I’m usually using HighSlide JS to create and share slideshows of pictures on our website. But sometimes, colleagues would like to create their own photo slideshows and they would create and publish them with Photo Story 3, a free tool from Microsoft (validation required). Photo Story 3 was made for Windows XP, but I’ve read that it would install and run fine on Windows Vista and Windows 7 as well, although you might prefer to use its replacement called Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 on these latter platforms.
A couple of days ago, we wanted to put one of these videos created by Photo Story 3 on the website, and I wanted to convert the WMV file to the FLV format, so that it would play fine on all visitors’ browsers through JW Player. I put it through my favourite video converter, Freemake Video Converter, but the resulting FLV video was blank. I put it through my second favourite (still free) video converter, Any Video Converter, and there I would get an error message:
“Could not open required DirecShow codec wmvadvd.dll… Cannot find codec matching selected –vo and video format 0x32505657”.
After binging and googling on the net, I realized that the WMV format produced by Photo Story 3 is not “standard”, or I should say is not “common”. It uses a special compression format called Windows Media Video Image (version 9.1), which can be played fine in Windows Media Player (and probably others), but is not commonly supported in many (most?) video converters, especially the free ones.
Edited on May 29th, 2012: Sothink Media’s Dree Movie DVD Maker has made some changes since my post was published and the feature (codec?) is not available anymore. After searching for some alternative solutions, I found this is the best: Convert video to MPEG-2 from Online-Convert.com. The reasons:
- It’s completely free: you don’t need to create an account, provide an email address or other tricky ways to get your personal details
- It’s online: use the tool from anywhere in the world without installing anything on your computer
- The speed and the quality of the converted video is just perfect
After some more searching, I finally found a free solution. I downloaded and installed Sothink Media’s Free Movie DVD Maker, and used their conversion engine without burning anything. Here is how I did it: Drag-and-drop your WMV file created by Photo Story 3 onto the main grid, modify a couple of settings on the right pane (optional) and hit “Burn”. The application will warn that there is no DVD media in the burner. Click “Ignore”:
The video gets converted to MPG in the background, and the temporary file (which would be subsequently burnt to a DVD but we are not) is located in a temporary folder. When the software indicates the message “Creating disc structure”, your temporary MPG video is ready to be copied somewhere safe. Indeed, when Movie DVD Maker is ready to burn the disk (successfully or not), it would delete this temporary file!
At this point, it is very important not to click on the “OK” button, otherwise the temporary MPG video would get deleted:
So where to find the file? Copy this text: “C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Temp” and paste it in any Explorer window (or press the Window key on your keyboard and then R). Your MPG file would have the same name as your WMV file, and the timestamp would be one of the most recent, so you can view it either by name or by detail (then sort by modified date):
Copy the MPG file and paste it to somewhere safe.
If you need the MPGEG2 video file in another format, as mentioned earlier, try my favourite free video converter: Freemake Video Converter. It’s free, beautiful and functional.
I hope this helps,