Monday, April 20, 2009

XVID4PSP + .AVI & DIVX - The essential combo.

Yeah bbe!!! time for the follow up.

So i discussed the differences between containers and formats in my previous post now I'm going to get into actual transcoding/encoding.

Firstly transcoding is when you have a video in one format and you need it in another, so you are “transferring"/transcoding” the video to another format.

Encoding is when you have RAW video fresh form a camera and it is uncompressed and need to be compressed to some easily distributable format. You therefore have to encode it into a format.

The most popular format combination at the moment is the DIVX/XVID encoded video in a .AVI container. This is because several DIVX certified DVD players and game consoles can read these files off of data discs. It allows you to fit 3 hours of video on a 700 MB Compact Disc (CD) with no visible loss of quality when viewed on a standard definition TV.

Now concerning the names, YES! XVID is DIVX spelled backwards. XVID is actually an open source, free, reverse engineered version of DIVX. I highly recommend it.They can both be used interchangeably.

To do the encoding the best application I have ever used is Winnydows’ XVID4PSP application. As the name indicates it was originally a application for transcoding videos for the PSP but it has become far more than that since then. This application has a multitude of features including DIVX and XVID!!

To begin with download the application XVID4PSP. Now remember that it needs Microsoft’s .NET Framework 3.0 to run. So on Vista it will run perfectly, on XP you are out of luck, you will have to head on over to Microsoft's site and download and install the .NET 3.0.

For the rest of us who aren't afraid of change and switched to Vista, install XVID4PSP and run the application.

Now the interface is pretty simple: -

  1. There are the menus on the top row with the most advanced options. menu 1
  2. Below that is another row of simple commands that are required very often. menu 2
  3. To the left is a column of drop down menus with the simple settings for the video encoding; and little “E” buttons to adjust the advanced options. menu 3

Get a Video

  • The first thing is to get a video/DVD to encode to DIVX. For this “little” post, we’re encoding a video so that is compatible with the PS3. If you are working on a video hit the “open” button and select a video to choose. You will only see the video files the program is capable of converting. This includes .FLV videos from YouTube. If you plan on transcoding .MKV files so they play on your PS3 I highly recommend downloading and installing the Vista Codec Pack by Shark 007.
  • For DVDs use the “DVD” button. If you have a copy protected DVD you will need to copy the disc to the hard drive and remove the copy protection before you can do anything. "(Google “DVD Shrink”)
  • Some windows should appear and disappear as the video you added is analysed. DVDs however take a tad bit longer. As the DVD is added you need to choose the correct video stream and audio stream. For example, some Japanese animated films, have two videos on the DVD, one with the English titles and credits and another with them in Japanese. Then they have the English and Japanese audio tracks. Once this is selected the DVD will be indexed and then is ready for conversion to the dark side!!
  • With this done all you have to do is either choose a preset, or manually select a container, video codec and audio codec and hit “encode”. As we are doing a PS3 compatible DIVX convert, there are some minor tweaks.

Steps to converting: -

  1. Firstly set the container or as they have it labelled “Format” to either .AVI/.MP4. In the case you want this to work on a DIVX DVD player as well, use .AVI exclusively. format
  2. Set the Video encoding to “XVID HQ Ultra”
    1. Hit the “E” button next to the Video encoding preset.
    2. Set the “FOURCC” to “DIVX”. (XVID would work fine as its the default)
    3. Click the “Motion” tab and de-select the 3 options
    4. Quarter pixel search; Global motion compensation and Chroma motion estimation.
  3. Click “OK” and you are done with the custom configuration.
  4. The audio encoding should be “MP3 CBR 128k” if you are using a .AVI container. For .MP4 use the “AAC-LC ABR 128K” preset.
  5. With this done hit “Encode”, choose where you want the video to be saved and sit back for video compression goodness.
Doing conversions to other formats

If you would like you can try some of the different presets that are available such as the iPod 5.5 and PS3/XBOX 360 presets.

Just remember that the walk through/tutorial that I did used the DIVX/XVID codec to do the encoding and is relatively speedy. Presets like the PS3 and iPod 5.5 use the X.264 codec which results in even better video quality but takes significantly longer. Up to 3 times longer. So its your choice. Play around with the options and you will be pleasantly surprised.

For those interested, XVID4PSP is actually able to automatically detect the “black borders” around video and crop/delete it. If you would like to manually adjust something with respect to the cropping of the video and its aspect ration go to the “Video” menu in the topmost row of menus. Once there select “Resolution/Aspect”.

Now burn it to a disc or copy it to a USB stick and insert in your ps3.

For the inexperienced out there, if you never did this before here is how you do it.
  1. Go onto your USB stick on your computer.
  2. Create a folder and name it “video”. Capitalisation doesn’t matter but remember its “video” singular, NOTvideos” plural.
  3. Then, copy all your videos into that folder. You can create any subfolders in that “video” folder to organise your videos.
  4. Once done copying files over, insert the stick in your ps3 and the device will appear under videos with all the videos available in it.

That's it people.

Cheers!

Video Conversion… SUCH A PAIN!!!!! The basics

Alrighty, its been a while since my last post. However I’m going to delve into the world of video encoding/transcoding. This is a pretty lengthy and complicated topic so I’ll try and make it as digestible as possible.

To start with, everyone has noticed that at the end of video files are extensions like .AVI .MP4 .MKV .MOV .WMV. However these are not really the actual video formats. These are just containers that hold the actual video file along with an accompanying audio file and in some cases additional files besides audio and video. These two or more files are held in the container file. So inside the .AVI file one should find a video and audio file. The files were muxed together by a program into the .AVI container file.

.AVI is one of the oldest containers, having originally been developed my Microsoft, its full name is actually the “AUDIO VIDEO INTERCHANGE”. Within this container the video file and audio files can actually be a multitude of formats. The audio can be anything form .AAC to .MP3/.MP4/.OGG/.FLAC. The same goes for video which can be .MPG/.MPEG/.DIVX/.XVID etc.

With the .AVI container being as old as it is, it actually has some limitations to it. For instance, it can only hold two items in it, a video and audio. Say you wanted to have a video and 2 audio files, each in a different language, it would be impossible, and more so, if you wanted to add a subtitle file your out of luck. With .AVI it is also incompatible with some of the newest video formats such as H.264/X.264. As such its loosing its relevance slowly but surely.

To deal with the situation, there are newer containers such as .MP4 and .MKV to the rescue. .MP4 is fully compatible with H.264/X.264 and .MKV having the ability to have multiple video files, audio files and subtitle files on one container!!!!! Basically more than two at a time.

.MKV created by the Matroska Foundation is a technological marvel and is completely open source (which means it was developed for free and is available to use for free) However the number of devices and programs that support it is near zero. However with the latest news from the format front saying that DIVX has chosen .MKV as the new container standard for their wildly popular video format due to it greater abilities, more devices will emerge with support for it.

Devices such as the PS3 and XBOX 360 that are fully DIVX certified will have to update their firmware to support the new DIVX standards and stay fully DIVX certified. So with time there will come support for .MKV on more devices, but for the moment all DIVX devices are only able to see DIVX video if it’s encoded in a .AVI container.

So in all there are way to many video formats and standards to cover in any one post. However I will cover the most useful and popular ones that are of the most benefit and the best programs to do the Video Encoding Job!!!