BitTorrent's elite switches from Xvid to x264

A high-level summit of the torrenting world's elite release groups -- the groups responsible for the highest quality, earliest infringing video releases -- has resulted in a consensus on dumping the venerable Xvid codec (a video compression scheme) for x264, requiring the torrent-downloading public to rethink which tools, devices and converters they use. Here's the official consensus. Torrentfreak's Enigmax has more:

The document – ‘The SD x264 TV Releasing Standards 2012′ – is extremely detailed and covers all sorts of technical issues, but the main controversy stems from the adoption of the x264 codec.

“x264 has become the most advanced video codec over the past few years. Compared to Xvid, it is able to provide higher quality and compression at greater SD resolutions,” the rule document begins.

“This standard aims to bring quality control back to SD releases. There are many standalone players/streamers such as TviX, Popcorn Hour, WDTV HD Media Player, Boxee, Xtreamer, PS3, XBOX 360, iPad, & HDTVs that can playback H264 and AAC encapsulated in MP4,” the doc adds.

From February 22nd and earlier in some cases, release groups including ASAP, BAJSKORV, C4TV, D2V, DiVERGE, FTP, KYR, LMAO, LOL, MOMENTUM, SYS, TLA and YesTV began releasing TV shows in the new format. Out went Xvid and avi, in came x264 and MP4.

BitTorrent Pirates Go Nuts After TV Release Groups Dump Xvid


    1.  watch and see every electronic device produced offering support for X264 from this day on.  Piracy is what drove everyone to support XVid.

      1. Every electronic device produced right now supports X264. That’s part of the point.

        1.  If you prefer X264, then download the X264 format. That’s the rest of the point. complaining about it is pointless.

    1. WebM has been specifically designed as a subset of H.264 techniques to carefully navigate around some patents. It exists for legal reasons only. Why should these people who operate illegally anyway care if they also infringe on some patents while infringing on some copyright?

      1. The fact that WebM if it were successful would also disrupt Apple’s business as a major purveyor of h264 media and players was undoubtably a bonus too. It’s kind of a trend in Google products lately: Android, WebM, Google Music.

    1.  not necessarily as simple as that, avi is the standard everything supports, and mp4 is not (unless the everything in question is an iPod et al)

      But with that said, considering it’s a bittorrent pirated release, it’s really kind of whiny to complain.

      1. 1) you’re confusing codecs and containers

        2) there are far more devices today which can easily play MP4 and not AVI than the reverse case

        1. this should allow much easier local streaming with my roku box, it does mp4 natively, i had to run everything through handbrake before.

          1. Why? Any release worth it was already encoded as h264 in an mkv container All you need to do is pour the stream in the proper container using something like Subler (OSX only though).

      2. iPhones, iPod touches and iPads can’t play xvid in avi containers. There are 316 million iOS devices in people’s hands. Seems like a large enough market to cater towards.

    2. The big deal is, if I want to burn a disc of half a dozen movies for a friend to play on their DVD player, they have to be old releases, cause the new ones won’t work on some random 5-10 year old player.

      Unlike DivX/Xvid.

      But oh well, that’s progress I suppose. SD stuff’s days are numbered anyway, I guess…

      …Also, LOL @ “official”

      1. > the new ones won’t work on some random 5-10 year old player.

        The new HD-upscaling, H.264 capable players in Germany cost for past ~3 years something like 40€. Can’t imagine they cost more in US. That’s really no big deal IMO.

      2. I get that, I mean, I own such a DVD player (OPPO represent!).  I will keep it forever because it upscales and deinterlaces better than any newer device on the market and I love the thing…for DVD playback that is.

        The fact is though, at this point, the install base for newer devices that support MP4 and not AVI is much much larger than the install base of those older devices.  So actually, a greater number of people were being inconvenienced by doing things the old way.  That means this change serves a larger audience more conveniently, with the added benefit of the files having a better quality-to-bytesize ratio (in other words, less bandwidth consumption and more files on a given thumbdrive/disc/etc).

      3. What I’m not getting is: is there still a significant number of people who burn TV episodes on DVDs?  That sounds ridiculously complicated…

  1. Everything plays H.264 these days so what’s the problem? I’ve had more trouble with MKV than with mp4, but only when trying to run 720p on my little netbook. 

    If you really need avi, there’s conversion software out there. Chances are that you are already a pirate anyway, so why bitch?

    1.  Not everything supports 264, but everything supports avi. The ones who are complaining are probably not technologically sophisticated to know how even to convert a file. These are also the ones bitching out EZTV for changing the format, like they had a say in it, and like SCENE care what the hell any of us think.

      1. Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, and even Macs — none of these support AVI out of the box.
        This wasn’t an arbitrary decision by Apple, either. They have hardware support for h.264, meaning you’ll burn a lot more battery watching an AVI through a 3rd party app than you will watching an mp4 file through the included apps. And Apple is not alone. Plenty of other devices have hardware-level h.264 support. Is hardware acceleration for AVI even a thing?

        1. I don’t think the question is which is better; at least that’s not what I’m talking about. .avi is more widely supported. That’s not to say it’s better quality, and we all have to move on some time. But as a parallel, just because FLAC is a better audio standard doesn’t mean we throw out mp3.

          Ultimately the success of this standard change will come down to which files more widely downloaded, which will have more seeds. Will people leech and seed the mp4 format more, or will some download it, convert to avi, and re-up it, leading to more seeds as filesharers are drawn to the standard they are most familiar with? Time will tell.

          1. The difference between XviD vs. x264 and FLAC vs MP3 is that a high-quality MP3, to most listeners, is nearly identical to its FLAC counterpart.  XviD/AVI, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired even at its best.

            FLAC support is also much more rare than x264 support.

          2. I understand why someone would mistakenly believe that “AVI is more widely supported” based on past experience, but that’s not true any more.  In fact, that’s very far from being the case today.

            There are older devices, many of which can play back divx inside AVI containers but not H.264 inside MP4.

            There are newer devices, many of which can play back H.264 inside MP4 containers but not divx inside AVI.

            There are currently far, far, far more devices in use that fit the latter description.  

            The difference between these two install bases is probably somewhere between one and two orders of magnitude honestly.

    2. Mkv is an Xbox owning newsgroup using nightmare.

      I’m assuming Xbox works with mp4 ? Even if it does I probably need a frooking gold account – money grabbing bastards. Like I have to pay s monthly fee to watch YouTube on my Xbox, the bloody audacity.

      1. Not that hard to cope with. I stream avi/mkv/mp4 with all codecs I care about to my xbox from my PC, with no trouble, using only free tools.  TVersity or Media Browser go a long way.

    1. Somehow I don’t think anyone is worried about watching any format on their computer, and if your talking about conversion I always feel a little conned if I gave to spend more time converting a file than I spend downloading it.

  2. I was extremely amused by the outrage of the leech community here.  If you’re just a passive consumer, STFU and update your damn players. You have no ‘rights’.

    1. I feel that if you’re not going to pay for content, the absolute least you can do is take the miniscule time necessary to find, download, and learn to use basic conversion software. 

      Frex, I find FLAC a useless bloatmonster of a codec, since it all comes out of crappy headphones/PC speakers anyway, but if stuff I want is in FLAC it’s not really a thing to convert it to mp3. It takes seconds. 

      If you don’t want to put in the work, maybe consider paying for shit. Somebody has to. 

      1.  Exactly – the other side of stupid corporations not being willing to provide content with reasonable terms/cost is people who think they’re entitled to infinite quality content for free.

        I would like to meet in the middle and pay reasonable prices for reasonable access to your content. I have done so where it was offered.  I’ve spent over $20K for music in my lifetime, and have no problem ‘pirating’ music I’ve already bought in new formats.

      2. It’s an interesting psycological observation – you appear to justify your illegal act because you’re putting effort into it.

        I think someone needs to get off their high horse.

  3. I am surprised they opted for mp4 over mkv, but I guess mp4 has broader stand alone support.

    IMO telecining and to some degree interlaced media is just pointless.  50+ year old standards be damned.

    And personally I use MeGui to do all my conversions to 264.  Between that and a couple of custom avisynth scripts I’ve got the workflow pretty efficient.

    1. > I am surprised they opted for mp4 over mkv

      This is only for SD releases. The successor to AVI is the MP4. And yes, simple MP4s are better supported by stand-alone players.

      Theoretically MP4 also can everything what MKV can, but support for advanced MP4 features (multi-tracks, overlays, subtitles, menus, chapters) is pretty much non-existent in most players. And authoring tools cost arm and leg. So the features pretty much never took off – and MKV became the format to go for the HD releases.

      > I use MeGui

      I avoid conversions. I use the Avidemux to simply change wrapper if I want to. (I did on couple of occasions convert AVIs and MP4s into MKV to add chapters.)

  4. I noticed the change, and personally I welcome it. The files are smaller and are of better quality. Less downloading time, better experience. Hollywood tries to get people accept less for more, and the piracy scene (not that they care about the little guy all that much either) they try and give more for less. Funny that.

    1. Exactly. Not only is the size smaller, the resolution is higher and the quality is noticeably better (compared an xvid episode with an x264 one – side by side).

    2. > they try and give more for less. Funny that.

      Because the piracy scene are at the same time consumers themselves.

      That’s why they care.

    1. Also easier for someone to read that’s not steeped in the black arts of translating legaleese to human readable.

  5. Hey folks, did any of you actually read the snippet of the post above before foaming at the mouth? Here let me help you with a key point: “The SD x264 TV Releasing Standards 2012,” “SD resolutions” & “SD releases.” SD = STANDARD-DEFINITION. Nuff said. Excelsior!

  6. At first I was a little confused when I saw everything suddenly coming up as Mp4’s, but I’m glad they did it.  It makes it a bit easier to watch stuff on my iPad (I assume…haven’t tried yet). Everything else I use can play either (like VLC).  The iPad was the one device that took an extra step.

    Speaking of which, I’m sure nearly everyone here already knows this, but a lot of people still mix up the concept of the codec (eg. xvid) and the container (avi).  Lots of people seem to waste lots of unnecessary time converting video files for other devices/programs when often all that’s needed is changing the container (eg. avi to mp4).  It’s like swapping book covers instead of translating every word in the book. It’s so much quicker and easier.

    1. It hurts my soul how many people endlessly transcode stuff that only needs to be remuxed into a different container (in seconds with no loss).

    2. Even TorrentFreak screws it up in the abstract of the linked article: Xvid/avi … MP4/x264. Note: codec/container –> container/codec.

  7. I’m sure my naivete will generate many chuckles and outright guffaws, but isn’t H.264 patented by MPEG LA, requiring a license to use for encoding? Not that pirates would care about a license, but doesn’t this de facto endorse and promote a product owned by a renowned licence troll? I thought that was why xvid became the standard over divx?

    1.  It’s not a dumb  question, but if you’ll remember MP3 was also somewhat up in the air. Do we need a license from Fraunhoefer or not? That was never really answered. But the effective answer is that consumers don’t care, pirates don’t care, only companies need to care. And the licensing issue is usually the least of company stupidity in this case.

      The real problem here is that companies are just not providing the service that consumers would be willing to pay for. So screw ’em.

  8. Just so you know, I would NEVER use this information to download any copyrighted material illegally. But thank you, nonetheless. Also, I’m nostalgic for the the days of navigating (m)IRC when the l33t warez groups were like gawdz. And then dudes would start their own groups on AOL (taking credit for the real work but often associated with the IRC hierarchy) and mass mail the leet groups’ zero day warez. I’m getting old.

  9. I’m all for the switch to x264/mp4 for the reasons others have mentioned, but I hope they don’t standardize on AAC for HD and multi-channel because too many receivers do not decode AAC. I hate downloading an MP4 only to realize that the audio is AAC and then having to remux/transcode the audio to AC3. Stereo AAC is ok, though, since Boxee and the like will happily decode those and output PCM.

  10. …requiring the torrent-downloading public to rethink which tools, devices and converters they use

    Nope. VLC.

      1. Well no, but a few seconds googling will  confirm for you that your crappy Xbox can play MP4, and without gold membership yadda yadda. So you can sleep soundly tonight.

      2. Are you asking me a question? I can’t tell, between your lack of proper punctuation, poor capitalization, and irony-laden use of cliché.

      3. What a foolish question. Do you have one of these new-fangled products known as a ‘television screen’, gramps? Then you can run VLC on it.

  11. > – Group watermarks of any kind on the video are banned
    > – Intros, outros, betweenos, or any other form of defacement of the  episode are banned

    They are definitely better than the industry.

    P.S. Funny how easy it is to be better than the industry.

  12. The “Elite” have been using H.264 for years already. I don’t know who these guys are, but if they were still using XviD they certainly couldn’t have had the “highest quality” releases.

    The true Elite have all but completely moved on to the hi-10 profile, which doesn’t have nearly as much hardware or even software support as the hi profile, but they don’t care. If you want the highest quality possible, you have to make some sacrifices.

  13.  Now maybe the folks who do games and rips should, hypothetically speaking of course, move away from the hundreds of rar files that they might or may not use for game releases, since the modern broadband era really doesn’t need need that anymore for redundancy and error correction.

  14. not that I’m highly interested in the whole release group politics, but is there a rationale for forbidding ffmpeg as audio encoder?

    “- Nero and Apple encoders are recommended. FFmpeg is banned.”

  15. Torrentfreak is laughing at bittorrent users who think these release groups are the people posting their torrents. Judging from the title of this post Cory somehow still has that impression after reading the article.

  16. Cory, that screenshot is horribly broken.  You need a font that supports CP-437.  On debian/ubuntu the package xfonts-terminus-dos works nicely.

    Edit: I just realized that the mistake is TorrentFreak’s.

  17. Torrent is not Scene. Please.
    Maybe i’m wrong and the scene is totaly fucked up but ASAP, BAJSKORV, C4TV, D2V, DiVERGE, FTP, KYR, LMAO, LOL, MOMENTUM, SYS, TLA and YesTV are not from torrent scene.

    1. So true! All of those groups would be mortified at the suggestion that they’re “Torrent” groups. The Scene is more like Fight Club and Torrent sites, Usenet and File hosts just leech off of it.

Comments are closed.