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HandBrake Abandons DivX As an Output Format 619

Posted by timothy
from the so-2003 dept.
An anonymous reader writes "DivX was the first digital video format to really win mainstream acceptance, doing for movies what MP3 did for music (both good and bad). Eventually even Sony, the king of proprietary formats, caved into pressure and added DivX support to its DVD players and the PlayStation 3. Now HandBrake's developers have made an interesting choice for version 0.9.4 — they ditched support for AVI files using DivX and XviD. Your only option now is to convert DVDs and other media to MKV or MP4 files, with the option to save as Apple-friendly M4V files. So why is HandBrake ditching AVI and XviD support when it's a format that's won such widespread acceptance? In the words of the developers, 'AVI is a rough beast. It is obsolete.'"
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HandBrake Abandons DivX As an Output Format

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  • foot.shoot(); (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @11:41PM (#30804160) Homepage

    Dropping all formats that Windows play by default is IMO a bad decision. It may make the CCCP Project [cccp-project.net] more popular and spur more people to install Quicktime (yuck), but it'll also drive away lots of inexperienced users.

    • by amiga3D (567632) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @11:56PM (#30804274)
      How experienced do you need to be to use handbrake? For crying out loud, if you can't tie your shoes you don' t need to try and convert video files.
    • Re:foot.shoot(); (Score:5, Informative)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:05AM (#30804340) Homepage

      Windows doesn't play DivX or XviD files by default. To my knowledge, Handbrake never encoded files that Windows would play without installing an extra player or codec.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        With the most recent MS-provided updates for Windows Media Player on Windows XP (and Windows 7), it does support playback of XviD and DivX without installing any third-party CODECS. This is a relatively new development.

        • Re:foot.shoot(); (Score:5, Informative)

          by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:48AM (#30804612) Homepage
          If you want to talk about those updates, then you have to also acknowledge that h264 is supported out of the box, too [arstechnica.com]:

          A common annoyance with many media players, WMP included, is not having the right codec. WMP will try to detect which codecs are required and provide a location to download them, but this is hit-and-miss and less than convenient if all you want to do is play a video. In recognition of this, WMP12 includes support for H.264 video, AAC audio, and both Xvid and DivX video, in addition to all the formats supported by WMP11 in Vista (MPEG2, WMV, MP3, etc.). With these new codecs, WMP should support the majority of video found on the Internet out of the box.

      • Re:foot.shoot(); (Score:4, Interesting)

        by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:31AM (#30804504)
        In any case, handbrake started as an application for BeOS [wikipedia.org] and didn't even have a windows gui until version 0.8.5 [handbrake.fr]. I was using it on macs way back in the day when 700 Mb was your practical limit because hard drive space was still more precious than blank CDs and writable DVDs were hugely expensive.

        Why would they care about what windows does? It survived without windows before it was famous, it'll survive without divx -- h264 is so incredible you don't need divx anyway.
        • Re:foot.shoot(); (Score:5, Informative)

          by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:58AM (#30804678) Homepage

          Why would they care about what windows does?

          Well it is still the dominant desktop OS. I'm not even saying they shouldn't care about Windows, but rather that h264 is not any weirder or non-standard than DivX. The way some people talk about it, you'd think h264 and AAC are strange inventions from Apple and therefore others shouldn't be expected to support them. On the contrary, DivX was the weird proprietary format, and h264 and AAC were created by MPEG [wikipedia.org].

          Both H264 and AAC were created to be industry standards, replacing old MPEG video formats and MP3. Apple happened to be early to jump on board with them, but they aren't proprietary Quicktime formats. In short: this is what is supposed to be happening. Everyone is lining up behind the most advanced industry standards and slowly dropping legacy support. Even Microsoft is supporting h264 and AAC these days, and they hate standards.

        • Re:foot.shoot(); (Score:4, Insightful)

          by A Friendly Troll (1017492) on Monday January 18, 2010 @03:41AM (#30805446)

          h264 is so incredible you don't need divx anyway.

          My Pioneer DVD player doesn't play h.264. Neither does any other DVD player, except perhaps those that cost four figures (I haven't looked into that).

          h.264 might be incredible, but I have no way of playing it on my TV.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by strstr (539330)

        Windows Media Player 12 (Win7) will play most MPEG4/AVC files, including XviD and DivX out of the box. I believe it's due out soon for previous versions of Windows.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bheer (633842)

        I could be wrong, but afaik Windows 7 has DivX built-in [apcmag.com]. It also plays most Quicktime .MOV files out of the box.

      • Re:foot.shoot(); (Score:5, Informative)

        by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruisin ... om ['aho' in gap> on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:56AM (#30806236) Homepage Journal

        You're out of date. Win7 supports DivX, XviD, h264, AAC, and a number of other formats right out of the box. I've used WMP (on a clean install) to play .mov files that were recorded by a digital camera and encoded as "QuickTime movies" in some MPEG 4 variant.

        Perhaps the Handbrake folks just decided that the time to drop support for a format is when Microsoft includes support for it out of the box?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mrboyd (1211932)
        Windows 7 does. It was long overdue but now it's "out of the box".
    • Perhaps you need to stop using a 7 year old OS as your reference of what "Windows does".

    • Re:foot.shoot(); (Score:4, Informative)

      by nxtw (866177) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:14AM (#30804406)

      Dropping all formats that Windows play by default is IMO a bad decision.

      Only Windows 7 will decode XviD or H.264 without extra software. With AVI it would be possible to use this tool to create videos only Windows 7 could play without extra software. But AVI is an obsolete container (which is why Microsoft stopped using it).

      • Re:foot.shoot(); (Score:4, Informative)

        by wvmarle (1070040) on Monday January 18, 2010 @04:07AM (#30805542)

        Personally I like AVI and DivX/XviD.

        Why? Because I can download it, copy it to a USB stick, stick that in my DVD player, and watch the video on my TV. DivX is the only format supported by that DVD player. And it's for sure not an old model, I bought it maybe a year ago.

        And before you start saying "just play it on your computer": my TV has a comfy sofa in front of it, is almost twice the diagonal of my monitor, and is in a room big enough to watch with more than one person at a time. Particularly important when watching something with my 3-year-old.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And how many embedded devices are there that support avi files but not mp4 / mkv?
  • Um. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @11:42PM (#30804166)
    Streaming to my legacy device which cannot be easily reprogrammed such as my Xbox 360 really relies on XVid. So, for now, I guess Handbrake is the rough beast. Oh well, I use dvd::rip anyway and avidemux when I need to do some transcoding. Computers can be easily upgraded, devices not so much: that is something to keep in mind too.
    • Streaming to my legacy device which cannot be easily reprogrammed such as my Xbox 360 really relies on XVid. So, for now, I guess Handbrake is the rough beast. Oh well, I use dvd::rip anyway and avidemux when I need to do some transcoding. Computers can be easily upgraded, devices not so much: that is something to keep in mind too.

      I don't want to take the air out of your argument... but... your Xbox 360 never had the ability to play divx/xvid videos until Microsoft released an update. They can release another to accept mpeg4 - but they won't. That's a great feature for the next Microsoft gaming console.

      • They're both MPEG-4 (Score:3, Informative)

        by tepples (727027)

        I don't want to take the air out of your argument... but... your Xbox 360 never had the ability to play divx/xvid videos until Microsoft released an update. They can release another to accept mpeg4 - but they won't. That's a great feature for the next Microsoft gaming console.

        DivX/Xvid are encoders for MPEG-4 Part 2, aka Advanced Simple Profile. H.264 is MPEG-4 Part 10. I would imagine that H.264 has both a CPU cost and a royalty cost higher than ASP. I seem to remember the Xbox 360's add-on HD DVD drive coming with an H.264 decoder, but I also seem to remember its license being limited to HD DVD playback, not Ethernet or USB hard drive playback.

        But perhaps more importantly, the Xbox 360 isn't the only device that would need an upgrade; DVD players carrying the DivX logo come

    • Re:Um. (Score:4, Informative)

      by mstahl (701501) <marrrrrk&gmail,com> on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:05AM (#30804338) Homepage Journal

      As of last year or so the Xbox 360 plays MPEG-4 files just fine. I have mine play them over the network from my server.

    • XBox 360 can't decode h264? I thought it could. If not, then maybe they ought to get on board, since it looks like h264 is the current de facto standard.

      • I don't know the format specifically, but I do know that the current version of handbrake rips my DVDs well for playback on the Xbox and my iPhone. I love it.

        It should also be noted, it took PCauthority 2 months on the latest release to come to this realization? Authority they are not, clearly.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @11:42PM (#30804168) Journal
    Basically, from the article:

    The [Handbrake DivX] code has not been actively maintained since 2005. Keeping it in the library while implementing new features means a very convoluted data pipeline, full of conditionals that make the code more difficult to read and maintain, and make output harder to predict. As such, it is now gone. It is not coming back, and good riddance."

    They go on to explain that DivX quality isn't as good either. I am not sure if that is true or not, but I think the major reason they are dropping it is because they didn't want to be bothered. Which is as valid a reason as any, I suppose.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:01AM (#30804300)

      Basically, from the article:

      The [Handbrake DivX] code has not been actively maintained since 2005. Keeping it in the library while implementing new features means a very convoluted data pipeline, full of conditionals that make the code more difficult to read and maintain, and make output harder to predict. As such, it is now gone. It is not coming back, and good riddance."

      They go on to explain that DivX quality isn't as good either. I am not sure if that is true or not, but I think the major reason they are dropping it is because they didn't want to be bothered. Which is as valid a reason as any, I suppose.

      Yeah, but the developers are kinda douchey as it is. For one thing, try downloading an older release -- they delete them all.

        I can't get the latest to compile, on two different linux boxes (one Debian, one Ubuntu), so I've been using my older copy on the Debian machine. My binary won't run on the Ubuntu box, though so I needed an older version. I had to grab an svn snapshot of a previous release to get the older source code, and then their manky build system tries to download certain packages from a handbrake-run ftp in order to get specific versions of certain libraries, which fails to work since they've removed those files specific to the older version of handbrake. *sigh*

        While googling for older releases I saw that other people have had persistent bugs in the last couple of releases which result in the devs basically giving a "works for me" response, leaving those wanting the older releases, too.

        Their answer they give to anyone asking about an older version is "use the latest version, it has the most features." Which is a kinda jerky answer.

        And did I mention their build system sucks? Sure, autotools is a bitch for a dev to set up, but at least it's never given me weird, inexplicable failures like jam and especially scons. (Damn you to hell, scons! I want those two afternoons back!)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kestasjk (933987) *
        As a user nothing pisses me off like reporting, say, a MySQL bug and getting the response "oh that's in 5.x.y not 5.x.(y+1)? Sorry but we only fix bugs in the latest release"

        As a developer nothing pisses me off like a user expecting me to have every version of my code installed on every conceivable platform ready to be debugged and rereleased with fixes, it's just not practical (especially for FOSS projects).

        So yes it's annoying as hell, but having around all the old code and dependencies when you wan
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah, but it wouldn't rxactly be a terrible burden on them to leave the older releases on the server, maybe with a "we don't support these anymore" notice.

        • by mr_stinky_britches (926212) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:53AM (#30804638) Homepage Journal

          Sure, it's an annoyance, but when you are the premiere open-source solution for something as like video encoding, I think there is (or at least should be) a duty to at least keep the older releases around. Especially if they are a dropping features that were supported in the older versions. If the developers arrangement is so cluttered that they can't be bothered to keep the old releases available, then that points to ineptitude and makes for poor relations with the user-base. File management is not that hard compared to the groundbreaking features these developers are implementing. If they can't be reasonable and/or nice about things, perhaps someone else will step up to the plate and fork the project, because that's probably what it would take to get things into a sane state of being.

          Annoying the users just opens the window for someone else to step in.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kestasjk (933987) *
            Perhaps, I've been threatened with this myself by a user who wanted a feature I wasn't prepared to implement, but some things you should bear in mind:
            • Forking the code would be hard work, over a long period beyond that of an idle threat. It really isn't intimidating, especially if you mainly want to maintain legacy code and not add new features.
              There's no threat from that at all, and if it turns out there is it's easy to implement legacy support and destroy all momentum the fork has at any moment.
            • You migh
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by nxtw (866177)

      They go on to explain that DivX quality isn't as good either. I am not sure if that is true or not

      The program never supported DivX to begin with; it used XviD. And MPEG-4 Part 2 (the standard XviD implements) is known to be inferior to H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10. H.264 is much more widely used than MPEG-4 Part 2 - in satellite TV, videoconferencing, Blu-ray, etc.

    • by DigitAl56K (805623) * on Monday January 18, 2010 @01:15AM (#30804770)

      Without commenting on why Handbrake has dropped support for AVI (I'm sure they have their reasons), it is a simply bit of a shame for users looking to make highly portable content. DivX is one of the most widely supported formats on devices ranging from portable media players, DVD and Blu-Ray players, digital TV's, set-top boxes, and even mobile phones. It's always been a major goal to make it extremely easy for people to take content from their computer and move it into their living room or take it with them on the go, and there are now over 250 million DivX devices out there.

      There is of course now also DivX Plus, which uses H.264/AAC/MKV, and Handbrake can still output that. You can actually already find a preset for Handbrake here [divx.com]. Devices certified for DivX Plus will be arriving this year, with announcements already covering Philips [divx.com] and Seagate [divx.com]. DivX Plus Web Player already supports these files so you can upload your DivX or DivX Plus file to any standard HTTP server and embed it directly in your web pages. It enables viewers to watch these files in embedded, windowed, or full-screen modes and save them for device transfer later. DivX Player provides free playback on Windows and Mac, and we also include an MKV splitter for Microsoft Media Foundation in Windows 7. By consequence of that, you can watch DivX Plus files with hardware acceleration and already stream them to Windows Media Center Extender and UPNP devices.

      So again, for so many people who own DivX devices, it's unfortunate, but there are also many other tools out there that will do the job. It's at least nice to see them supporting MKV, which will work in DivX Plus devices in future.

  • DivX is a CODEC, AVI is a CONTAINER. Just because you don't support AVI doesn't mean you don't support DivX.

    • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @11:52PM (#30804240)

      DivX is a CODEC, AVI is a CONTAINER. Just because you don't support AVI doesn't mean you don't support DivX

      While technically true, that's functionally meaningless. If your program supports limited codecs that work with a particular container (for example... AVI) ditching one is the same as ditching the other.

      For all intents and purposes DIVX is AVI as far as popular support goes. I'm not sure I can name another codec that I've seen used in the last few years as more than a intermediate step.

    • I had this same thought but I think the overall point was that the DivX codec in the AVI container is a piece of shit. MKV and MP4 are the future.

    • by tepples (727027)
      I own a Magnavox DVD player with a DivX logo. The criteria for this logo include not only the MPEG-4 Part 2 codec but also the AVI container.
  • Time synch (Score:3, Interesting)

    by exabrial (818005) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @11:47PM (#30804198)
    I may be off my base here, but I believe one of the big drawbacks from AVI (I didn't RTFA) is synching audio with video. You'll be watching a movie and suddenly it's dubbed worse than "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge." I am extremely impressed with AAC + h.264. Mp3 has left me very disappointed in movies so far. (probably the extreme dynamic range compression)
    • Re:Time synch (Score:5, Informative)

      by scdeimos (632778) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:46AM (#30804596)

      AV-sync is still an issue for modern containers, like MKV, it's just that most GUI front ends automatically handle the parameters when encoding for you - command line pilots still need a calculator.

      The biggest drawbacks of the dinosaur AVI container format include: it doesn't support chapters (ah, the hacks in Encarta to work around that); it doesn't support included subtitle streams; it doesn't support alternative video tracks; it doesn't support alternative audio tracks. Heck, in it's 1.0 version it didn't even support multi-gigabyte files. I'm all for covering it with another shovel-full of dirt.

      If killing-off support for the AVI container means a few casualties like DivX/XviD codecs (and it doesn't, except for embedded solutions that don't have firmware upgrade paths) there'll be no tears here - there have been much better quality and higher efficiency codecs to replace them for a number of years.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nabsltd (1313397)

        The biggest drawbacks of the dinosaur AVI container format include: it doesn't support chapters (ah, the hacks in Encarta to work around that); it doesn't support included subtitle streams; it doesn't support alternative video tracks; it doesn't support alternative audio tracks.

        I have no problem using multiple audio tracks in my AVI files.

        I rip my DVDs by converting the video to DivX and keep the original audio (AC3 or DTS). If there are multiple audio tracks (like commentary), they all get added to the AVI file, and although mplayer can't seem to switch audio tracks without a stop and restart, my networked DVD player and PMP don't seem to have any problems.

        For non-HD sources, the only problem I have with AVI containing DivX+AC3/DTS is the 2GB file size limit. I have a few DTS D

  • I was surprised when this happened, but I can appreciate that, ultimately, it's a legacy format. Apparently, the AVI implementation is very convoluted to keep up with new features. Here's a selected quote from their release blog: "It does not support modern container features like chapters, muxed-in subtitles, variable framerate video, or out of order frame display....The code has not been actively maintained since 2005. Keeping it in the library while implementing new features means a very convoluted data pipeline, full of conditionals that make the code more difficult to read and maintain, and make output harder to predict. As such, it is now gone. It is not coming back, and good riddance." (sadly there didnt seem to be a permalink to the whole article - here's the current news page [handbrake.fr]).

    As such, I've moved on and figured out which flavor of mpeg-4 works best for me; and I'm happier with the improved picture quality as a result.
  • by JakFrost (139885) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:01AM (#30804298)

    Because H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [wikipedia.org] is Mature! We have availability of fast and reliable open source x264 [wikipedia.org] H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC encoder and the wide spread usage of Matroska (MKV) [wikipedia.org] container files and MPEG 4 (MP4) [wikipedia.org] container files. Even some set-top boxes support playback of video and audio from both containers now and more are announced for this year. There is also a demand now for HD content in both 720p an and 1080i/p formats H.264 is required to give reasonable file sizes versus XviD/DivX (MPEG-4 ASP [wikipedia.org]).

    Also Audio Video Interleave (AVI) [wikipedia.org] container files are problematic and have limitations since they don't allow the inclusion of chapters or subtitles, are not compatible with newer audio encoding formats such as AAC and lossless Dolby Digital or DTS audio formats, and don't work really well with some of the newer video formats.

    It is time to move on from this old container format and also move away from older DivX and XviD (MPEG-4 ASP) formats onto the newer H.264 / MPEG-4 (x264) video encoding formats.

    • DivX was always a bastard format anyway, from what I recall, it is MPEG 4 video with MPEG 2 audio in a way-obsolete Microsoft-designed container.

      If there really is a big demand for it, some other software will support it, or there will be a fork.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DigitAl56K (805623) *

      Protip: DivX Plus is H.264/AAC/MKV, and DivX desktop software has been playing and creating it for the past year. DivX Plus Web Player lets you embed it in your web pages and serve it from any HTTP server, and the first DivX Plus certified devices were announced at CES. You can even find DivX Plus presets for Handbrake here [divx.com]!

  • by maino82 (851720)
    I stuck with the 0.9.3 version for quite awhile because of the lack of support for AVI in the latest release, but grudgingly I switched over a few weeks back. MKV is choppy and buggy on my Ubuntu install for some reason (I get video tearing all the time and I can't seek without the audio getting out of sync or disappearing entirely). VLC handles the files a little more gracefully than MPlayer or Xine, but it's still not ideal. I'm banking on support getting better though (or upgrading my hardware if it turn
  • Ummm, what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dangitman (862676) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:05AM (#30804342)

    Eventually even Sony, the king of proprietary formats, caved into pressure and added DivX support to its DVD players and the PlayStation 3.

    DivX is a proprietary format. The summary seems to be implying that somehow it is not. Sony licensed DivX from the company that created it, it didn't use some "open" implementation.

  • mkv is a great format, but it isn't supported by Windows 7, Mac OS X (Quicktime), 360 or PS3.

    I can however play an H.264/AC-3 .m2ts file on Windows 7 and PS3. Maybe Mac OS X too, I'm not sure (my Mac is too slow for HD video anyway).

    Because of this I end up converting virtually all my .mkvs to .2mts files (using TSMuxer) and throwing the .mkvs away. I can stream them to my PS3 for viewing on my TV or watch them in VLC on my Mac or VLC or Windows Media Player on my Windows PC. .m2ts is a very capable format,

  • Big FD. (Score:5, Informative)

    by xigxag (167441) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:18AM (#30804426)

    First of all the original handbrake.fr article says nothing specifically about DivX. It talks about XviD and OGM. I guess OGM wasn't "controversial" enough for the editors so they ignored that and focused on DivX.

    But the real issue is: Big deal, DivX themselves are moving to H.264/mkv [divx.com] with all deliberate speed. Even they realize there's no point in anyone holding on to codecs and containers which are inferior in every respect. So, since mkv is a legitimate container in DivX7, the writeup is in fact erroneous. Surprise.

  • you could say... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Monday January 18, 2010 @01:17AM (#30804778)
    .. they just put the brakes on their popularity
  • Sense Of Perspective (Score:3, Informative)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Monday January 18, 2010 @01:38AM (#30804884) Journal

    There are hundreds of millions of consumer elctronics devices on the market that can play DivX. Many on them, including my Phillips DVD player, will also play Xvid without additional conversion. Besides having DivX conversion software, I have other converters that will handle pretty much everything going and coming, including the 'proprietary' DivX. DivX is signing up corporation after corporation to carry DivX compatibility on board http://investors.divx.com/search.cfm?keyword=certified [divx.com] DivX saw the need for an extended file format and chose MKV. That's been added to their latest version. The response has been less than stellar. It apparently solves a problem that most people don't have. DivX apparently does, and anyone that doesn't care for the 'proprietary' aspect gets most of that functionality and less money shelled out via Xvid.

    Just a quick look through the latest 100 movie file on TPB show 1 MKV, 1 MP4, 98 AVI.

    So why should I listen to this Handbrake? What protocol have they developed? Oh, none. So what did they develop? The ability to use other peoples' protocols? I see. Well, I imagine doing that comes with some understanding of those other formats. So why haven't I heard about them before now? I seem to have done just fine without having heard about them before. Maybe more to the point, why am I only hearing about them now? Slashdotvertising? In any case, 'obsolete' is a strange thing to call 98% (by my simple straw poll) acceptance, unless one is using it in the sense that the marketoids do: "it means I want you to use what I say based on what I say about something else, betting on the fact that you don't know shit about any of it except that you wouldn't be caught dead using anything but the newest bestest thing. Which we will tell you when it comes available. Like we did last time." If I hear anymore about Handbrake I suspect it'll be this same message, until they just stop.

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