avoid quality loss?

You’ve essentially answered your own question: the lower the bit rate, the lower the video quality. Experimentation and close attention to the results are really the only way to determine what an acceptable bitrate setting is for your project.

Please explain the Fit to Disc button in the make DVD dialog.

When you click the Fit to Disc button, DVD Architect adjusts the bit rate of the disc as much as necessary to fit all of your material onto it. If your material already fits onto the disc, there’s no reason to use the fit to disc function. If your material is substantially over the disc size limit, you’ll probably want to consider removing some of the program material or you may end up with a bit rate that is so low it results in unacceptable quality.

Is there any way to know what size DVD you need to burn to?

The Disc Space Used Indicator in the lower right-hand corner of the DVD Architect Pro interface provides an estimate of the amount of space that is required to burn your DVD.

Workflow questions

When rendering in Vegas Pro, do you render audio and video separately?

You certainly can, but you don’t have to. It really depends upon the format you’re rendering to and also to some extent on your delivery mechanism. For DVD and Blu-ray production, you do render both separately since both formats require AC3 or PCM file formats which are separate from the video formats they require.

Do you change from NTSC or PAL in Architect, or do you have to do anything in Vegas Movie Studio first?

You can make the change in either application.

How is he bringing up that little window for switching software applications? That's a great shortcut.

That’s a Windows shortcut. Press Alt+Enter to scroll through your open applications.

When he rendered his video and audio so he can create a menu DVD, did he render in two steps (audio, then video) or one step but with separate files for video and audio?

In the presentation, I talked about rendering them in two separate steps. However in Vegas Pro, you can use the Batch Render script to render both in one operation.

When and how is the .ac3 file used?

The AC3 file contains the project audio and is united with the video file—MPEG-2 for DVD and MPEG-2 or AVC (H.264) for Blu-ray—inside DVD Architect.

I'm confused about how you got both video and audio linked together since you rendered them separately. Can you explain?

If you give both the video and audio file the exact same name (other than the file extensions) and store them in the exact same folder, when you add one of them to your DVD Architect project, the software is smart enough to know it should use the other and does so automatically. You can also manually combine them on the timeline. Drag the video file to a video track and the audio file to an audio track.

Is there any way of adjusting volume of the audio track in DVD architect?

No, any changes to audio levels must be applied before importing the file into DVD Architect.

Is DVD Architect Pro a standalone application that I could use with any video editor?


What is your recommended procedure for when you want to create both DVDs and Blu-ray discs from the same Vegas Pro project file?

My answer depends upon several factors, mostly relating to the complexity of the discs you intend to burn. If you do not need menu-based discs, then use the Burn Disc options under the Tools menu to burn first one and then the other. If you need a menu structure on your discs, then determine how complex the project is. If it’s fairly straight forward with not too many menus and individual pieces of media, it might be better to render two files (one for DVD and the other for Blu-ray) out of Vegas Pro. Then create the DVD Architect project for one type and after you’re done burning that disc, change the project to the other type and replace the project’s media with that which is appropriate for the new file type. If it is a complex project, perhaps you want to author and burn a Blu-ray disc, then change the DVD Architect project properties to DVD and create and burn the DVD using the same media as you did for the Blu-ray. DVD Architect will encode the high-definition files down to standard definition and will then burn the DVD.

Does DVD Architect support dual layer burning?

DVD Architect supports dual-layer disc burning, so you can use the 8.5 GB dual-layer DVD media for your project.

Can I make transitions?

DVD Architect does not have a transitions function. You could create transitional videos in Vegas Pro and use end actions to tie them in with your regular videos.

I’m still not sure what the advantage of adding the media to the root is. For changing buttons I usually make one button the way I want it and then copy it, right-click it, and choose Paste Button Properties from the menu. Are there any other advantages to adding the video to the root?

There’s nothing wrong with that workflow if it works for you! The advantage to adding the video to the disc root as opposed to directly to the workspace is that the link is not hard coded and thus gives you more flexibility to change it later if you need to.

When dragging video files up into the left-hand panel of DVD Architect (the Project Overview window) does the audio file automatically move with it?

If you’ve given the audio file the exact same name as the video file (other than the file extensions) and stored the file in the same location on your computer, then yes, DVD Architect will recognize that the two files are related and use them together.

How do I create a looping DVD?

There are many possible approaches and the right one to use depends upon many factors. For instance, does your disc require a menu structure, or can it be a single-movie disc? Is there more than one video on the disc and if so, does the disc have to loop through all of the videos, or just one? However, the basic technique in all cases involves proper use of the End Action property. For example, assuming that you have already added a video to your DVD Architect Pro project, double-click the video in the Project Overview window to navigate into it. Click the End Action tab in the Media Properties window. Select Link from the Command drop-down list. Next, click the current value in the Destination drop-down list. All of your project’s assets appear in the list. Choose the current video from the list. Now, when the video reaches the end, the end action causes it to link back to the same file and start playing it from the beginning.

If Audio & Video are rendered separately, how does dragging the video file into DVD Architect bring in the audio?

As long as the audio and video files are stored together in the same folder and share the same name (e.g., MyMovie.mpg and MyMovie.ac3) DVD Architect Pro will automatically link the audio with the video when you import the video into your project.

I have multiple video files. How can I put them in DVD Architect Pro as one file so that they play in sequence?

To add multiple videos to a DVD Architect Pro project as a single file, you would need to first align the video clips in a Vegas timeline and then render them into a new single file. Then you would import the rendered file into DVD Architect Pro as you would any other file. If you didn’t necessarily need the multiple video files to be pieced together as a single file, rather you just want them to play sequentially, import your video clips into a DVD Architect Pro project and then create a playlist that plays them in the order you want.

I noticed that DVD Architect Pro has Copy Protection properties in Project Properties and also a property called Disc Copyrighted. What is the difference?

The Copyright field in the Summary tab of the Project Properties window simply provides a place to include the copyright information about the project . It does not functionally effect the burned DVD. The Copy Protection feature sets the flags for CSS and Macrovision copy protection. This encoding/encryption must be added by the mastering or replication facility.

Does the properties copy protection feature actually put copy protection on the disk, or is that just for mastering?

DVD Architect Pro adds flags for CSS and Macrovision copy protection. The copy protection encryption is not applied to a DVD until after it has been sent to a replication or mastering facility.

Can I burn both a 4:3 and a 16:9 version of my video to the same DVD?

Yes. First render two files: a 4:3 version and a 16:9 version. To render a DVD-compliant video in Vegas Pro, choose File | Render As. In the Render As dialog box, select MainConcept MPEG-2 from the Save as Type drop down list. Then select either the DVD Architect NTSC/PAL Video Stream or the DVD Architect NTSC/PAL Widescreen Video Stream template from the Template drop down list. Add both of these to your DVD Architect Pro project separately. DVD Architect Pro will not re-encode the files as long as they have been rendered to a DVD-compliant format.

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