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Xvid – My Newest “Codec of Choice” – for Games, Webinars or Tutorials!

What I loved first about Xvid had to do with its amazing ability to compress HOURS of video without going over the dreaded 2-GB file size limit for the video portion of an AVI (a limitation imposed by the AVI specification) that CamStudio has to operate under, since it records using the AVI container format.

Yes, I said HOURS! Read on!

The Problem: I had been receiving requests for information for months by educators and lecturers to show how to make extended recordings of their presentations to share online with their classes, and had been stymied. The longest ones that CamStudio Lossless or Lagarith Lossless could get out at 1280X720 were just over 1/2 an hour.

At the CamStudio forums, Mike Wallace and I went back and forth for several days trying all kinds of things trying for a mere 90-minutes of recording time. We jumped through all kinds of hoops, discovering the best ways to rescue recordings that had gone over the 2-GB limitation in VirtualDub, and lots of other interesting forays.

FINALLY I stumbled upon using Xvid thanks to a post and video made by ColdReactive in the forum (which now is part of my “How to Use CamStudio” playlist). Fortunately, I also stumbled upon Jawor’s version of the codec package, whose profiles made it far easier to use the codec for the purposes of use that many CamStudio and other screen recorder users have in mind.

There are two locations I trust to download Xvid – Xvid’s own download page and Digital Digest, who has the version of Jawor’s Xvid that I like the best. You’ll need the 32-bit version for CamStudio, but the 64-bit version will work nicely with your 64-bit media players! (There are probably other good packages for download, but these are the two I know of – add your own recommendations to the comments!)

So, imagine you want to capture a 1280X720 pixel screen region for an upload in HD format to YouTube – what Xvid settings should you use? Use the profiles to speed things up! If you installed Jawor’s version of Xvid, he has included an Xvid HD 720 profile that should do it all for you! (This may be the new standard, as it is now showing in my version of the codec from Xvid.org itself). Set it to a “1″ setting on the slider (the highest quality setting) and go to town!

I’ve recently recorded a 2 hours and 15 minute long webinar without it even breaking a sweat, and had no crashes from CamStudio doing several more! The video portion of the recording was WELL under the 2-GB size limit, and I didn’t even switch my display color settings from 32-bit to 16-bit!

Amazing!

Thank goodness Jawor has provided us with a 720 profile for YouTube HD captures!

[The others – the “Simple” and “Advance Simple” Profiles – are set for various DVD standards and window sizes, and are meant to produce discs playable on commercial DVD player machines. These Xvid profiles are actually MPEG-4 standards for DVD’s and other hardware video formats. If that was your goal, using them will ensure that your videos will play across different players and devices (considerable tweaking is possible!) You can also use the “Unrestricted” profile to set any settings you like. A full explanation of all of Xvid’s settings can be found in a useful Xvid tutorial at divx-digest.com. If you want to go deep into this, there is a ton you can learn from the Xvid Presets thread at the Doom9 forums (a forum dedicated to video conversion issues). But that will be going way over the heads of most people who just need it for recording longer CamStudio screencasts in 720HD for YouTube or other uses.]

Jawor's Xvid Profiles

Jawor’s Xvid Profiles

As you can see in the image above, the available codecs include the “Simple” and “Advanced Simple” standards, except they are now renamed as MPEG4 SP (for Simple Profile) and MPEG4 ASP (for Advanced Simple Profile). The one we need for 1280X720HD recording for YouTube is the Xvid HD 720 one! I then recommend simply setting the slider all the way to the left at “1″ and going to town with a test recording (I tested with some earlier recordings playing in repeats and watched my file size readout in CamStudio – which is showing the VIDEO file size, not the eventual combined video plus audio file size. (The final combined file size may go over 2-GB without posing a problem. It is the Video portion that cannot go over the  2-GB file size limit.)

For the 2-1/4 hour webinar recording test I did, I used the following settings:

Set Key Frames Every: 100
Capture Frames Every: 100
Playback Rate: 10
“Use MCI to Record” should be checked in the Audio settings for good audio/video sync to occur.

Use higher settings like CFE 50 PBR 20 for even smoother webinar or tutorial-style recordings.

This is all you really need to know to record long 720HD videos for YouTube or any other application. Have at it, and let me know here or in the Camstudio.org forums how it goes for you!

BONUS! Xvid records high-motion video beautifully and still keeps the file sizes small.

Again, experiment with your application to find out the maximums (and you can rescue any over-time recordings using the ideas presented in the thread by Mike and myself at the forums), but things should go swimmingly for you. I used higher settings, so watch your times and do some tests.

Here are some suggested settings to try for Game and other High-Motion Captures:

Set Keyframes Every: 30-100
Capture Frames Every: 25
Playback Rate: 40

Or try:

Capture Frames Every: 20
Playback Rate: 50

Again, “Use MCI to Record” should be checked in the Audio settings for good sync to occur.

The highest actual frame capture rates that ColdReactive experienced in his tests came from Xvid. I think that is a good indication it will do well for recording games – and seemingly just about anything else!!!

 

* Due to a database reset, I had to recover the comments from Google’s Cached Pages – Here they are, but leave a new comment!

 

Jawor’s Xvid – My Newest “Codec of Choice” – for Games, Webinars or Tutorials!”

  1. hi Terry, thanks for your reply regarding Freemind + Freeplane applications.
    With regards to this threath about Xvid and its newly (re)discovered prowess,,, two questions:

    1. you said “r294″ has a bug,,,, so which one should be used for more reliability? “r273″ until further notice?

    2. what happened to your earlier comments about better using “lagarith lossless” than the old “Camstudio lossless”?

    When you reply, could you also include Version # that you trust?
    Interesting back and forth with Mike!

    thanks a lot. Luis

  2. The main bug r294 has exhibited has been in the use of “window” as the region setting. As I use Sizer for just about all of my videos, this bug BUGS me! (Get Sizer at http://www.brianapps.net/sizer/ and watch the videos!)

    I found that the r294 version has been adding one pixel to the width and height. So, in Sizer I set it to make windows of 1279X719 — then CamStudio gets them right!

    This darn bug has been pervasive across the last four beta versions, either cropping up in the Window region or the fixed region settings. Someday it will be squashed!

    I still like using Lagarith Lossless quite a bit — especially for high-motion recordings. It is a lossless codec, after all, and that it can pull off a high-motion recording with that kind of quality is quite miraculous. However, the time limits are far more severe. For people needing to record much longer lengths of recordings, Xvid is the current leader. Plus, by ColdReactive’s tests, Xvid enjoys the highest “Actual Frame Rate” status during capture, so there is less munging of frames together to produce a smooth video. Probably very helpful with slower PC’s!

    I’ve been using r294 without issues for very long recordings now at least 5 times. If there is a memory leak (I don’t remember where I saw that) it has not affected anything. The only pain is having to adjust Sizer to one-less-pixel to compensate for the added pixels. Nick just relegated r294 as the new default download at Sourceforge, if that tells you anything about its reliability (sans a couple bugs). So, I’d say there is a consensus forming that r294 is the best one to use.

    I have access to the bug tracker to report bugs at Sourceforge, so if you encounter anything, please do let me know and I’ll post the issue.

    Terry

  3. Hey Terry,

    I’ve been following your instructions (your previous setup post for CamStudio as well), and now that I’m at this point, when I finish recording the video, my windows media player just gives me the following error:

    “Windows Media Player cannot play the video because there is a problem with your video card.”

    I’ve tried playing in a different player, like an xvid player, and when it does work, the video plays in fast forward.

    Any idea what I’m doing wrong?

  4. Sorry also wanted to add that I want to record full screen windowed games. Lossless works well for me, up until I fullscreen the game. is that common?

  5. I cannot imagine what would bring on that error. And one player plays in fast forward???? That is just so surreal.
    What are your settings being used? (Video Options, particularly)

  6. I’ve stopped using the lossless codecs in favor of using Xvid for nearly everything. Keep your regions even-numbered dimensions or it will offer to “use your default codec instead” (which don’t). Use the fixed-region settings to accomplish that.

  7. Hi Terry,
    Unless I am doing sth wrong, I cannot get Xvid encoded videos to play in the CamStudio Player 2.1

    Any ideas? thanks.

  8. That’s interesting. I never use that player, so I’ll have to check this out. It works fine in your other players, though?

  9. Hi… I’ve used Camstudio to record a long video but the program crashed when the size reached 4GB and it says “error writing an avi file”. I’m now having both the ~temp.avi file and another avi file (which is supposed to be the “finished” file after saving from the temp file). I see errors reading the ~temp.avi using quicktime. And when I open the “finished” file, no error msg pop out but the screen is blank. Is there any way that I could recover those avi files please?

  10. Chipmunk,
    Even if using Xvid (from which I’ve gotten 3 hour webinar recordings now without going over the 2 GB size limit), you still cannot exceed 2 gigabytes in file size in the AVI 1 specification, and AVI 1 is what this program uses. Had you gone only up to perhaps 3 GB, VirtualDub MIGHT have been able to resurrect your files, but at 4GB I’ve never been able to get VirtualDub to do anything but crash. Sorry.

    There is a long thread at the CamStudio forums that discusses all the hoops Mike Wallace and I jumped through trying to get longer recordings. You can read that thread at this link.
    http://camstudio.org/forum/discussion/658/req-recommended-settings-for-recording-for-90-min.

    In there we discuss some methods for rescuing with VirtualDub, but like I said, I never was able to get a 4GB file to work.

    Terry

  11. I am trying to record a time-lapse video of a video game that CamStudio is able to record. I downloaded and installed Jawor’s XVid codec like you said, but I am getting an error every time I click record. The error says something like “cannot use current compressor. Use default compressor?”
    I need to record the game in 1024×768.

    How do I fix this?
    I am using XP Pro SP3 and CamStudio 2.6b r294.

  12. That message comes up whenever one of the dimensions of height or width is not an even number. Use the Fixed Region selector and type in 1024X768, as I think the “full window” selection is possibly a pixel short in one dimension or both. One nice thing about the Fixed region choice is that it has a “Select” button in there that lets you select a region with your mouse, and then you can correct your selection to ensure the numbers are even then.

    Jawor’s Xvid 720 HD profile, though optimized for 1280X720 regions used by YouTube as HD widescreen, can be used for other settings, but try some other profiles, perhaps. Experiment! Let me know what you come up with that works. I used to do a lot of 1024X768 recordings myself, and I had used the 720 HD profile and all looked fine. I have switched to 1280X720 for YouTube uploads recently (since March of 2011) since I upload most of what I do now.

    Terry

  13. Okay, I’m loving it so far. It records wonderfully, but it still seems to record badly on faster scenes. Any way to optimize for this since I’ve tried the recommended settings? Also sound won’t record. Not sure what’s up with that.

  14. There are videos about dealing with sound settings in the video series and in the 2-hour “Secrets of CamStudio” webinar. I use different settings for faster material – SKFE to 30, CFE to 40 and PBR to 25 – but that doesn’t get long recording times like the other settings since you are grabbing so many more complete frames. Let us know what settings work out for you, but keep CFE X PBR equal to 1000 or your audio/video sync will fall apart.

  15. I downloaded Jawor’s Xvid (the 32 bit and 64 bit exe) and installed it. When I go into Video Options on CamStudio, I see Xvid MPEG-4 Codec (it is Jawor’s build though, per the About option). However, when I go to record, an empty dialog box appears with only “Xvid Status” as the title. CamStudio then proceeds to crash.

    Any thoughts on this? What am I missing/doing wrong?

  16. I should clarify, as I just discovered this. CamStudio in fact does not crash, the recording continues on just fine. That dialog box seems to be independent of the function of CamStudio, but I can’t get rid of it.

    Hope that helps you helping me, thanks.

  17. At the bottom of the Xvid configuration screen is an options button. Click that and clear the checkbox offering to show the status screen. That’s all there is to that! I wish they would have it unchecked by default.

    Terry

  18. Terry, I downloaded first the old version of Jawors xvid, then the Stable version. Both have the following error
    Camstudio lets me choose fixed region size, then adjust the location of region, then stops with the error

    Cannot use the current compressor
    I’ve downloaded the 32 and 64 version do I need to somehow force the 32 bit version somehow. If so How

  19. Make certain that your fixed region is of even-numbered dimensions. Xvid requires this (as do all other MP4 codecs, I believe). I use the “Set” button, then drag out my region, and correct the numbers in the height and width boxes afterward.

    If you try to use Sizer-created windows and the “Window” region in CamStudio 2.6 r294, it has a bug that requires you to create 1279X719 sized windows in Sizer, as it is off by one pixel (CamStudio, that is.) The resulting video will be 1280X720 in this case.

  20. I have installed the Xvid, but it doesn’t show up in the CamStudio Video options?

  21. You may have to re-start CamStudio for it to show up. I’ve had no problem with 2.6 r294. Are you running 2.0, perhaps?

  22. I have two(!) entries in the ‘Video Options’ for the Compressor ‘Xvid MPEG-4 codec’ (same name and in both CS versions 2.0 and 2.6x).
    Which one is the one from Jawor?
    It seems that both entries ‘going’ to the same functions. If this is the case, how do i remove one entry, because one is sufficient?
    Thanks (also for the good tips around here).
    rk

  23. I suppose you’d have to remove both of them, and then put in just Jawor’s. They are the same Xvid, except Jawor’s profiles are easier to use for our purposes, and have earned him high praise over at doom9.org forum. (Where they discuss all things to do with video compression and DVD backup like an obsession!)(A good obsession in the case of codec discussions, though!) :-)

    I believe you can just run the installer again to uninstall them, or use the Windows control panel to do so.

    Let me know what happens!

    Terry

  24. Hi Terry

    I have been trying to add different codecs to CamStudio and have not been able to get any of them working. When I tried DivX, it didn’t show up as an option but it seemed to affect my recording because the picture came out really small. uninstalled DivX and everything went back to normal. Then I tried the Xvid MPEG-4 from Jawor and it installed ok and showed up as an option but when I try to record I get a “Wave in error” “The specified device handle is invalid. in Stop()” When I click OK I get a note “Cam Studio could not record the AVI file using the current compressor. Use default compressor? Any idea what’s causing this? I currently use the Cinepak Codec by Radius and record with pretty good success but I have to take that file and compress it again to stay within the 100MB You Tube restriction – even videos that are 10 min long.

  25. You may need to download this:
    Visual C++ Runtime Libraries 2008 SP1

    The Waveout error is from using “record from speakers” rather than “record from microphone” and using Stereo Mix as your input source. See the videos at My YouTube Channel on how to do this in Win XP, Vista and Win 7.

    The old “record from speakers” hooks disappeared with Vista and SP3 of XP.

    XviD absolutely requires that your window capture size be of even numbered height and width dimensions. That is ALWAYS the reason for that error message that says, “Cam Studio could not record the AVI file using the current compressor”!

    The easiest way to ensure this while still having the “drag an area out” convenience is via the “Fixed Region” menu item – press the button that says “Select”, make your selection, then adjust the numbers to be even ones in the height and width box. When you start the recording, you position your mouse to place the “box” over the region you want to record, or you can experiment and find the actual distance from the top and sides that you want the box to be in.

    DivX has been breaking CamStudio for a couple of months now. They’ve been notified and seem perplexed as to what they’ve changed to cause that to happen.

    Terry

  26. Terry thanks for your help that fixed it. I was sizing my window with sizer to 1280 X 720 and then choosing the window region and that didn’t work but when I used the fixed region it did. Then I recalled one of things that I heard on your webinar so I tried the 1279 X 719 with the window region and that work (I guess the 1 pixel bug isn’t squashed yet). Anyway, that plus I switched to mono on the mic and all is good. Thanks again, its good to have such knowledgeable people to contact

    Steve

  27. Ahhh, yes – that darn 1-pixel-added bug in the “Window Region” setting! I’m glad you remembered that mention concerning using Sizer. And the “wave-in” error (I had that wrong in my last reply) was solved by switching to mono?? That’s a new one! Anyway, I’m glad you’re up and running for now – let me know if you need any more input! I’m always happy to help.

  28. Hey Terry,

    I’ve followed all of your steps as best as I can, however every time I record a video and then try to re-watch it the screen is blank. It plays back the correct amount of time but there’s no picture. I’ve tried this in Quick Time, Windows Media Player, and the CamStudio player all blank. Any thoughts?

    Andrew

  29. Andrew,

    Does this happen even with a simple desktop recording? Hmmmm….

    Try a different codec – a crummy codec but good one to test with is the Microsoft Video One codec. I use Jawor’s Xvid for everything nowadays, though.

    There is a setting for recording transparent windows that you might check upon in the Options/Program Options menu. Try toggling that.

    Let me know what other things you’ve tried out. Don’t give up quite yet! Change the color depth to 16-bit, for instance, or 24-bit or 32-bit and try different refresh rates. Do a search at the CamStudio forums – I seem to remember something like this happening once before, but I don’t remember what the fix was, if any.

    Terry

6 Responses to Xvid – My Newest “Codec of Choice” – for Games, Webinars or Tutorials!

  1. I followed all the steps but it just won’t show up as an option in CamStudio. I also uninstalled and reinstalled it. Restarted my computer and everything.

    Do you know how I can get it to show up? I have a Windows 7 (64-bit)

  2. It should just appear as Xvid in the list. It does for both 2.0 and 2.6b on my machines (win XP and 7).

    Terry

  3. Forgive what might be an obvious newbie question, but do these Xvid codecs also have to be installed on the computers of those who view the file?
    I’m trying to convert a Web Ex arf file into swf or wmv format, and the file is so huge it is unusable. It must be playable on WMP or Flash Player, but the file size also has to be under 50 MGB. Right now my 1 hr. file is 90 MGB in arf, 157 MGB in wmv, and 554 MGB in swf.

  4. when I try to import the video on Avidemux 2.5.6 it crashes

    I have recorded the screencat on Camstudio with the xvid HD 720 codec, using a 64bit windows 7 , but when I scrub the video it shows the frames is there a needed coded to make this work ?

  5. Try converting the video using Any-Video-Converter to a different format (like MPEG-4 Custom, perhaps).
    http://www.any-video-converter.com/products/for_video_free/

    The file should be readable by most media players, but I’ve run into some cases where it didn’t, so I convert stand-alone files to a custom MPEG-4 format using that program, and then they play anywhere in any media player. If you have already uploaded to YouTube, you can just download their conversion – that is already in MPEG-4 format and ready to go!

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