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Notes on video conversion with mencoder

These are some quick notes I made to provide starting points for mencoder command lines. It is meant for conversions that are legal (own work, personal use of products without DRM, etc). I am not an mencoder expert but just collected some options that worked for me.

Input from: DVD | video file | rtmp stream | Flash audio | edits | audio file | FM | language merge | desktop | pictures
Output to: Android, iPhone or Mac | Nokia S60, S40 etc | Windows 10 | Old Windows or Windows Mobile | MP3 audio | DVD, VCD or SVCD


Input options

DVD

.flv and other video files

rtmp streams embedded in complex Javascript etc

You need root access to a Linux box with rtmpdump

Flash audio

On a Linux box with ~/.asoundrc set to
pcm.teeraw { type empty
slave.pcm "tee:default,'/tmp/out.raw',raw" }

use FLASH_ALSA_DEVICE=teeraw firefox and (e.g.) sox -t raw -r 44100 -c 2 -b 16 -s /tmp/out.raw /tmp/out.wav then proceed with out.wav. (To reduce risk of /tmp/out.raw being overwritten, start sox before interacting with the browser to stop the stream.)

Edit decision lists

Use -edl filename, where each line of the file is start-second end-second 0 (use mplayer to find the seconds and to test the EDL). You can add up the total number of minutes you've cut by piping the EDL through python -c 'import sys;print sum(float(l.split()[1])-float(l.split()[0]) for l in sys.stdin)/60.0'

Audio file (static or blank picture)

This might be useful for porting audio to old DVD players that don't support MP3 etc. You need to first add the audio to blank video using ffmpeg: (command adapted from Stefano Sabatini's suggestion on ffmpeg-user)
ffmpeg -i input-audio.wav -s 640x480 -f rawvideo -pix_fmt rgb24 -r 25 -i /dev/zero -shortest -vcodec libx264 -preset medium -tune stillimage -crf 24 -acodec copy output.mkv
then proceed with output.mkv (convert it to .mpg as per DVD output below, etc) You can also use ffmpeg to attach audio to a still image:
ffmpeg -i audio.mp3 -loop 1 -i picture.jpg -shortest -vcodec mpeg4 -b:v 800k audio.avi
(then convert audio.avi into the required output format)
Or to replace the soundtrack of an existing video (for language dubbing etc),
ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -i sound.wav -map 0:v -map 1:a -vcodec copy output.mkv
then proceed with output.mkv

FM radio

As above, but if recording the audio to MP3 you might want to avoid wasting space encoding any frequencies above 15kHz. This is because FM stereo requires a 4kHz guard band around the 19kHz pilot signal, therefore any audio you get above 15kHz must be the result of equipment noise; therefore the option of a 32kHz sample rate (Nyquist cutoff 16kHz) makes sense, but your ADC circuitry might not do that well so it's probably best to convert in software:
rec --input-buffer=1048576 -t raw -r 44100 -c 2 -b 16 -e signed-integer - | sox -t raw -r 44100 -c 2 -b 16 -e signed-integer - -t raw -r 32000 -c 2 -b 16 -e signed-integer - | lame -h -s 32 -r - -o output.mp3
(older versions of sox might need -2 -s or -w -s instead of -b 16 -e signed-integer in three places of the above command)

Two language versions

If a video is available in two versions with different-language sound tracks:

To have the two languages in two stereo channels, first create a WAV file:

Then, to keep the picture from the first file, do:
ffmpeg -i input1.mp4 -i audio.wav -map 0:v -map 1:a -vcodec copy output.mkv
and proceed with output.mkv (if it lacks sound, it's probably an ffmpeg version issue: try -b:v 10000k output.mp4 instead of -vcodec copy output.mkv).

Or if the pictures differ as well (for example on-screen text has been translated) then you might wish to show both pictures at once. The following command will do that, positioning them diagonally to reduce peripheral-motion annoyance when trying to watch only one.

ffmpeg -i input1.mp4 -i input2.mp4 -i audio.wav -filter_complex '[0:v]pad=iw*2:ih*2:0:ih[tmp]; [tmp][1:v]overlay=W/2:0[pic]' -map '[pic]' -map 2:a -b:v 3000k output.mp4

Recording the desktop

Linux/X11 region around mouse, audio from microphone:
ffmpeg -f alsa -i pulse -f x11grab -follow_mouse 100 -show_region 1 -r 25 -i "$DISPLAY" output.mkv DOSBox (audio from programs): in dosbox.conf (or ~/Library/Preferences/DOSBox* on Mac) set the captures= directory to something (e.g. /tmp) and the default start/stop keybinding Ctrl-Alt-F5 (or Ctrl-F6 for audio only). Beware at least some versions of DOSBox can partially lose videos in some circumstances.

Mac OS X: "QuickTime Player" despite its name is not just a player. Its File menu contains options to record the screen with optional microphone narration, or to record from camera. Results are placed in ~/Movies and I think version 10.9+ of OS X also lets you record part of the screen (otherwise you have to post-process with mencoder's -vf crop=w:h:x:y if you don't want the whole screen).

Series of pictures

You could just do (for example) mencoder 'mf://*.jpg' -mf fps=0.2 but it's sometimes possible for mencoder to crash on signal 11 as it tries to scale pictures, so it might be worth pre-scaling, for example for PAL DVD: for N in *.jpg ; do jpegtopnm "$N" | pnmscale -xysize 720 576 | pnmpad -black -width 720 -height 576 | pnmtopng > "$(echo "$N"|sed -e s/jpg$/png/)";done (followed by the mencoder command on *.png, or on @listfile to ensure it processes them in the correct order)

Output options

Android, iPhone or Mac

-of lavf -lavfopts format=mp4 -vf dsize=480:352:2,scale=0:0,harddup -ovc x264 -sws 9 -x264encopts bitrate=512:bframes=0:chroma_me:me=umh:frameref=6:global_header:level_idc=30:nocabac:partitions=all:subq=5:threads=auto:trellis=1 -oac faac -faacopts mpeg=4:object=2:raw:br=128 -o output.mp4

Nokia S60, S40 etc

-ofps 24 -of lavf -lavfopts format=mp4 -vf dsize=320:240:2,scale=0:0 -oac lavc -ovc lavc -lavcopts aglobal=1:vglobal=1:acodec=libfaac:abitrate=96:vcodec=mpeg4 -o output.mp4

Windows 10 or Mac with large screen

Playable on recent versions of Windows Media Player (Windows 10 should work), and also playable on Mac QuickTime:
-of lavf -lavfopts format=mp4 -ovc x264 -sws 9 -x264encopts bframes=0:chroma_me:me=umh:frameref=6:global_header:level_idc=30:nocabac:partitions=all:subq=5:threads=auto:trellis=1 -oac faac -faacopts mpeg=4:object=2:raw:br=128 -o output.mp4

Old Windows or Windows Mobile

MP3 audio

(any picture will be discarded)
-ovc copy -of rawaudio -oac mp3lame -lameopts vbr=2:q=9:aq=0 -o output.mp3
"Play All" bookmarklet
If you are on a (probably RedHat) setup where the only working audio player is the browser, you can drag this link to your bookmarks bar: Play All then press it after loading a file:// directory listing containing sound files. (Alternatively, serve that directory to a mobile device with headphones and arrange for the script to be injected into the directory listing. Or install mocp.)

DVDs and VCDs

(based on mencoder documentation with some changes) See also spaced-out audio tracks with cdrdao
All material © Silas S. Brown unless otherwise stated.
Android is a trademark of Google LLC.
Apple is a trademark of Apple Inc.
Bluetooth is a registered trademark held by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.
Google is a trademark of Google LLC.
iPhone is a trademark of Apple in some countries.
Javascript is a trademark of Oracle Corporation in the US.
Linux is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries.
Mac is a trademark of Apple Inc.
MP3 is a trademark that was registered in Europe to Hypermedia GmbH Webcasting but I was unable to confirm its current holder.
Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp.
Any other trademarks I mentioned without realising are trademarks of their respective holders.