My friends know that I like to convert video for portable media players. I started doing this for my 5G iPod Video, and now I have an Insignia Pilot. I liked using Recode 2 (comes with Nero Ultra 7) to make a video file at 320x240, or some derivative that worked within the "divisible by 16" requirement. Later, Apple updated the iPod firmware to support video up to 640x480 I started making videos that I would later use to play on the Xbox 360.
In Dec 2007, the Xbox team updated the 360 firmware to allow even more playback support. This included DivX, XviD (MPEG 4, Part 2 Video with MP3 or AAC) along with h.264 (MPEG 4, Part 10 Video with AAC audio). These can use AVI and MPEG 4 containers, but with different rules.
Now, the bummer for me is that while I could use one application to make one video for two players (the iPod and Xbox 360) I can't really do that anymore since the Pilot doesn't support MPEG 4 Part 10, nor AAC audio. In addition, it will only go up to 320x240 in resolution and I don't want to use that on my 46" Samsung LCD.
Since this is what I've got to work with, I decided to make a high quality "master" video of a DVD using h.264 (Ahead calls this "Nero Digital AVC", while DivX/XviD/MPEG 4 Part 2 is simply "Nero Digital") and, if I really like the audio, I'll use 5.1 AAC to keep all of the AC3/Dolby Digital tracks but compress. On a side note, Recode 3 will let you use MP3 or AC3 (keeps the audio and just mixes it with the video in the MPEG 4 container) with Nero Digital, and AAC or AC3 with Nero Digital AVC. However, Recode will only spit out these videos in MPEG 4 containers, and not AVI. So, keep this in mind when you create videos for the Xbox 360 as it will only understand AC3 audio if using MPEG 4 Part 2 video and an AVI container; simply renaming the file isn't enough as I have found out.
To get this file converted for my Pilot, I use iriverter with the Creative Zen config, at 320x240. I use no more than 768k video and 192k audio. These settings have worked fine even with 5.1 channel AAC audio in the "master."
So, to convert "One Missed Call," I used Nero Digital AVC with around 980kbps video and 192kbps audio (you can go down to 160kbps and it will still be quite good, but I keep it a bit higher in case of further conversion with iriverter). Doing this, the 1.5 hour movie was less than 700MB and fit on a CD. The result looks quite good on my HDTV. I am still working on "enrolling" the mp4 extension in Media Player 11 so I can simply stream it from my laptop/desktop to my Xbox 360. More information on that is in the blog link, but requires 3rd party add-ons.
Once I get the specifics, I'll update this.
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