Create Blu-Ray video in plain DVDs for free

Here is how to burn your own HD video in a Blu-Ray format on normal DVD discs, completely free. This method worked with my Sony PS3, it is known to work with most Blu-Ray players but not all of them. Of course, this won’t work with plain DVD players or HD-DVD players (read here how to create HD-DVD discs on plain DVDs). The funny thing is that 80% of both these methods are identical for both HD architectures: from the moment you have completed step #7 (which takes care of the mutual mpeg2 encoding), creating a Blu-Ray and an HD-DVD disc should take 10 minutes for each from that point on, it’s that fast! Basically, this method allows you to use a common DVD burner and common DVD disks to burn HD video. But you will still need a Blu-Ray *player* to play that video back.

This method is credited to “Racer-x“, but I have modified his version in order to adapt it in terms of video editing. This version also features a custom mpeg2 bitrate option which allows you to fit more footage on a single disk. More significantly, I use all-freeware utilities, without the need to purchase Nero.

1. Install the stable 2.5.7 version of the AVISynth application. Follow the default options during installation. Once it’s installed, you can safely delete its downloaded installation file.

2. Download the plain version of Mplayer for Windows and unzip it somewhere that you can find back easily, e.g. c:\video\mplayer\

3. Download the Huffyuv lossless codec. Unzip the .zip file on your desktop, right click on the huffuyv.inf file and select “Install” (note: Vista might not give you that option, in which case manual registration of the codec’s DLL file must happen via the DOS prompt, google it). After about 15 seconds, you can delete these files from your desktop, as the Huffyuv lossless codec is now installed on your system. Open a DOS prompt and navigate to the mplayer folder (e.g. “cd c:\video\mplayer\”, without the quotes). There, run this command: vfw2menc -f huff -d huffyuv.dll -s settings.mcf and on the new dialog that pops up select: “Predict median (best)” from the first drop down menu, and “<-- Convert to YUY2" from the second drop down menu, while leaving unchecked the other options. Then click "ok" to discard the Huffyuv configuration dialog. This action only needs to be done once for your system and it helps us by forcing the Huffyuv codec to create smaller files. You can now delete the c:\video\mplayer\ folder and the Huffyuv files from your desktop. 4. Capture, set up the right Project Properties for your footage, and edit your HD or HDV footage as usual with Premiere or Vegas or other editor. Thorough exporting example under Vegas follows: To export, click "File" and "Render As". Select .avi for the "Save as type", and the "HDV 1080-60i intermediate" template (or 50i if you are on PAL). Then, hit "Custom". On the first tab select "Best" quality. On the video tab leave everything as is except the video format, select there "Huffyuv v2.1.1". Then, hit "Configure" and a new dialog pops up. There, make sure that "Predict median (best)" from the first drop down menu, and "<-- Convert to YUY2" from the second drop down menu are selected (leave unchecked the rest of the options there). Then click "ok" to take that new dialog away. On the Video tab make sure you export as progressive, with the right frame rate as the original footage and 1440x1080 and aspect ratio 1.3333 (if this was HDV footage, that is). Leave unchanged the "Audio" tab, and then hit "ok" in the "custom template" dialog. Then, you must give a name to your .avi file (e.g. "huff.avi") and hit "save" to a predefined folder (e.g. C:\video\huff.avi). The encoding procedure will start. Regarding Premiere/AE, I heard nightmare stories about not being able to export correctly in Huffyuv, so you might want to try a frameserver technique instead.

5. On Vegas, export again, but this time the audio alone: click “File” and “Render As” and from there select the “AC3” filetype. Name the audio file “audio.ac3” (or something like that) and export it on the C:\video\ folder again. If you can’t see an AC3 option on Vegas it’s either because you are using a pirated version of it, or because you forgot to install DVD Architect, the companion Vegas application. If you are not using Vegas, or if your video editor does not support exporting in AC3, you can use a freeware called BeLight to do the job. Try exporting the AC3 audio with a bitrate of 128 kbps, or 160 kbps and 192 kbps depending how much space you want to waste on audio versus quality.

6. Open notepad.exe or other text editor and add this line in it:
DirectShowSource("C:\video\huff.avi")
Save the text file as “avisynth.avs” on the same folder: c:\video\
If you get error messages, or you are using a frameserver, use this two-line code instead:
AviSource("C:\video\huff.avi", false)
ConvertToYV12()

Alternatively, you can also try this (in other words, use whatever works for you):
AviSource("C:\video\huff.avi", false).ColorYUV(levels="PC->TV")

7. Download and install the HCEnc utility. Load the HCEgui.exe and make it look like this. Leave the rest of the tabs of this app as is. If you are using a 24p Huffyuv AVI file instead of PAL 25p or NTSC 30p, use an “autogop” of 12 instead of the suggested 15 and also check the “3:2 pulldown” option too. When everything looks like the above screenshots, select “encode” and wait for the encoding to complete (it will take a while). Just a note, you might want to use more bitrate for the video than the 12000/15000 kbps suggested, maybe at around 15000 kbps average, 18000 kbps maximum. Don’t use more than that though, as the video will stutter during playback. Besides, the less bitrate you use, the more HD footage you can fit on a plain single-layer DVD disc, so find a golden balance between bitrate/quality and video duration.

8. Rename the “c:\video\output1.m2v” file to “c:\video\out.mpv”. Download, install and load tsMuxer, and “start muxing” with these settings.

9. Download, install and load tsRemux, and “remuxe” with these settings.

10. Download, install and load ImgBurn 2.4.x (new version required). Select “Create image file from files/folders” and then hit the “browse for a folder” icon and give it your “C:\video\BluRay\” folder. On the “Destination” option select “c:\video\bluray.iso” as filename. Click “Options” and select “UDF” for file system & UDF Revision “2.50”, while leaving the rest unchanged. Then click the big button “Build” and wait a bit. Then from the “Mode” menu select “Write”, and in the “Source” select the “c:\video\bluray.mds” file. Then put an empty DVD-R or DVD-RW disc on your burner (warning: avoid dual-layer discs, not very compatible). When you do this, the big button will be enabled, and then you can start burning the disc! Enjoy!


If you would like to test this method but you have no HD footage of your own yet, feel free to download my favorite HD clips found on Vimeo.com (if you have a Vimeo account and you visit their respective pages, you can download the original uploaded HD video file):

16 Comments »

George wrote on February 23rd, 2008 at 9:35 AM PST:

Yo eugenia …
nice post
Are there tools that can do this for Mac OS X or Linux?


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Eugenia wrote on February 23rd, 2008 at 10:41 AM PST:

I don’t believe so, not yet anyway.


Frank (aka Racer-x) wrote on February 23rd, 2008 at 1:17 PM PST:

Nice tutorial! I didn’t realize that Imageburn could support UDF v2.50……..go figure.

I checked out your work, very impressive! The alligator clip was very realxing. Your work is very artistic……the time laps clip was really cool.


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Eugenia wrote on February 23rd, 2008 at 2:09 PM PST:

ImgBurn added the capability only 10-15 days ago, it’s only the brand new version that works with it.

Only 2-3 clips from the above ones are mine. The rest are just my favorites as found on Vimeo. To view my own videos check here.


Jake Wharton wrote on February 23rd, 2008 at 8:40 PM PST:

What kind of length are we seeing with single layer and dual layer DVDs on average?


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Eugenia wrote on February 23rd, 2008 at 8:45 PM PST:

As I said on the HD-DVD thread, it depends on the bitrate you use. Between 20 and 40 minutes.


Johnny wrote on February 24th, 2008 at 8:10 AM PST:

Hi Eugenia,
Thanks for the write-up. Is there a reason I am getting ‘no YV12 color space, add CovertToYV12() to script’ in the HCgui info box after I load my AVS file? I exported a huffyuv AVI just as the instructions state.

I did notice in step 3, when I ran vfw2menc and set the Huffyuv preferences, it said, “ICM_GETSTATE returned 0 size, vfw2menc.exe: Cannot save sttings to file” after I pressed OK.


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Eugenia wrote on February 24th, 2008 at 2:19 PM PST:

That’s ok about the settings file, no problem there. I don’t know about this ‘no YV12 color space, add CovertToYV12() to script’ though. It works here. The reason we use YUY2 is because it creates smaller files. You can change the huffyuv settings back to RGB if that helps. Although the files produced will be even huger. Did you actually carry out the tutorial? Even with that error message it might still work.

Alternatively, you can use a frameserver instead of using Huffyuv. Info here, tutorial here. You will have to piece it together on how it fits on this tutorial though.


Johnny wrote on February 24th, 2008 at 2:48 PM PST:

adding “ConvertToYV12()” to my avs file allowed me to go ahead with the Henc processing (encode button was grayed out before)… although I really have no idea how using a different colorspace will affect my video quality. It’s encoding now…


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Eugenia wrote on February 24th, 2008 at 2:57 PM PST:

This problem you are having might be because you are not using the avisynth version required, might be using vista instead of XP, Huffyuv codec might be colliding with an old ffdshow huffyuv codec etc. As I said, if there is a quality hit with yet another conversion, use RGB instead of YUY2 on the Huffyuv settings panel. Let us know how it goes.


Frank wrote on February 24th, 2008 at 5:41 PM PST:

Just so everyone is on the same page…HCenc only works in YV12, as do other emcoders like MeGui….

The original m2t from the HDV source is allready YV12, as are most encoded mpeg2 files. I’m not sure Huffyuv supports YV12, other Lossless codecs like Lagaryth do however…..

I wouldn’t worry too much about adding the Converttoyv12() at the end of the script. YV12 is just a more compressed version of YUV. The quality loss will be minimal, much less than using RGB colorspace……….


Cristian wrote on February 24th, 2008 at 11:48 PM PST:

On step 10, there’s no need to create image and then burn… Imgburn can create and burn in one step. (Hint: “Switch to device output”)


Kris wrote on February 26th, 2008 at 6:11 PM PST:

I stumbled upon this today and immediately had to try it out. Thanks for the tutorial!

I’d like to mention that Quicktime HD files can also be turned into HD-ish DVDs this way. If you have Quicktime Alternative installed, simply create an AVISynth script with a single line, like so:

DirectShowSource(“C:\path\to\movie.mov”)

Note: I recommend using the “mov” extension, because for some reason I was having trouble getting files with the “hdmov” extension to transcode properly. YMMV.

This AVISynth file can then be loaded into HCEnc directly. It can also be loaded into something like VirtualDub to extract the audio into a separate file that BeLight can handle. Follow step 7 from there, and enjoy!


Dave Rosky wrote on February 28th, 2008 at 12:05 PM PST:

Eugenia, This is interesting, but I heard somewhere that Blu Ray players can also understand h.264 files as well as mpeg2. Do you know if this is true? If so you should be able to get more quality per bit and put a longer video onto the DVD-R.


myksto wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 3:40 AM PST:

Hi Eugenia. I’ve just told you how fantastic is your tutorial.
I’ve a question yet. I usually use Nero burning rom and I saw it has the 2.5 filesystem setting in udf: can I use that instead of imgburn?
Thanks, Michele.


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Eugenia wrote on March 1st, 2008 at 3:52 PM PST:

Yes, the original tutorial used Nero, so you can click the link to see how to use it.


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