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No, no and no. DivX = fundamentally evil and your client requesting it more or less illustrates his lack of understanding of these matters and why this atrocious format never managed to be officially standardized by anyone... To answer your questions:
- There is no dedicated plugin, DivX is simply another CoDec that would appear under the "Options" in the Output Module settings with AVI chosen as the main format.
- AE is rubbish for this, since it does not support the required VBR encoding and other fancies such as pre-stream buffering via the AVI writer.
- DivX is not backward compatible, so you would have to find the correct version of the given CoDec.
- Open DivX was a feeblish attempt to push their proprietary format by supplying some pieces as "Open Source", so some tools may still have the routines built-in, but they are eitehr Linux or PC. I'm not aware that any Mac tool could do it.
In the grander scheme of things, this is going to be a complete nightmare for all parties involved, so I strongly suggest you talk to your client and find out what he actually wants the files for. I honestly can't think of a single thing that would require this tenure. Even playing HD video files from a DivX enabled DVD player uses DivX 6 these days, so hunting for legacy compatibility seems pointless.
Thanks for your response. I was afraid it was going to be that bad. I'll contact their vendor who's replicating these (the project will be replicated on SD cards and played on 8" monitors) and see if I can provide them a file they can convert. In your experience - what's the best file type for me to handoff to them so they can keep high quality? When we export uncompressed 10 bit QT files - our only clients who can view it are those who have AE - otherwise the QT just plays white...any suggestions?
Well, "normal" DivX is 6bit/7bit/8bit (depending on the encoding scheme), so there's nothing wrong with giving away a PhotoJPEG, PNG or Animation compressed QT movie. Only DivX HD uses 10bit/ 12bit, but I don't think that would be necessary here with the screens only being 8". Now that you mention it, their insistance on DivX begins to make sense - sort of. Some monitors/ digital photo frames with integrated card slots play these formats or they may have hooked up some external player like Archos to it...
^Just to reinforce Mylenium's very accurate advice here, AE is not the tool to encode DivX files. Render your material as uncompressed fles and find another tool to convert the files to the ultimate format your client requires.
If you want small file size and good image quality you must use a tool that's specifically designed to compress files. Because of the nature of the rendering engine in AE, and just about every NLE and compositing app, you just can't get the same results that you can get with a 3rd party application. Multi pass rendering and GOP rendering requires special tools not available in any app that renders a frame at a time like After Effects does.
You can get fairly good results with QT pro and several other inexpensive apps designed specifically for compression. Adobe Media compressor does a fair job. If you want the best results you need to spend some money and pick up a specalized product. I prefer just about anything from Sorenson Media.