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GNU/Linux Desktop Survival Guide
by Graham Williams

Video Formats

There are a variety of video formats. You have many choices for the format you would like to convert to. avi files are essentially a container for video encodings. An AVI file might contain, for example, a DivX encoded video.

Here is an example of taking a single chapter (happens to be chapter 19 of title 1 of one of my DVDs) and encoding in several formats (where there is a choice, they are 2620 kbit/s, but VCD is only 1152):

Type Ext Time Size Comments
VOB .vob 2m 239MB Audio somewhat poor.
SVCD .mpg 23m 99MB Very blocky.
VCD .mpg 16m 51MB No choice of kbit/s.
divx5 .avi 10m 94MB  
xvid .avi 10m 103MB  
xvidcvs .avi 10m 103MB  

But to determine the best procedure, format and parameters for grabbing a DVD into a compressed form suitable for hard disk storage is not a trivial exercise. For example, deinterlacing may be required, but it is (almost) only needed for material which was shot using a video camera, or transmitted for TV.

The following table summarise some of the file format capabilities of various players:
Player mov avi wmv rm mpg mp3
Xine yes yes yes no yes yes
VLC yes yes yes no yes yes
Mplayer yes yes yes no yes yes
RealPlayer no no no yes no yes

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