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Learning The Basics of Video


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Jan LaFata

Jan LaFata

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I just bought a second computer to mess around with. It's used, and I'm going to slowly fix it up and use to test out apps, experiment with etc. It came with Windows XP on it and after I booted it up, I looked around to see what was on there.

The first that that caught my attention was that there were several video- related apps installed, Ulead DVD Movie Maker, GEAR Video and Xilisoft Video Converter.I soon discovered why that was all in there too when I explored a second drive and saw several video files in a folder.

Now I should mention at this point that, even though I know computers fairly well. I never messed around at all with video or DVD burning or anything.I've been strictly an audio guy, I use Rhapsody for that.

So my curiosity kicked in and I wanted to see what these files were. Turns out they were movie files, in AVI format. One was actually a movie I liked too, "Rudy". So, since I've been thinking about joining a Movie subscription service for some time anyway, I thought I'd play around with these files and the video software, to kind of get the hang of things. There's a DVD burner on the machine too, so I thought I was all set.

First though I clicked on the file and it fired up in Windows Media Player to see what it looked like. The clarity and sound were ok, so the next day I bought some blank DVD's and started messing around with the Ulead app. That's when I got my first big surprise! Although in it's raw form the file was only 700 MB's, when I loaded it into Ulead, it displayed it as being over 5 GB's!

I thought "what the heck" but proceeded forward with the setup and burn process anyway. Right away Ulead warned me that it was too big to put on a standard DVD, but it would try to compress it using something called DVDFit. I went ahead with it, but the process was very slow, so I eventually aborted.

But I wanted to figure out why that file became so large when I loaded it in Ulead. Luckily, when I first watched it in WMP, I remembered that I saw a DivX logo on it. I looked that up on the internet and discovered that DivX is a compression tool, so that explained that.

But my question is, "is it still supposed to expand that much when you load it into your burning program? Another odd thing is that I then tried to burn it using the GEAR Video, and it said nothing about being too big for a DVD. In fact, it did a nice job of burning the file.

So why would a video file be too large to burn in one program and fine in another? i don't understand that at all! Anyway I also messed around with one of the other video files, just for the heck of it and, just like before , I first fired it up in WMP.

The first thing that caught my eye was that there were about one inch black bars on each side of the video, which I thought looked terrible. Luckily though, with my experience editing audio I quickly deducted that maybe I could increase the size, then burn it.

I figured that's probably why the former owner probably had Xilisoft Video Converter on there. So I loaded up the Xillisoft with the file and eventually found my way to some settings where I could tweak the resolution and size and all. It didn't take long to do, then I burned it onto a DVD.

When I played it back though, there was no change in video size, which really baffled me! But the next day I emailed Xilisoft about that and he said his software will not get rid of black bars. But does that mean there is software out there that will enlarge a file like that? And are some of these movie files just unchangeable?

I close here because I know this is getting long. I look forward to your suggestions and comments.
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