How to batch convert over 3000 videos to FLV?
March 17, 2010 12:07 PM   Subscribe

The company I'm working for hosts a good amount of video on our site. As it stands, we're trying to standardize to FLV (not my favorite format, but not my call either), and we have 65% of our videos in FLV. However, that still leaves more than three thousand videos that have yet to be converted, in various formats (mostly WMV, some MOV/AVI). I'm looking for a program to automate this conversion process.

Basically, I want to store all these unconverted videos in one folder, set some basic conversion settings (resolution, audio sample rate, etc.), and then run a program that will convert them all with the same file name (albeit a different extension) into a different folder, or at least something to automate this process. I just want to try to avoid manually converting each of these videos, as it's man-power intensive.
posted by Mali to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Which OS are you running? On Mac this would be simple to do with AppleScript.
posted by 47triple2 at 12:09 PM on March 17, 2010

Response by poster: We have a few iMacs we could use, but I'd probably be doing it on Server 2003 R2 (take advantage of the fact we've got a relatively beefy server that's not doing much right now).
posted by Mali at 12:12 PM on March 17, 2010

I wonder if VLC could do this with its transcoding feature.

Failing that, there's all sorts of video converters out there that let you queue up a bunch of stuff, set an output folder & let 'er rip.
posted by MesoFilter at 12:19 PM on March 17, 2010

You might look at Sorenson Squeeze.
posted by finitejest at 12:22 PM on March 17, 2010

Actually, after further investigation, it wouldn't be as easy as I hoped it would be.

On another note, FFMpegX might work. I don't have much experience with that program though.
posted by 47triple2 at 12:22 PM on March 17, 2010

Depending on the quantity of vids involved and your available bandwidth, could be a reasonable option.
posted by MesoFilter at 12:27 PM on March 17, 2010

I convert to flv on Windows using Super, which is just a not-so-great GUI frontend for ffmpeg. Ive never used it for batch processing, but it looks like you can simply select multiple files, select your flv settings, and let it do its thing.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:51 PM on March 17, 2010

for /f %F in ('dir \path\to\files') do ffmpeg -i %F -ar 22050 -ab 32 -f flv -s 320x240 \output\path/%~nF.flv
WMV is probably going to be a problem, though.
posted by rhizome at 12:53 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

This might be too late to bring up (depending on how decisions get made at your place of work), but embedded videos of other formats might become more common in the near future. Even though the completion of HTML 5 is years away, browser support is increasing for the "video" tag, doing away with the necessity of having everything as flash videos.

I thought there was a FPP on the HTML 5 video support, but I couldn't find it. Otherwise, here's an AskMe on getting up to speed on HTML 5.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:57 PM on March 17, 2010

format factory.
posted by royalsong at 1:29 PM on March 17, 2010

Most businesses that have thousands of videos to transcode use professional products like Episode Pro, FlipFactory, or Carbon Coder. However, these are often quite expensive solutions.

Inexpensive solutions I've seen are the discontinued Visual Hub (which uses FFmepegx) and Apple's Compressor (part of Final Cut Pro). There are some other FFmpeg-based products out there but I have no idea how scriptable they are, like: VideoMonkey or Stomp, but I don't know how good they are at transcoding to Flash (.flv). My experiences trying to use Visual Hub to make .flv files that would play out on a Wowza streaming server were fairly unsuccessful, but this was almost two years ago, so the software may have improved.

I know it's probably too late, but I would recommend against settling on .flv as your video storage/playback format. Adobe doesn't like to hear it, but Flash as a video format is dying (and good riddance). HTML5 is ascendant and eventually the industry will settle on a less offensive and more stable and secure video playback mechanism. At the very least, I'd recommend you store your original video files as something more versatile like a .dv, mpeg2, or .mp4. Transcoding to Flash and then discarding the originals would be like making a bad VHS dub of an original print and then discarding the original. Most organizations with large video libraries rely on the professional products above to transcode their video files on-the-fly before they are loaded into whatever playout server they are using.
posted by at 1:57 PM on March 17, 2010

FFMPEG supports WMV as of September 23, 2009:
One of the last entrenchments of proprietary multimedia has fallen: Windows Media Audio Pro support is finally available in FFmpeg. It decodes all known samples flawlessly and is considerably faster than the binary decoder from Microsoft. A big thank you goes out to all the reverse engineers and programmers who made this possible. It really was a herculean effort.
Should be good news for you.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:44 PM on March 17, 2010


Yes, do this. Flash supports H.264 now, though, so IMO there's no reason not to use libx264 to encode the video stream.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:46 PM on March 17, 2010

Yes, ffmpeg and some very basic scripting should get this done with a minimum amount of fussing.
posted by Brian Puccio at 3:03 PM on March 17, 2010

Please keep replies on-topic. He doesn't have a choice about video formats (and will need to have everything in Flash to accommodate users today regardless of the long-term strategy)

We're grappling with this at work. If you're planning to serve any reasonably diverse subset of users, supporting Flash for video is non-negotiable. Mozilla's refusal to support H264 video could also very well leave HTML5 Video dead in the water. Flash will be a reality for at least another 1-2 years.
posted by schmod at 7:47 PM on March 17, 2010

Adobe Media Encoder would do the conversion job with no problem. It's not the fastest, but you can easily adjust every setting you can think and import the formats you need as well as tons of others. As far as saving each file in different directories, I'm not sure about that. I believe it saves them in the directory that the original is in, by default. Or you can specify an output directory.
posted by Swede78 at 6:09 AM on March 18, 2010

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