VLC Playback Issues with WMV on Mac OS X?

I recently got some video files in the Windows WMV format and VLC on Mac OS X was not able to play these files. It’s not that VLC does not play any WMV format files, it just happens that the files I had, did not work.

Having tried Flip4Mac some time back and observed similar issues, I chose not to try it again, instead, look for some alternate solution.

Not having much to go on in terms of what I could Google for, I tried to convert these particular files to a standard H.264 MP4 using HandBrake. Since most of the open source libraries used in VLC, HandBrake and other similar applications are the same, I did not have a lot of expectations, but, to my surprise, it worked.

HandBrake spit out perfectly usable MP4 files from the WMV that VLC could not play. So, in case you have these kind of WMV files that VLC does not play back currently, you can always use HandBrake for conversion. Hopefully this information proves useful for similar cases.

In this experimentation phase, I discovered how to use HandBrake to batch convert files and also found an anomaly in the OS X Quick Look feature.

If you have a MP4 file and playing back using QuickLook causes the video to stutter, the video stream in the MP4 file is probably encoded in some mpeg-4 format, which, QuickLook cannot deal with. A simple HandBrake conversion to H.264 for video and a pass-through (or re-encode) for the audio stream would fix this issue.

There are a couple of great apps for container conversion here in case you want to convert to and from mp4 and mkv. Of course, ffmpeg can also be used, it just requires you to know how to use a command line interface (CLI). Just for completeness, you can also look at GPAC for a variety of similar purposes.

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