Seeking simple WMV to MP4 file transcoder
October 20, 2014 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find a simple high quality WMV to MP4 file transcoder that will run on my Mac.

I have a bunch of WMV files. I don't like WMV files. I'd prefer to have them in MPEG format.

I am looking for a simple transcoder that will run on my Macintosh and turn my WMV files into MPEG files without asking me a lot of questions I don't care about and don't understand. I don't want to be selecting the movie dimensions (it should be the same as the input file), I don't want to be asked about frame rates or keyframes or other video details. I just want it to be the same as the WMV, but in MPEG format. Don't change the size, and as much as possible don't change the quality.

The WMV files are stored locally and the MPEG files will also be stored locally. This is all on a Mac.

I don't mind paying some money for an application that will do this.

When I search for transcoders I end up with links to a gazillion shareware sites that all seem shady and not likely to do what I want.
posted by alms to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
From SuperUser: How to convert WMV to MP4?

Top suggestions are ffmpeg on the command line or Handbrake. I've had generally good experiences with Handbrake but not specifically with WMV files.
posted by GuyZero at 10:43 AM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I use Handbrake for this. It sort of seems to be asking you a zillion questions but you can just pick a pre-set format output like "iPad" and it handles the rest of it. It's free and basically Just Works. You can queue a ton of stuff and I have used it on WMV files.
posted by jessamyn at 10:47 AM on October 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I use a combination of the Flip4Mac Pro plug-in and Adobe Media Encoder CS6. If you already have CS6 or CC, then you won't need to purchase the latter. Flip4Mac Pro does cost money, but it's not much ($29).

I find this solution to be pretty elegant, with a massive number of output options. It's not as simple as ffmpeg or Handbrake, but it's quite powerful.

Just my $.02
posted by LoRichTimes at 11:00 AM on October 20, 2014

Adapter is another free FFmpeg GUI. As recommended above, Handbrake is probably a better tool.
posted by JackBurden at 11:01 AM on October 20, 2014

Handbrake with the Universal preset is the best way to go.
posted by zsazsa at 1:34 PM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Note that a number of the options given by previous posters are encoders, not transcoders (which OP asked for). The difference is that re-encoding will necessarily lose quality, but transcoding is just changing the format while leaving the compressed data untouched. Depending on the format of the video and audio codecs used in your WMV files, transcoding may or may not be possible. Default WMV codecs are not MPEG compatible, but it is possible to make a WMV that does use MPEG video.

That said, I don't have any specific software recommendations for you.
posted by reptile at 6:49 PM on October 20, 2014

reptile, that's what I arrived at before posting. I do a lot of re-encoding and transcoding, and I very rarely come across WMVs that have been prepared in such a way as to allow for transcoding into MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 Part 2 formats without re-encoding instead of transcoding.

This may not be a bad idear.
posted by LoRichTimes at 7:58 PM on October 20, 2014

VLC Player has a free converter. It's under the file menu. Does everything, from audio to video.
posted by guy72277 at 1:48 AM on October 21, 2014

Best answer: Yet another vote for Handbrake. It looks like it's asking you confusing questions, but it's not really. Choose your input file, choose a preset, and press "Start". The only drawback is Handbrake has no way to add a bunch of files at once to the queue; have to do that one at a time.

You probably want the "Normal" preset; "Universal" will downscale input to a max size of 720x576. Handbrake will transcode or re-encode as necessary, no need to tell it.
posted by Nelson at 8:00 AM on October 21, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I had tried Handbrake in the past with very poor results, but I tried again tweaking the options and things went pretty well. Marking this resolved.
posted by alms at 7:19 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

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