AVI + XviD + MP2 = Truly Portable Video

If you’re going to upload video on the internet, there are four basic ways you can encode that video:

1, you can follow The Scene‘s kind of complicated standards, which are oriented more towards high-quality television and movie material ripped from DVD than anything else; (Very basically, AVI files with XviD encoding and MP3 or AC3 audio.) All other things being equal, this is probably the best option to take, because the standards were devised in such a way that compliant files are viewable on as many systems and players as possible.

2, you can follow the prevailing trends of the pirate anime community, which vary with time and to an extent country; (The trend at the moment is to use Matroska files with H264 video and AAC audio.) If you don’t need subtitle support, or don’t care about really high-resolution video, this is probably a bad route to take, as this format is, though popular, incredibly poorly supported and thus really annoying (and AAC is teh suck.)

3, you can of course just go and do whatsoever you please, but doing anything really non-standard means people are going to piss and moan, so this probably isn’t a great idea, either, especially if your only defense is “I have no idea what I’m doing”;

4, you can create AVI files with the XviD coded and MP2 (not MP3!) audio, which will be playable on just about any device anywhere. If you don’t care about “The Scene” and subtitle support isn’t a deal-breaker for you, this – I would argue – is the best route to take.


The anime pseudo-standards were never meant to be user-friendly (Realplayer RM/RMVB files are still quite popular in some parts of the anime community, despite the lack of truly widespread support), and they tend to go way overboard in the pursuit of quality; the Scene standards currently in use balance quality and size with support, and are actually pretty good.


Thing is, most portable media players out there – everything from the no-name Chinese players to Zunes and iRivers and so on – won’t play MKV files, full stop, and many will choke on videos with AAC or AC3 audio. (Hell, most computers won’t play MKV files without special software.) If you care in the slightest about the segment of the population that uses PMPs, you need to create video using the most basic settings supported by as many players as possible. Right now, in late 2009, that means making AVI files with the XviD codec, and MP2 audio.

Seriously; XviD/MP2 AVIs will play on pretty much anything without difficulty or special software, if you keep the bitrates at sensible levels. (My empirical rule of thumb is that your audio bitrate shouldn’t ever exceed 128Kbps, and your video bitrate should never exceed, in Kbps, 125% of your video’s width in pixels – so 320×240 video should be 400Kbps or less, 800×480 video should be 1000Kbps or less, et cetera, et cetera. I think this holds pretty true regardless of format and size – 720p looks perfectly fine at 1600Kbps, for example.)

Don’t get me wrong, okay – I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the Scene standards, and one day several years from now Matroska might actually be a viable and widely-supported glitch-free format. All I’m saying is that, in the absence of other criteria, if you want to produce quality video files that have the best possible cross-platform support, make XviD AVI files with MP2 audio.

Published in: Geekiness, General | on September 18th, 2009| Comments Off on AVI + XviD + MP2 = Truly Portable Video

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