Ecuador's DVD-2-DivX Guide for beginners v2.3

Last Update : February 1 2003

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1. Introduction 6-IV. Setting Luminance
2. Requirements 6-V. Setting Global Project Options
2-I. Hardware Requirements 6-VI. Sound Settings
2-II. Software Requirements 6-VII. Starting the Conversion
3. Installation 7. Audio Conversion
4. Ripping 7-I. Extracting WAV
4-I. Authentication 7-II. Normalizing WAV
4-II. Ripping to Hard Disk 7-III. Multiplexing Audio/Video
5. Bitrate Calculation 8. Splitting the AVI
6. Video Conversion 9. Playback
6-I. Loading movie in XMPEG 10. Troubleshooting
6-II. Setting Output Format (Codecs) 11. Contacting the author
6-III. Setting up DivX Pro 5  


1. Introduction

This guide is intended for beginners. It describes one of the easiest methods of converting DVD's to MPEG 4 (DivX) AVI files with subtitles and MP3 Dolby Surround sound that will fit on 1 or 2 CD's.

The method uses XMPEG (improved version of FlaskMPEG) )for conversion and has the following advantages:

- Easy to set-up, easy to use.
- Excellent compression (using the built-in DivX 5 2-pass).
- Great speed.
- Good sound (Dolby Surround) for 1-CD rips.
- No problems with sound synchronization.
- Output AVI plays on any media player as long as MP3 and DivX are installed.

And a few disadvantages:

- 2+ CD rips would be better with AC3 sound, a process that is not covered by this guide.
- No de-interlacing.


Some extra info in red is not essential to the process. Skip these sections until you are somewhat experienced.


2. Requirements

I. Hardware Requirements

CPU: For smooth playback you will need at least a PII-350 or K6-2 450. As for ripping, the faster the system the better for you. For example, a 2 hour movie takes about 4.5 hours of processing on an Athlon XP 1600+.

RAM: As most modern systems come with 128MB or more there is no problem. Even 64MB RAM on Win 9x should be ok.

DVD: Virtually any DVD drive wll do fine. Of course, a region free drive is a plus. Also, if you have a slow DVD drive (up to 4x) and a fast system (1GHz+) you could consider converting directly from the DVD, but only if you don't have enough free disk space.

Hard Disk: A DVD will require about 3-8 GB of space on the hard disk for the ripping phase. An additional 2-4 GB's are required for the conversion. If you don't have that much free space you could consider skipping the ripping phase and converting directly from the DVD, but that would be extra strain on your DVD drive, as it will have to read for several hours. If your DVD drive is fast (8x or more) you don't have this option as the drive will have to speed up and slow down continuously in order to maintain a slow reading speed, a process that could easily damage the drive.

SVGA: An overlay capable SVGA card is required (almost all 8MB+ cards will do, as well as several 4MB units). Best cards for video are ATI cards.


II. Software Requirements

OS: Most Windows OS's (Win 98, ME, 2k or XP) are ok. I prefer Windows XP (the screenshots are on Win XP). I don't know if Win 95 will suffice.

Essential Programs:

Optional Programs:


3. Installation

Make sure you have at least DirectX 7 installed on your system. You probably have them if you have been playing some recent 3D games. If not, download them from

If you have downloaded Ecuador's DVD-2-DivX Rippack 2.3 then installation is very easy. Just double click setup.exe and install with the selected options. If you are using Windows 2000 or XP and DVDDecrypter reports an ASPI layer not found error, then re-run setup.exe, uncheck everything and check NERO ASPI Library. The Rippack installer will create start-menu shortcuts for all required programs.

Install the DivX 5.0.3 Pro codec that you downloaded from the DivXNetworks site. After the installation run Ecuador's ABC 2.91 and press "DivX 5 spyware disabler". After rebooting you should have no ads, yet a fully functional DivX Pro codec.

As I mentioned earlier you need to have a software DVD player installed (e.g. PowerDVD).


4. Ripping

I. Authentication

Insert your DVD disk in the drive and press play on your software DVD player. When playback begins, authentication is complete and you can close the player software. Also, it would be useful to note the length of the movie (hours, mins, secs), as that will be used later.

Note, that you may decide to remove parts you don't want like the end credits. In that case substract the parts you are going to skip from the length of the movie.

II. Ripping to Hard Disk

You could theoretically skip this phase if you have a slow DVD drive, but if you have enough hard disk space you really shouldn't.

Start DVD Decrypter. If an "ASPI not found" error occurs under Win 2k/XP you need a working ASPI layer. Try the one included in my rippack.

Each DVD contains one or more titles. Each title consists of several files:

One VTS_XX_0.IFO file and several VTS_XX_Y.VOB files, where XX is the title number and Y is the VOB file index number starting from 0. VTS_XX_0.VOB and VTS_XX_0.BUP are not important, but all the other files have to be copied to the same folder on the disk.

For your convenience, DVD Decrypter will try to choose all the files that contain the movie for you. If you want to convert the movie and not the extras the automatic selection will most probably work and all you have to do is to press the large DVD to HD button on the lower left.

If you check all the files and copy them to your hard disk then you can use PowerDVD 4's "Open DVD file from Hard Disk" option (and select VIDEO_TS.IFO) to view the movie without the disk.


5. Bitrate Calculation

You should know the duration of the movie you wish to convert. You either already know that, as described in step 4-I, or you can find it out with XMPEG as described in step 6-I.

Start Ecuador's AVI Bitrate calculator. Press the red (video bitrate) button.

  • Enter the duration of the movie in minutes (or in HH:MM:SS format).
  • Select an audio bitrate. If you don't know what to use, leave it at 128kbps.
  • Choose the number of CD's (1CD recommended for less than 2 hours) and their capacity (you could be using 650MB or 700MB CD-R media). I suggest you use 700MB CD-R's if possible, as the extra 50MB could make a difference in quality.
  • Make sure you have chosen DivX version 4/5.

After you' ve entered all info you should be given the estimated video bitrate. Make a note of it, as you will be needing it later on.

We have chosen an audio bitrate of 128kbps which is considered to be good quality audio. However, the calculator gives you a large estimated video bitrate (e.g. 1000kbps or more) you could use higher quality audio of 160, 192 or even 224 kbps. On the other hand, there are some cases (for example very low video bitrate) where you want to use less disk space for the audio. In those cases you could use 112 or 96kbps. You should not go below 96kbps for stereo mp3, or the quality will be very poor.

Also, if you want to save a couple of megabytes that are used for the AVI file structure, you could change the "Advanced" interleaving settings to a larger value (e.g. interleave audio every 10 frames). You will use these settings later in VirtualDub.


6. Video Conversion

I. Loading movie in XMPEG

Please remember that the first time you will run XMPEG it will run an iDCT test that will take some time to finish. Do not terminate the program, just wait a few minutes and it will finish.

Start XMPEG. Go to File-->Open Media and locate the .ifo file you have copied to your hard disk. If you are converting directly from the DVD choose "XiS DVD Mism" from the File Type drop-down list and then find the appropriate .ifo file on the DVD (it will be the one followed by the most similarly numbered .vob files).

You should see a window similar to the one on the left. Choose the corect title (usually the longest one). If there are two titles with the same duration, the first one should work fine. Choose an audio track and subtitles (if you want any on the final video). The subtitles you select here will be locked on the video. If you prefer to have subtitles on a different file and show them only if you want to, you can download subtitles from sites like and view them with DivX players like BSPlayer.

After pressing the green button a movie window should appear allong with a control panel.

The control panel has a large slider for easy navigation through the movie. Pressing the ">>" button on the lower right will reveal some details of the video. Make a note of the "Detected FPS" value. For PAL (R2) DVD's you don't have to check, as it will always be 25.

At this point you should use the slider to move to a "fast" scene and press the play button. There are a few DVD's that use interlaced video (older ones and very few) that will have black horizontal bars on fast moving objects. This version of XMPEG cannot remove the black bars (deinterlacing). The only solution is to either use an other program than XMPEG (and another guide) or later on, when setting a resolution use half vertical resolution. That means 288pixels for PAL or 240pixels for NTSC.

This is also a good time to check if the subtitles are displayed. Again go to a scene where there should be subtitles and press the play button. If you have subtitles it would be good to remember where they appear so as not to cut them out later on when you are removing any black bars.


II. Setting Output Format (Codecs)

Go to "Options"-->"Output Format Options". The AVIPlugin window will come up where you will be able to choose audio and video codecs:

For audio, leave it to "Uncompressed PCM".

You could choose to compress directly to MP3 (by selecting the MPEG Layer 3 codec) and check the two boxes below (High quality... and Compensate...), but that sometime causes problems. Moreover you would have to rely on XMPEG's built-in normalization which is rather slow. So, I suggest to beginners to use uncompressed audio at this point to avoid any problems. If direct encoding to MP3 works for you and you prefer it, go for it.

From the Video Codec dropdown list select "DivX Pro 5.0.3". The DivX Pro 5 configuration panel will come up.


III. Setting up DivX Pro 5

The 5.0.3 pro version of the DivX codec features a new "multipass" mode which allows more than 2 encoding passes, improving quality. In reality, after the third pass the difference, if any, is not worth the extra time, although the 3rd pass is a slightly perceivable improvement over the original 2-pass method for those who wish to do the extra work.

*Profiles Tab

Uncheck the "Choose your profile" box so that you can use your own settings and on't worry about the warning.

MPEG4 Tools :

  • Quarter Pixel : Usually works well when the movie is displayed on TV Monitor. For most cases DON'T use it.
  • GMC (Global Motion Compensation) : A very small gain in compression / quality, but could cause visual problems on a few rare occasions so, generally DON'T use it. Another reason not to use it is that GMC might prevent your clips from being played on some future ISO-MPEG 4 home players.
  • Bidirectional Encoding (B-Frames) : Unlike GMC, this option results in great compression / quality gain (and is ISO MPEG 4 compliant) so DO use it. Of course, the compression speed will be significantly slower, but it is worth it.

*Bitrate Control Tab

Select VBR mode "Original 2-pass, first pass". Enter the bitrate you got from Ecuador's ABC 2 (step 5) or a bit lower (e.g. 780 instead of 787) to be on the safe side. Check "Write MV file" for a speed gain during the second pass.

The "multipass" method seems to give worse results at 2-passes than the "Original" method. Of course you can go for 3 passes which will require you to run XMPEG once more after the 2 passes. So, for the "multipass" method select "multipass, 1st pass".

*General Parameters Tab

Leave the default settings (all boxes unchecked, Performance/quality : "slowest").


Press ok on the DivX control panel and the Green Arrow on XMPEG's AVIPlugin window for the settings to be accepted.


IV. Setting Luminance

Most DVD movies will appear quite dark. There is a way to correct this.

Go to Options-->Luminance. Check "Enable". Now you can set the sliders to your preferred settings while seeing the result on the movie window. Gain is something like your TV's contrast setting while Offset is like the brightness setting (more usefull for dark movies).

There is no correct value but for most movies I use a Gain of 7-12 and an Offset of 16-23.


V. Setting Global Project Options

Go to Options-->Global Project Options.

*Video Tab:

Here you have to select the Time Base (fps). You have made a note of the correct value on step 6-I.
The iDCT options affect the speed and quality of the conversions. My personal favorite is the Optimized MMX iDCT which is very fast on my Athlon XP.
The frame size will be set up later on and deinterlacing should not be checked (as it doesn't actually work).


*Audio Tab:

Just use the settings you see on the left (decode audio, 48000 Hz).

If you plan to export the audio to WAV and normalize it separately, you can choose "Don't process audio" here. After completing the video compression, return to this tab and choose "Decode audio - 48000Hz" (to make sure XMPEG does note default to 44100Hz). Then, execute step "IV" (audio settings) and finally go to menu "Run...-->Extract Audio to...-->WAV". You will have a separate WAV file without having to extract it through VirtualDub.


*Post Processing Tab:

Some of the most important settings lie in this window.

Make sure you have YV12 Format checked, or you will lose significant speed during the conversion. Then, you have to select a filter. The filter will affect the speed and the quality of the resizing. Some people prefer bressenham, others bicubic. I always use MMX Bilinear which is similar to but faster than bressenham and crisper than bicubic.

Also, remember the Input Aspect Ratio. It will either be 16:9 or 4:3. You will need it for resizing. Make sure "Keep aspect ratio" is unchecked.

Note that aspect ratio setting don't work in this version of XMPEG. That is why we will set it manualy on the next step.

Now it is time to set up resizing and cropping. Press the "Show output pad" button.

  • First, you will resize the video.

You need to maintain the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (4:3) or 1.778:1 (16:9) of the DVD. At the top left of the preview window the AR input should indicate the aspect ratio. Note that due to a bug, 1.778 is sometimes displayed as "1.#IO".

Use the "Output Size" buttons to resize the video, trying to keep the output aspect ratio close to the AR input.

For your convenience, you can start "Ecuador's ABC 2" and use the resolution /AR calculator. Choose the movie aspect ratio from the "standard" drop down menu and move the horizontal resolution slider to somewhere between 560 and 640. Use the resolution setings to resize the preview in the output pad. If you won't crop the edges afterwards, make sure you have a resolution that is a multiple of 16 for both axes. If you plan to crop the black bars, you don't have to obey to this this limitation now. You will obey i though, when you do the cropping.

560-640 horizontal resolution is a good setting for about 700-1200 kbps video. If you use a smaller bit rate try a lower resolution. If you prefer a greater resolution (704-720 horizontal) you should use at bitrate of about 1500 or more. The most common mistake newbies commit is choosing a greater resolution than they should (usualy full 720x576 or 480 without even fixing the aspect ratio). If there is not enough bitrate to support that resolution big blocks will appear, degrading the overall quality.

After resizing there could be black bars above and below the video (or even the sides). You should cut them out, but with care if you are using subtitles. If you are at a dark part of the movie and you cannot make out the edge of the movie, use the horizontal slider to go to a brighter part. So, check the "Crop" box and use your mouse to drag the dashed lines. A quick way to automatically adjust cropping is to press the ">>" button and select "autocrop".

The dashed lines mark the final output video, and the resolution is displayed on the top left of the preview (third row). Cropping does not affect the aspect ratio, but you still need to use multiples of 16 for the resolution. You can use the resolution /AR calculator with the Free Aspect Ratio setting to quickly find the closest multiple of 16.

Upon finishing press the Green Arrow to accept the settings.

*Files Tab:

Enter the target file names here.

*General Tab:

Check "Compile whole file", "Overlay" and "2nd Pass enabled". Press 2nd Pass Plugin Settings. The AVIPlugin window will come up.

Select video codec "DivX Pro 5.0.3" once more for the DivX control panel to come up. Make sure you have the exact same settings as step 6-III except the VBR mode, which should now be "Original 2-pass, second pass". Check "Do not prompt..." for the process to complete without any input.

If you decide to use the "multipass" method for a third pass, then select here "multipass, nth pass". After the process is completed, you have to uncheck "2nd Pass enabled" and select "multipass, nth pass" as the OUTPUT FORMAT settings (step 6-III).

Press ok on the DivX control panel, the Green Arrow on XMPEG's AVIPlugin and ok on the XMPEG Global Project Options panel for the settings to be accepted.


VI. Sound Settings

Go to Run...-->Audio Player. The audio track will start playing and the following panel will appear :

Choose the correct language from the available tracks (you should listen to it to make sure). Sometimes the Audio properties don't appear correctly, so even if the correct language is selected by default, click to select it again and the properties will refresh. Now, take a look at mode. If you have more than two channels (e.g. 5.0 channels) make sure the "Dolby Surround downmix" is pressed (or looks lighter coloured for Win XP). If you don't have multi-channel audio (e.g. 2.0 channels) make sure "Dolby Surround downmix" is unpressed. "Normalization" and "Dynamic Range..." should not be checked.

If on step 6-II you chose the MP3 Codec, you should use XMPEG's Normalization. So, check the appropriate box and press "Search". Wait for a few (or more :) minutes until the progress bar has reached the end.

I have seen some guides using the Dynamic Range Compression. While the result might sound better (dialogues and other quiet parts sounding louder) the process in fact partly destroys the director's and the sound engineer's work on the sound. If the director intended some quiet moments to contrast to the louder scenes, I suggest you respect that. On the other hand, if you are only going to watch the movie through a cheap pair of PC speakers, DRC might not sound such a bad idea. For any other case (including using headphones) stay away from DRC.


VII. Starting the Conversion

Go to Run-->Start Conversion. Wait for a few hours, depending on your settings, the length of the video and the speed of your PC. For example, a 2-hour movie on my Athlon XP 1600+ DDR takes less than 4 hours for a typical 2-pass conversion with XMPEG.


7. Audio Conversion

Start VirtualDub. Go to File-->Open Video File... and open the .avi file created by XMPEG.

I. Extracting WAV

First we will extract the audio track in order to normalize it. This step is optional, but skipping it could result to quiet audio. Of course, if you already normalized through XMPEG you don't need to proceed with this step.

Go to File-->Save WAV... and give a filename for the output file. Make sure you manualy enter .wav as an extension (e.g. movie.wav).

II. Normalizing WAV

Start Ecuador's ABC 2. Press the "WAV Normalizer" button. Press "Open WAV" and select the extracted WAV file. Press "Scan for Peaks" and when it completes press "Normalize". The audio file is now normalized and the final AVI file can be created.

III. Multiplexing Audio/Video

Again in VirtualDub (with the AVI file loaded) in the menu "video" select "direct stream copy", as the video is already compressed. From the "audio" menu select "full processing mode", then "WAV audio..." and select the normalized WAV file (If you haven't extracted the audio, leave the setting to "AVI audio").

Again on the "audio" menu, go to "Conversion...". Select "44100Hz" and check "High Quality".

Converting to 44100Hz is recommended only when you use an audio bitrate of up to 128 kbps in order to improve the quality. If you use at least 160 kbps skip the conversion settings as the quality will be better with 48kHz audio.

You can also change the a/v interleaving settings (audio-->interleaving...). The default is interleaving every 1 frame (which corresponds to 40 ms for PAL). You could set it to every 5-10 frames to save a few MB's off your AVI. I should note that the interleaving settings affect how well the AVI plays from the CD so, you should experiment to find out which setting works for you. I won't suggest a setting as my drive is quite tolerant while I have seen many others who aren't.

Finally, go to "audio"-->"Compression" and select the "MPEG Layer 3" codec and set it to 128kbps 44.1kHz Stereo.

To create the final AVI, menu "File"-->"Save As AVI..." and coose the output file.


8. Splitting the AVI.

If your final AVI fits on one CD then you are finished and ready to burn it on CD-R. If not, then open it with VirtualDub and I will explain the 2 CD procedure (You can go for even more CDs of course).

Since the DivX codec is a variable bitrate codec you never know where exactly to cut the AVI, you can only guess. Ecuador's ABC 2 has a splitting frame calculator that can do the first guess for you. So, use it and you will have the frames to be deleted in order to create each of the two (or more) splitted AVI's.

Press "ctrl+G" and enter the frame you want to split the file at. Splitting can only be done at keframes, so press "Shift-Left" to move to the previous keyframe and note down the frame number. Press "Home" to set selection start, move the horizontal slider to the last frame and press "End" to set selection end. Now press "Delete" to delete the selected section. Select "Direct Stream Copy" on both video and audio menus, and save your new avi under a new name.
For the second segment the procedure is similar but this time set selection start (Home button) to frame 0 and selection end to one frame less than the one you noted before (press "ctrl+G" to go to the frame and "End" to set it as the end of selection). Press "Delete" and continue as before creating a new AVI.

You could also use the above method to cut out any parts of the video you do not want (like the credits) in order to save space.


9. Playback.

Your MPEG 4 AVI can be played with any media player. However there are some players specially created for DivX content with many nice features.

I recommend using BSPlayer, downloadable from

Probably the worst player you could ever use is Microsoft Media Player 7. If you really want to use a Microsoft Media player then at least download Media Player 6.4 which is much better (and lighter) than the newer version.


10. Troubleshooting

After a lot of e-mails which I answered separately, I thought I would add to the guide solutions to the most comon problems. Before anything else, make sure you have installed XMPEG through my rip-pack.


DivX codec cannot be found on the XMPEG codecs list.
- or -
The movie loads in XMPEG but the program crashes when I start the conversion, regardless my settings.

You can either uninstall and delete the entire XMPEG folder from your hard disk (and then re-install it), or delete just the "Profiles" and "Settings" subfolders (after exiting XMPEG of course). This way all XMPEG settings are reset. A common mistake people do to end up with this situation is selecting a final resolution that does not follow the "multiples of 16" rule.


Encoding ends with an error at 50% (that is the start of the second pass).

Check to see if your output files and DivX "log", "mv" files are saved to a valid folder on your hard disk. Try using a FAT 32 partition under Win XP, or disable the DivX "mv" file.


Win 98 (or Win Me) resources drop as XMPEG is converting. Windows become unresponsive. In some cases the encoding finishes, but other programs cannot run the same time.

There is a recource leak with the "compression tracer" window that does not affect Win 2000/XP. Do not close "compression tracer", rather click on one of its icons to change the view to the video stats or log views. Then you can either leave or close the window. Repeat at 50% when the window pops up again.


XMPEG error under Win XP:

An error ocurred when trying to generate the file.
Check that you're not using the output file or the program is setup correctly.

I have never encountered this one (except when I actually use the output file...), so I have not tested the solution, but I have been told that in this case you need to update the Microsoft Movie Maker (through Windows Update) and associate the .avi extension with the Windows Media Player.


XMPEG problems with audio codecs under Win XP (and sometimes Win 9x)

Again, this is a problem that I have not tested, but for some the installation of the TSUNAMI codec pack has solved the problems. For others, deleting or disabling duplicate audio codecs through the control panel was the solution.


11. Contacting the Author.

You can always visit my homepage:

Send me an e-mail:

You can also find me on the Greek irc (GR Net). Connect to one of the servers (e.g., and find me after midnight local time (Eastern European - GMT +2) by the nickname "Ecuador" (usually I' m on the Physics University of Athens students channel: #fysiko).