Monday, January 5, 2009

Putting videos to your phone

Phone screens are getting bigger and better all the time. This gives the users the opportunity to watch their favourite videos or TV series wherever whenever. For encouraging the users to do this, Nokia atleast have included some movies or trailers to their smartphones. Nokia N96 had Transformers, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic had Dark Knight's trailer and if I remember correctly Nokia N95 had Spider Man 3.

Sony on the other hand has taken little different approach and they are selling UMD movies that can be used in Sony PSP. Personally I don't understand this kind of approach because why should I buy another copy of my favourite movie which I have on DVD (or on Blu-Ray)?

Unfortunatelly putting videos to your phone is not too straight-forward because you need to convert the desired video so that it has the right resolution, good enough bitrate for video and sound and good enough frame rate. The better quality you want, the longer converting usually takes and the bigger output file gets.

Nokia offers a tool for this called Nokia Video Converter that is bundled to PC Suite and Ovi Suite. Unfortunatelly the program has still some flaws. I tried to use it for few times but it crashed and when it didn't crash, my Nokia N96 didn't have any video - only sound.

Luckily there are other (free) converting tools for Windows like Super, HandBrake, MediaCoder and Vio. I thought to test all of these, just to get some experiences and to see do they work similarly and are there big difference in converting speed.

My test environment were Windows Vista Home Premium with 2 GB of memory and a 17 minute avi-file with DVD quality. The file size was 121 MB, frame width 800 and frame height 450.

Basically every software converted the desired file in almost same time (7-9 minutes), and with same output size (56 MB). For some reason files converted using HandBrake and MediaCoder refused to work in N96. I didn't investigate the reason, probably some wrong setting caused this because MediaCoder used to work with different file some time ago.

Vio offered broad list of settings for different phones, but it lacked N96. Overall this is really important because settings are something than clear. Vio suggested 128 bitrate for N95, which seemed to be ok also in N96 but 400 that I used with Super was much better. With Vio's settings, the whole process was extremely fast, it only took 2 minutes and the output file was only 20 MB.

It seems that the most important thing in converting is to use pre-loaded settings. After this converting is easy and it can take some time and it is worth it. In future your trips will go much faster by watching interesting movies or series.

Inspired on discussions in Jaiku I'll try out soon a VGA quality video in my N96, then I could watch it from hotel's tv when I'm travelling. After all, N96 came with a S-Video cable.


Hude said...

For Linux there is Avidemux which has several options for converting between different video and audio formats and using different media containers. Apparently there are also Windows builds that are using Qt for the UI, maybe you should give it a try too.

twaltari said...

For some video formats, Nokia Ovi Suite and Nseries PC Suite do the conversion automatically when you drag & drop the video files to the phone.

Teppo said...

@twaltari Yes, you are right but the times I've been using Ovi Suite, it could have worked better.

I tried again today with a new file and it worked. Ovi Suite converted the file to 769 kbps bitrate with 29,97 FPS. Conversion took quite long and in one point it had stopped but started again when I hit cancel button but didn't cancel the process. When I played it in my N96, the video and sound weren't smooth. After restarting N96 it worked much better.

If you are using Ovi Suite for conversion, you should be aware that finding the file can be little difficult. You are not able to find it from Video Centre (atleast in N96) but you have to locate it by going Tools - File manager - "correct memory" - Video clips - 0.

I still think that there are better tools than Ovi Suite. Actually I'm starting to be quite frustrated with the whole Ovi Suite and I'm thinking of going back to PC suite.

One thing that everyone should keep in mind when starting to export movies to his/her phone, is to test with small video files. It is quite annoying after a long conversion process to notice that desired file is not working...

Teppo said...

I think I've found good enough settings for me, atleast for now. Super seems to work well and here are settings that I'm using:

- Output container: mp4
- Output video codec: H264/AVC
- Output audio codec: AAC LC
- Video scale size: 320:240 (640:480 for TV)
- Aspect: 4:3
- Frames/sec: 15 seems ok (Probably 25 would be better if you connect phone to the TV
- Bitrate: 480 (probably little bigger if you connect phone to the TV)
- Sampling freq: 44100
- Channels: 2
- Bitrate: 64
- DVD language select..: Default

Unfortunatelly Super doesn't support subtitles. MediaCoder should support, but I think I'll manage without them for now.

I'm also thinking of removing Ovi Suite and installing Home Media Server so I could stream mobile videos to my phone when I'm at home. This would give me the opportunity to transfer content faster to my mobile phone than using USB (and without cables).