Viewfinder: The Next Killer Ap

Just a little while ago, the acronym MP3 meant nothing to you. But most likely, you now know that MP3 is an audio format that allows users to send and receive audio files over the Internet. MP3 refers to audio layer 3 of the MPEG-1 standard. MPEG is short for "Motion Picture Expert Group revision". The Motion Picture Expert Group is a group of people that meets under the ISO (International Standards Organization) and adopts standards which enable people all over the world to use the same files. The "Joint Photographic Expert Group," or JPEG for short, preceded the Motion Picture Expert Group.

JPEG is the standard for still images. So why, many may ask, is a standard for audio files named after a moving picture standard? The reason is that the compression scheme MPEG-1 is efficient. It allows large files of full-frame, full-motion video and high-resolution audio, to be compressed down to very small data amounts. It was not the intent of the Motion Picture Expert Group to create an audio compression scheme for people to share songs over the Internet. A hobbyist dreamed up the idea, wrote some software and launched the MP3 revolution.

The same thing is now happening with video. This is important to you because it will someday allow you to send your video to people via the Internet. I need to make an important point here. I have been writing about sending "video" over the Internet for many years, but this time it is very different. Now, I am referring to "true video," full-screen, full-motion VHS-quality video that is suitable to show on the living room TV. Not the less-than-full-screen, full-motion we’re accustomed to seeing today from the Web.

The name of this new digital "compression scheme" is (surprise) Motion Picture Expert Group revision 4" (MPEG-4). But if it was referred to as MPEG4, life would be too easy. It is called DivX πŸ˜‰ (the semi-colon, hyphen and parentheses denote a winking face) and is based on the MPEG-4 standard.

The new DivX πŸ˜‰ format should not be confused with the failed DVD format DIVX (all caps) that the consumer electronics retail giant Circuit City distributed. By the way, the original video software for DivX πŸ˜‰ was created by Microsoft to use in its Windows Media format. DivX ;-), also referred to as DivX MPEG-4, is scaleable in quality so it can be used for many purposes, and it will allow you to store 80 to 90 minutes of 640×480 NTSC/PAL video on 650MB of disc space. Within the next few years, you will probably be converting your videos to DivX πŸ˜‰ and sending them to viewers and customers on the Internet or posting them on a Web site. Video producers will be able to "sell" DivX πŸ˜‰ video by way of e-commerce.

Compared to the expense of duplicating and shipping VHS tapes, DivX πŸ˜‰ is cheaper and faster. It will revolutionize video viewing in a way more profound than MP3 revolutionized music listening.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.