I am definitely not the video guru that you are looking for. However, I have struggled with similar problems and found that there is no substitute to doing my homework first. One cannot start to run if one cannot stand, and one should not try to stand if one cannot crawl yet. So I bought a book "DVD demystified" and learnt
1. the difference between PAL and NTSC,
2. how compression is done, as well as the differences between video on CD-ROM (MPEG-1, 352x240 pixels x 12 frames per second x 24 bits, you can display it on computer but not on a TV screen) or DVD (MPEG-2, 720x576 pixels x 12 bits x 24 frames/s, you can show it both on computer and TV screen), using algorithms which will typically compress to one thirtieth of the original size,
3. the various audio compression algorithms,
4. how bit rate relates to both quality on screen and size on DVD,
5. why variable bitrate (VBR) is generally better than constant bit rate (CBR) but requires more depth of insight on how to do VBR optimally than I can muster.
6. It is also worth the while to understand the difference between true wide screen on TV and widescreen that is simulated by a letterbox process (squeeze vertically by 25%), and the image distortion that results from displaying a 4:3 format video on widescreen (16:9) TV. I strongly believe that it is of the essence to first come to grips with some of these basics before burning your CD or DVD.
I believe that you will find very much basic information on www.dvddemystified.com/dvdfaq.html
but much more information is available on the web, such as Adobe's excellent DV primer, a 50 page pdf file available from http://www.adobe.com/motion/events/pdfs/dvprimer.pdf
. And then, there are books.
Briefly, there is no free lunch, get acquainted with the basics first and then stumble forward, as I am still doing.