Xvid is a common open source video codec developed as an alternative to the proprietary DivX codec. Xvid, which was established in 1998 is now referred to as one of the most popular codecs used for video sharing and streaming because it offers good quality while saving disk space.
In this detailed Xvid review, we will discuss all there is to know regarding the codec. We will discuss its history and evolution, technical characteristics such as supported file formats, installation steps and usage instructions, including troubleshooting. By the end of this article, you will clearly understand what Xvid is and how you can use it to play, convert or work in any other way with Xvid video files.
Xvid – A Brief History
It was created in 1998 by a group of developers as a free software alternative to the proprietary DivX codec. The main developers behind Xvid were Ronny Randelshofer, Peter Gubanov, and Sven Andersson.
In the early 2000s, Xvid became a free option for compressing videos into smaller file sizes while maintaining high-quality online streaming. This was when broadband internet became mainstream, and bandwidth was still limited.
It released several major versions with improvements to its compression algorithm. In 2002, version 0.9.1 added B-frames and quarter-pixel motion compensation, significantly boosting its compression abilities. Version 1.0.0 was released in 2003 with additional enhancements.
By the mid-2000s, Xvid had emerged as the most popular free video codec, used widely for sharing and streaming video content online before formats like H.264 took over. It remains in use even today due to its stability and high compatibility. The project is still active with occasional bugfix releases.
Xvid Technical Specifications
Xvid is based on the open MPEG-4 ASP video compression standard. Some of its key technical specifications include:
- Compression Format: MPEG-4 Part 2 ASP (Advanced Simple Profile)
- Max Resolution Supported: 720p (1280×720)
- Frame Rates: 23.976, 24, 25, 29.97, 30 fps
- Color Spaces: YUV 4:2:0
- Profiles: Main Profile @ Level 3, Simple Profile @ Level 3
- Bit Rates: Variable bitrate 400-2500kbps
- Features: 4:2:0 chroma subsampling, Quarter Pixel Motion Estimation, B-frames
- Container Formats: AVI, MP4, MKV
Compared to its predecessor, DivX 3.11, Xvid offered significantly better compression through new encoding tools while maintaining high video quality. It could achieve about 30% better compression than DivX. However, later codecs like H.264 surpassed it due to continual advancements.
Supported File Formats
While it is a video codec, it requires a container format to encapsulate the compressed video and audio streams. Here are some of the most common file formats supported by Xvid:
AVI (Audio Video Interleaved): The oldest container format, it can contain only XVID video without audio or multiple audio/video streams. Files usually have the .avi extension.
MP4: A newer format based on MPEG-4 specification that can hold both video and audio in sync. Files have the .mp4 extension.
MKV (Matroska): An open-source multimedia container that can hold multiple video/audio tracks with subtitles. Files end with .mkv extension.
FLV (Flash Video): Used for streaming video on Adobe Flash Player/Adobe Flash. Files have .flv extension.
ASF (Advanced Systems Format): Used for streaming media on Windows. Files have .asf extension.
It can also be embedded inside other container formats like Ogg, WebM, 3GP, etc, but AVI, MP4, and MKV are the most common. The container doesn’t affect the Xvid compression, it only holds the encoded streams.
Installation and Usage
You need to install the Xvid codec on your system to play or encode videos using Xvid. Here are the basic steps:
- Download your operating system’s latest Xvid codec package from the official website sourceforge.net/projects/xvid.
- Run the installer and follow the on-screen prompts to complete the setup. Ensure you have administrator privileges.
- You can now play any video file using a compatible media player like VLC or Windows Media Player.
- You need a video encoding program that supports Xvid to encode videos into the Xvid format. Popular free options are HandBrake or FFmpeg.
- Use the encoding software to open your source video, select Xvid as the video codec, configure settings as desired, and start the encoding process.
That’s the basic process to get started with Xvid playback and encoding. Additional configuration may be needed depending on your specific use case and needs.
Xvid Common Issues and Fixes
While powerful and widely compatible, files and codecs can sometimes run into issues requiring troubleshooting. Here are some common problems and their solutions:
The video file is not playing
- Install the latest codec
- Try alternative media player like VLC
- Repair corrupted video files using tools like Repairit
Codec installation issues
- Reinstall codec completely by cleaning leftovers
- Install in compatibility mode for older Windows versions
- Download codec from an alternative source
Choppy Xvid video playback
- Use hardware acceleration if available on the media player
- Increase playback buffer size
- Play on higher performance device
File conversion issues
- Update encoding software to the latest version
- Check for any encoding errors or issues
- Use optimal presets and settings for the source
Black/green screen during playback
- Install the latest graphics card drivers
- Enable hardware acceleration for video
- Try playing on different display device
Proper troubleshooting following the above solutions should help fix any issues with Xvid files or codecs in most cases. Reinstallation is generally the best option if problems persist.
Xvid Video Encoding Guide
Now that we understand what Xvid is and how to set it up, let’s look at how to encode videos into the Xvid format using free encoding software.
We will use the popular open-source tool HandBrake for our encoding guide. It provides an intuitive interface and high-quality presets optimized for different devices and use cases.
To encode a video file to Xvid using HandBrake:
- Start HandBrake and open your source video file from the Open Source dialog.
- From the Video tab, select “Xvid” from the Video Codec dropdown.
- Adjust the Quality slider to balance quality with file size. We recommend 20-25 for most purposes.
- Select an Audio codec like AAC if needed. Otherwise, source audio will be passed through.
- From the Destination tab, choose your target folder and filename.
- Select “MP4” or “MKV” as the container format, depending on your needs.
- Click “Start Encode” to begin encoding into Xvid format.
- Your new Xvid encoded video file will be saved once encoding is complete.
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You can also customize settings like resolution, bitrate, deinterlacing, etc., per your specific requirements from the advanced tabs. This provides a basic guide to getting started with Xvid encoding.
While Xvid remains a capable and widely supported codec, there are some modern alternatives you may want to consider depending on your specific needs:
H.264 – The most common codec used today, with higher compression and quality than Xvid. It is used on most streaming platforms.
HEVC/H.265 – Newer high-efficiency video codec offering significantly better compression than H.264 at the cost of higher hardware requirements.
VP9 – Open video format offering quality comparable to H.264/H.265. YouTube uses them for 4K and higher resolution videos.
AV1 – The upcoming open, royalty-free video format promises better compression than H.265. We are still gaining adoption.
X265 – Open source implementation of H.265/HEVC standard for encoding videos. Provides quality close to commercial encoders.
While these newer codecs are superior, Xvid still has its uses for compatibility with older systems or as an intermediate format before sharing online. You can choose based on your specific needs.
In this comprehensive review, we learned about the history of Xvid, its technical specifications, common file formats used, installation process, and troubleshooting of issues. We also covered how to encode videos into the Xvid format using HandBrake.
Itremains a capable open-source video codec that many rely on even today for its stability, compatibility, and small file sizes. While newer codecs provide better compression, itensures your older videos are still playable on a wide range of systems.