DIVX/XVID: What is it and DVD conversion.

ANother comment question is what to do with downloaded video. The most common format of video on the Internet or at least in Bittorrent is DIVX. THis is a highly compressed format that compresses data more efficiently than other compression methodologies such as those used on traditional DVDs. A competing compression scheme to DIVX is XVID, more on this later.

The other confusing piece of information is that a DIVX or XVID file usually has a .avi extension. (e.g. video.avi). AVI is yet another broader format that most media players can easily read. You will know you have a problem if you load the file in your favority media player (such as Windows Media Player) and get an unknown filetype error. Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this. Go to Divx.com and download the DIVX codec or xvid.com for the xvid codec. (Codec stands for Code/Decode and is a file that tells Windows Media Player how to decompress and read these filetypes) You should install this onto your computer and Windows Media Player should then be able to play the DIVX or XVID file. Note that different players may come with this functionality or may also need to install one or both codecs.

The solution above works for playing DIVX movies on a computer, but I often get asked how to burn DIVX/XVID movies to DVDs. In an ideal world, you could just copy the DIVX/XVID movie to a DVD and then put the DVD in the player and watch the movie. This works, sometimes. It depends on the specific DVD player since the DVD player mut support DIVX/XVID which is a different format than native DVDs. Many newer DVD players support this and older ones won’t. To ensure compatibility, you should not do this.

If you want to burn the DIVX/XVID file to a DVD that runs on all players, you need convert the files. The issue is that standard DVDs use MPEG-2 compression which is an older standard and does not compress data nearly as effectively as DIVX/XVID. MPEG-2 is part of the basic DVD standards and thus you can be certain that all DVD drives can read MPEG-2 encoded DVDs. The problem is that since MPEG-2 is a different algorithm, you need to run a conversion process which essentially decompresses the DIVX/XVID movies and then recompresses them in MPEG-2 format. The ideal outcome of the process would be an ISO file which is an image file that can easily burned to DVD using standard DVD burning tools such as Nero.

You need to download and install a program to perform the above mentioned conversion. There are applications that you can purchase to do this, but I always prefer freeware. My preferred application is called AVI2DVD and is a freeware program that can be downloaded here. There are specific instructions how to use the application here. It is actually much easier to use than it looks.

There are a couple of gotchas that you should be aware of using the tool. First it requires codecs for each file format. Thus I would suggest that you download and install both the DIVX and XVID codec before running the app. That way you are covered if either of these two formats are used. The other thing you should remember is that the conversion process is very CPU and time intensive. It can take 4 hours + and you should not use your computer while the process is under way. I recommend starting it in the evening and let it run overnight. The result of the process will be an ISO file which you burn to DVD normally.

I have tried the above approach and application a number of times, and highly recommend the solution. It works great. The result is a DVD player that will work in any DVD player.

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