If you aren’t aware of what DivX or Xvid are, they are video compression formats that make your movies smaller without a large loss in quality. It’s not unheard of to compress a 3G DVD movie to very nice looking 700M DivX or Xvid file. Given the large number of DVD players with DivX support, it’s quickly becoming the default method people are using to backup their originals. It’s also an easy way to fit 6 full length movies to a single DVD recordable, which can make travelling and hotel stays a little more enjoyable.
There are many ways to convert your movies to DivX/Xvid, but in my experience, one piece of software stands heads and shoulders above the rest; FairUseWizard. I’ve tried other pieces of software, but that’s always the one I return to and recommend when people ask how to do it. FUW strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and power. It’s simple enough that anyone can use it, but powerful enough to produce some of the best looking DivX movies I’ve seen.
There are two versions of FUW available; freeware and Full Edition. The freeware version limits you to DivX/Xvid files that are 700M or less. The full edition allows you to set file sizes above 700M, select portions of a movie to convert (as opposed to credits and all), and choose a higher quality output mode. The Full Edition is $19.99 and offers free upgrades for life.
FUW has both full-auto and manual modes. Full-auto mode will get you from a DVD to a DivX/Xvid file in about 4 steps. Manual mode allows you to make a few extra decisions along the way.
When starting FUW up, you are presented with this screen where you can set your project name, destination folder, turn full-auto mode on or off, and go to the Options screen.
The Options screen allows you to set the output file type (DivX if you have that codec installed, or Xvid which comes built into FUW). You can also set your preference for rendering speed or quality, which does make a big difference both ways. Full quality will take much longer to render, but also produces a much better looking movie.
Most of the other options are better left alone until you’re more familiar with what they do. For people just beginning to convert movies, stick to the basics for now and visit the extra options later if you find you need to for some reason.
The next screen you’ll see is the one that allows you to select a video source. For most people, this will be their original DVD. For those with a little more experience, this may be an .ISO file.
Clicking ok on the source screen will start the chaining process. This is where the source video (DVD or .ISO file) is being converted into a format FUW can work with. If you’ve chosen full-auto mode, it’ll immediately go from chaining to converting without interruption.
Once you’re comfortable with the overall process, you should consider taking the time to do batch conversions. What you’ll do for these is allow the chaining process to occur, then remove the DVD and move on to the next one. After the chaining process completes on your set of 5 or so DVD’s, you can then have FUW convert all of them while you go to bed, work, or wherever.
If this is your first dive into converting video, be prepared for a wait. Using a 3Ghz P4 with 1G of RAM and default settings it’s not unheard of for the process to take a couple of hours to convert a 2hr movie. Using high quality mode might triple that wait. If you’re trying to build your online movie library though, the space savings will be worth it, and regardless of the extra conversion time, I do recommend the high quality mode. I also recommend purchasing the full version of FUW. I definitely feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it.