DVD movie to DivX : the "best" solution?

  1. drdivx0Overview
  2. Get and install the needed software
  3. Rip the DVD video files to disk: SmartRipper
  4. Encode the movie to DivX: DrDivX
  5. Rip the subtitles: VobSub
  6. Play the movie: Windows Media Player
  7. DrDivX: the "best" solution?

1. Overview

In mid 2003, most DVD software are mature and a lot of methods exist to transfer a movie from a DVD to a PC. Likely the easiest solution to transfer movie to a standard compliant VCD and SVCD is DVDx, to a DVD it's DVD Shrink and the choice for output is simple because based on legacy MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 standards. In the DivX world, MPEG-4 is still evolving and people start to have troubles playing their old DivX 3.x movies, particularly since DivX set top boxes appeared from China and Europe.

The DivX organization (DivXNetworks Inc. San Diego, California, USA) has successfully moved DivX™ technology to the digital video industry in the early 2003, setting a stable standard with DivX Certified™ Program and stable encoding profiles for every consumer usage (HD-TV, Home Theatre, Computer (PC and Mac) and Handheld). Major companies have joined the certification program such as Philips, Texas Instruments, ESST, Cirrus Logic, ALi Corporation and Sigma Designs.

Therefore you might now want to create your own movie library to carry on your laptop PC or to carry on recordable DVD (up to 4 titles on the same DVD and 8 by end of 2003 with upcoming 9GB recordable DVDs).

In this article I propose to establish the "best" DVD to DivX process:

2. Get and install the needed software

We're always looking for freeware but we can save time and money using a cheap software. This is true for DrDivX, indeed DivX codec is no longer free (DivX Pro Codec is $20) and DrDivX costs $50 including the DivX Pro Codec. Thus for the value we get, it's cheap.

DrDivX encodes video and we need first to transfer movies (VOB files) from the DVD to the disk, eventually uncrypting (processing DeCSS and DeMacrovision). This is done easily with SmartRipper, a freeware.

We need to extract the subtitles which is done quickly with VobSub, a freeware.

Original SmartRipper is distributed in a .rar archive and must be unzipped with WinRAR but I created a ZIP archive to make it easier for you.

DrDivX and VobSub are installed with usual Windows install wizards and SmartRipper must be unzipped in a folder of your choice.

SmartRipper and VobSub are freeware available from labDV, and access is free for all.

DrDivX and DivX Pro codec are available from DivX.com as a 15-days-trial and if you're convinced you'll buy it for $49.99 :

Smart Ripper (free) VobSub (free) DrDivX and DivX Pro codec ($49.95)
SmartRipper_2.41.zip VobSub_2.23.exe

Please buy DrDivX from here (click on the image above) so a few (4.99) bucks will go to labDV and encourage us.

3. Rip the DVD video files to disk: SmartRipper

Insert the DVD movie in your DVD drive, to ensure unlocking you can play a few seconds with you DVD player software.

Open SmartRipper (double-click on the .exe file), it may display an alert window telling no ASPI driverfound, just click OK to ignore it.

With Movie rip method, SmartRipper will select the larger Program chain, assuming it's the movie, you can check its duration to match the movie length.

Select the folder of your choice:


Don't enable stream processing so you keep all audio tracks and subtitles for further extraction by DrDivX and VobSub:


Click on Start and wait the end of the process, which may take about half time of the movie:


At the end you'll find the resulting files in the target folder:


4. Encode the movie to DivX: DrDivX

That the main but easier step: open DrDivX and choose VIDEO FILE:


Browse the file system to choose the first VOB file produced but SmartRipper:


DrDivX automatically select all VOB files in the folder. Assuming you've given an empty folder to SmartRipper, you've nothing to do, let DrDivX choose all files:


It takes a while to open the whole VOB chain:


Now you select the Audio track, DrDivX provides you a button to play the audio and check you've selected the language you want:


Now you choose the output format. We strongly recommend you to select a Certification Level, this is the major advantage of DrDivX solution and ensure you'll be able to play the files in the coming years on any player. Eventually you can select High, Medium or Low quality, we recommend High (with 2GHz CPU it will take less than 4 hours to encode a 1:30 movie). If you haven't a specific usage, we recommend you select Home Theatre profile:


Then browse to a destination folder with the Select... button::


And input a filename (extension will be .avi by default):


Then you click on Encode button and you can follow the encoding progress. I'd have appreciated a Pause button but it's missing. The Second Pass is launched automatically after the First Pass, so you just let DrDivX complete the job on its own:


Finally you'll got the AVI file:


Its size will be 2GB for a 1:30 movie, we recommend you use a 100+GB USB or Firewire hard drive to store your DivX movies. You can also burn 3 or 4 movies on 1 recordable DVD. Now you'll want to create the subtitle files which must be the movie name like the picture above.

5. Rip the subtitles: VobSub

First, start VobSub with the VobSub configure menu:


And click on Open... button:


Browse to the SmartRipper result folder and make displaying the *.ifo files. Choose the one:


Select a destination folder:


Now you will remove the unexpected languages from processing:


Frequently you'll be given several choices for one language, we recommend to choose the first one but to be sure of your choice you'd have to play the movie on a DVD player and look at the subtitles order. You can keep several languages:


Click on OK button...


... and VobSub will take few minutes to index the resulting subtitle file:


VobSub offers you a large choice of settings but keeping the default will produce a DVD-like subtitling:


You've now got 2 files:


Which you must rename to the movie:


And you must move the files in the same folder as the movie:


6. Play the movie: Windows Media Player

DivX Player 2.1 doesn't support subtitles, so you'll play with Windows Media Player:


The subtitles are handled by a Direct Show filter (DirectVobSub) which offers you an icon in the task bar:


You can double-click to open on direct choose the subtitle language from the ones available in the subtitle file:


Here you are!

A simple process to create nice and long-life DivX movies with subtitles.

7. DrDivX: the "best" solution?

At this time, July 2003, I think the "best" DivX encoder is DrDivX proposed by DivX organization DrDivX aims at same "easy" and "quality" purpose, arguing (please check the site for more details):

“enables ANYONE to encode great looking video in three steps”
Feature With Dr. DivX Without Dr. DivX
Number of additional applications needed to do all of the functions of Dr. DivX Just Dr. DivX Over 5
Average number of steps needed to encode a video 3 Over 40
Finding and adjusting Pixel Aspect Ratio Automated Manual
Detection and removal of 3:2 pulldown in telecined source material Automated Manual
Detection and removal of interlacing in source material Automated Manual
Calculation of bitrate to achieve target file sizes Automated Manual
Full compliance for encoding files to play back on DivX Certified Hardware Devices Automated Manual
Detection of input source type Automated Manual

DrDivX is a Windows application which contains all default parameters to encode DivX without any required tweaks. Just install and run. It's written in a professional way by the DivXNetworks team thus rarely crashes.

Long life playability is a very important aspect which is guaranteed by the DivX Certified Requirements illustrated in the following table:

DivX Certified Requirements YES NO
All DivX 3.11 movies on 1 CD, anything under 1mbps average bitrate X  
All DivX 4 content X  
DivX 5 content with no GMC and no Qpel X  
DivX video created for Video on Demand X  
DivX video created on a DivX-Certified encoding device X  
AC3 and MP3 audio in DivX video both CBR and VBR X  
DivX 3.11 movies on 2 CDs (high bitrates)   X
DivX 5 content with GMC or Qpel   X
XVID content   X
ADPCM audio, PCM audio, Ogg Vorbis audio   X
AVI files with bad audio/video interleaving   X

The easiest way to produce long life DivX movies is to use only DivX certified profiles, using by default the Home Theatre profile unless you're sure of further usage.



Author: Jim ( August 2, 2003 - Version 1)