AVI to (Xbox 360 compatible) WMV Conversion Guide

Original Page URL: https://www.digital-digest.com/articles/AVI_to_WMV_Xbox_360_Conversion_Guide_page1.html
Date Added: May 8, 2007
Date Updated: May 8, 2007

This guide will show you how to convert your AVI/DivX/XviD files to WMV format, which an emphasis on Xbox 360 compatibility. AVI to WMV conversion for the Xbox 360 was popular due to the 360's inability to decode DivX/XviD files. But all that changed with the 2007 Fall Update, where DivX and XviD decoding was added to the 360, and you can now easily share your AVI files with the 360 without much fuss (follow our Xbox 360 DivX/XviD playback guide to find out how). So while this guide is no longer that useful for Xbox 360 playback of AVI files, it still goes through the basics of AVI to WMV conversion for those that need it, and still keep the 360 compatibility instructions just in case.

Software you'll need (all freeware):

Hardware you'll need:

  • Optional: Xbox 360

Step 1: Installation

Like TVersity, Windows Media Encoder (WME) is a bit fussy when it comes to loading DivX/XviD files. The steps below involving removing all your existing codecs and installing K-Lite Mega Codec Pack is one that I have tested and found to allow WME to load in DivX/XviD files, however your system may already allow this to happen without installing/uninstalling any codecs. So the general advice is to install WME, load a DivX/XviD file, try to encode it to WMV and if you get the "invalid or corrupt data was encountered" error, try the following steps involving K-Lite Mega Codec Pack.

If you haven't done so already, install Windows Media Player.

As mentioned above, to allow WME to load DivX/XviD files, you may need to uninstall all your existing codec packs and codecs and use K-Lite Mega Codecs Pack. This includes, but is not limited to, DivX, XviD, any codec pack, ffdshow ... everything. Don't worry about messing up playback, because the next step is to download and install the K-Lite Mega Codec Pack.

Start the installation process, and K-Lite will detect more codecs and filters on your system that it recommends you remove - do so and uninstall all the software it asks you (it will replace them with a set of codecs and filters that will be more compatible with WME).

K-Lite Codec Pack: Recommended Uninstall

When you get to the "Select Components" screen of the installation, select the "Default" profile.

K-Lite Mega Codec Pack: Default profile

Scroll down a bit to the "DirectShow video filter" section, and for both the "XviD" and "DivX options , select "ffdshow" to use it as the default decoder. Sometimes the DivX/XviD codec can get in the way of WME. You should probably check the "H.264" checkbox and also select "ffdshow" as the coder (see screenshot below), as this will allow you to convert H.264 files to WMV (although the Xbox 360 does have native support for H.264).

K-Lite Mega Codec Pack: XviD/DivX ffdshow

Scroll down to the "VFW video codecs" section and uncheck "XviD and "DivX" codec options.

K-Lite Mega Codec Pack: Deselect DivX/XviD

You can leave the other options alone if you wish, since the default profile will cover most types of playback (mainly using ffdshow and Media Player Classic). Press "Next" on in the installer until you get to the "Select Additional Tasks" section, I would recommend not selecting the AVI or WMV formats under the "Make Media Player Classic the default player for" section - letting Windows Media Player handle these formats is better for testing purposes (to test if the source and output is at the very least playable in WMP).

K-Lite Codec Pack: Additional Tasks

As for the other options on this screen, if you don't know or don't care, then leave the other options as it is and continue with the installation process. Once it is done, you can test the playback of your DivX/XviD files, and they should play (in WMP or MPC).

For some extra checks, or if your DivX/XviD files no longer plays, do the following: From the start menu folder that the K-Lite installer created, select the "Configuration" -> "ffdshow" -> "video decoder configuration" program. Make sure your screen looks something like the screenshot below, specifically the "XviD" and "DivX 4/5/6" settings (set to "libavcodec"). Press the "Apply" button, close the configuration window and try playback again of your DivX/XviD file - it should play now.

ffdshow: video decoder configuration

Finally, download and install Windows Media Encoder version 9. The "Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile Update Beta" is also available, which adds VC-1 encoding support (VC-1 is used in HD DVD), but that's optional for this guide.

Step 2: Windows Media Encoder - New Session Wizard

Start Windows Media Encoder (WME). You will be asked to start a new session - select the "Convert a file" option and click "OK".

ffdshow: video decoder configuration

The first step of the "New Session Wizard" asks you to load in your input file, and also to specify the location/filename of the output file. Load in your DivX/XviD file here. Press "Next" to continue. WME will now analyze your file, and this could make it look like WME has hanged, but it's really working in the background.

Windows Media Encoder: Load Input

The next step asks you to select an encoding profile. Select the "Windows Media hardware profiles", as this profile will be the one that is most compatible with the Xbox 360. We will get a chance to further tweak the encoder/profile settings later on.

Windows Media Encoder: Select Profile

This step asks you to select the encoding options. You can leave the default option as it is, since we will actually create a custom profile later on and not use any of the pre-created ones.

Windows Media Encoder: Encoding Options

The next step allows you to tag the output WMV file with text information. Do what you want to do here.

Windows Media Encoder: Display Information

We are at the end of the wizard. Deselect the "Begin converting when I click Finish" option, since we still need to configure the encoder settings. Click "Finish" to close the wizard. WME will now again do a bit of work.

Windows Media Encoder: Settings Review

Step 3: Windows Media Encoder - Encoder Setup

Click on the "Properties" button at the top. This opens the "Session Properties" window.

In the "Sources" section, you can find information about the source file. The "Mark In/Out" function is useful for selecting only part of the source to encode.

Windows Media Encoder: Source

Windows Media Encoder: Mark In/Mark Out

Skip to the "Compression" tab and click on the "Edit" button. This should open the "Custom Encoding Settings" window. Here, change both the audio and video mode settings from "CBR" to "Bit rate VBR" - using VBR encoding will greatly improve quality and selecting the "Bit rate VBR" option will allow us to specify the output file size.

Windows Media Encoder: Custom Encoding Settings

Click on the "xxxx Kbps" tab (where "xxxx" is a number - the bit rate, actually). This is where you configure the audio and video bit rate, and hence, determine the quality and file size of the output file. I am going to recommend some settings that will produce WMV files of good quality (equivalent to the quality of TV episode downloads, 350 MB per 42 minutes @ 640x*** resolution).

Set the "Audio Format" tp something lower, "96 kbps, 44 kHz, stereo VBR" should do (you can probably get away with "64 kbps").

Select the "Same as video input" option next to the "Vide size" input boxes to make the output file use the same resolution as the input.

Change the framerate to match the framerate of your source video (usually 23.976, 25 or 29.97 FPS).

Change "Key frame interval" to "10" seconds.

The "Video bit rate" option will require a bit of calculation. If you have a bit rate calculator, now would be a good time to use it, but as a general rule, here's the equation to use: Video bit rate in Kbps = (8 * (Output file size in MB * 1024) / (Length of movie in seconds)) - Audio bit rate

For example (taking your average 350 MB, 42 minute TV episode download):

Video bit rate = ((8 * 350 * 1024) / (42 * 60)) - 96 = 1041 Kbps

So enter in "1041K" for example into the "Video bit rate" input box.

Windows Media Encoder: Custom Encoding Settings - Bit rate

You can return to the "General" tag and export this encoding profile, so you can re-use it later on for encoding the same types of files. Otherwise, click "OK" to close the "Custom Encoding Settings" window.

There are other settings here, but we don't really need to change them, so click on "Apply" to apply the changes to the session.

All that is left to do now is to press the "Start Encoding" button and encoding should start.

Windows Media Encoder: Encoding

After the encoding is finished, you should have a new WMV file and you should test this file in Windows Media Player. After you have confirmed it works, you can then copy the file onto CD/DVD/USB, and play this file back on your Xbox 360.

We're done :)

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