video encoding&cleaning

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Of course, one could write an HD movie to several DVDs. That's as straightforward as it is space consuming. No reason for further comments.
But there are other ways: DIVX had hardly any use any more since DVDs where out, but here we can revive it. In principle, it could encode an entire 2 hr HD movie onto one DVD without visible quality loss. Alas as of now, DIVX is limited to 4000 kbps, which is too low.

XVID does 10000 kbps and is faster (version dependent). So It is better for this job. Older versions may be the better choice, BTW. I got good results with Koepi's build from Oct.10,2002, core version 2.1. Simpler and more than twice as fast as the latest version (however I don't know where you can still download it). The latest build may yield a bit better quality, but that`s a very long task encoding a movie with it.
Try a Q setting of 75 (or between 4500 and 6000 kbps with the latest codec version) and, if it's Euro HDTV, switch interlacing on.
With motion search precision at 'good', encoding speed should be 1/8 on a 3 GHz CPU with an 1920x1080i source and the old codec, or 1/16 with the new codec.
More than 2 hr of XVID (MPEG4) HDTV can be fit on a normal DVD.
Quality wise, results are surprisingly good. The 4cc of the output file can be set to DIVX directly at encoding, so it will use the DIVX codec for playback later on (there DIVX is faster). You can also change this later on with the fourcc changer that comes with XVID.

The fastest playback decoder for MPEG4 however is ffdshow. With the SSE2 version, a Celeron at 2.4 GHz is able to do fluent playback with this one (CPU load ~90%). Uncheck all decoding options but XVID, DIVX4 and DIVX5 at installation if you just want it for that. Afterwards, use the audio setting tool of the decoder to disable some audio decoders it still installs, if desired.
The fourcc of an XVID should not be set to DIVX if to be played with ffdshow (results in picture errors !).

For AC3 decoding with older media players and VirtualDub, a good choice is AC3ACM.
Good players for this kind of media are Media Player 6.4 (that from older Windows, has very little overhead) or Media Player Classic.

To cut out ads before encoding it may be possible to use VirtualDubMPEG2's editing functions and then directly encode/save to an XVID+AC3 AVI (with sound set to direct stream copy).
However this may not always work well. In this case, the latest version of MPEG2Cut comes in handy. There you can subsequently mark and add as clips all parts you want to keep, then save with the "demux all clips" option (results in an M2V and an AC3 file), then encode with VirtualDubMPEG2 and then remux the result with the AC3 sound, using VirtualDubMod.

For more details on decoding/frameserving, see below.

BTW DIVX6 is announced to support HD, let's see what that will do.

Useful Tools

DVBviewer full version
DVD2AVI with VFAPI plugin, plus VFAPI reader codec.

toolame/toolameGUI and VFAPI converter: See doom9.
ffdshow contains several codecs, especially the fast MPEG4 decoder comes in handy.
AVIdemux a universal encoder/processor that also handles AVC, MP4 etc. Can encode to AVC (H.264) MP4 in good quality.
CoreAVC fast playback codec for AVC (H.264); better use an accelerating decoder fit to your hardware, though.
AC3ACM AC3 decoder for media player, Virtualdub etc.
Media Player Classic versatile replacement for the good old Media Player 6.4
XVID HDTV capable MPEG4 (H.263) compliant codec
HC-Encoder is the best freeware MPEG2 encoder and capable of HDTV. DGindex conveniently generates .avs input for it.
AVIsynth is useful feeding input to HC-Encoder, and for many other tasks.



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