By Logan Decker
It’s not just a codec anymore. Maximum PC shows you how to make the most of new features in the new Divx Media file format!
Back when the entertainment industry was still trying to figure out what this em-pee-three business was all about, the Divx video compression codec was already becoming a de facto standard for “sharing” video on the Internet, and it remains popular today, despite challenges from freeware codecs like Xvid and OGG Video, as well as Microsoft’s Windows Media 9.
But Divx 6 is more than just a more efficient and higher-quality iteration of the Divx codec—it’s now a container format, like AVI, which can wrap compressed video, menus, subtitles, and multiple audio streams into a single file. We’ll show you how to take advantage of the codec’s fancy new features and create a trimmed-down and compressed version of your DVD-Video that’s almost identical to the original.
Here's what you'll need:
DivX Create Bundle ($20)
DivX Create Bundle MPEG-2 Plug-in ($10 upgrade within the above app)
AC3 Codec (Free)
A DVD Burner
Slysoft AnyDVD ($40)
InterVideo DVD Copy 4 Platinum ($80)
STEP 1: INSTALL THE NECESSARY APPS AND CODECS
Download and install the Divx 6 Create Bundle from the Divx website. This package installs the Divx Pro codec, the Divx Media Player application, and Divx Converter, which lets you create Divx Media files by simply dragging and dropping files onto the Converter application. If you intend to convert VOB files from commercial DVDs, you’ll also need the MPEG-2 plugin, which will be automatically activated on a trial basis when you drag a VOB file onto the converter.
The Divx 6 Create Bundle is a slick, stupid-simple application that lets you drag and drop video files for automatic batch conversion, including AVI files compressed with different codecs (as long as these codecs are already present on your system) and VOB files from DVDs. But it won’t allow you to specify individual chapters or videos to compress or to cut out audio streams you don’t need. In order to take advantage of Divx Media’s secret candy stash, you’ll need to download and install InterVideo’s DVD Copy 4, the first application to officially support the Divx Media container format.
Finally, you’ll need the appropriate codecs. If you can already view and hear your media in Windows, you’ve got them, but you might also need to download the AC3 audio codec used in many DVD-Videos. Keep in mind that the Divx 6 Create Bundle, DVD Copy 4, and even the MPEG-2 plugin are all available in fully functional 15-day trial versions, so don’t hesitate to give the next-generation Divx a chance!
STEP 2: RIP YOUR DVD
If you want to convert your DVD-Video to Divx Media—in order to stream movies from your Media Center PC, for example—you’ll need to rip the contents to your hard drive with a DVD-ripping application, which is technically illegal. That’s why freeware rippers such as DVDDecryptor and SmartRipper are being clubbed on the Internet like baby seals. You can still find them with some Googling effort, but make sure your antivirus auto-protection is activated, and check for spyware after installation.
Slysoft’s AnyDVD takes a different approach than most rippers: It decrypts DVD-Video on the fly so the copy protection is rendered essentially invisible to you, and you can copy the VIDEO_TS folder, where the DVD content resides, by simply dragging it to your hard drive.
Don’t bother with the AUDIO_TS folder or anything else you find on the disc—all the contents of the DVD-Video, including menus, video, and audio, are contained within the VIDEO_TS folder.
One more time: Circumventing the encryption on commercial DVDs is illegal! If you don't like that, let your Senator, Representative, or legal guardian know.
STEP 3: USING THE DIVX CONVERTER APPLICATION
The easiest way to convert your media to Divx Media is to simply drop the files onto Divx Converter and select an encoding profile. Because not many portable devices support Divx 6 yet, we recommend the Home Theater profile, which encodes standard DVD resolution video (720x480) at a bit rate of 1250KB/s. If you drop a handful of media files onto Converter, it will allow you to encode them as individual files or create a single Divx Media file with an automatically generated menu.
It won’t do this with VOB files; instead, it will simply create one file from all the consecutive VOBs. In order to take advantage of some of the more advanced features of Divx Media—including compression of an entire DVD with menus and all—we’ll need to use InterVideo’s DVD Copy 4.
STEP 4: SELECT YOUR SOURCE FILES
DVD Copy 4 will not copy CSS-encrypted commercial DVDs, so we’re going to assume you’ve already copied and decrypted the VIDEO_TS folder to your hard drive using AnyDVD or a similar app. Launch DVD Copy 4 and begin the three-step conversion process with the Source menu. Click the file-browser button, navigate to the VIDEO_TS folder on your hard drive (or to your optical drive with an unencrypted DVD), and click OK to select it.
STEP 5: SELECT YOUR TARGET DIRECTORY
Next, we’ll tell DVD Copy 4 where to output the results of our work. The application can write to a folder on your hard drive or burn directly to CD or DVD when it’s done with compression. We intend to store our compressed video on an external hard drive, so we’re going to select that drive using the file-browser button in the Target menu.
STEP 6: SELECT A TARGET FORMAT
DVD Copy 4 offers a number of swell exporting options, including automatic encoding for the Sony PSP and the option to directly convert the audio track from your DVD into an iPod-friendly MP3 file. Exporting to Divx Avi will create a single AVI file of just the movie, playable with any hardware or software player that has the Divx 6 codec, but we prefer the new Divx format instead, which will give us a Divx Media file with all the menus, audio options, and subtitle choices.
Note that some codecs give you the option here to split a single, large video file into many smaller ones based on either file size or the DVD chapters. And if you chose to output directly to disc, this is where you can specify the maximum capacity of your disc, and indicate whether or not you want DVD Copy 4 to compress the contents to fit on one disc, be it a CD or DVD.
STEP 7: SELECT A COPY MODE
If you want to compress the entire contents of your DVD, leave the Entire Disc radio button checked under Mode and skip ahead to Step 9, but remember that you’ll be including a lot of content you’ll probably never watch (such as movie trailers and dreary “featurettes”), which defeats the purpose of compression, dude.
You can also check Main Movie, which will tell DVD Copy 4 to take a stab at guessing which title is the main movie and select it, and all its chapters, automatically. Usually, this is blindingly obvious; it’s almost always the title of the longest duration, and almost always the first title in the list.
Your third option is Customize, which allows you to select specific titles and chapters within those titles for compression. Whether you choose Entire Disc, Main Movie, or Customize, you’ll still be able to tweeze out content—including subtitles and alternate audio tracks—you don’t want (we’ll cover that next).
STEP 8: SELECT YOUR CONTENT
Our DVD of The Year Without A Santa Claus includes two additional movies, which we don’t want to compress. The scene index from the box indicates that The Year Without A Santa Claus is the first movie on the disc, and by looking at the content list reported by DVD Copy 4, this is obviously Title 01. After checking Title 01 as the movie we want to compress, we now have the option to click the plus sign next to the title and get a chapter listing. We want all the chapters from Title 01, so we’re not going to uncheck anything here.
STEP 9: EXAMINE PROPERTY SHEETS FOR CONTENTIn this step, we’re going to strip out any content within our movie that we don’t need. This might include subtitles, alternate audio tracks, and even alternate video tracks. Luckily, The Year Without A Santa Claus doesn’t have a lot of this kind of thing. By clicking Title 01 and then clicking the Property sheet button on the same line, we see that there’s only one Dolby Digital audio track (which we want to keep), and no subtitles or funny business.
If you’re not sure what a video title or chapter contains, just click that title or chapter to highlight it and then click the Preview button at the bottom left of the screen.
STEP 10: EXPLORE YOUR OPTIONS
There’s one more item to check off before you begin transcoding and burning your content. Click the tiny hammer icon next to the Fit to One Disc checkbox to access the Optional Settings tab. Under Output Video System, select NTSC (unless you have a good reason to believe you’ll be fleeing to Europe anytime soon). You can give your disc a descriptive label under Disc Label/File Name. And finally, check the “Preview while transcoding” box if you want to monitor the process, which is unlikely considering it will take several hours.
Click OK to close this tab, and then click the burn icon at the bottom right. DVD Copy 4 does the rest for you!