TMPGEnc vs. DVDShrink


I know, I know, this is like comparing Apples to Oranges. But what if I prefer Oranges? Why wouldn't we compare Apples and Oranges? Hmmm?

Let it be said: This is not a comparison of the features of the products, but a comparison between the MPEG-2 recoder built in DVDShrink and the MPEG-2 encoder built in TMPGEnc.

For the most impatients of you, you can get to the comparison page directly without reading the following crap.

So, let's say it, DVDShrink is (based on) a transcoder (or recoder or whatever) which means it takes an MPEG2 stream (a DVD in DVDShrink's case) and strip in "real time" some of the macroblocks (pieces of the MPEG-2 information) to make the stream fit a specific size.

TMPGEnc is a real MPEG2 encoder. That means it takes a series of pictures (images) as its input (like an AVI file, an MPEG file) and irregardless of the inner structure of the stream, it does encode a MPEG2 compatible stream out of it.

As I said, two different things. The comparison takes place when you want to backup a DVD-9 (the DVD you find at Wal-Mart, containing a movie and extras in 9GB approx.) onto a DVD-R (or +R, also called DVD-5), which contains 4.38GB only. Of course, you can get rid of some sound tracks, some extras (menus, commentaries, deleted scenes...) but often, the resulting material (main movie) is still over 4.38GB and you have to make a compromise on the quality. This is where DVDShrink and TMPGEnc comes into competition.

  • DVDShrink is a tool that does everything for you, very simple to use. It is fast, because based on a transcoder. But it is well-known that transcoders have a lower visual quality than encoders.
  • TMPGEnc is just an MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 encoder. That means to do all the stuff that I described to make your backup, you have to use other softwares, and that makes the whole thing more complex. It is also a lot slower than DVDShrink to re-encode a movie, because it does a full encoding.
So the point of this page is to analyze the quality of the frames generated by DVDShrink v2.3, DVDShrink v3.0beta5 and TMPGEnc 2.59 on Star Wars II: Attack Of The Clone. From this comparison and your own tastes and compromises, you will have some elements to decide if going into a TMPGEnc complex procedure to backup your movies is really worth the trouble, or if just going with the 10-click DVDShrink program is good enough for you.

Well, let's get to the point. The comparison is made on 6 different frames of the movie: One in the grass when Anakin and Padme are fooling around. The scene is interesting because it has a lot of movement and the grass has a lot of details and an impredictible motion, like water. The next one - also in the grass - is a scene contaning very low motion. Three other frames are taken in the end battle in the arena, where there is a lot of fast motion, dust and lots of particles, all things a good encoder/trancoder hates. The last frame is also taking place during the battle but is very low motion. BArely anything moves durint the 3 seconds preceding it and the 3 seconds following it. Just to see how the encoders deal with a very simple GOP (Group of Pictures).

Some technical details. I stripped all extras, retaining one subtitle stream, AC3 5.1 English soundtrack and AC3 2ch French Soundtrack. I made that fit into a DVD-5 by DVDShrink. For TMPGenc I did two different encodings: CBR, MAX quality (38 hours overall) and 2-pass VBR normal quality (13 hours). I couldn't get myself to do a 2-pass VBR max quality, as it would have taken 38x2 hours on my system and I need to sleep at night ;-). Both encoding had an average bitrate of 3850kbps, which resulted in the same filesize as the one generated by DVDShrink. Everything was encoded on the same PIII 750. My server being a Celeron 333, I didn't even try, it would take ages ;-)

  • DVDShrink 2.3: Level 7, 35%
  • DVDShrink 3.0b5: 66%, 3.762MB With Deep Analysis
  • TMPGEnc CBR=3580kbps
  • TMPGEnc VBR=3580kbps average, 8Mbps max and 2MBps min.

The images that you are going to see in the next step are JPEG images. I have compressed them using the MAX QUALITY setting, so it is going to be slow as hell but accurate... You can't have everything in life...

See the results!