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MeGUI H.264 Conversion Guide

Original Page URL: http://www.digital-digest.com/articles/MeGUI_H.264_Conversion_Guide_page1.html
Author/Publisher: DVDGuy
Date Added: Nov 24, 2006
Date Updated: Oct 9, 2007



 

MeGUI is one of the newer tools that has been designed with H.264 encoding in mind, while supporting other types of conversion, such as XviD. This guide shows you how to encode a H.264 (MP4) using MeGUI from a DVD as the primary example (instructions for converting other types of video files are also included).

Update: There is now a version of this guide for encoding Xbox 360 compatible H.264 files, also using MeGUI. Read our Xbox 360 H.264 Conversion Guide to find out more.

This guide is aimed at intermediate users, basically users that are familiar with DVD conversion/backup and want to experiment with H.264 and MeGUI. As such, basic knowledge of DVD ripping and conversion is required, although brief instructions will be provided in any case.

Software you'll need (all freeware):

Step 1: Installation

The first thing you need to do before you can even install MeGUI is to download and install Microsoft's .NET Framework version 2.0. It's a fairly large file and installation could take more than half an hour.

The next thing you need to download and install is AviSynth.

You can now go on and download MeGUI.

Install MeGUI. Start it up and most likely, it will prompt you to update the software used by MeGUI - click "Yes" to launch the update Manager.

MeGUI: Update Prompt



 

MeGUI: Updater



 

Press the "Update" button to start the update process - MeGUI will automatically download and launch the install for the required software. You will most likely get a "1 file had problems" error, this is because the "neroaacenc" software cannot be downloaded automatically from MeGUI due to copyright reasons (it is freeware, but you need to go through Nero's software agreement first before you can download it). Go to this page, select "Agree" to download the ZIP archive. There are several files in the ZIP archive, but the files we need are NeroAacEnc.exe or NeroAacEnc_SSE.exe. As the name suggest, the "SSE" version is optimized for processors that support SSE instructions (which is most of them, including all Intel Pentium III or newer CPUs and AMD Athlon XPs or newer). Extract one of these .exe files to your "megui\tools\neroaacenc" folder (eg. "c:\program files\megui\tools\neroaacenc\win32\neroaacenc.exe").

When all the updates are completed, you can now close the MeGUI updater.

If you've extracted neroaacenc, you might need to access the "Settings" option from the "Tools" menu, and go to the "Program Paths" section. For "NeroAacEnc", use the browse button to locate where you extracted the neroaacenc executable file (eg. "c:\program files\megui\tools\neroaacenc\win32\neroaacenc.exe"). Press "Save" to close the settings window.

Also, MeGUI often doesn't update to the latest x264 version, so you will have to do this manually. First, from within MeGUI, go to the "Tools" menu and select "Settings". Go to the "Program Paths" section and see where MeGUI accesses the x264.exe file.

Then go to our x264 software page and check the latest version - if it is newer than the version listed in MeGUI, download and save the x264.exe to where MeGUI accesses the x264.exe file to replace the old file (usually c:\program files\megui\tools\x264\x264.exe).



 

Step 2: DVD Ripping

If you are using a commercial DVD, you will need to rip the DVD to your hard-drive. Because ripping a commercial DVD may be illegal in your country, we won't cover these steps here.



 

Step 3: D2V Creator

For more information on all the settings of MeGUI, please refer to the MeWiki website.

This step will use MeGUI's D2V Creator tool to create a D2V file needed for MeGUI/AviSynth to handle MPEG-2 files. This step is required only for MPEG-2 files - all other types of inputs do not require a D2V file and can be loaded straight into AviSynth and therefore, you can skip this step and go to the next page/step (Step 4: AviSynth Script Creator).

Start MeGUI. I like to first clear the job queues of previously finished jobs. This is optional, but it might help to make things clearer. To do this, click on the "Queue" tab and then click on the "Clear" button.

From the "Tools" menu, select "D2V Creator". In the "Video Input" section, load the first VOB file of the movie titleset (the rest of the files in the set will be loaded automatically). You will get an error message about not being able to find DVD Decrypter generated info files, this is fine (as we did not use DVD Decrypter's IFO mode) and press "OK" to skip this error.

MeGUI: D2V Creator



 

Select which audio track(s) to demux - you can select more than one track if you want the encoded file to have multiple audio tracks. Alternatively, you can just select the demux all the tracks and then choose the correct audio track(s) later on.

The default save directory is the same directory as your loaded DVD VOB files - change this if you want to. Select both the "On completion load files", "and close" checkboxes and press the "Queue" button. You are now returned to MeGUI - click on the "Queue" tab and press the "Start" button to start the D2V creation. When processing has finished, the status of the queued job will read "Done" and the created D2V file will be loaded into the AviSynth Script Creator ready for the next step. This can take a while, so please be patient - the status window's progress bar may not move, but don't worry, DGIndex is working.



 

Step 4: AviSynth Script Creator

For more information on all the settings of MeGUI, please refer to the MeWiki website.

This step will use MeGUI's AviSynth Script Creator tool to create an AviSynth script. If you followed Step 3, the AviSynth Script Creator tool should already be started with the D2V file created loaded. Otherwise, you'll need to load the media file you want to convert into the "Video Input" section.

AviSynth is able to open almost any video file that you are able to play with a Directshow based multimedia player, such as Media Player Classic or Windows Media Player. You may need to select the "All Files" option when opening the file to be able to see it (eg. FLV files). In most cases, you'll need to install a video codec, an audio codec and a splitter filter for the format you wish to convert.

For example, if you want to convert FLV files using MeGUI, you will first need to make sure you have the required video, audio and splitter filters to make FLV files playable in Windows Media Player. Instructions on how to do this can be found in the FLV playback section of our YouTube, Google Video Download and DivX Conversion Guide.

The "Input DAR" is the aspect ratio of the input video. In most circumstances, it should be automatically set for you. Anamorphic DVDs will be set to "ITU 16:9", for example.

Press the "Auto Crop" button to remove the black bars from the input video if it has any (most widescreen DVDs will).

Next, check the "Suggested Resolution" checkbox and change the resolution to one that you require. For DVD conversion onto a single CD (700 MB) using H.264, you can get away with using the maximum resolution (720x***). If you have specific requirements, such as conversion to iPod/PSP compatible files, please make sure the resolution you select matches your playback device's capabilities.

MeGUI: AviSynth Script Creator



 

Click on the "Filters" tab. For films on DVDs, you usually do not need to run a deinterlacing analysis. If the content you have is TV based, then you might need to click on the "Analysis" button to see if the video requires de-interlacing. Select "Source is Anime" if that's what you have.

MeGUI: AviSynth Script Creator



 

Again, if you followed my advice for keeping the resolution for DVD sources, then you don't need either the resize of the noise filters. Otherwise, if you chose to reduce the resolution, then you can choose how the resize will look like ("Bicubic (Neutral)" is recommended as a middle of the road choice). If the source has lots of noise, you can choose to enable the noise filter and choose how much noise is present in your source. The other options can be left alone ("Colour Correction" is automatically checked for D2V input sources).

If your source is not DVD, then you can click on the "Edit" tab and edit the AviSynth script manually to enable audio (you don't need to do this with DVD sources if you have followed this guide, since we have already demuxed the audio using D2V Creator). Simply change the "audio=false" entry to "audio=true".

MeGUI: AviSynth Script Creator



 

Make sure the "On save close and load to be encoded" option and press the "Save" button to save the AviSynth script (by default, in the same directory as the D2V file, the filename is not important). Don't worry too much about the AviSynth Script Creator tool's preview window - it can be a little buggy where cropping and resizing and concerned. After saving, the AviSynth file should be loaded automatically into MeGUI - MeGUI's preview window does work fine and please make sure the video looks alright, especially for DVD sources with cropping/resize.



 

Step 5: Video Encoding Options

We'll now set up the H.264 encoding options in the x264 encoder. This step has the most options to configure, and too many to cover in this guide alone. What I'll recommend is to use one of Sharktooth's profiles, and if you need further explanation of the options, refer to our x264 Options Explained article.

In the MeGUI "Input" section, select "x264" as the "Codec" and "MP4" as the "Container".

MeGUI: Video



 

For the "Video Profiles" option, select one of the x264 encoding profiles so we don't have to manually configure all the settings (unless you want to , then click on the "Config" button to do so). A full explanation of what each profile is used for can be found on the official forum thread for the profiles. For compatibility, I recommend using the CE profiles, particularly the "CE-QuickTime" profile (this will make the MP4 file playable in Apple QuickTime 7 or newer). The "CE-Baseline" profile is also fully QuickTime compatible, but uses less advanced features (and so will be faster during encoding at the expense of some quality).



 

Step 6: Audio Encoding Options

Now it's time to set up the audio encoding options. If you've followed this guide for DVD conversion, then the demuxed audio track we selected in the D2V Creator should already be loaded in (if not, load in the .ac3 file that was created). If you are not converting from a DVD source, then you can either load in a separate audio file or if you edited the AviSynth script (set "audio=true"), then load in the AVS file into the "Audio Input" section (meaning both video and audio inputs are the same AVS file). Repeat if you want a second audio track by clicking on the "2" select option.

MeGUI: Audio



 

Now we select an audio codec to use. I prefer AAC audio, especially with H.264 as video - AAC is to MP3 what H.264 is to DivX/XviD, better compression + better quality. So which audio codec should you use? I prefer ND AAC (Nero Digital), so select it if you agree with me. We can now choose an audio profile from one of the "NDAAC" options. "NDAAC-HE-64Kbps" is the one I like, as it will give you roughly the same quality as a 128 Kbps MP3 file. You can select one of the "HEPS" (HEv2) profiles if you really want a small file size. The "LC" options offer better compatibility (eg. with iPod/iTunes), but at the cost of file size (still smaller than MP3s though).

For more information on AAC audio options, please refer to this MeWiki page or this Wikipedia entry.



 

Step 7: Cutting, Bitrate Calculator and AutoEncode

If you wish to cut your input so that you don't encode the entire video, it is possible to do this using MeGUI's AVS Cutter tool. To launch it, go to the "Tools" drop down menu and select "AVS Cutter". You will be asked to load in your AVS file (the one generated in Step 3) - do it.

MeGUI: AVS Cutter



 

MeGUI: Preview Cut Position



 

What's going to happen here is that a list of "zones" need to be added. Each zone has a start frame and an end frame, and all frames in between will be kept (and all frames outside of the zones will be cut). You can either manually enter the desired frame number into the "Start Frame" and "End Frame" input box of the AVS Cutter tool and then press "Add" to add the zone, or use the video preview to skip to the appropriate sections and press the "Zone Start" and "Zone End" buttons to set a start/end frame, and then the "Set" button to add the zone to the list. If you specified multiple zones, you can also specify a transition between the zones (fade is the default setting). Once you are all done, press the "Add cuts to script" button and the cuts will be added to your AVS script. Press "Close" to close the "AVS Cutter" tool.

We're nearly finished. We will now use MeGUI's build in bitrate calculator to calculate the average bitrate of our encoding. From the "Tools" menu, select "Bitrate Calculator".

MeGUI: Bitrate Calculator



 

Under the "File size" section, use the drop down selector to select a pre-defined size or enter your own. This will change the "Average Bitrate" display shown just below. Alternatively, you can choose to change the average bitrate, and then the resultant file size will be shown for the bitrate. For AVI/DivX/XviD conversion, you can get the same quality video at roughly 80% of the original AVI/DivX/XviD file's filesize. For 720p/1080p QuickTime HD (MOV) files, these are already using H.264 so you should try and match the file size whenever possible (again, make sure the "Average Bitrate" is under control). Keep a note of the final file size you calculated here.

Press the "AutoEncode" button to launch the Automatic Encoder setup windows.

MeGUI: Automatic Encoder



 

This is pretty straight forward - just specify the output size of your video file as determined by the bitrate caculator step above (and make sure the Container is set correctly, to "MP4" for the purpose of this guide). The output location can be changed as well - this file will be the final output file that you want, so make sure you remember where you put it and don't accidentally delete it when cleaning up (I like to put this file in a different folder to all the other files, just in case). Press the "Queue" button and all the necessary jobs will be added to the encoding queue.

Click on the "Queue" tab and all the jobs should be listed there. Below is an example job queue where I have two video clips "tdk" and "seu" to be encoded, an explanation of the queued jobs shown in the screenshot below:

  • job1: Encoding audio track for clip "tdk"
  • job2: Encoding video, 1st pass for clip "tdk"
  • job3: Encoding video, 2nd pass for clip "tdk"
  • job4: Muxing audio and video to MP4 for clip "tdk"
  • job5: Encoding audio track for clip "seu"
  • job6: Encoding video, 1st pass for clip "seu"
  • job7: Encoding video, 2nd pass for clip "seu"
  • job8: Muxing audio and video to MP4 for clip "seu"

      MeGUI: Queue


      New in MeGUI 0.2.6 or above is the idea of "workers". This has been introduced to take advantage of multi-core processors, allowing parallel job execution (processing more than one job at a time). Of course, certain jobs are dependent on another previous job being completed before it can begin (for example, job2-4 above requires job2-3 to be finished, and job2-5 requires all previous jobs to be finished), and so parallel execution is not always possible. But if you are encoding multiple video clips at the same time, then parallel execution allows each core of your CPU to be fully utilized at all times, allowing up to 4 video encodings at the same time on a quad core processor, for example. In essense, each "worker" represents a CPU thread that can be run on an individual core - so if you have a dual core processor, then you might want to create two workers, quad-core => 4 workers, etc. Even if you have only a single core CPU, you will still need to create at least one worker before MeGUI can start encoding video. To create a worker, from the "Worker" menu, select the "Create New Worker" option and then enter a name for this new worker.

      MeGUI: Create New Worker


      Create as many workers as you need (again, 2 for dual-core, 4 for quad-core ...). You can right click on each job to specify which worker it will use, or you can leave it unset and MeGUI will automatically assign workers (recommended).

      MeGUI: Send to Worker


      When you are ready to start encoding, press the "Start" to start the encoding. For the above job queue example where I had two video clips "tdk" and "seu", when I press the "Start" button, both encodings will start with different workers, thus allowing me to encode two video clips at the same time (which would only be of benefit if you have multi-core or multi-CPU setups, of course). You can view the status of your workers by selecting the "Workers Summary" option from the "Workers" menu.

      MeGUI: Worker Summary


      When it's all finished, your MP4 file should be ready. You can delete all the other files, unless you plan on making more encodings from them.

      We're done :)





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