Video Jukebox Article Disclaimer

When I showed an early copy of this article to correspondent Alexei K., his response was anything but positive. It was something along the lines of "Is this article paid for by Have you sold out completely?"

Alexei's response is actually quite appropriate, taken from his point of view. You see, when it comes to video, Alexei is an enthusiast, an earlier adopter, a power-user, an otaku, name your term.

Alexei wants to encode his video using the codec with the absolute best specs, and is willing to do a lot of research and investigation to determine what that is.

Alexei doesn't want to pay for a somewhat good encoding package when there is free software that offers more power. He's willing to spend a few hours learning how to use the package, and perhaps a few days tweaking it to do just what he wants.

And Alexei is really happy if he can do this without paying big bucks to a monopolistic vendor of O/S Software in Redmond, Washington.

Do you recognize yourself in this description? You might - video encoding is still fertile ground for the enthusiast. Jumping on board with Alexei can be an awful lot of fun, and if you have the time to spare, I say go for it.

But, if you all you care about is ripping, encoding, and watching your videos with a miminal amount of fuss, if you don't want to spend hours reading How-to docs, and if you don't want to do a lot of experimenting, tweaking, and fussing, then this article is right for you.

The important thing is that both approaches are valid - you choose the one that will give you the most enjoyment.

The Path Less Traveled

The home jukebox I described in this article will do a great job for most people. You can easily create archived copies of your DVDs and watch them with little fuss. But what do you do if you're one of the 10% who wants more? What if you want to use a free codec that outperforms DivX? What if you want to do multi-pass encoding in order to squeeze every possible byte out of your videos?

I think the best place to start is Doom9 bills itself as "The definitive DVD backup resource," and that's not a bad description. The places you'll want to visit are the Guides, an extensive set of how-to documents, the FAQs, with lots of details and short answers to questions, and most importantly, the Forum, where you can interact with other knowledgeable enthusiasists.

As Alexei knows, you will be able to find all the resources you need on this site to do the job, you won't have to spend a penny on commercial software, and you'll have an intimate understanding of the entire process. Most important, the 10% who populate this world do a great job of filtering the toolsets down to the rest to the other 90%. Easy to use tools like Dr. DivX evolve from powerful programs like VirtualDub. We all benefit as the cogonscenti do their work.

VirtualDub in action

A couple of other sites with good tutorials are DVD Digest and the defunct but still useful Nicky Pages' Digital Solutions. Read up, experiment, and enjoy!

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