TV shows to XviD or similar?

I’m trying to figure out the best way to archive some old TV shows to smallish files, suitable for sending over the internet (not streaming) or maybe getting a few episodes on a single CD/DVD.

I have a WinTV PVR-250 for capture to MPEG2, but that doesn’t exactly mean small files!

I was thinking of maybe converting them to XviD, but so far all attempts to do anything with DivX or XviD have either come out with poor quality or large files, using SmartVideo. In fact WMV9 seems to be much smaller and better, which doesn’t seem right to me… I must have settings wrong somewhere.

I’ve seen episodes of Dr.Who in XviD and DivX5 and you wouldn’t know they weren’t DVD’s, but they are 350Mb files for a 45min show. How can this be so?! They are good resolution too - roughly VGA, not some tiny 300x200 window!

Also, most software I’ve looked at doesn’t expect an MPEG input, they usually want a DVD (like FairUse Wizard).

I’d like to use something a little standards-compliant, so no NeroDigital or QuickTime either. I have a Philips DVP642 that plays XviD/DivX nicely.

I can use Windows or Linux software (no spyware thanks so no AutoGK or DivX Pro).

So any recommendations, I’ve looked around here and

Oh, I also have a Sony Handycam with analogue to Firewire pass-thru for DV/AVI capture if that would help. And Sony Vegas 5 too.

The easy way is virtualdubmod.
Load the mpg, select Video, compression, and choose your codec.
Set the output aspect ratio, bitrate, etc, and save it as an avi.
Free, fairly fast, and you can even edit out the commercials easily.

i have a related question. i am trying to convert a couple mpeg files to divx and limit the divx output file to 1 cd. i’ve tried flaskmpeg, virtuadub, and divx 6.0. i cant find the right prog that will do both, convert mpeg -> divx and be able to select output file to 1 cd / 700mb.

can anyone help?

Use programs like Auto Gordian knot or avi.NET in conjunction with the xvid codec. Best to do two passes if you want really good quality and limited to whatever file size you set in the programs