This guide was written for Adobe Premiere version 5 or 6. Although it cannot be applied directly to Premiere Pro, the fundamental concepts described here are the same for any version of Premiere, or indeed for any video editing software. You just need to get a frameserving plug-in that is compatible with the program you are using.
Although most people recognise TMPGEnc's excellent encoding quality, and many are willing to put up with its long encoding times, it's sometimes not possible (and rarely if ever practical) to export your entire project to an AVI file and then load that file into TMPGEnc. Ideally TMPGEnc should be able to work as a plug-in to video editing programs, allowing the editor to export directly to MPEG-2 from the timeline. Unfortunately this is not possible, but there is a process that's close enough (as long as you're editing in Adobe Premiere version 5 or above): frameserving. Frameserving (or frame serving, if you prefer), as the name suggests, consists of feeding a program with one frame at a time, as it requests them. Specifically, it consists of reading frames from Premiere's timeline and feeding them to TMPGEnc, as if they were being read from a file. Since all the process is done one frame at a time, there's no need to render the entire project to a huge AVI file. Not only does this save space, it also lets you get around the 2GB limit that some AVI formats have.
This guide describes two different procedures. One using AVISynth (a free program), that involves a bit of work, and one using Premiere Video Server (a shareware program, with a trial period), that is somewhat simpler. Note that if you install one of them, you will not need the other. In fact, if you have AVISynth installed and install Video Server, one of AVISynth's plug-in files will be removed. You can install it again afterwards, though. As far as I can tell there are no conflicts between them (I don't know why Video Server removes the AVISynth export plug-in). You will find links to download both programs at the end of this page. This guide assumes that you already have Adobe Premiere and TMPGEnc correctly installed.
This will only work with a full version of Premiere 5 or above. Some systems and capture cards come bundled with a cut-down version called Premiere LE or SE. These versions do not support 3rd party plug-ins and will not recognise either AVISynth or Video Server.
Installing Premiere Video Server is relatively straightforward. Simply run the installation program and it will place all the necessary files in the right directories. AVISynth, on the other hand, does not include an installation program, so you must install it manually, according to the following instructions:
AVISynth comes in two separate archives. One (
avisynth-0.3.zip) contains the main program, the other (
avisynth-premiere-0.25.zip) contains the plug-ins for Adobe Premiere. Make sure that you have both files (links at the bottom of this article). Note that newer versions of AVISynth will not work correctly with this plug-in.
To install the plug-in, open the file (
avisynth-premiere-0.25.zip) and extract both .PRM files (
IM-Avisynth.prm). Put the extracted files in Premiere's plug-in directory (usually
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Premiere 6.0\Plug-ins\). Premiere will detect the plug-in the next time it starts. If your Premiere installation is an upgrade (ex., from 5.1 to 6.0), it's possible that there is more than one plug-ins directory (usually one will be called
Plug-insand the other will be called
Plugins). To determine which one is being used by your version of Premiere, look at the file dates in each directory, and install in the one with the most recent files.
Next we need to install AVISynth itself. Open the archive
install.regto a temporary directory (or directly to your desktop, if you prefer). Move the .DLL file into Windows'
System32directory (this will normally be
To finish the installation, we must add some information to the system registry. To do this, simply double-click on
install.reg(that you extracted from the .ZIP archive) and select
Yeswhen prompted (or right-click and select
Merge, and then
Yes). This will make Windows aware of AVISynth's presence (note: on some systems, Windows will only load the update after you reboot). After the
install.regfile has been merged into the registry you may delete it.
If you ever want or need to uninstall AVISynth, extract the
uninstall.reg file from the program archive, run it (as you did with the installation file) and delete
avisynth.dll from your System32 directory. To uninstall the Premiere plug-ins, simply delete the two files (
IM-Avisynth.prm) from Premiere's plug-ins directory.
The following steps describe how to export the audio from Premiere to an uncompressed WAV file. There are two motives not to export the audio to TMPGEnc. First, MPEG audio is not supported by many NTSC DVD players and authoring programs. Second, TMPGEnc is not very good at encoding audio. For these two reasons, you should always export the audio to a separate file, and then either load that file into your DVD authoring program or encode it to MPEG audio, Dolby Digital or DTS using a separate encoder.
Start Premiere and load the project that you want to export to TMPGEnc.
Set the work area (yellow bar) to cover the part you want to export.
Make sure the timeline window is active (you can tell by the colour of its title bar; if it's not active click on it).
Now go to the
Filemenu and select
Export timeline(in Premiere 6) or
Export(in Premiere 5) and then
Fig. 1 - Export audio
In the export settings (in the
Audiosection), make sure the format is set to uncompressed, 48 kHz, 16-bit, stereo. Note that DVD audio must use 48 kHz (the same as DV audio), not 44 kHz (used in audio CDs). 96 kHz is also a legal DVD sampling rate, but not normally used. Click on the images to enlarge them.
Give the file a name (ex.,
V:\Mymovie.wav) and click on
OKto save it. The audio is now taken care of (unless you want to compress it to MPEG audio, Dolby Digital or DTS, but that would require other software, and is not covered in this guide).
Now it's time to export the video, and this is where the differences between AVISynth and Video Server become more apparent. Some of the following steps apply only to one of them (marked with '
X only', where X is the frameserver's name). Steps that are unmarked apply to both programs.
AVISynth only: Premiere's timeline cursor is not very intuitive; instead of stopping on the actual frames, it stops at the marks between two frames, and the video preview window shows you the frame after the mark. The same applies to the beginning and end of the work area (yellow bar). The AVISynth plug-in will export all the frames covered by the work area, so although it may appear that only frames 10 to 50 (for example) are covered, frame 51 will also be exported (because it's the frame after the mark that the work area ends at). Premiere itself, however, will usually ignore this frame. This means that if you leave the work area as it is, and export through AVISynth, you will have one frame of video without audio. This will not cause any loss of sync (because the starting frame is always the same) but may confuse your authoring program (usually it won't). Anyway, if you are using AVISynth, zoom in on the timeline and move the end of the work area back one frame (be careful not to change the start of the work area). This will ensure that the audio and video files have exactly the same length. Video Server behaves like Premiere's normal export filters and ignores the last frame, so if you're using Video Server, leave the work area untouched.
Go to the
Filemenu and select
Export timeline, but this time pick
Check that all the settings are correct for DVD. The resolution should be
720x576for PAL or
720x480for NTSC. The frame rate should be
25for PAL or
29.97for NTSC. The aspect ratio should match your footage's (4:3 or 16:9) and the field order should match your capture card's (usually this is
Lower firstfor DV cards and
Upper firstfor analog input cards). You can uncheck the option to
Export audio, but make sure that
Export videois checked.
Fig. 2 - Export to AVISynth
AVISynth only: If you are using AVISynth, set the
Link to Avisynth.
Fig. 3 - Export to Video Server
Video Server only: If you are using Video Server, set the
Fig. 4 - Video Server
Video Server only: If you are using Video Server, click on
Advanced settings. Set the
AVIWrapperand enter a filename (ex.,
C:\Videolink.avi). This file will be used to pass frames from Premiere to TMPGEnc, one at a time. Click on
OKto close the Video Server advanced options window, again on
OKto close Premiere's export settings window, and finally click on
Save(the file name on this windows is not important). Video Server is now ready to export from Premiere to the (simulated) AVI file that you selected above. It will only actually start exporting when you open that file with TMPGEnc (below). Do not close the Video Server window until the MPEG encoding is finished, or the connection to TMPGEnc will be broken.
AVISynth only: If you are using AVISynth, the procedure is slightly more complicated. The AVISynth plug-in cannot directly simulate AVI files on the disk. For it to work, we need to establish a link between the plug-in and AVISynth itself, and then another link between AVISynth and TMPGEnc. Start by typing a name into the file name box (ex., '
myvideo', without the quotes). Don't include an extension or file path (i.e., don't type '
C:\myvideo.avi'). No file will actually be created; this is just the name that the plug-in will use internally to connect to AVISynth. Click on
Fig. 5 - AVISynth plug-in
AVISynth only: A window should pop up with the following message:
IPCSource("myvideo"). This is the command that programs must use to connect to AVISynth. Select that string with the mouse, right-click and select
Copy. This copies the exact string to the clipboard. If you prefer, you can copy it manually, but make sure you don't change it in any way. The plug-in is now ready to export from Premiere to AVISynth (it won't actually start exporting until you establish the connection to TMPGEnc, below). Do not close this window until the MPEG encoding is finished, or the connection between Premiere and TMPGEnc will be broken.
AVISynth only: Start Notepad or any other plain-text editor, create a new file and paste the string you copied above into it. If you use a word processor instead of a plain-text editor, you will have to make sure it's set to plain-text ASCII mode, or the file will not work. Save this file with any name you want, but instead of giving it a '
.TXT' extension, change the extension to '
.AVS' (without the quotes, naturally). If you are using Notepad, make sure you set
Files of typeto
All files(in the file save dialog), otherwise Notepad will always add .TXT to the end of the filename, and the file will not be recognised. You may also save it as .TXT and later edit the name (if you decide to do this, make sure you have configured Windows to show all file extensions, or the real extension won't be visible). For example, save the file as
If you're having problems creating this file, you can download it by right-clicking here and selecting "
Save as". Later you can edit this file (with a plain-text editor) if you want.
If TMPGEnc isn't running, start it. In the
Video sourcebox, type in the name (and path) of the source file. If you are using Video Server, this is the simulated AVI file that you created above (
C:\Videolink.avi). If you are using AVISynth, this is the text file you created above (
TMPGEnc should now connect to the frameserver and show you the first frame of your project. If you get an error message, that probably means you missed something. Go back and read the instructions carefully. Some common mistakes with AVISynth are: installing the wrong version of AVISynth (must be 0.3 Beta), putting
avisynth.dllin the wrong folder (see above), saving the AVS file with a TXT extension (must end in '
.AVS', not '
.AVS.TXT'), failing to copy the string correctly from the AVISynth plug-in window to the AVS file. The most common mistake with Video Server is typing the file name in Premiere's export dialog, instead of in Video Server's settings dialog.
Configure TMPGEnc's for DVD-compliant MPEG-2. If you are not familiar with TMPGEnc's compression settings, you can find a guide in the menu on the left. Be sure to return here and follow the final steps after reading it.
Set the output filename to whatever you want (ex.,
V:\Mymovie.m2v). Make sure it's in a drive with enough free space. The default extension for MPEG-2 video-only files is
.M2Vbut some authoring programs prefer the extension '
.MPG' or '
.MPEG'. If (later) your authoring program doesn't seem to recognise the file, try changing the extension to one of these (by renaming the file; there is no need to re-compress it, naturally).
Startbutton on TMPGEnc's main window to begin encoding.
Wait a long time. Depending on your system's CPU(s), encoding may take more than 15 times real-time (i.e., 15 hours to encode each hour of video). A modern, high-end system will generally encode in approximately half of real-time (using the highest quality settings).
After TMPGEnc finishes, you can close your frameserver's window, as well as Premiere. If you close them before, TMPGEnc will lose its connection to the video stream.
If everything worked correctly, you should now have two files: a .WAV file (with your project's sound) and a .M2V (MPEG-2 video) file, with the video. Import these two files into your DVD authoring program (ex., DVD Maestro, DVD Studio Pro, ReelDVD, Impression, Encore, etc.) and link them (the way to do this varies depending on the authoring program; check your program's manual or help file for more detailed information). If the audio and video files are the same length and started at the same point in the timeline, then both streams (audio and video) should play in perfect sync once the DVD is compiled. If you are unsure if the files match, compile the DVD to a title set folder (VIDEO_TS) and open that folder with a software DVD player. If you have problems importing the video file into your authoring program, read the tips in the compression guide (which you can find in the menu on the left).
This section contains links to the plug-ins used in this guide. In some cases, if a program has not been updated in a long time and is relatively small, I may mirror it on my server. If you are the author of any of these programs and do not want me to mirror them, please say so and I will leave only the link to the official site.:
AVISynth Beta 0.3 (frameserver)
Direct download (54 KB)
AVISynth website (new versions)
AVISynth Premiere Plug-in 0.3 (frameserver plug-in)
Direct download (6 KB)
Premiere Video Server (frameserver)
Official site (buy the full program or download trial version)
PluginPac Frameserver (frameserver)
Official site (download the latest version)
TMPGEnc (MPEG encoder, DVD authoring, etc.)
Official site (buy the full program or download trial version)
WinRAR (multi-format data compressor / decompressor)
Official site (buy the full program or download trial version)
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