VLC HowTo/Transcode from Windows Media format

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This page describes how to transcode awkward file types. Other "how to" pages

This tutorial will walk you through converting certain kinds of Windows Media audio/video files to a more useful format such as a Quicktime or MPEG-4. It is aimed at a particular problem: making usable the .ASF WMV/MS files produced by a (terrible) Mustek "DV" camera. We assume that the reader knows the basics of VLC.

  • Launch VLC
  • From the File menu, select File > Open File (Apple + Shift + O ("oh"))

The Open Source window

  • In the Open Source window which opens, click Browse, find the file you want to convert and click Open. Check the Advanced Output checkbox and click the Settings button. Try the following settings first. (If they don't work, experiment. Work by process of elimination — keep notes on codecs you've tried.)

The Advanced Settings sheet

  • In the Output Options section, leave "Play locally" unchecked.
  • Select File and click Browse. Choose a name and location to save your file. (We recommend making a new folder called "converted" to keep your videos organized, which is especially useful if you need to re-convert some files with different settings.) Add the extension .mov if you're making a Quicktime or .mp4 if you're making an MPEG-4.
  • From the Encapsulation method dropdown box, choose Quicktime or MPEG-4.
  • In the Transcode options section, check Video and select "mp4v" from the dropdown box. For videos taken with the Mustek "DV" cameras, set the Bitrate to 768.

Note: If you are planning to use this video in a VJ program on a not-so-powerful computer and the original video size is 640 by 480, set Scale to 0.5 to shrink it down to 320 by 240. Your VJ program will run faster.

  • Leave the Audio checkbox unchecked. At the time of this writing, VLC can't transcode from the "MS Audio" codec. Yes, that's "MS" as in "Micro$oft". :-X
  • Click the OK button (ignore the Stream Announcing section).
  • Back in the Open Source window, click the OK button to start the transcoding.

VLC will start transcoding the file immediately. The video will not play in a window because we left "Play locally" unchecked. If we had, our conversion time would be limited to 1:1, i.e., realtime. We have better things to do with our time than watch these videos while they're converting.

Note: An Error window may pop up to tell you something highly technical. If, when the transcoding is done, you can play the file in Quicktime, then you can safely ignore the Error window. If not, go back to step one and experiment. If you fail entirely, make a note of the error message and ask for help.

To this author's knowledge, VLC cannot currently batch process a group of files, i.e., do them all at once automatically. You're going to have to repeat the steps above manually.