Step 3: Using AVI ReComp
We now get to the main part of this guide, which is to use AVI ReComp to recompress an AVI file to XviD and explaining all of the options that AVI ReComp offer. The first thing to do is to click on the "Source & Output" button at the top. Use the big button marked "Open AVI" to load in your input AVI file. Use the button marked "Save AVI" to specify an output location for the output file (try to at least ensure input and output files have different names, preferably different folder locations). You also need to select and output size (by default, it will be set to the same file size as the input file).
An useful feature of AVI ReComp is that it will show you information regarding the input file on the right hand side. Things like frame-rate, resolution and whether Q-Pel or GMC have been used (which should help you diagnose why your file may not work on standalones).
Click on the "Additions" button at the top. This is where you can access many of the AVI ReComp features, such as cropping or subtitles.
Under the "Resolution" section, you can use the buttons to crop or resize the video. Normally, you probably won't need to do this, but for the purpose of this guide, I will show you how anyway. Click on "Cropping" to open up the cropping option window. A preview of the video is shown (use the slider to skip to a section where the black border is visible, if your intention is to crop out the black border), as well as the cropping options. The four text boxes (where use the up and down arrows to select a number) is used to determine how many pixels you remove from the four sides of the video. You use this to get rid of any black bars which may be around the video. Getting rid of black bars will help make the encoding process more efficient (and hence, give the video better quality). For the example video I've used for this guide, you can see from the screenshot below that I've cropped all four sides slightly. You can press the "preview" button to preview the crop (previews the video, not just a still). "Restore" will reset the cropping setting, and "Use" will tell AVI ReComp that you want to use these cropping settings for your encoding, so click on this or click on "Cancel" to return to the main AVI ReComp interface.
Similarly, pressing the "Resizing" button will open up the resize option window. The options here are similar to what's under cropping. Check the "Keep ratio" button to make sure the aspect ratio of the video hasn't been altered (so the picture becomes too fat or too skinny), which basically will automatically change the width setting as you change the height setting and it will work the other way around too. Be sure to check the "Keep ratio" before changing either the width or height if you truly want to keep the aspect ratio, because once you change the aspect ratio and then check this option, the resulting changes will be locked to this new aspect ratio (as opposed to the original video's aspect ratio). You can use this feature to upscale your video to HD resolutions, which obviously won't give you increased quality, but may give you HD video for playback devices that cannot upscale video. If you do increase the resolution above the standard size for DVDs, then you will get a warning box telling you that standalone player compatibility may have been sacrificed.
Moving on to the "Black Borders" section - this does the opposite of cropping and allows you to add black borders to the video, which sometimes may be necessary if your playback device doesn't like certain aspect ratios and won't scale properly (for example, it may display widescreen videos stretched on a fullscreen display, making everything too tall). You won't normally need to use this option, as most standalones will deal with the aspect ratio properly. You can specify a border based on certain standard aspect ratios (4:3 for fullscreen, 16:9 for widescreen), or use your own custom resolution.
The "Audio conversion" option allows you to convert the audio to another format. Again, this is only necessary if your player doesn't like certain types of audio (audio support is usually a lot better than video support on standalones, so you most likely won't need to use this option). Click on the "Audio conversion" button to open the option window, and enable audio conversion by checking the "Convert audio stream(s)" option. The most compatible option would be to use CBR audio, at 128 Kbps or under, with 44100 Hz audio. But this would be for the most antiquated standalone, or one that's extremely picky. You can also adjust the volume if necessary. Note that selecting VBR will make the final size slightly unpredictable, as a variable bitrate will be used, but only the audio file size is affected, so the file size differences will not be huge (if you really need a file to be a specific size so it fits somewhere, and you want to use VBR, then go back to the "Source & Output" area and select a slightly smaller file size than what you require to ensure the file produced isn't too big). Using CBR or ABR will make the final file size very close to what you specify, with the audio file size exactly as set.
Now on to the subtitles options. You can load in subtitles files to add burnt-in subtitles (subtitles that can't be removed) to the video. The "Auto-load" option is useful if your subtitle file is in the same directory as your input video and has the same file name, and if you want to batch convert a bunch of files like this (otherwise, you'll need to specify each subtitle file for each video numerous times). If your subtitle files are in the SSA or ASS formats, then you will have access to further subtitle options via the "Settings" button, things like position, font, size, colour ...
The logo option does what it suggests, by adding a logo to your video (again, it's burnt-in). The logo has to be in BMP format, and obviously the exact size as you want it to appear on the video. Press the "Settings" button to adjust the properties of the logo, such as the position, transparency and even the fade in/out property. You can of course preview the output.
We are nearly ready to start the re-compression process. Click on the "Queue" button at the top. Press the "Add to Queue" button to add the current settings to the job queue (the job queue is a list of re-compression project). Once you have added the current job to the queue, you can go back to the beginning of this step to configure the settings for a new input file, and so on and so on until you have a list of jobs to do one after the other. This is useful if you need to convert a batch of files unattended. You can even use the option available to shut down your PC after all the jobs are finished automatically. Please note that the "Preview" button previews the currently loaded input file and settings, not the actual job you have selected from the queue. Whether it's one job or 10, once it has been added to the job queue, you can press the "Start" button to start the encoding process. And all you have to do afterwards is to wait for your video to finish encoding, which could take a few minutes or a few hours depending on your PC's power and the length of the video. If you want to have a look at what's going on beneath the hood, you can skip onto the "Log" section where a log of what's happening will be displayed.
Got a questions about this guide or about DivX, XviD encoding and conversion in general? Post them in our DivX, XviD Conversion/Encoding forum and get them answered by myself or other expert users.
That's all folks. Thanks for reading!