Convert WMV to FLV Using ffmpeg and a Dash of Cloud Computing!

At LegalCloud we use GoToWebinar to produce our webinar series on LegalCloud and Cloud Computing for law firms. I needed to convert our WMV files that GoToMeeting provides to FLV so that I could integrate them with my tools of choice for our website. I chose Flowplayer; which is excellent by the way.  Hopefully this information might help someone else who ends up needing to do this similar task.

You can see the results of my efforts here:


As for how I did this, it wasn't terribly difficult and I'm quite happy with the results. I decided to use a Rackspace Ubuntu 9.04 cloud server of the 1G size. You could use any server you want, this was just what I chose to use. Using your manage.rackspacecloud.com account you need to do the following:

  • Start an Ubuntu 9.04 server
  • Log in to server as root
  • apt-get Update
  • apt-get install ffmpeg

Transfer your WMV file from where ever you put it to your new server.  I uploaded mine to Cloud Files then just downloaded them from there to encode.

The following command can be used to convert a GoToMeeting Webinar (not the proprietary format) to an FLV.

ffmpeg -i "tdp.wmv" -sameq -ar 22050 -ab 96000 -deinterlace -nr 500 -s 720x576 -aspect 4:3 -r 20 -g 500 -me_range 20 -b 270k -deinterlace -f flv -y "tdp.flv" 2>tdp.txt

This command converted the 26MB file in 2-3 minutes for me which I was happy with. I tried this with local desktop tools on a mac and it took well over 1 hour (and wasn't mostly free).

The whole process takes under an hour so you can do this for approximately $0.06 which seems good to me since it's only something I do occassionally.

Note: You cannot use this command to convert the GoToMeeting proprietary format. I haven't found anything that would yet but I hope to. So, make sure you don't choose the compressed proprietary format for recording your meeting!

Once the conversions were done I uploaded the resulting FLV files to Rackspace Cloud Files and enabled the CDN feature for them. Then, I integrated them with our Flowplayer installation on my web site. I'm quite happy with the result and the Flowplayer team deserves massive amounts of credit for their very cool and usable software that building upon jquery.

I'm not an ffmpeg expert but this did produce nice results for me and it's what I came up with after some trial an error. If anyone has any suggestions to make it even better then please let me know.

This same process would work just fine with any cloud provider of your choice really so if you use GoGrid or AWS the same steps should apply. I can't speak for other Linux distros at the moment but I'm sure you'd have good luck there too.