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Conversion from WMV to MP4 file fails with FFmpeg

Super User Asked on January 3, 2022

When converting a WMV file to an MP4 file, it says

[mp4 @ 0x989c160] track 1: could not find tag, codec not currently
supported in container

and

Could not write header for output file #0 (incorrect codec parameters
?): Operation not permitted.

But converting the WMV file to an MKV file is fine. Wonder why?

Following are the outputs of both cases.

Converting from the wmv file to a mp4 file is not working

$ ffmpeg -i "1.wmv" -c:v libx264 -crf 23 -c:a copy  "1.mp4" 
ffmpeg version git-2012-06-03-169dae8 Copyright (c) 2000-2012 the FFmpeg developers
  built on Jun  3 2012 09:14:54 with gcc 4.6.3
  configuration: --enable-gpl --enable-libfaac --enable-libmp3lame --enable-libopencore-amrnb --enable-libopencore-amrwb --enable-libtheora --enable-libvorbis --enable-libvpx --enable-libx264 --enable-nonfree --enable-version3 --enable-x11grab
  libavutil      51. 56.100 / 51. 56.100
  libavcodec     54. 23.100 / 54. 23.100
  libavformat    54.  6.101 / 54.  6.101
  libavdevice    54.  0.100 / 54.  0.100
  libavfilter     2. 77.100 /  2. 77.100
  libswscale      2.  1.100 /  2.  1.100
  libswresample   0. 15.100 /  0. 15.100
  libpostproc    52.  0.100 / 52.  0.100
Guessed Channel Layout for  Input Stream #0.0 : stereo
Input #0, asf, from '1.wmv':
  Metadata:
    WMFSDKVersion   : 9.00.00.3267
    WMFSDKNeeded    : 0.0.0.0000
    IsVBR           : 0
  Duration: 01:40:50.70, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 2100 kb/s
    Stream #0:0(eng): Audio: wmav2 (a[1][0][0] / 0x0161), 44100 Hz, stereo, s16, 128 kb/s
    Stream #0:1(eng): Video: wmv3 (Main) (WMV3 / 0x33564D57), yuv420p, 640x480, 1974 kb/s, 29.97 tbr, 1k tbn, 1k tbc
[buffer @ 0x98c28c0] w:640 h:480 pixfmt:yuv420p tb:1/1000 sar:0/1 sws_param:flags=2
[buffersink @ 0x9894320] No opaque field provided
[libx264 @ 0x98b0ec0] using cpu capabilities: MMX2 SSE2Fast SSSE3 FastShuffle SSE4.1 Cache64
[libx264 @ 0x98b0ec0] profile High, level 3.0
[libx264 @ 0x98b0ec0] 264 - core 125 r2200 999b753 - H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec - Copyleft 2003-2012 - http://www.videolan.org/x264.html - options: cabac=1 ref=3 deblock=1:0:0 analyse=0x3:0x113 me=hex subme=7 psy=1 psy_rd=1.00:0.00 mixed_ref=1 me_range=16 chroma_me=1 trellis=1 8x8dct=1 cqm=0 deadzone=21,11 fast_pskip=1 chroma_qp_offset=-2 threads=3 lookahead_threads=1 sliced_threads=0 nr=0 decimate=1 interlaced=0 bluray_compat=0 constrained_intra=0 bframes=3 b_pyramid=2 b_adapt=1 b_bias=0 direct=1 weightb=1 open_gop=0 weightp=2 keyint=250 keyint_min=25 scenecut=40 intra_refresh=0 rc_lookahead=40 rc=crf mbtree=1 crf=23.0 qcomp=0.60 qpmin=0 qpmax=69 qpstep=4 ip_ratio=1.40 aq=1:1.00
[mp4 @ 0x989c160] track 1: could not find tag, codec not currently supported in container
Output #0, mp4, to '1.mp4':
  Metadata:
    WMFSDKVersion   : 9.00.00.3267
    WMFSDKNeeded    : 0.0.0.0000
    IsVBR           : 0
    encoder         : Lavf54.6.101
    Stream #0:0(eng): Video: h264 ([33][0][0][0] / 0x0021), yuv420p, 640x480, q=-1--1, 30k tbn, 29.97 tbc
    Stream #0:1(eng): Audio: wmav2 (a[1][0][0] / 0x0161), 44100 Hz, stereo, 128 kb/s
Stream mapping:
  Stream #0:1 -> #0:0 (wmv3 -> libx264)
  Stream #0:0 -> #0:1 (copy)
Could not write header for output file #0 (incorrect codec parameters ?): Operation not permitted

Converting from the wmv file to a mkv file is fine:

$ ffmpeg -i "1.wmv" -c:v libx264 -crf 23 -c:a copy  "1.mkv" 
ffmpeg version git-2012-06-03-169dae8 Copyright (c) 2000-2012 the FFmpeg developers
  built on Jun  3 2012 09:14:54 with gcc 4.6.3
  configuration: --enable-gpl --enable-libfaac --enable-libmp3lame --enable-libopencore-amrnb --enable-libopencore-amrwb --enable-libtheora --enable-libvorbis --enable-libvpx --enable-libx264 --enable-nonfree --enable-version3 --enable-x11grab
  libavutil      51. 56.100 / 51. 56.100
  libavcodec     54. 23.100 / 54. 23.100
  libavformat    54.  6.101 / 54.  6.101
  libavdevice    54.  0.100 / 54.  0.100
  libavfilter     2. 77.100 /  2. 77.100
  libswscale      2.  1.100 /  2.  1.100
  libswresample   0. 15.100 /  0. 15.100
  libpostproc    52.  0.100 / 52.  0.100
Guessed Channel Layout for  Input Stream #0.0 : stereo
Input #0, asf, from '1.wmv':
  Metadata:
    WMFSDKVersion   : 9.00.00.3267
    WMFSDKNeeded    : 0.0.0.0000
    IsVBR           : 0
  Duration: 01:40:50.70, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 2100 kb/s
    Stream #0:0(eng): Audio: wmav2 (a[1][0][0] / 0x0161), 44100 Hz, stereo, s16, 128 kb/s
    Stream #0:1(eng): Video: wmv3 (Main) (WMV3 / 0x33564D57), yuv420p, 640x480, 1974 kb/s, 29.97 tbr, 1k tbn, 1k tbc
File '1.mkv' already exists. Overwrite ? [y/N] y
w:640 h:480 pixfmt:yuv420p tb:1/1000 sar:0/1 sws_param:flags=2
[buffersink @ 0xa0a2760] No opaque field provided
[libx264 @ 0xa0b6ec0] using cpu capabilities: MMX2 SSE2Fast SSSE3 FastShuffle SSE4.1 Cache64
[libx264 @ 0xa0b6ec0] profile High, level 3.0
[libx264 @ 0xa0b6ec0] 264 - core 125 r2200 999b753 - H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec - Copyleft 2003-2012 - http://www.videolan.org/x264.html - options: cabac=1 ref=3 deblock=1:0:0 analyse=0x3:0x113 me=hex subme=7 psy=1 psy_rd=1.00:0.00 mixed_ref=1 me_range=16 chroma_me=1 trellis=1 8x8dct=1 cqm=0 deadzone=21,11 fast_pskip=1 chroma_qp_offset=-2 threads=3 lookahead_threads=1 sliced_threads=0 nr=0 decimate=1 interlaced=0 bluray_compat=0 constrained_intra=0 bframes=3 b_pyramid=2 b_adapt=1 b_bias=0 direct=1 weightb=1 open_gop=0 weightp=2 keyint=250 keyint_min=25 scenecut=40 intra_refresh=0 rc_lookahead=40 rc=crf mbtree=1 crf=23.0 qcomp=0.60 qpmin=0 qpmax=69 qpstep=4 ip_ratio=1.40 aq=1:1.00
Output #0, matroska, to '1.mkv':
  Metadata:
    WMFSDKVersion   : 9.00.00.3267
    WMFSDKNeeded    : 0.0.0.0000
    IsVBR           : 0
    encoder         : Lavf54.6.101
    Stream #0:0(eng): Video: h264, yuv420p, 640x480, q=-1--1, 1k tbn, 29.97 tbc
    Stream #0:1(eng): Audio: wmav2 (a[1][0][0] / 0x0161), 44100 Hz, stereo, 128 kb/s
Stream mapping:
  Stream #0:1 -> #0:0 (wmv3 -> libx264)
  Stream #0:0 -> #0:1 (copy)
Press [q] to stop, [?] for help
frame=  325 fps=106 q=29.0 size=     411kB time=00:00:09.20 bitrate= 366.0kbits/s    

2 Answers

try just doing:

ffmpeg -y -i 1.wmv -b:v 2000k 1.mp4

ffmpeg should automatically pick the most appropriate audio format and use libx264 for the video, the 2000k is essentially telling it to encode at the same bitrate as the original video file.

Answered by Justin Buser on January 3, 2022

codec not currently supported in container

That's your error.

Try specifying another audio codec like with -c:a aac. MP4 doesn't take Windows Media Audio in its container. You have to choose a matching audio codec, like AAC. Right now all you do is try to copy the bitstream, and that fails – as indicated by the error message.

The same problem of non-matching codecs goes for other containers, although MKV is way more open to other codecs than MP4 is, therefore you can use almost any codecs within an MKV container. This does not work for MP4.

In general though, for maximum compatibility, try to stick to the most common formats for containers, e.g.

  • AVI: MPEG-4 video, MP3 audio
  • WMV: Windows Media Video and Audio
  • MKV, MOV, MP4: h.264, AAC audio (although MKV really takes anything, here the limitation is on the playback device side)

Answered by slhck on January 3, 2022

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