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I have a bunch of avi files. I would like to convert them to mp4 format while retaining their small file size. I am using linux. Can someone please show step by step how to make the conversion, preferably using free software in linux?

I tried using the media encoder from the adobe creative cloud, but it ended up exploding the file size to five or six times the size of the original avi files.

I would like to use the mp4 files in a web site using html5 video tags to provide playback controls.

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You can use ffmpeg. Check this answer: Convert AVI to MP4 keeping the same quality

Also, this page is good as well: http://andrebluehs.net/blog/converting-avi-to-mp4-with-ffmpeg/

ffmpeg -i input.avi -acodec libfaac -b:a 128k -vcodec mpeg4 -b:v 1200k -flags +aic+mv4 output.mp4

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