Monday, January 01, 2007

Free Movies Redux

This is an edit of a previous post that I've changed to concentrate on Windows and VCDs (Video CDs) at the request of a friend.

First we want to get a movie that we can burn to a CD. A great source of free, public domain movies is Public Domain Torrents. You will need a bittorrent client to download the movies. uTorrent is what I use for Windows. For this example I've chosen to download Night of the Living Dead. It will take a few hours, perhaps overnight or longer, to download a movie depending on your connection speed and the size of the movie.

Once the movie is downloaded we have to convert it to a format that is readable by DVD players. We're going to use Avidemux. You can download the Windows version from here.

There are two types of VCDs: regular VCDs have a resolution of 352 x 240, about the same quality as VHS tapes, or Super VCDs that have 480 x 480 resolution, higher quality but will take more space than a regular VCD. A movie that might fit on one CD as a VCD will need to be put on two or more CDs if it is a Super VCD.

Also, not all DVD players will play SVCDs, but most will play VCDs. Check the specs of your player.

Once you've installed Avidemux open the movie, select Auto -> VCD or SVCD, hit Save, and relax for a couple of hours while it converts the movie.

Avidemux will automatically split the movie into two or more files so they will fit on a CD.

Once Avidemux is finished you should be able to burn the files to CDs with your CD burning program. Details will depend on your CD burning software, but I believe most CD burning programs will give you an option to burn VCDs. You may need a separate plugin to burn SVCDs because of licensing issues with the MPEG2 codec.

There are some other great resources for making video VCDs. The Internet Archive is another great source for public domain movies. Files are downloaded directly from their servers, so you don't need a bittorrent client, but sometimes can be slow. The video quality of the movies is also less, but there are a lot of them.

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