Cutting the Chai has moved to a new domain: cuttingthechai.com.
You can get in touch with Soumyadip at www.soumyadip.com.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Watch Movies on Your Mobile

Ever since I got my new mobile phone I found a new way to keep myself entertained on the long journey to and from work - by watching movies. Though the idea of watching a 70mm film with Dolby and the works on a tiny 320x240 pixel screen may not appeal to all, I've found it to be worthwhile pastime.

But the problem was to find the right format to play on the cell. I had downloaded a few clips from the Internet, while a few played fine, the others didn't. Though the manual says that the mobile (LG KG300 Dynamite) supports MP4 and 3GP playback, not all videos in that format are necessarily playable. Higher-end mobiles face fewer of these problems as they support a much wider range.

After some permutations and combinations and thanks to the super software called Super (Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer), I could convert some DVDs which would play on my tiny screen. Though the web is full of 3GP conversion software, nothing worked, while Super did a decent job for free.

Since my needs were limited to my phone model, I didn't try what was best for other phones. Though I played one of the movies on my colleague's Motorockr and it played fine (and now she wants some movies of her choice converted). The only hitch is that the best resolution that Super provides for the combination of codecs which play fine on my mobile is 176x144, therefore the videos pixelate a little while playing on a 320x240 screen, but not to a very noticeable extent (you might overcome that I bit by increasing the video bit rate).

Since the audio is encoded in AMR Narrow-Band the quality is not very high and is mono. But on the positive side, a standard two-and-a-half hour long Hindi movie will fit into 150mb. Though files in RealMedia are known to be even smaller, but pity my phone doesn't support that.

The codec combination that I used to convert my videos on Super (playable on LG KG300 and other phones) was:

Output container: 3gp (Nokia/NEC/Siemens)
Video codec: H.263
Audio codec: AMR Narrow-band

Other details can be found in the screenshot below:



Ideally I would've liked to know of the ideal conversion settings for the MP4 format, but still haven't been able to figure that out. If I do, you'll find that posted here.

If anyone knows of a better software or of a better way if going about doing it, please do let me know.

You might not always have DVDs or VCDs around to convert and feed your mobile phone with. But there are plenty of places online from where you can find good quality videos to download from. One of the sources that I particularly like (for the quality combined with compactness) is Stage6.DivX.com. Though DivX allows downloads from their site, but it is through the DivX player. There's no explicit direct download link.

I hunted around a little and found a shortcut to directly download DivX videos (many others would've also discovered that). Here's a 'How to Download Videos from Divx/Stage6':

1. Go to stage6.divx.com
2. Identify the video that you want to download
3. Right click on the thumbnail and 'Copy Link Location' (on Firefox) or 'Copy Shortcut' (Internet Explorer), alternatively you can left click on the thumbnail and copy the URL from the address bar
4. The URL would be something like: http://stage6.divx.com/The-Last-Stop/video/1361844/My-Favorite-Brunette
5. Copy the numerical id of the video. In our example it is 1361844
5. Insert the id into this URL (replacing the asterisks): http://video.stage6.com/*/*.divx
6. Your final URL now becomes (as per our example): http://video.stage6.com/1361844/1361844.divx
7. To download the file (in DivX format) you can paste the URL into the browser address bar and press enter or let your download manager take care of the downloading.

Occasionally there are errors while downloading multiple files simultaneously from the site, therefore it is preferable to download one at a time. To play the videos you can play it on the DivX player or the very utilitarian VLC media player (which plays multiple formats which most other popular media players don't).

Else, you can convert the downloaded videos on to your preferred format using Super (with many options) or Audio/Video To Exe (very handy and lightweight but minus the customisation options of Super). It is preferable to keep both the free media converters on your PC as often what one cannot do, the other performs seamlessly.

If your movie is split over multiple files, it is preferable that you merge them into a single file before going for the conversion process, so that you enjoy uninterrupted viewing pleasure. 123 Audio Video Merger is a nice and easy freeware utility to care of the video merging process. But it might have some issues while merging multiple vob files.

For the readers of Cutting the Chai, I've put up a mobile compatible version of Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece Rashomon.


You can download the movie for your mobile from the links below:
[01:27:54 3GPP 148 MB 256kbps 8000KHz Mono] [View/Embed/Share]
[01:27:54 3GPP 98.9 MB 156kbps 8000KHz Mono] [View/Embed/Share]


I'll try to upload more movies which are now in the public domain (I like to play it safe) in mobile compatable formats under a newly created category on this blog - Movies for Mobiles.

4 Comments:

aquamarine said...

congrats..me got a sooper kewl mobile...though I dont really use i extensively, feels good to have a fully functional commun set. (N72 is my baby's name)

Soumyadip said...

Congrats on your latest acquisition. Hope you make the best use of it. Start watching movies on you mobile, I've started to do so and managed to watch so many movies that I wouldn't have otherwise.

Josh said...

Your review on the mobile was excellent. I bought this phone last week. And its simply amazing.

I have seen 3-4 movies on my new mobile. Its better to watch silently with the earphone plugged in, rather than watching it on the computer. The resolution of 320*240 on a 1.9" screen combined with 262k colors makes even the finest details crisp.

Regarding the MP4 format, here are the details:

The phone supports MP4 videos, but one thing should be kept in mind- The codec should be "H.263" and not MP4 video codec. I have tried mp4 codecs, but the video is choppy.
The audio codec can be aac or amr.
AAC can be used for better audio quality.
Here is a video file which I have converted to MP4. The settings are kept high(audio:aac, sampling: 44100 khz, bitrate: default, stereo, Video: mp4(H.263) bitrate: default(high))
The file size is high: 21 MB.
But see the quality.
Its a song "Ek Din" from the movie: Naqaab.

I have uploaded it to rapidshare.
http://rapidshare.com/files/50825116/Ek_Din_-_Naqaab.MP4.html

Josh

Soumyadip said...

Josh Good that you liked the mobile. In fact I often wonder why people spend so much money on phones with features that they would never ever use. This phone's definitely not one of them.

Thanks for the details on the MP4 format. I had gone crazy finding the perfect match.