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DivX-HD extends 1080i/p with new encoding features

By - Source: Tom's hardware UK | B 0 comment

San Diego (CA) - About one year ago, the first 1080HD Mode encoder from DivX was released supporting a resolution of 1920 x 1080. It was DivX 6.4 beta and provided for both 1080i and 1080p support, though it did not include everything in the official 1080 standard. Today, almost a year later, DivX 6.7 beta is now available. This new version supports the full 1080 standard as a 1080HD superset, meaning all previously encoded videos will decode properly. It also provides additional features for format conversion, encoding and playback.

The DivX codec is what’s called a coder/decoder. It is one portion of a full system of software required to take video and audio streams and encode or decode them into other formats for playback. Typically, the goal is to take an existing video source (like a DVD or MPEG movie) and create a viewable version with as little loss as possible, but one requiring much less storage space. DivX gained much popularity over the past few years due to its flexible encoding options and visual encoding abilities. Typically, a 2-hour DVD movie (comprised of several GB from the source video/audio) can be encoded down to fit on a single CD with acceptable visual loss. Additional settings for fast-motion, highly variable bitrates, keyframe intervals, and several pre- and post-processing options have also helped make it quite successful.

The older DivX 6.4 added new features in addition to 1080HD Mode. It saw on-the-fly resize support added for some additional encoder space savings. It also added more support for interlacing and resize color/transform filters, but fell short of providing full standard support due to what DivX calls "chipset limitations." The new DivX 6.7 takes those base abilities and extends them. It now supports an on-the-fly format conversion using potentially non-square pixel aspect ratios and full 1080 standard support. Videos can be programmed from within the codec to change aspect ratios to non-square pixels. This might allow a 16:9 video to be viewed as 16:11 directly from the codec, rather than from any post-processing by the player. For some widescreen videos, these kinds of abilities would mean more video on the display and less space consumed by the top/bottom black bars.

While these new abilities do require an "aware decoder" to utilize for playback, they can significantly reduce the compute burden from end-player software by allowing the codec to do the leg work. For many users who typically encode for their own personal use this feature would be most desirable. Several presets are also available for conversion of aspect ratios. These would be used for common tasks like converting PAL to NTSC or vice-versa. Additional pre-configured support is provided for HDV, DVCPRO and AVCHD, which can be encoded in native aspects with the appropriate pixel aspect ratio setting for non-square pixel playback directly from the bitstream.

DivX 6.7 beta maintains full backward compatibility with previous versions. The company maintains its pricing structure of either free or pay versions. The free versions have limited codec support or 15-day trials on specific features. DivX-Pro can be purchased for $18.99 and comes with everything necessary to encode, decode and playback. The current DivX 6.7 beta version is available for free download right now at labs.divx.com. It has all features enabled during the beta release timeframe for tryout regardless of any previous purchase.

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