I recently purchased a TV movie series from Microsoft from here. The series is 10 episodes each one an MP4 format file. In my naivety I assumed that MP4 was a standard format that would be playable on most, if not all devices. It turns out that MP4 can better be described as a container and that there can be many variations on what is in the container and not all devices have software to decode and play all variants.
I can play these on my Windows 10 PC using the MS software “Movies and TV” but not on my TV set which is Samsung. According to Samsung this is tough cheese, their software only knows how to deal with some kinds of MP4s.
I then went looking for video converter software. Apparently this limitation of Samsung TVs has been known for years and the recommended fix is to recode into the acceptable format. I have tried several video converters which have been built (in part) with this in mind as they all have Samsung TV, MP4, as one of their standard output formats.
The problem is that I cannot get any of them to actually do the conversion. One of three things happens.
- The setup of input and output works OK but after hitting the DoIt button the process aborts leaving a small corrupt output file.
- The setup of input and output works OK but after hitting the DoIt button nothing happens at all.
- The setup cannot be completed as while the file requestor sees the MP4 files I want to use as source the app will not load them so the conversion cannot be done.
Is it possible that these files have been tampered with in some way to prevent them from being converted?
If not what is going on?
I cannot answer your question. However, we do have the full suite of AVS4YOU programs which includes their Video Converter.
I have not used the Video Converter very much but it can convert most formats into any other format.
It used to be free to try with a watermark stamped on unregistered copies, so you can probably try it to see if it works for you.
If it can read your MP4 files, then you could convert them to AVI, MPEG or another format.
If you have not, try the (free) VLC Media Player. it can convert files as well as play them. If they are not amenable converting from your original MP4 to Samsung MP4, you might try converting them to ‘something else’, and from ‘something else’ to Samsung MP4.
VLC operation is not always obvious. To convert, File->convert and as you work through it the ‘profile’ is where you select the output format. One of the options is ‘MP4 TV / device’.
Anything is possible with software But it is more likely you are missing a codec or digital rights plugin the converters use. 1 is a program crash usually caused by unexpected byte sequences or missing information in the input file or a missing something or other the program cannot run without when it encounters ‘whatever the problem is’; 2 I cannot guess about, and 3 is a variation on 1 with better coding that avoids a crash.
If VLC can play it, it should be able to convert it (famous last words).
Thanks for the advice. I downloaded VLC, presumably the latest version.
It cannot play the movie in question, the progress bar advances and ticks off the seconds but nothing is displayed.
If I try to convert it I can set up the input, output and start it, the converter then zips through the (1.1 gig) file in about 15 seconds and produces … nothing.
It begins to look to me like MS have made it only playable on their software.
Hi @syncretic. The closest I could get to finding the specifics of formats you need for your TV are at Supported media file types for your 2016 Samsung Smart TV
Nothing came up when I searched the Australian site.
Hope that helps.
It could also be a locked mp4 file.
Try googling locked mp4 movie download and there are websites which have info on these.
Do you have ‘all’ the typical codecs installed? If you are not sure, download ffdshow install it and have another go. FWIW I have an mp4 that was repaired by a top program that some players just are not happy about, but since I have players that are happy with it I never went into why, so it does happen.
If that is the case and it was not disclosed before or at purchase, this seems an issue that should be under the ACL. If one purchases any movie one expects to be able to play it on multiple devices unless one is warned.
That is another possibility.
You might also search / post on a Microsoft Community. There are multiples from social to technical so ‘name your poison’ - starting by googling ‘microsoft community’.
Thanks, I haven’t been able to convert to any format yet so I haven’t yet approached the issue of which particular one(s) will play on the TV.
Thanks, I will look into that tomorrow.
I use an open source product called ‘Handbrake’ to convert videos. It is good (& free), but doesn’t have a Samsung preset. Perhaps their MP4 preset would work?
Tried it on kodi?
It’s amusing how hard some vendors make things - good thing that won’t drive people to less legal means of video download
I’m a bit old-school. When a video doesn’t play, I take a look with ffprobe (part of ffmpeg):
“[path to]\ffprobe” -i %1
That tells me what video and audio formats are in the container (assuming ffmpeg can handle them). From there, I can usually figure out how to transcode the file.
This is one I used a while back, on a file that needed both video and audio transcoded:
If not exist recode\nul mkdir recode
“[path to]\ffmpeg” -i %1 -c:v libx264 -c:a aac “recode/%~n1.mp4”
It does demand learning a great deal that you’d probably rather not know.
To be clear, those are batch files. In Windows Explorer, just drag the video file and drop it on the batch.
Looks like their download content is DRM…
Unless software can deal this DRM, it won’t be possible to convert or copy.
An option is you have a PC or xBox with hdmi output and plays the Microsoft mp4 files, to plug this device directly into the Samsung TV to watch.
A fabulous synopsis of most anything computer these days
I think it is time to wrap this up. Thanks to all who helped.
The most probable explanation for the data I have collected is that Microsoft movies are protected. I see no point in trying more players/converters as I have now tried 4 (or 5?) and the chance of them all being not up to date or needing new codecs is too slim.
I am annoyed with MS for doing this as I think in this age of multiple connectivity I should be able to play media that I bought and paid for on any device that I have not just on their software. Aside from the inconvenience, this smacks too much of MS trying to control and direct you into doing everything the MS way.
I am extremely annoyed with MS for failing to warn me of this limitation before I paid up.
I am slightly annoyed with Samsung, who entertained me with many email and phone exchanges. It took them until the bitter end to admit that their TV would not play some MP4 formats, every other possibility was canvassed two or three times. They gave no solution to the problem and certainly no hint that for MS material this could be deliberate.
As for removing DRM protection - no. I think I am morally within my rights but I am not going there for two reasons.
It is a grey area of law and while I think in extreme cases citizens are right to resist bad laws we should respect the law of the land in general and just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean you can ignore it.
From a practical point of view finding, downloading and using software that can crack protection is risky. Some of the people who write and publish such are true believers in freedom of data. Some just want to load a harmful payload on to your machine for fun or profit.
Thanks for that, and a well written closing post. As requested I’ll close this off.