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DivX;), The MPAA, The Future And The Past 172

Stibanater writes: "The second part of a 2-parter on Salon about DivX seems to hint at MPAA tolerance of DivX as a good distribution format. Granted, this comes from the mouth of a DivX Network's exec, so salt to taste. Still, the tasty part is the insinuation that the MPAA has learned from Napster, and will move to quickly embrace online distribution instead of 'suing it out of existence.' The first part is an explanation of DivX for the layman and a little bit about the DeCSS case." On a related note, Dan Marlin writes: "Looks like the "Internet Archive" has decided to add the DivX MPEG-4 format to it's entire movie collection. This is huge in the way of mass acceptance for the DivX ;-). It looks like they are still in the encoding process as most of movies are still only available in MPEG-2. But after scanning the collection the past few days, it looks like they are adding more daily."
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DivX;), The MPAA, The Future And The Past

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    best CPU for MPEG-4 [] and check this out too MPEG-4 DVD to CD-ROM [] The masses won't be using this anytime soon. Just to decode the thing it takes 80% of your CPU with a Pentium 450Mhz. To Encode it it'll take 36 hours. Although they said an Athlon 1.1GHz can do it in like 6 to 10 hours.

    So in a year or two years when my grandma has a P500 or above..only then will I convert all my mini-DV homevideo tapes to Divx and pass them around like candy. Bottomline it's coming..just a matter of time..Right now it's just for new unreleased movies not out on DVD yet.
  • Actually, I agree with you that we should support open formats. But MPEG-4 will NOT be an open standart at all! If you read about it, it will be proprietary.

    I'm sorry to say that I know of no open standard video compression formats out there. We need to back something like ogg vorbis for video, which doesn't exist yet. Someone needs to get the ball rolling on this. Start something up under the BSD or LGPL license and put it up on sourceforge and go.

  • You are an absolute moron. That is what OpenDivX [], the whole point of projectmayo, is! Open Source.

    Who modded this up?
  • Unless you simply can't buy the studio version (because you are in a country that the DVD cartels won't release DVDs, or only release them after sitting on them for 2 or 3 years.)

    DivX ;-) is a great boon to Fansub efforts all over the world, as it gave people a way to distribute their works all over the world without the massive headache involved in copying and mailing tapes, not to mention the generational loss issues that invariably creep into your work over time. If only they used a wrapper format that was better at keeping the audio and video in sync...

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • Posted by rakerman:

    Can someone explain the differences between the competing codecs - original DivX, "open" DivX, DivX Deux,, 3ivx... Are any of them any better/faster, more cross-platform etc.? The files that have been converted so far are in original DivX.

    I guess not everyone has the equipment yet, but there are lots of ways to turn (legal) MPEG-2 and DivX from into video in another format: video card with composite video out to VCR, convert to DV stream and record over FireWire to DV camcorder, make into a VideoCD using e.g. Nero, or make into a DVD (using Apple's iDVD).
  • Posted by kjeldsen:

    Why would anyone use a hacked MS Codec for this? ISeeLawSuits
  • Posted by Lee Thompson:

    DivX;-) is just some hacked codec to begin with so I, for one, will never support it. If the "makers" of DivX (which is technically Microsoft so I should say the "hackers that distribute DivX") really want to do something clever; they should write their own code. (Don't get me wrong; I think a cross platform MPEG-4 codec is a wonderful thing but let's make one without just hacking someone else's -- and yes; I know there are a couple in development.) As for the MPAA, I seriously doubt the MPAA is going to embrace a hacked codec in which illegal screener copies of currently running films are distributed over the internet.
  • Rest assured that computer -> svideo (or better) of decent quality will become a popular item

    Decent wireless transmitters would also be a possibility. But really, if there's a stock format, a reasonably low-cost player will soon follow. If I can cut a CD-R on my PC and then play it on the standalone player, I'm happy.

    Also, Pioneer's DVD-writer is ~$1000 today. I remember working with an $8,000 CD writer back in 1995, that wasn't as good as today's $150 machines. You should be able to get a DVD writer for $200 by, say, January 2003.
  • Yes, DivX is a good distribution format, just like mp3 is a good distribution format.

    The technology is here, the tools are here, the performance gains are substantial, people like it, and people are using it...

    the only thing that hasn't caught up yet are the legal implications of using this technology, because of the restrictions that companies and our legal system place on it. Just like mp3.

    Therefore, I predict much controversy, and widespread use, and no one getting killed.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • None of the MPEG-4 decoders work on Itanium or Alpha.
  • We have 3ivx running in the lab on Alphas.

    We have 3ivx running on Solaris (well sunos should work too)

    We have 3ivx running on BeOS

    We have 3ivx running on MacOS

    We have 3ivx running on Windows, in Windows Media Player & QuickTime

    We have 3ivx running on Linux x86 and LinuxPPC

    We have 3ivx running in XAnim

    We have 3ivx running in Quicktime4Linux

    We even have 3ivx running on Amigas! 68k and PPC!!!

    We are working on more :)

    Including V4L2, and PS2

    Just so you know :)

    Live Long & Prosper \\//_
    CYA STUX =`B^) 'da Captain,
  • by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <> on Monday March 19, 2001 @02:16PM (#353644) Homepage
    Don't know if you are aware or not... But DivX has now been open sourced which makes this point of yours totally irrelevant.

    I'm aware of a bunch of projects which have promised to release an open source DivX codec Real Soon Now, but don't currently have line 1 of code in public CVS. I'm aware of things like avifile which make DivX usable in Linux through an open source wrapper... but an open source DivX implementation? Where?
  • It's vitally important that someone gets a good, vendor-neutral video format established. We need the video equivalent of .MP3, and soon. If not, ASF (Windows Media Player) will become the de-facto standard in a few years, effectively locking Linux out of the desktop market because it "can't play video."
  • ...who was ever "prevented" from copying analog content, either?

  • Agreed. I have the sinking feeling the MPAA considers lower quality a good thing, a la "we gave consumers high-quality anamorphic DVDs and got piracy in return. we'll show them!".
  • I'm not particularly sure if widespread acceptance of what is essentially a hacked version of the MS-MPEG4 codec should be considered a Good Thing(tm). This is not to slight Gej for his work, or his work on Project Mayo ( []), which is working on a true open source video codec. M$ has already shown that it'll go after folks hosting the original DivX ;) codec.

    Seems to me that we should be helping Project Mayo get its codec solid and stable and using that, instead of the DivX ;) hack.

  • I'd hate to be the admin on a mail server with users passing around 700mb files via email. Most of the trading is done on IRC, usenet, and P2P applications...
  • Some of us have larger monitors than TV sets.
  • Quality has a bigger role than obscurity. The qaulity of the average DivX release is pretty bad compared to a DVD. Some of this is due to a lack of experience on the part of the person encoding the DVD but the fact remains that squeezing a DVD down to 700mb with DivX reduces the quality to the point where it can be easily pointed out...

    I fully expect the quality problem to be fixed but distribution won't be fixed. Who wants to download 700mb to find that the movie freezes, the voices are not synced properly, etc. I for one would gladly pay $5 for a decent release from a studio that was in a better format than DivX ;).

  • The studios probably don't think it is too soon to avoid an mp3 like onslaught of their market. Obviously the number of users would be low compared to theatre/tape rentals but that is perfect - a tech savvy market to start the project with... I'd be happy to buy downloadable releases that were compressed to the size of an 80m CD with quality that is almost, if not as good, as DVD. And I would want to pay about the cost of going to the movies - the cost saving should be passed on to the consumer... With DVD and CD the end user never saw the cost savings of the new medium. Maybe the threat of piracy will make the cost of downloadable movies reasonable!
  • If a commercially backed standard emerges you'll be able to buy PCI boards that can decode the output with minimal (1-3%) load on the cpu. See the Hollywood+ DVD decoder board for an example of what can be done...
  • They are writing their own code (or at least working on other peoples code, see other posts on the topic). Here is the OpenDivX ;) project's home page: []

  • That going in to the fight with a "fuck you" attitude might not be the best approach? I don't think they had many other options but the outcome was obvious to all the bystanders.
  • P2P file sharing services, usenet (aka netnews), IRC, etc...

    Personally I'd recommend the P2P file sharing services. Just search for "divx", "dvd", "avi", etc...

  • I make no assumptions on /. :).
  • Personally I don't:
    a) have the fridge next to the computer
    b) use bad printouts as toilet paper
    c) have wireless keyboards nor mice
    d) fall asleep at the computer

    Television is basically full of crap unless you subscribe to cable and then you get even more crap with at least some decent content. My TV is 13", my monitor 19".

    It sounds like your friend had a shitty TV-out device... You can have you movies accessabled over the lan (what? you don't have a linux-based samba server?).

    Going to the movies here is about $8-$10 bucks (Chicago).

  • DivX ;) has nothing to do with the old Circuit City DivX "buy and watch once in 24hr, pay to watch again"* system. DivX ;) is a hack of a Microsoft codec that makes it possible to compress a DVD down to about the size of a 80m CD (700mb) with semi-decent quality and the size of two 80m CDs with great quality.

    Open DivX ;) (with some other crap attached to the name, go check it out to find out the details) is a open source version of a new DivX ;) protocol which is incompatible with the old one - basically the DivX codec released before and in widespread use is an illegal binary hack of the Microsoft codec so even if the DivX group wanted to release the code they could not as they don't have the code. [] [] etc...

  • Don't know if you are aware or not... But DivX has now been open sourced which makes this point of yours totally irrelevant. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it has the potential of becoming better

    How does that make it irrelevenat? Even if DivX is still open source it still sucks as a format.

    I wasn't able to get a clear-cut answer, but is the Project Mayo OpenDivx codec backwards compatable with DivX? Or is it a whole new codec. I then get back to my orginal questions. Does it us the crappy .AVI file format? Does it still have piss-poor dark-value encoding? Has the data-rate tracking improved?

    Perhaps it's time for me to do my own research.
  • DivX is not a good format. It encodes dark values all wrong (hint: they eye does not detect values linearly). The data rate tracking is terrible. It relies on the .avi file architecture (better the .asf but still a dog in the industry). DivX IS NOT MPEG4!!! It is simply MicroSoft's copy of an old MPEG4 spec.

    So what do we need? We need a video file format with BETTER compression. We need to move away from Microsoft file formats and support open standards (for example, MPEG4). And that brings us to the last point, wait for MPEG4 compliant codecs. MPEG4 gives you many advantages over DivX. Look them up for yourself if you want to find them. Better file format, better scalability, even some better compression.

    I understand that DivX was simply at the right place at the right time. But here's to hoping that the format does not become another .GIF. Closed, unexpandable and bad. At least it's not patented (but it's hardly even legal!)
  • I in a way am not surprised that the MPAA has not tried to squash the MPEG-4 format.

    The reason is simple: with the addition of some form of digital rights management, MPEG-4 will allow the movie companies to distribute movies extremely cheaply. It may not have all the fancy menus and extra features of DVD, but an MPEG-4 formatted movie disc does not require the far more expensive mastering equipment used on mastering DVD's--it can be mastered using current audio CD mastering equipment. This could allow for very cheap duplication of movies, since packaging costs for a CD nowadays is likely going to be less than that of a VHS tape, and with proper handling they'll last a long time, too.

    Essentially we'll end up with DVD's for the high-end market and MPEG-4 encoded discs for the low cost market. We'll have a case where DVD's sell for around US$25-$30 and MPEG-4 encoded discs go for US$10-$15.
  • The most expensive part about producing a stand-alone player that can decode an MPEG-4 encoded disc is the decoding circuitry itself.

    However, given the dirt-cheap costs of creating quite complex ASIC custom chips nowadays, once production starts a single chip that can decode MPEG-4 in real time should be pretty reasonable to start with. And because MPEG-4 discs doesn't require the tolerances of DVD drives (it can use standard CD-ROM drives), the total cost of a player could be way, way below that of a DVD console player.

    Indeed, I can foresee players for these new MPEG-4 encoded discs going for as little as US$80 because you can use current CD transports.

    One thing though, I think the MPAA may ask that the resolution of these discs be limited to around 330 lines of resolution, unlike the 500+ lines of resolution of DVD discs. However, given the limits of most TV monitors nowadays, that still will be far superior to standard VHS tapes.
  • I'll ask you this: how much does it cost to master a DVD video disc? It's still pretty expensive, especially for those who have to add in all the extra features out the wazoo.

    Because MPEG-4 discs are going to be like regular VHS tapes, they will lack the extra features of DVD discs, which means mastering costs are going to be way lower. That means the studio can sell it at US$10-$15 per disc and still make a very tidy profit from it.
  • zhensel,

    I do agree that for now, decoding MPEG-4 files are still fairly expensive, but you are forgetting that modern ASIC chip design can very likely get the entire decoding circuitry for MPEG-4 files into a single ASIC chip pretty soon.

    Given that MPEG-4 files will probably require at most a 24X speed standard CD-ROM drive, that means a player could be built at very low cost--US$80 or less. Right now if you want a decent DVD player they start at around US$160 and go way up from there to over US$1,000 for the best models.
  • Decoding it is one thing, but encoding MPEG-4 files is quite something else. You probably not only need a really fast CPU, but also a dedicated encoder video board to pull it off.
  • Ther is specualtion that the MPAA never even intended for CSS to be "copy protecton" in the first place. Only a means to region lock dvd's to a specific region. It make s since when you think about it. The industry big wigs must have known that cracking theyr coveted "copy protection" scheme would be the crown jewel of the pirates on the was bound to why bother...or for that matter why use a weak encryption scheme? Its not about stamping out "copying"...its about fixing prices.
  • I forgot the smilie after my statement. At first, I assumed that the insanity of passing around 40MB+ files via email would be obvious, but then, after hitting submit, I thought that a smilie was in order. Eh. Live 'n learn.
  • by cloudmaster ( 10662 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @11:11AM (#353669) Homepage Journal
    So they approve of the format. Whee. I think that the disapproval of mp3 isn't disapproval of the format, it's disapproval of the use. Kinda like, guns are OK but shooting people isn't - DivX;-) is OK, but using it to pass around movies via email isn't. I guess that it's suprising to see logical things out of the MPAA - but nothing more...

    That said, this is still news for nerds & stuff that matters. :)

  • It sounds too farfetched.

    A major cabal of multi-million dollar corporations doing something that just plain makes sense?

    I'll believe it when I see it.

  • Most video cards have a TV out these days, not so hard to run a cable from the PC to the TV if you want to watch a movie.

    Or you could just have them there on your hard drive to queue up in half screen or 1/4th screen mode when you're doing something else...

    The possibilities are endless...
  • You know, back when I had a 386 with a 150 meg hard drive and a 2400 baud modem, I would have thought that mp3 was pretty useless, since it would take hours to download one song, and then you'd have to decompress it ahead of time, and really, who'd want to store all that data for casual use?

    Remember, it is not about what is, it's about what will be.
  • Rest assured that computer -> svideo (or better) of decent quality will become a popular item, and there will be much more selection as this grows in popularity, just as there are a zillion mp3 devices you can get nowadays.

    I know people that have high-quality tv-out boards that only cost them a few hundred bucks (no different than, say, a good 3d card for gaming)
  • While I do agre that most people do not have the setup for watching DivX ;-) Movies. I disagree that themovies are only playable from the Moitor. I have a TV out card, and When I watch the DivX movies I have, I've ofund that using the TVout, and watching the movies on my TV is very nice, with the exception of the lack of a remote control (most likely going to be fixed when I get a wireless keyboard). Otherwise, things are pretty much the same as far as seating goes (the couch in my dorm room), and with compression. I've gotten several Long movies compressed to sizes that give better than VHS quality video and sound, and also fit onto CD-R's. This brings me to my next point. They do have CD-Players that Play MP3s now. What about the concept of a Set-top DivX box? in theory, this could work, and it might work very nicely, if done properly.

  • by austad ( 22163 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @12:40PM (#353675) Homepage []

    Here's a link to a page with some info (not much) on the Ogg Tarking video codec. You can view the mailing list archives. From the looks of it, they are going to be using a codec based on wavelets. Support this, not DivX. DivX is good for now, but in the long run we need something free and open, and I don't think DivX qualifies.
  • But more and more video cards are coming with RCA and/or Svideo out. I know, this does require that your computer be near your TV, but it is one solution.

    Also, as DVD-RAM becomes available to the general public, you'll probably see people converting movies back to a DVD-player accessible format (like the mp3->CD conversion)

  • Look, Divx isn't that great. I've used it-mpeg2 is far superior. Why is this? Because the size of files isn't important any more. People have 30 gig hard drives, and broadband connections. Who cares if the file size is bigger? Mpeg-2 will play on machines all the way down to my parents' Pentium 120. But for Divx, you need a good computer to play the movies. I can't play them very well on my K6-2 300. It's all well and good that some people's computers are fast enough for Divx, but mpeg-2 is and should be the standard. So stop saying how great Divx is-it's not that great.

    Colin Winters
  • A well encoded DivX is pretty much the same quality image wise as a MPEG2. True, some parts, such as darkness, does tend to suffer. But it's miles ahead of other formats like VCD.

    Furthermore I don't think all that many people, even "l337 h4x0rs" would be willing to trade 600-1200 Mb files for 5Gb+ files.
  • The "open source" licence is not GPL - it requires you to do stuff like adding some kind of "made with divxnetwork" header to your movies.

    So its like the old BSD license that required your program to mention the source when the program starts up? Not a major issue, if thats the only one.
  • well, check the 'link' once again. Tell me what license they are using.
  • Please please please tell me you are trolling!!!

    Otherwise, you are what we call in the trade a SKOF (Special Kind Of Fuckwit).

    Incidentaly I don't think that the GPL vs other open models is a big issue. Richard Stallman put a lot of his personal politics into the GPL, it is not possible to use GPL code in a commercial project. Apache and Linux are far more 'open' in my view, they are certainly less restrictive.

    Ummm ... lemme see here ... errr ... Linux - the unix-like kernel released by Linus Torvalds and released under ... the GPL !!

  • [], theres your link... :)
  • Huh? Think for a second before you post!

    Can you watch Sorenson Video 3 encoded movies on Linux? -- No

    Would you be able to watch Sorenson MPEG-4 encoded movies on Linux? -- Yes

    Why? -- Because MPEG-4 is an open standard.

    Get it???????
  • Kind of a later reply here, but...

    I don't see the OpenDivX effort as really being good for open source causes, since it's not GPL'd.. you couldn't legally take their enhancements and incorporate them into a GPL'd project (of course it'll happen anyway, but...).

    Second, as a Linux user all I want is to be able to play whatever digital media is available, and to be able to compress to those common standards also. Even if there's a great open source alternative to MPEG-4, I still want to be able to play MPEG-4 if (as it seems) it's going to be widely adopted. Given the MPEG-1/2 situation, I don't see any reason to believe that MPEG-4 licencing fees will be pursued from end users, and if I ever got to the point of wanting to commercially author MPEG-4 movies I wouldn't begrudge them the licence fees.

  • Not exactly all theirs. It's the MoMuSys MPEG-4 implementation with a slightly hacked (S-L-O-W) encoder and a fast decoder. I don't know whey they chose AVI rather than Quicktime or MPEG-4 file format - I guess they don't care about A/V sync. Oh, well.
  • I don't know. I assume they're trying to build on the DivX "brand name" and usurp adoption of standard MPEG-4... As you say, with people like Phillips and Sorenson already technically way ahead, and OpenDivX incompatible with DivX anyway, it seems a long shot!
  • OK, but I'm lazy, so no HTML links! ml

    One source for the original "3.11 alpha" DivX ;-) CODEC, that is just a binary hack of Microsoft's (almost) MPEG-4 CODEC to allow it to be used with AVIs. This is the CODEC that practically all the DivX's on the net are compressed with.

    Home of OpenDivX and run by OpenDivX is based on the MoMuSys MPEG-4 source code, and unlike DivX claims to be MPEG-4 compliant, albeit using AVI rather than MPEG-4 file format. This encoder is S-L-O-W and also incompatible with DivX ;-), despite the "OpenDivX" name.

    You can play, and encode(!) OpenDivX movies with the awesome mplayer media player for linux:

    A commercial company producing a free MPEG-4 decoder, and about to announce an encoder at CeBIT. Quality and decoder speed are good. An xanim plug in is available, as is Windows etc support. Uses Quicktime as a file format

    A work-in-progress GPL'd MPEG-4 encoder from Dirk Farin, the guy who wrote the impressive SAMPEG-2 MPEG-2 encoder. Actually uses MPEG-4 file format. Sounds very promising.

    Not quite MPEG-4, but GPL'd and competetive in terms of compression. From the guy who wrote the avifile win32 CODECs on Linux library. Currently slow, but an impressice start for a real open source CODEC.

    The guys who ran the original $50K DivX for Quicktime port competition. Web site keeps claiming good things, but nothing is getting released... It turns out the CODEC is H.263 based abyway, not true MPEG-4 (although MPEG-4 and H.263 are quite closely related - they use the same quantizer).

    The story that /. rejected was centered around the stunning (to me, at least! ;-) press release from Sorenson at MacWorld about a month ago that they now have a VERY impressive MPEG-4 CODEC (incl. 2-pass VBR)...I'm amazed and happy that Sorenson would so aggressively push an open standard when their cash cow is a proprietary competitor.

    It sucks that /. thought their lame story quoting the weasels was better than this stuff! ;-)

  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @11:43AM (#353688) is the company behind "Project Mayo" and "OpenDivX".

    Check out the flames forum at:

    Project Mayo [] (aka

    OpenDivX is [u]incompatible[/u] with DivX.

    DivX is the hacked Microsoft CODEC.

    OpenDivX is based on the MoMuSys source, claims to be MPEG-4 compliant (aside from using an AVI vs MPEG-4 transport), and is incompatible with DivX.

    I just got a /. article rejected today where I explained all this plus gave links to all the free MPEG-4 implementations and the Sorenson MPEG-4 press release.

  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @12:06PM (#353689)
    ProjectMayo is a scam. It's not a real open source project, but rather an open source freeloader poroject run by the commercial enterprise, with $100M of backing.

    The "open source" licence is not GPL - it requires you to do stuff like adding some kind of "made with divxnetwork" header to your movies.

  • Yes, so like I said, "MS doesn't use DivX" which was the original question.

    While DivX is based off of MS Mpeg4 codec, that doesn't mean it's the same thing. I think it's pretty obvious just how different they are when you compare quality.

    A mind is a terrible thing to taste.

  • Windows Media Player does not use DivX. MS has their own custom mpeg4 codec ( WM 8 Beta [] knocks the socks off of any divx I've seen).

    A mind is a terrible thing to taste.

  • "This is somewhat more forceful, but if you are going to benefit from the developer's work (remember, if you are coding, you aren't making content, this is for the actual moviemakers themselves), well, I think this isn't a big price to pay either."

    Yes, it is. Imagine if you were making a movie on your PC using the Quake engine, the GIMP, OpenFX, Broadcast 2000, and DivX ;), and imagine they were all under this shitty license. That would be 5 adverts before users could see your movie. That's ridiculous - nobody gets that kind of branding except movie studios.

    Article 5 is also unreasonable - what if some part of MPEG 4 is patented, and you can't afford a patent license for it? I don't know if this is the case, but it happened with MPEG 1 and 2 (the sound format was MP3...) What if you need to modify it to work with a certain streaming server? What if MPEG 4 can't take advantage of some new compression technique you like?

    This license does not fit the Open Source Definition, and it's not a Free Software license.
  • I'd hate to be the admin on a mail server with users passing around 700mb files via email. Most of the trading is done on IRC, usenet, and P2P applications...

    Most trading I've done in the last few months has been via FTP. Specifically, finding companies with tons of bandwidth and minimal security on their FTP servers. Upload a movie and post to a bulletin board the location of said movie. Other users download the movie, spiking the bandwidth usage on particular server. Admin notices usage, finds unauthorized files, deletes them, and tightens security. Find new server with no security. Repeat until you have more movies than you can watch.

    Not that I've participated in this ethically questionable practice. And I don't have over 200 movies I haven't seen yet.

  • What is there to learn from the Napster case? Napster lost.
    Patrick Doyle
  • Re-reading Secrets and Lies (great read) and Schneier points out, as have others, that legislatures don't move at "internet speed". Which is why the napster problems happened. Hopefully the movie industry HAS learned from napster.

    BTW, did you see the 60 Minutes piece on Tivo last night? Nothing new for us, but a good explanation of the technology and some of the legal issues for the layman.

  • I'm not saying if its technically possible, I'm saying that its more of a physical limitation.

    People have their computers set up so only one person can use it, at a small distance. Not the optimal way to watch a motion picture.
  • I only raised the point of VCDs because the Anomymous Coward (heh) did so.
  • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @11:11AM (#353701) Journal

    I really like how they intend to distribute movies on line. But how much good will this do?

    The movie will be 2 hours long and only playable on your computer monitor. The average person doesn't have a good enough setup (monitor size, seating) for it to compete with you tv in front of the couch.

    MP3/music is different. Its short ( 5minutes for a song) and you can burn a CD and them play it anywhere you would a normal CD.

    Not so with full length movies.
  • >I'd hate to be the admin on a mail server with users passing around 700mb files via email. Most of the trading is done on IRC, usenet, and P2P applications...

    I dunno, being a USENET admin where they're posting 700M files isn't much fun either ;-)

  • > [MP3s were useless on a 386 with a 150M hard drive ...] Remember, it is not about what is, it's about what will be.

    Yep. Great example for the "where's the innovation" article.

    DivX ;-) is another bit of "evolution" - but it (and MPEG-2, and MPEG-1 before it) had to wait until CPUs were fast enough to decode the compressed video on-the-fly.

    Just like (early Microsoft .AVI formats) we had to wait for I/O channels to handle the bandwidth of 160x100 uncompressed video.

    I look back at my '286 with the 40M hard drive, and realize I have individual songs that exceed that drive's capacity.

    (To say nothing of my Apple ][ and its 128K of RAM, 64K of which could be accessed at once by bank-switching... ah, 143K on a 5.25" diskette! For only $7.00 per disk!)

  • > How the hell they can form a company, get $5.6 million in venture funding, and still keep the hacker kiddie name I just don't get.

    I think you've got it backwards.

    1) The "hacker-kiddies" ain't gonna sue for trademark infringement, and more importantly:

    2) Without the name-recognition of the geek set, where are you gonna generate the "buzz" required for a successful financing?

  • lol, my computer monitor is way bigger than the tv at my house and the position that it's in on my desk takes only a quick swing and it's very convenient for watching from the couch. I had the keyboard over there with the mouse on the coffee table, but I was getting way too lazy.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @11:55AM (#353712) Homepage Journal
    Another patent encumbered compression format.

    I'll just hang out for a while and see what the Ogg Vorbis people come up with...

  • Consider how the current movie distribution is so much more expensive than for music. Anyone can sell CDs but it takes a mega-thousand dollar investment to build a theater that people will actually go to.

    Plus, as the popularity of the rental and pay-per-view markets have shown, people don't NEED a fancy theater and many would rather watch on their home theater and then not have to pay $40 for snacks too.

    Plus, the current distibution network is already non-secure...anyone can smuggle in a camera and again as the sales of bootlegs have shown, people don't always care about quality.

    Plus, the movie industry is a lot more records driven than the music industry. You have another multi-platinum album and people yawn. You have a movie that did X dollars on opening night and its a record people remember. Imagine if they could spin add downloads to those box office statistics.

    Plus, right now there is no real name brand for movie sharing (unless you count IRC).

    The studios were forced to divest themselves of their theater holding because the governement thought it would be a bad idea for them to control both content and distributions. Using the Internet the movie studios have a chance to regain that control again.

    If they price it in the range of home pay-per-view but offer first-run movies hotels pay-per-view, I think it would be something I'd buy.

    - JoeShmoe
  • Watching DVDs while using the PC for other tasks is possible, with a good hardware decoder card that handles the heavy-duty work.

    In theory, once there is a true MPEG4 standard, hardware decoders should not be far behind.

  • I got involved with DivX ;) when it was still "underground". It's amazing how far they've come. I can remember the first few trailers over at [] that blew my mind (sure beat the crap out of vivo's that everyone was using). I think it is SO important to support this format and keep it going because it is a real life example of the "little guys" making it. They've had to fight against microsoft, realplayer, and the government. A lot of "purists" are still whining about the loss in quality... give me a break. These things are excellent. Most people don't have 10mb lines to leech 2 gig avi's anyway.

    So do what you can to support them and we'll be one step closer to an internet that truly is multimedia compatible.

  • The reason the RIAA freaked out about Napster, and the MPAA will be uncomfortable with this stuff, is the college market. After internal MP3 sharing (pre-Napster getting big, but people would run each other's MP3s over the network) was bringing my college fraternity (at MIT, so YMMV) old 10baseT network to a crawl. We couldn't rewire (the old buildings are a mess), so we brought switches to a at least have 100Megabit backbone and 10Megabit down.

    Good thing two, because the following year (about 1.5 years ago), a freshman with a hobby for trading movies showed up. He managed to gather dozens of movies over our school provided T1, and he would share them across the house.

    Forget that he would get them, it isn't worth it for most people to get them. But if one person acquires the movies (and keeps the archive on CDs to loan out) and makes them available to 40 friends... well...

    Now make these 40 people all college kids with disposable income, and you've hit the target market. That's why they hate this. College kids are a big part of their market. High school kids are as well, and they are the most likely to get a DSL connection at home AND have lots of spare time.

  • I sort of suspect that the real reason there is so much noise about this is for the same reason napster got hit so hard - to prevent the establishment of a system through which independant artists can reach a large market. Control is everything.

    Not really. The number of people who have a good movie in them isn't that large. Look at film school demo reels, or underground video showings, or public access TV, and you'll see what I mean. Access to the technology is not the problem.

    San Francisco has several organizations devoted to getting technology into the hands of wannabe filmmakers, but what comes out mostly sucks.

  • I guess it is kind of unfair to compare the two because vorbis isnt' really out of beta yet, but I hope there is this kind of dynamic conversion associated with Vorbis. I know I am going to rip CD's to no end once vorbis support compression of the redundancy between audio channels, just so I can distribute it out to get a little more ogg action out there.
  • I just realized that the best way to play Divix based burned CD movies is probably the x-box or playstation 2. Why not the gamecube? The x-box and the playstation 2 will both have hardware for mpeg 2 decoding alla dvd playing. mpeg 2 acceleration can be put towards mpeg 4 acceleration because the algorithms have some simililarities (decreet cosine transform or something like, someone help me out here). I know that playing .asf's and Divix movies on my computer is much much faster than it used to be before I got dvd hardware decoding. I guess my point is that the dreamcast is definitly not powerful enough to support it, but if someone made a program that would take a movie and burn a cd with that and the neccesary startup and program files on it, you'd be in buisness.
  • The most expensive part about producing a stand-alone player that can decode an MPEG-4 encoded disc is the decoding circuitry itself.

    Unless the decoding circuitry is just a CPU (such as Emotion Engine, TI DSP, AMD Duron, or Crusoe) customized for DSP. It would just read encoded data, decode it, and blast it to the framebuffer.

    All your hallucinogen [] are belong to us.
  • For $15 you can get the barebones edition with stereo audio and no special features (plus a load of pre-movie advertising like on VHS). Then for $30 you get

    Even more pre-movie advertising that you can't even skip. DVD has a "legal notice" function (designed for displaying FBI Warnings) that disables fast-forward while it is set. Some DVDs start with ten minutes of commercials and mark them as "legal notices" so you have to either watch them, turn off the TV, leave the room, or use some DeCSS-type software.

    All your hallucinogen [] are belong to us.
  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @01:10PM (#353729) Homepage Journal

    They won't understand conceptually what it is

    What part of "It's an add-on to Windows Media Player that allows it to play full-length motion pictures" wouldn't Joe Sixpack understand?

    They have to go and find it and download it.

    Same thing for Winamp, to play MP3 audio.

    There's no paper manual

    File | Print... (The only paper manuals you need are those for your computer and printer.)

    and no tech suport number to call.

    Ever try calling Microsoft tech support?

    And when they install it, no "DiVX" icon appears on their desktop leading to a screen with a colourful and intuitive user interface.

    So have the codec's installer make a shortcut to WiMP and label it DivX. WiMP 7 is colorful enough (but I wouldn't say all that intuitive). Who'll know the difference?

    All your hallucinogen [] are belong to us.
  • by SpanishInquisition ( 127269 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @11:26AM (#353731) Homepage Journal
    Asciimation [], it's a better distribution medium since it consumes far less bandwith.
  • Speaking of DivXNetworks, what kind of business plan do they think is going to work? MPEG-4 codecs are a commodity and their competition (like PacketVideo, Philips, Sorenson and probably every other codec company out there) has a huge head start.
  • Here's another project:

    Instead of a codec, they're doing the other necessary stuff like a player and streaming server.

    (/. rejected a story about this, too.)
  • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @11:36AM (#353739) Homepage
    As near as I can tell, the format of a movie is ultimately going to make no difference as to whether or not it is pirated. Ultimately, if nothing else, people can just get a video camera and copy it that way. Rest assured, someone will. There are always people who will do that, if for no other reason than to spite the corporations. I think the MPAA needs to consider the fact that most people still prefer to watch a movie on a TV screen, not seated at a computer. I know I would't want to watch a movie at my computer. Stop worrying about the geeks - there's always a few. Just make sure that it is always worth people's while to get off the computer for a few hours (gasp) and watch the movie on hardware designed for that purpose. My computer has enough trouble with a desktop, never mind movies, and I know I'm not the only one.

    I sort of suspect that the real reason there is so much noise about this is for the same reason napster got hit so hard - to prevent the establishment of a system through which independant artists can reach a large market. Control is everything. The MPAA probably is not keen on the idea of a worldwide team forming to do a movie across the internet, or any other challenge to their rule. Formats are merely a minor part of this fight, and to my mind not a terribly important one. Copy protection can't come from formats as long as they are eventually displayed in a form the human eye can observe. So develop new business models or remember that computers weren't designed for movie watching. These guys aren't stupid - I'm sure they've already spent far more protecting their copyrights online than they could have hoped to have gained from forcing a few geeks to pay for their movies. They're after something else. That's what worries me.
  • Hmm, apologies for the fact that the following message is a little 'inflamatory'. I get carried away.

    To name some 'facts'

    Look it up if you want confirmation.

    MPEG4 != DivX

    The original DivX hacked a Microsoft implementation of the MPEG4 *draft* and created their own format.

    So don't support the Microsoft version, and don't support the DivX version!

    What's the alternative? MPEG4! OpenDivX is supposedly MPEG4 compliant, but it does not support the MPEG4 file format (go figure); Windows, hopefully, will support the real thing, and not just ASF/WMA implementations, as should Quicktime 5. Don't settle for DivX; it would be like settling for RealAudio when mp3 is just around the corner...

    Geek dating! []
  • I tried to find one a few weeks ago, but got lost in pop-ups, vote for me's and porn banners.

    And then I tried to explain the porn banners to my wife, ouch!
  • Except that the printing cost is quite similar for CDs and DVDs and that decoding a mpeg-4 file is much more hardware intensive and thus, expensive. Also note that VCD players have been around forever at what is essentially VCR quality (better in some areas, worse in others) and they never caught on. People don't like DVD because it is a convenient, easily breakable/scratchable disc, they like it because of the better quality and the extra features. More likely, we'll end up with double releases of DVDs - barebones and special editions. For $15 you can get the barebones edition with stereo audio and no special features (plus a load of pre-movie advertising like on VHS). Then for $30 you get surround sound, commentary and other features, and no extraneous advertisment. This way the MPAA companies can get people hooked on DVD with the regular discs and then once they decide they like surround sound and the special features they'll start buying the more expensive discs. Disney is really the only company to have started doing this and I really can't believe the others haven't. It is an excellent (if annoying to the DVD collector) business strategy. Lots of studios will release a barebones disc and later a special edition, but this practice is starting to come to an end - most movies out now are labeled "special edition" or something similar regardless of the disc's contents.
  • The difference between DiVX and mp3 is that for mp3, there are programs like WinAMP, Audigrabber, Musicmatch Jukebox and the like. They make the format accessible to the public. That's what popularized mp3 and made it the target of the RIAA.

    For for DiVX, even installing the codec can be too technical for most people, let alone encoding the movies. Not everyone has a DVD drive or the hard disk space, patience, and knowhow to do it. Therefore, unlike mp3 which was accessible and relatively easy to use, DiVX still languishes in relative obscurity. Therefore the MPAA doesn't see it as an enormous threat.

    In additon, movies and audio are fundamantally different. With mp3, you just play the song and do whatever you're doing while listening to it. With DiVX, you play the movie and all things are on hold while you're watching it. I'm listening to mp3 right now, but I couldn't be typing this post if I was watching DiVX.

    Listening and watching are two fundamentally different activities. And it would be another revolution completely different to mp3 if DiVX became mainstream. And the MPAA would fight tooth and nail keep it from happening.

    O'Toole's Commentary on Murphy's Law:

  • Seriously, is ;-) part of the name? What's that all about?
  • There is NO SUCH THING!

    MPAA, RIAA... Release your DENIAL!

    The absolute BEST you can hope for is "Copy Encumbrance" or "Copy Inconvenience" or "Copy Reduction". But NEVER will your digital content be "Protected".

    Digitize it, and they will crack.

    "A microprocessor... is a terrible thing to waste." --

  • "Look, Divx isn't that great. I've used it-mpeg2 is far superior. Why is this? Because the size of files isn't important any more. People have 30 gig hard drives, and broadband connections. Who cares if the file size is bigger?"

    The main reason some of us like DivX is because it allows you to backup a whole DVD to a single CD while maintaining acceptable quality. MPEG2 can't do that.
    ________________________________________________ __

  • I don't get it. I thought DivX was dead-in-the-water (reworded from the subject line so as not to offend anyone). Wasn't the standard already not accepted by the public? Or was it just the implementation, pay-per-play?
  • DiVX still languishes in relative obscurity. Therefore the MPAA doesn't see it as an enormous threat.

    Isn't that what they thought about DVD/CSS? What's the difference? Won't the same thing that happened to CSS happen to DiVX?
  • I'd hope that for a change an organization would be clueful. If the MPAA actually does realize the writing is on the wall and works out an electronic distribution mechanism I hope they do it justice. I'm willing to pay for streaming movies, but only around the price that I pay for a rental right now. I've not rented a movie in a while, but I think thats around a couple bucks for a new release.

    I've downloaded a few DIVX videos, the quality is not bad but its not great either. I still want to be able to purchase DVD's of movies I'd like to own. (No, decss will not make me boycott DVD any more than sweat shop labour will stop most people from buying clothes)

    If the MPAA is smart they'll jump on the bandwagon soon. In my opinion the infrastructure isn't really there yet. Most people don't have broadband, and the broadband we do have isn't broad enough. Even given that its still important to be there first and get people used to the technology (and kill off the "if I had some legal way of getting movies online I would" argument)

  • by geomcbay ( 263540 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @11:45AM (#353787)
    It is kind of annoying me that sites like Slashdot are continually equating DivX (open source project) as MPEG4. I must reiterate that the Open Source DIVX/Project Mayo stuff is nothing more than an implementation of MPEG-4, the DivX people didn't invent it..their code was even based on an existing project.

    Now, don't get me wrong, the actual coding work the DivX people are overseeing is great for open source causes, but they are using some subversive self-promotion as of late to make it seem like they invented all of this stuff, and pushing the 'Divx' brand-name (which is actually quite a stupid name since it causes much confusion with the failed Circuit City format), as the be-all end-all of MPEG-4, which is just not true.

    Also, supporting DIVX/MPEG4 because there is a good open source implementation is short sighted. Please do some research into MPEG4 and realize what a patent nightmare it is. Just because the source is open doesn't mean you can use it without violating patents.

  • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @03:42PM (#353789) Homepage
    Some criteria to judge open source projects

    1: Is it patent encumbered.

    MPEG4 like GIF is patent encumbered up the wazoo. Forget GPL on the code, if the patent holders won't give a free public license the spec can never be open.

    [Incidentally MP3 has this problem, the Fraunhoffer Institute owns the patent and charges royalties on it. The GIF UNISYS patent was pretty despicable, the patent was only published after Compuserve had adopted the algorithm thinking it was an open algorithm.

    2 Is the code open?

    This is not the biggest issue for me, if the spec is interesting and useful an open code verison is likely to follow. Point (1) is much bigger

    Incidentaly I don't think that the GPL vs other open models is a big issue. Richard Stallman put a lot of his personal politics into the GPL, it is not possible to use GPL code in a commercial project. Apache and Linux are far more 'open' in my view, they are certainly less restrictive.

    3. Is there actual code

    No code, no use. Starting an open source project is fine but until you have a release it does not do anyone much good.

    So far DVIX/Project Mayo loose on 1 and probably on 2 but win big on 3. Lots of folk win on 1 and 2 but loose on 3.

    The real problem is that nobody can ever know if they are safe on 1 in the US. Submarine patents can be filled and kept in progress for decades.

  • by zachdms ( 265636 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @12:58PM (#353792) Homepage
    What fight? It's just a hack. First DivX hacked the Microsoft MPEG4 codec and ripped off the FHG Pro codec, now they're trying to make money off of the MoMuSys MPEG4 ISO source code (also submitted by MS, I believe). The little guys *were* Vivo and VxTreme. Get excited for the "little guys" when DivX does some independent work, otherwise ignore the hackers and focus on 3ivx or Tarkin.
  • "DivX" is the reviled and defunct pay-per-play product.

    "DivX ;)" is an Mpeg4 encoding thingy used mainly to encode porn and pirated movies.

    See, it was given the name by hacker kiddies as a jab against the DivX format. Funny, huh?

    How the hell they can form a company, get $5.6 million in venture funding, and still keep the hacker kiddie name I just don't get.
  • by Pilferer ( 311795 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @12:01PM (#353797)
    How is this a good thing? Someone hacked binaries of a Microsoft MPEG4 Codec and called it "Div-x" after the failed Circuit City format. It didn't become popular because it was a groovy Open Source project, or a new Codec never seen before, etc. It became popular because The Matrix looked real cool, and fit on a CD. If you stop and think about it, Div-X is owned by Microsoft, and named after something that started a Holy War not too long ago. The idea of putting a movie on a CD is good (and done before: VCDs), but Div-X is not the format to use. If MP3s are still lawsuit bait, I'd hate to see what Div-X does to the Internet media scene.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.