Actually the full title of this article should be "how to put many movies or episodes in one DVD and when you shouldn't" ! I frequently receive emails from users that want to add many movies or a whole season of some series in one DVD. In this article I will try to explain what impact this would have to the quality (with video samples to see for yourself) of the DVD you will create and finally show you how you can create such a DVD using FAVC.

The DVD-Video Standard

The standard that all DVD-Video discs have to follow in order to be compatible with any player out there uses MPEG2 compression up to 9800kbps or in some rare cases MPEG1 up to 1856kbps. As you can understand, the mandatory use of the MPEG2 codec is our main limitation. The DVD format was finalized back in 1996, so they used what was then a cutting-edge compression technology. Unfortunately, as the years passed and new codecs like DivX/XviD or H.264 came out (MPEG4 if you want) with much greater picture quality in reduced sizes, for a DVD disc we still need to use the MPEG2 codec. The audio in the other hand, can be AC3, DTS or MP2 in multichannel setups, and we can have up to 32 subtitle tracks.

What retail DVDs use

Most DVDs in the market use a variable bitrate video of approximately 5000kbps video which is increased close to 8000kbps in high action scenes, which require more attention. Most of the times, the media used is DVD9 (7.95GB) in which they fit the movie, various audio tracks, menus and all extras. They rarely use DVD5 (4.38GB).

What happens in lower bitrate

As you understand, the lower the bitrate is, the most video a DVD can hold. However, since MPEG2 is an old codec, unlike H.264 which can achieve great results in low bitrate, anything under 3000kbps gives a very poor result which a significant amount of artifacts. Below I have created a small table which various bitrates, the approximate length of a video you could fit in a DVD (with a low quality AC3 audio in 128kbps in consideration) and an one minute sample from a movie using two free MPEG2 encoders to see for yourself the difference in quality. You can play the samples using the Open Folder option in VLC or with any other player of your choice.

Bitrate Aprox. Video Length in a DVD-5 disc Aprox. Video Length in a DVD-9 disc Sample videos
~1000 kbps 9 hours 15 hours HC Encoder | QuEnc
~1500 kbps 6 hours 10 hours HC Encoder | QuEnc
~3200 kbps 3 hours 5 hours HC Encoder

What does this mean in practice

It depends on two things: the movie itself and the devices you will use for playback. Let me elaborate: if your movie contains many action scenes, explosions, fast chases etc or is shot mainly in dark (night) it will not look good if you lower the bitrate too much. In the other hand, a comedy or some sitcom will look better as the video is less demanding. If there is no need I wouldn't encode any DVD under 1500kbps. The action ones even higher.

Now the playback equipment is another parameter. For a handheld player (those with that small screens) or a SDTV (the old CRT ones) you will be fine. But if you are planning to use a HDTV (even in low resolution of an old DVD player) I suggest you don't squeeze too much video. For playback on a PC I don't even suggest a DVD-Video. Just convert to H.264 and burn a data DVD. Of course for a HDTV and an upscaling DVD player just encode one movie per DVD for maximum quality, you don't need me to tell you that.

Bottom line, I suggest putting up to two movies in one DVD9 and about half a season of any series. Of course, you know your needs better, that's why the table above explaining all options exists.

How to create a DVD that holds many movies or an entire season of a series using FAVC

At the guide below we will use the freeware tool FAVC to create a DVD that will hold five movies, which in this example means about 8 hours and 45 minutes of video and an approximate bitrate of 1100kbps (more on less like the first sample in the table above). I decided to use FAVC as it comes with both the encoders I mentioned above, lets you add subtitles per track and creates a menu. It is also pretty easy to use. Note that while other encoders like ConvertXToDVD are much faster and feature full, for such low bitrate the quality of the video is much worse than what we will create with this tool. Download it below.

Step 1


Don't worry about the many options, they are very simple and we will explain everything you need. First of all browse (1) and load the files you want to add in the DVD. Most of the video types (avi, mkv, mp4) are supported by FAVC. Next set the locations for the destination folder (2) and the temp files folder (3). Make sure you have enough free space! If you want, FAVC can also create an ISO file (4) for easier burning, otherwise it will create just the DVD files you can burn by following our guides here.

Select the DVD format (5) between NTSC and PAL, obviously depending on your equipment. Now set the target size (6) between a normal DVD and a dual layer one. Note that to burn a dual layer DVD you need a DVD9 disc and a burner capable of burning it, so make sure you can in fact burn such a disc. Chapter length (7) sets every how many minutes a chapter will be created (used to navigate though the movie with the remote). You would probably want to create a Menu (8) in order to easily select which movie you want to see. Note that you cannot have a menu if you add more than 10 videos (for example 20+ episodes of a TV show), for some reason FAVC limits the menu creation to up to 10 tracks. In that case this option will be disabled and you can select the episode to play with the Next Track button in your remote control.

At the Encoder (9) option, my choice is HC. In my opinion, it creates better looking video than QuEnc, especially in lower bitrate. If you want to decide by yourself check the samples in the table above. To continue, click the DVD Options tab and move to the next step.

Step 2


The first options in these screen are about the menu. First (1) you can set the Title of the menu and then the name of each of the videos that you have included in the disc. Next you can set a background picture of your liking (2). The default one is just a grey background. Finally you can use the notepad icon (3) to add subtitle tracks to any of the movies you have added. The Hard Subtitles option will burn them in the video while by default you can turn them on and off with your remote control or DVD player software.

Click the HC Options tab to move on.

Step 3


Here we need to change some of the encoding options in order to get as better quality as possible. The options here will greatly increase the encoding time, so feel free to try different settings until you find a quality/speed ratio you like. However for such long videos the optimal options are:

In Method of Encoding (1) select 2-Pass Variable Bitrate. In Quality (2) selecting Best will give the best possible quality but with great expense of time. In CPU Cores (3), if you have a multi core CPU (most new PCs do) choose MultiCoreEnc and set the number of the cores you want to use in order to speed the process significantly. Finally in DC Precision (4) set the value to 10 and click the Audio Options tab.

Step 4


We will use AC3 as the audio encoding (1) codec. We will also select Encode as usual (2) as we cannot afford to possibly retain the present audio as it would be too big for such a small video bitrate: we need to use as less space as possible for audio. So, choose Aften (3) as the encoder and a bitrate of 128kbps (4). Finally click Generate DVD (5) to start the encoding.

Step 5


A command line window will now open plus various encoder windows. The main FAVC window doesn't do anything, so feel free to close it. Wait for some hours, depending on your PC speed and the video length and a new DVD will be waiting for you in the destination folder, either in DVD files form or both that plus an ISO file. There are plenty of guides in our sites that you can follow in order to burn those files if you don't know how.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you need any more help or you have more questions, use the comments form below or the forum.


#10 afonic-sp-1549927864 2011-07-18 11:05

Use ImgBurn and the DVD Video option. Details here:
#9 Gary Rogers 2011-07-14 09:16

Just followed your instructions above,when the command sa finished do you just copy that file to a blank dvd and what software would be best to use,IMG-BURN, DVD Decrypter.

Thanks for the help.
#8 jigo 2011-06-29 00:38
Highly compressed video is good. But there are times when you need to burn a DVD without compression and how to do this? Estl any programs that write a DVD without compression?
+1 #7 afonic-sp-1549927864 2011-04-01 08:43
It depends on your setting. What audio do you output to? You can check with MediaInfo:

Also, have you tried using Quenc instead of Aften as the encoder?
#6 Losco 2011-04-01 08:18
Thank you Afonic, in fact the problem comes from Avidemux : files edited with that software, perfect in a player like VLC, don't have audio after FAVC "treatment". Any experience of integration Avidemux/FAVC ? Thanks for your help.
+1 #5 afonic-sp-1549927864 2011-03-31 16:10
Have you tried selecting "Retain if present" at step 4?
#4 Losco 2011-03-31 14:02
All works fine but there is no audio in the output file. The input is a VOB with audio OK. Any suggestion ? Many thanks!
#3 afonic-sp-1549927864 2011-03-23 14:43
For free software, you can also try The FilmMachine or AVStoDVD.

For extra features and quality check out Mainconcept Reference and Cinemacraft.
+2 #2 Chibusa 2011-03-23 12:05
Well, I have looked all over the internet and even if my search isn't enough, I must confess that this guide is great. I have been amazed on how the DVD from China can have up to 26 full titles of movies in a DVD9 with fairly good quality. At list this guide explains it all. Am sure more powerful software can do even more. Thanks a Lot and keep up the good work. By the what other software apart from FAVC can produce similar results? or is there a version of FAVC that allows more than one menu? or How can I put a small clip to play be fore the menu apears?
+1 #1 faqv 2011-03-09 20:42
fine player

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