Best Video Compression Software? (2004)
September 5, 2004 8:04 PM   Subscribe

Of all the video compression software out there, which do you think is the best in terms of straight-forward usability and useful features? Basically I'm trying to shrink several 800MB avi files down to a size which will fit on standard 700MB CDRs.

Oh, and freeware is preferable.... :)
posted by dhoyt to Computers & Internet (20 answers total)
You want several 800 MB files shrunk to fit on one cd? You can certainly do that, but the results will always look like ass to the point that "best" software isn't worth debating.

Get virtual dub (which is free and pretty easy) and the xvid codec. Choose "fast recompress" and choose xvid. Then set the bitrate low as possible and get ready for nearly unwatchable video.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:24 PM on September 5, 2004

Sorry, no, I meant I have two movies which are 800 MB each. I want to put them separately on two CDRs.

So if the file is only 800MB, shouldn't I be able to compress it to around 600MB without it looking too assy? Also, does VirtualDub allow you set a desired filesize output?
posted by dhoyt at 8:34 PM on September 5, 2004

Why does it need to be a video codec? I'd just use a zip program. Assuming you're using Windows XP (big assumption, I know), Explorer will handle zip files as if they were folders, so it's not too hard to play avis from zips on CD-Rs that way.

I offer this only as an alternative to re-encoding the actual video, which is likely to take a long time and cause significant loss of quality.
posted by reklaw at 8:45 PM on September 5, 2004

reklaw: I'm trying to play the movie on my DVD player.
posted by dhoyt at 8:48 PM on September 5, 2004

Does your movie player play DivX? Xvid?

If not, you should be looking into MPEG/VCD formats.
posted by reklaw at 8:56 PM on September 5, 2004

I highly reccomend checking out As far as I've found, they are THE authoritative source for all things ripping, compression, and pretty much anything having to do with video.
Um, and contrary to what Mayor Curely says, 800megs-->600megs won't be that big of a difference and the lowest bitrate is most certainly not necessary. I've ripped many DVDs and burnt at 60% quality onto consumer DVDs with watchable success. However, my experience for compression is isolated to DVD files, so I'm not exactly sure how to compress AVI files. However, DVD compression utils will do it according to your exactly desired size, which I'm guessing a AVI program can do, too.
posted by jmd82 at 9:02 PM on September 5, 2004 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's a good DVD player and supports Divx, Xvid, etc. With movies under 700MB, I've successfully used Nero to encode them, burn to CD and watch on the DVD player. But I'm having trouble knowing what to do with these 800MB files. I just grabbed Virtual Dub, but haven't figured out how to export as mpg yet. I feel like such a n00b...
posted by dhoyt at 9:03 PM on September 5, 2004

dhoyt: try referance guide.
posted by jmd82 at 9:27 PM on September 5, 2004

er, try THIS...
posted by jmd82 at 9:29 PM on September 5, 2004

I'm probably screwing up again here, but couldn't you use 800MB CDs? They can be hard to find, but ebay usually have some listed.

Other than that, I can only suggest that you might want to see what kind of audio your avi files have. You could probably compress the audio down to 128kbps mp3 and not notice too much difference, where you'd be more likely to notice a degradation in video quality.
posted by reklaw at 9:55 PM on September 5, 2004

Yeah, I might look into 800MB CDs if I can't get VirtualDub to do what I want it to.

Using VD just now, I was able to export the file as an "AVI segment" with a target filesize of 700MB. Great, right? When it was done, the movie would just stop playing about halfway through. No idea why. Before I started, I got an error message regarding "Bframe decoder lag". Not sure what that's about yet...
posted by dhoyt at 10:14 PM on September 5, 2004

Hopefully a fix for that problem here (or so the message forum says. Haven't tried it myself, though so results may vary) with a more technical explanation for the reason here. Also found some other stuff, but was all in German which my Spanish skills don't quite help to decipher.
posted by jmd82 at 11:24 PM on September 5, 2004

If these are downloaded movies, they're encoded by the pirates to be around 800mb for the express purpose of being burnable to 800mb CDs.

posted by armoured-ant at 5:18 AM on September 6, 2004

Look - get the 800mb cds.

If the files are 800mb avi's that are compressed from a decent source...

They are already compressed to hell.

When you recompress something that's already goes from looking fair to looking worse.

But I should note - I think DVD's look very compressed.
posted by filmgeek at 5:48 AM on September 6, 2004

I'm currently living in Hanoi, where new release DVDs sell for about $1.25 each in the ubiquitous pirate shops.

I know it doesn't help your question, dhoyt, but as a video tech who has spent his share of time diddling with compression, it's funny to see MPG2 reduced to its bare-bones cost.
posted by squirrel at 8:16 AM on September 6, 2004

Have you tried getting Nero to burn the files in VCD format? Because my Nero6 inexplicably fits 800MB avi files onto normal 700MB CDs in VCD format all the time. It automatically does the compression on its own or something.
posted by emyd at 8:44 AM on September 6, 2004

Google for MODE2 burning. You basically give up error correction to get more data on a CDR.
posted by Flat Feet Pete at 8:52 AM on September 6, 2004

What DVD player do you have? I just got the DivX-compatible Philips DVP642, and it plays DivX files straight off of DVDs. I would just burn the two 800mb files to a DVD (along with a few other gigs of stuff so as not to waste space) and pop it in the player.
Of course this assumes you have a DVD burner, but cost of entry is pretty low these days and the media cost is far lower than buying blank CD-Rs.
posted by Gortuk at 9:11 AM on September 6, 2004

Anyone got any detailed resources on multipass encoding? I'm interested in some detail on what happens in the various passes, but the mentions I've googled are merely cursory, with only the most spare of one-paragraph explanations.
posted by NortonDC at 11:32 AM on September 6, 2004

By the way, the CDspeed tool in the Nero package includes an overburning capacity tester (warning warning, it might blow up your burner, but I've used it with no problems ever) buried in its menus. There is wild variation between different brands of media in how much data you can fit on, and some burners are better than others for overburning.

Worth a go.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:14 AM on September 7, 2004

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