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xRobert Richmond

Windows Media: Converting and Editing Files

February 2003

Page One


Micrsoft's Windows Media format has dominated the streaming multimedia world for Windows computers. Windows Media, perhaps better known under the WMA or WMV moniker for audio and video (respectively), offers a complete multimedia solution with formats for the delivery of both static and dynamic streaming content. The latest WM9 codecs even represent some of the best compression solutions currently available for all markets, consumer and professional. The popularity of Windows Media combined with its royalty-free status and freely provided encoding applications has allowed this standard to permeate the Internet with millions of full-length movies, short films, and other multimedia clips.

Page One: Introduction / GraphEdit to the Rescue
Page Two: Simple AVI Conversion
Page Three: Creating an AVI for Editing

Sadly, Microsoft has implemented its own content format mechanism in the form of a proprietary container standard instead of a more generic interface like AVI or OGG. Understandably, Microsoft chose a custom implementation since other formats often lack the requirements for properly synchronized delivery of WM content.

Technologies such as variable bit-rate audio are not properly supported by the AVI standard. and OGG was just in its early stages of development during the initial release of the WM platform, though it is rather unlikely Microsoft will ever be interested in fully supporting any open standard. Additionally, most standards do not allow for the digital rights managements mechanisms required for corporate deployment of multimedia in all its various forms.

The worst problem with the Windows Media container is the lack of freely available editing solutions. Many people download WM and ASF files in hopes of working with the video, only to find that most applications balk with an error message when trying to open the file. Older versions of the venerable VirtualDub video processing utility could access and transcode early Microsoft ASF files to the AVI format, but MS quickly moved to place a stop to this feature. Worse yet, the latest generation of WM files are not widely supported outside of proprietary or commercial applications.

GraphEdit to the Rescue

Oddly enough, the strangest solution to solving the WM dilemma is represented in the form of a Microsoft development kit utility. GraphEdit is a tool designed for the testing of DirectShow interfaces to ensure proper Windows compatibility with compression formats, container interfaces, rendering engines, and a variety of other media components.
With a few clever clicks of the mouse, GraphEdit can be used to copy or transpose WM files into a multitude of non-Micrsosoft formats. Using this knowledge, one can use GraphEdit to transcribe a WMV or ASF to the more popular, and easily editable, AVI or OGG formats.

Note:  It is recommended to obtain and install all desired media codecs before continuing with the GraphEdit process.  Nearlly all popular codecs can be obtained through the installation of the Nimo Codec Pack.  Additionally, GraphEdit can be obtained from Doom9, a popular audio and video enthusiast website.

Page Two . . .

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