Newsletter #102 - May 6, 2006
and Stories to Flash and MP4 (iPod Video)
Last week's issue was about distributing movies and stories via
free online hosts... some of them took the WMV file and converted it
to a Flash format. Let's look at doing that conversion yourself
rather than the service doing it... I see variations in quality with the
Let's also look at converting WMV movies and
stories to the MP4 format needed by an iPod Video
Why Flash? Because the format is cross-platform... Macromedia
claims that 98% of today's computers can view them... if any of your viewers are
having problems playing your files... toss them a Flash file.
If you're heading to an iPod Video
device, or a Play Station Portable... you'll need MP4 files.
Let's assume you start with a saved movie or story in WMA format. There are
always many ways to make conversions but each of us only needs one that works
... before getting into it
further, here's a couple
Vista Corner... It's been in the news
lately, but kind of quiet in my corner... it sits there day and night looking
great, working fine, with a number of windows open. But my priorities are
now on my laptop.
I read a magazine article that told me how to get the
roll-o-dex type view of the open windows.. the Windows-tab keys goes to the
screen shot at the right shows you some of the 'gadgets' you can park on the
side of the desktop... from the top down:
weather... a bit cool right now
slide-show of pix on my computer
styles to pick from... none of them digital
are another 8 gadgets on my system to pick from, more online for
Wired Magazine - May Issue
Formats, players, converters, hosts... everything related to internet
video is expanding rapidly... as I wrote this newsletter, the May issue
of Wired magazine arrived, and there on page 120 was a 12 page
article about internet-based video, calling it "...the online
article points to over 100 websites, which I'm busy checking and adding
many to my database of interesting places to visit.
My Special Edition Adorage Effects and
Transitions packages got off to a hiccupping start a couple weeks
including a corrupt file in the effects package. They are ready to go...
.... back to the main
The download is a 4-3/4 MB
installation package... in addition to the encoder, it has a Flash file
player that comes in handy.
For input files, this
version doesn't accept WMV files... movies from Movie Maker
or Photo Stories... but it does process the type I DV-AVI file from
MM2. Run your story thru MM2 to get a DV-AVI file and then use
the FLV Encoder. There's info about it handling WMV files in future
My first test was a 7 min 40
sec DV-AVI file of 1.7 GB, using the default settings. The
conversion took 4 min 40 sec on my 3.4 GHz CPU laptop, faster
than real time, and produced an FLV file of 32.6 MB that played
The online help is good, and
the forums are active. The Video2Web button solicits you in purchasing
a very interesting app... to make interactive web videos such as this
one... which makes chapters of a video interactive with clicking a
point on a map.
Settings include video sizes up to
800x600, standard frame-rates including 29.97, bitrates as high as 1600 kbps,
and a large selection of audio settings. It gives you the options to pump up the
quality when heading to an online service.
The 'padding/crop' option was
intriguing... I tried it using crop settings of
... and it lopped off that many
pixels from the 4 sides... leaving a focused central area in a more than
widescreen looking video. I do such cropping in VirtualDub, but if I'm heading
to a Flash file, this is an easier way to do it. I'm not sure why I would want
to 'pad' a video, maybe to get it to a standard size if it's
looking mis-shaped in a viewer.
When you're ready to
encode, press the 'Encode' button, the whole window turns grey, the app
doesn't respond to anything, and it doesn't give you visual feedback about
what it's doing....
... but the encoding is happening. You can watch the FLV file build up in the output
folder. When it stops growing, and the rendering is finished, the
working window comes back to focus, and the Result field
says 'Encoding successful'.
The default audio setting
was 'mono'. I did another encoding using 'stereo' and noticed the file size was
identical... I'm not sure if it's mono or stereo, or if both options result in
the same size file.
Your FLV file is ready for
Here's the encoded movie
playing in the Riva FLV Player, now my default player for FLV files.
I tried opening the file
with other apps, but didn't find any that
would do it.
Jodix provides 4 useful conversion
The downloaded package for the
iPod Video Converter is 1.36 MB... and a quick install.
It accepts movies and
stories in WMV9 formats, including the newer stories from PS3.
Info about the app says it supports a
many kinds of input files. I checked some and didn't find it effective at
doing some. Here are the ones it says it does, and what I found.
AVI Files (*.avi;*.divx); it didn't
handle AVI files compressed with MS-CRAM, and hung on a DV-AVI type I
VCD/SVCD/DVD Movie Files
(*.dat;*.vob)... I tested a VOB and it didn't work... with the VOB
extension or with MPG
Windows Media Files
(*.wmv;*.asf)... it did well with MM2 movies and PS3 stories
Real Media Files
You can add an unlimited number
of files to the task list and convert them as a batch.
Conversions are quick.
The MP4 files were twice as large as
my movie, which was saved in Movie Maker 2 using the video for LAN - 768
The file is ready for your iPod
Video... I don't have one to test it with.
My laptop offers two options... the
QuickTime Player and Internet Explorer (with an embedded QuickTime Player)....
which are both the same option as far as the player goes.
The files seemed to play better in
the Internet Explorer option. If both are the same, maybe it was just the warm
cozy feeling from being in the Internet Explorer environment.
Rad Video Tools was
the only one of my utilities that would open and convert the MP4 files to
something else... I did one to a Divx encoded AVI to check it.
It converted quickly and the AVI
file played well in WMP10.... that is, if I let it have my undivided
attention... if I did anything else on the computer as the Divx AVI played,
the video would stop where it was while the audio continued,
the same kind of issue often seen when trying to use such a file in
Movie Maker 2. I wouldn't have had the issue if I selected a different
I noted above that the MP4 file
was twice as large as the input WMV... the Divx AVI file made from the
MP4 was almost 3 times as large as the MP4 and 6 times as large as the WMV. WMV
files are as good as you get for the file size...
Conclusions and Closing
The Riva FLV Encoder handled DV-AVI type I files
fine, but this version can't handle WMV movies or stories... maybe it'll be in
a future release... until then the DV-AVI option works well.
The iPod Video Converter did well with WMV
files... so if you have an iPod video device, going from movies and stories to
it is easy.
MP4 is one of the file types that Google Video accepts, so I uploaded my
recent 'Mission to Mars' one, and put a 99 cents sale price tag on it,
with a 19 cent price for a 'day pass'... I'm not expecting an
income stream from it, more curious about the process of selling it
The Jodix 'WMA to MP3 Converter' sounded interesting enough to
run a quick check. It effectively ripped the audio from Movie Maker
2 and Photo Story 3 WMV files to MP3.
Have a great week...