Saturday, June 27, 2009

Format your video

This is the next installment for a running column in Interface magazine. Greg has me writing about video, and so far I've done an article Introducing online video as it is today and explaining what Vlogging is, and What formats to use.

How to get your video from a master format AVI, into an MP4, WMV and Ogg Theora.

If you can achieve and publish all of these 3 formats then you are a mighty fine video blogger. You will be providing your viewers with maximum access and reuse options - such as the kids at Warrington Primary who only use free software. If you don't go these extra few yards, well.. not everyone will notice (least of all the schools that only teach kids how to expensive commercial software) and you will be selling yourself short, setting a poor production standard, rendering yourself an average, careless video blogger without true regard for your viewers and remixers.. you're not that sort of person are you :)

So, are you ready set the standard!? Here is how you get your video into all 3 formats, and make them available online:
  1. Upload to
That's it! That's all you have to do. will take your video and turn it into Mp4, Ogg Theora, and even a Flash Video (FLV) and animated Gif preview just for good measure! They'll keep it there for eva, serving it day after day, year after year. Darn they're good! has been accepting anyone's media and making it available online for free since 1996. Its amazing what they have there now! (NZ Archives take notice - you too could be this great some day).

Ok, so if anyone's been paying attention you will have noticed this is not quite as I said it should be. Where's that pesky WMV? didn't create that for us did they? No they didn't. They know WMV is not a very useful format, so you'll have to create it yourself to keep your Windows people happy.

So.. if you're using Window's Movie Maker then creating a WMV is easy for you. Simply select the option for exporting WMV and upload it to and sit back and wait, you'll soon have your WMV, with an MP4 and an Ogg Theora sitting right there next to it. (Keep your AVI master to yourself for backup - it would take far too long to upload anyway).

But if you're not using Window's Movie Maker and you don't have video editing software with a WMV export option (such as iMovie or a Linux based editor like Kino) then you're in trouble. You might not be able to easily create a WMV. No matter I suppose, Windows can play the MP4 version, and for this reason you'll soon come to see that WMV is not a very useful format anyway. So just upload what you have to and be happy with the MP4, Ogg, and FLV.

There are ways to make WMV from Mac and Linux.. but that would be going beyond my word count (and know how). My main purpose today was to show you the wonderful, and to mention that if you have a account, you can upload to Blip and have Blip send a copy through to for you automatically. Its a nice little backup feature.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license.


chad calease said...

Thank you for this work - this makes things simple for all levels of users to a repository akin to an online Library of Congress.

As for the pesky .wmv format, I use ffmpeg to accomplish this task, however, the curve for learning how is a bit steeper than what you offer here. Nonetheless, I found a good example of the workflow you suggest (using .avi) posted here:

Perhaps it will be useful to even just one of your readers.

Again, thanks for your work.



Leigh Blackall said...

Thanks for the link Chad. I keep avoiding learning commend line, hoping that a fully GUI Ubuntu capable of basic video editing and screen recording is only moments away. But I think I'll just have to bight the bullet and but in those hard yards.. hard to find the motivation though when I can just spin around in my chair and turn on the Windows (admittedly waiting forever for it to start) but quickly get to recording and editing video.

I wish more software developers (especially students) were consolidating their efforts and assignments on free software so we might possibly get there sooner...

leogaggl said...

Hi Leigh,

There are some FFMPEG & MEncoder GUI's around that might be worth a trial on Ubuntu. Haven't tried them myself as I am one of them commandline freaks ...

Also you might have a look at Medibuntu which has some more encoding support.

For Win32