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I have some flv and mp4 videos, which I need to convert to a format which is playable on an a Windows Vista system (for a presentation). The problem is, that I cannot test the videos on the system on the presentation. I guess that no additional codes are installed on the windows system. I am not sure if vlc is installed.

So the problem is to convert the videos to an format which is most likely causes no problems on an partially unknown windows system. What would you suggest?

Please provide the exact parameters for ffmpeg or mencoder or avidemux (whatever you want).

Edit Just realized that I also need to specify an audio codec (for example in avidemux), so which one should I use?

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migrated from May 1 '12 at 0:11

This question came from our site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems.

If you can run programs on the target computer (i.e. there's no group policy or otherwise that will block executables), I would recommend using a portable copy of VLC running off a flash drive. – Bob May 1 '12 at 9:17
up vote 4 down vote accepted

For compatibility, MPEG-1 is the best choice. An MPEG-1 codec has been included standard on Windows since at least XP SP2.

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In avidemux there are two MPEG-1 options, "mpeg2enc" and "avcodec", which one to use? – student Apr 30 '12 at 21:57
I thought DVD:s used MPEG-2? – fstx May 1 '12 at 8:47
Yup, DVDs don't use MPEG-1, only Video CDs do. – slhck May 1 '12 at 9:33
Thanks for the correction; I've edited away that bit. – Kyle Jones May 1 '12 at 17:01

Microsoft has released FAQ on codecs.

There are hundreds of audio and video codecs in use today. Some have been created by Microsoft, but the vast majority of codecs have been created by other companies, organizations, or individuals. By default, the Windows operating system and the Player include a number of the most popular codecs, such as Windows Media Audio, Windows Media Video, and MP3.

Go figure.

As Kyle already said, MPEG-1 is the only option that's left for you. Note though that it has been developed in 1988 and the quality you'll get is ridiculously bad. As for audio, I'd use MP3 if Microsoft says it's supported – otherwise go for MP2.

For FFmpeg, that'd be:

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:v mpeg1video -q:v 3 -c:a libmp3lame out.avi

Replace the value in -q:v 3 in order to get different quality output. The higher this number, the worse the quality. Replace libmp3lame with mp2 for MP2 audio instead of MP3.

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Thanks. The mpeg1video option you used is this the same as MPEG-1 with mpeg2enc or with avcodec in avidemux or is is again something different? – student May 1 '12 at 7:28
I get the message "unrecognized option c:v" – student May 1 '12 at 7:33
What version of FFmpeg are you running? (What OS are you on, even?) — As for mpeg2enc, it's a separate program. avcodec refers to libavcodec and it's the codec library used in FFmpeg, so these are the same if I'm not mistaken. – slhck May 1 '12 at 7:58
On ubuntu natty: ffmpeg version 4:0.6.2-1ubuntu2+codecs1~natty3 – student May 1 '12 at 8:00
Jeez, version 0.6! That's more than a year old! Quick, install the latest one, which definitely supports the syntax. I always recommend that tutorial, it should be easy to follow. – slhck May 1 '12 at 8:03

I recommend you download Handbrake to handle the conversion into MP4 format, which is about as universal as these things get, and make sure the system that needs to play it has vlc installed.

The former program has a very user-friendly GUI to convert any video format into almost any other; the latter runs on most platforms I'm aware of and can play any video format I've managed to throw at it.

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Windows needs codecs for MP4, I think – fstx May 1 '12 at 8:48
Windows needs codecs for almost anything except Windows Media files and MP3, see my answer and the link to Microsoft's own FAQ. – slhck May 1 '12 at 9:32

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