How to play wmv video files?

  • Hi Florian. Thanks for your reply. I've read that for desktop Ubuntu you need to install the meta-package ubuntu-restricted-extras. This adds proprietary codecs that provide support for mp3, flash and wmv etc. It is claimed that w32codecs is the bit that you need for wmv on a 32-bit system. Some writers suggest you need w64codecs if you have a 64-bit system. As you can imagine, I'm way out of my depth here. I'm simply optimistic that if Ubuntu can play wmv files, then maybe UT could also. What's Ubports policy on the inclusion of binary blobs?
    PS. VLC supports wmv by means of it's internal codecs, so maybe that's the way forward?

  • @dtarrant Hello, I see. Yes this is indeed smth we need to discuss: this package comes from multiverse and contains proprietary stuff that some users might complain about it. Probably needs to be made optional.

    Can you point me to a test video I can use? 🙂


  • @dtarrant BTW VLC is only an option if we woul dhave a touch-enabled, high dpi version of it. The usual desktop VLC will not be usable on a phone.


  • @flohack Hi Florian, I tried to include a link, but my post was blocked as spam. That was a pity because I found information about the guitar tuition video format in question (wmv compatible with windows and Real Player). I found the article by searching:
    "Jim Bruce Blues Guitar Video Format"
    Sorry but I can't find a royalty free wmv clip.

  • @flohack Hi again Florian. I've just read that VLC has a comprehensive command line interface. Perhaps that could provide a useful interim solution?

  • Personally I would create a script to automatically convert all the clips in one go using the same video and audio parameters using an ffmpeg command line script.
    It would take some time to run, but if you get the parameters right and maybe scale the video to a lower resolution to suit the screen resolution of the M10 tablet if that would be appropriate, depending on the power of the machine that you run it on, it should not take 40x20 minutes.
    I would tend to use x264 codec for video and AAC audio (keeping the original audio bitrate close to the original) in an mp4 or mkv container.

    I don't do a lot of transcoding for my UT device but it would be interesting to know what others would recommend for codecs and containers for video on UT?

    ffmpeg is very powerful and configurable but it might be a steep learning curve if you have not used it before.
    If you could get some similar WMV clips with the same audio and video parameters I could probably assist though.
    You could probably do the same with the VLC command line interface but I am not personally familiar with that.

  • Hi, thanks for your suggestion. I agree that could be the best solution. I could run the conversion on my desktop PC which is reasonably fast. I would need to do a trial run on a single file first to make sure I have selected the correct parameters. When I transcoded a wmv file to mp4 previously, I noticed a slight audio/video sync problem which proved to be very irritating. Thanks for your offer of help, but I haven't been able to find any suitable wmv files that I can provide. The only ones I have are the actual lessons which are proprietary and I'd prefer not to make pirate copies.

  • I will test out some ffmpeg commands on some WMV files when I get home and let you know how I get on. Once you have some parameters that work OK for you on a single file setting up an automatic batch script to transcode all files from one folder to another should be easy enough.
    What video resolution do you need the videos in?
    What is the screen resolution of your tablet?
    1280 x 800 - 149 ppi or Full HD 1920 x 1200 - 224 ppi ?

    Using a high bitrate for the audio should be best, but can you tell what the original audio bitrate in those files is?

    You might want to read and follow ffmpeg compilation guide for ubuntu or similar to get the best out of ffmpeg if you decide to use that.

  • Hi again, my tablet is a BQ Aquarius M10 HD. The screen resolution is listed as:

    1280 x 800 - 149 ppi

  • @halucigenia PS What's the recommended way to find the audio bit rate of my wmv files?

  • @halucigenia VLC reports info on my wmv file. Not sure if this will work, but I'll try to paste screenshot:

    file:///home/phablet/Pictures/Screenshot from 2018-01-22 17-55-14.png

  • @halucigenia Epic fail! How do I paste an image?

  • @halucigenia Never mind the screenshot. VLC reports:

    Stream 0
    Codec: Windows Media Audio 2 (WMA2)
    Channels: Stereo
    Sample rate: 44100 Hz
    Bits per sample: 32

    Stream 1
    Codec: Windows Media Video 9 (WMV3)
    Resolution: 720x576
    Display resolution: 720x576
    Frame rate: 25
    Decoded format: 4:2:0 YUV

  • OK, so the video resolution is 720x576, I would not reduce that.

    Something like

    ffmpeg -i [input path/filename.WMV] -c:v libx264 -preset slow -tune film -crf 23 -c:a libfdk_aac -vbr 5 [output path/filename.mp4]

    should do the trick

    -preset slow will give better quality at the expense of speed, trying medium, fast, faster, veryfast, superfast or ultrafast would increase the speed at the expense of quality.
    x264 can seem slow compared to other video codecs but it's quite the standard now.

    -tune film gives good results for most video.

    -crf 23 is actually the default for x264 but higher will reduce the video quality.

    -vbr 5 could be lower 4 or 3 but will reduce the audio quality.

    Other video or audio codecs are available but I find these work OK on UT.

    I am just working on a simple batch script to process a whole directory of videos which I can share if you get ffmpeg working OK for your videos.

  • @halucigenia
    If you get ffmpeg up and running on your device, you might want to try merely playing the original video with ffmpeg's player -- "ffplay".

    Also, you might want to try mplayer/mencoder. It's command line, like ffmpeg, but it likewise has various GUI front-ends.

  • @tupp My explanation is about how to transcode a video to play on a UT device, not about getting ffmpeg to run on a UT device.
    But I get your point, if you could install ffmpeg, mplayer etc. on a UT device then you could play the file from those applications. You would still need have the the codecs on the UT device to play the file though.

  • @halucigenia Many thanks for that advice. (I tried using ffmpeg help but got errors due to aac being experimental. It advised adding "-strict -2" but then said it didn't recognize the "2".) I'll let you know how I get on with your recommended command.

  • @halucigenia I just tried your command and got the following error message:

    Unknown encoder 'libfdk_aac'

    I'm using Ubuntu 16.04 and installed ffmpeg using synaptic. I'll look to see if it's listed in synaptic

  • @halucigenia Seems I need to compile ffmpeg in order to add libfdk_aac. That's going to drag me right out of my comfort zone. I became suspicious when you provided me with a link on how to compile ffmpeg. Enough for tonight, maybe I'll feel braver tomorrow.

  • dtarrant it looks like you are trying to use ffmpeg native AAC vbr so the parameters should be -c:a aac -q:a 2


    ffmpeg -i [input path/filename.WMV] -c:v libx264 -preset slow -tune film -crf 23 -c:a aac -q:a 2 [output path/filename.mp4]

    That should work, it works for me but native AAC vbr is experimental in ffmpeg so may not give good quality audio.

    Try cbr instead if the audio is not good enough:-

    ffmpeg -i [input path/filename.WMV] -c:v libx264 -preset slow -tune film -crf 23 -c:a aac -b:a 160k [output path/filename.mp4]

    You should not need to go to the extent of compiling ffmpeg yourself to get an acceptable result. I just meant that if you wanted to get the best out of ffmpeg you should compile.
    Sorry for originally giving you parameters that would require ffmpeg to be compiled with libfdk_aac, that's just what I regularly use and I didn't think about the fact that you would not be able to use it without compiling it, my bad!

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