Ezine Archives - 2001 - indevelopment.org

Issue 4.03 - DiVX - The Next Big Thang?

Curiously, if the period of 1998-2002 will be remembered for anything in the whacky computer realm, it most certainly will be for file compression.

MP3 as we all know was the biggest thing to hit the internet since the arrival of a browser. Forget e-commerce, the rise of Napster, MP3.com and a multitude of private FTP sites proved in a way that internet users want it and want it all for free.

I got hooked on Napster but I'm kind of over that now. I tried the lamented Scourosver a long weekend. Scour was a peer-to-peer sharing system that could swap any kind of file what-so-ever, but it got shut down and was full of bugs too, I might mention.

The next big thing, the new beatles or as I like to think of it, the new sex pistols of the internet will be MP4, DiVX or any such system that could do to Hollywood what MP3 did to the major recording labels.

Just out of interest, an experiment so to speak I went looking for some information on this new technology. Suspecting to find some software and perhaps some trailers, I ended up finding a fully downloadable copy of the latest Bruce Willis title, Unbreakable.

Not a trailer, not a sample but 1 hour and 39 minutes of.....

Remember when you were a kid and video cameras were new? Rumours would circulate about people sneaking in a video camera and taping the latest big flick.

Unbreakable was close to this. The quality is higher than I was expecting, the sound not too bad at all.

The file, 384mb in size can be played in Window$ media player with the installation of the new codec or in a plethora of freely downloadable DiVX players. The screensize is approx 360x180. Large enough to view at the desk but quite blotchy on full screen. Adjusting the monitor to 640x480 mode brought about a decent sized picture where you could watch it from about 3 feet away and at a screen size of 800x600 it proved quite viewable at the desk.

The quality can be compared to a 10 year old VHS tape. The colours aren't crisp (but then again, I was watching Unbreakable) and for anyone with graphics experience, the compression is comparable to a low-quality JPEG.

The copy was taken from somewhere in Asia so it's subtitled in whichever language but thankfully not dubbed.

I have doubts that DiVX will be the slayer of Hollywood, because I'm not going to trade the couch and telly for a chair and monitor but it will be an interesting couple of years. DVD releases can be placed onto a single CD, so instead of being a slayer, DiVX may just be a crippler.

The moral to this: The truth may be out there but there's also a catch. It took me 14 or so hours to download off a cable modem and no ISP will tolerate a constant data flow day in and day out. For me, Unbreakable was an experiment in seeing what was out there, nothing more.

For others this will be different.

For more information I've included a couple of links. Please note that due to their nature I can't guarantee any form of quality, they may not ever work by the time you read this and also, like a great deal of the seedier sector of the internet, beware the dreaded pop-up. I'm supplying these only out of curiosity.

http://www.divx-digest.com/ News, software and links
http://www.rit.edu/~pcp0899/divx.html Myths and opinions

http://www.3ivx.com/ The next, next big thing?

You get the idea.

Hope the holidays went well for all and that 2001 is your own, private space oddessy.



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