I encountered a very interesting usability issue this evening. A coworkers son completed a school video project in Premier on his Mac, but had to turn in the video in .wmv format. Premier doesn’t appear to be able to do this. That’s interesting (and I have my doubts) but I don’t have Premier to try it myself.
I felt confident I could take his .mov and use some program to convert it on my end. So problem #1 was how to get a 300 MB file to me that didn’t involve driving for an hour. Dropbox? No, he doesn’t use it. Google Drive? Same problem.
I was faced with walking him through setting up a Dropbox account (which is a bit invasive if you choose to use the client) or a Google account (to use a Google service I don’t have any experience with myself).
Ok, what about good old FTP? Well, he hadn’t done that before, but I was optimistic that OS X had some built-in FTP capabilities. It does (hit Command-K in a Finder window) but you can’t upload like that – only browse and download! Woof, big OS X fail there. Furthermore, the FTP server I was trying to use (the one at my day job) was not having a good time.
Fortunately I had installed and configured VSFTPD on my Digital Ocean server a while back, so I started that up and made him an account. I had him download FileZilla, which was fairly painless except for some very scammy click-bait ads on the SourceForge site. No, SourceForge, nobody wants to use your download manager. Ever.
Alight, so he’s all set uploading that file and I have 30 minutes until it’s done to find a conversion solution.
I’ve thrown out the possibility of using any of the scammy looking free converters. What about VLC? Well, it looked like it could do it, but the closest I could pull off was a .asf file. What about iMovie? Nope, no .wmv export option that I can see (which was a bit optimistic of me). I do have a very old copy of Sony Vegas on a Windows 7 boot drive in my closet, but it’s so old that I don’t think it supported wide aspect ratios (and I recall exporting to .wmv producing insanely large files unless you spent a long time noodling with the settings).
So I did the usual pace around and stare off into space muttering to myself thing that typically produces results (and gets me worried glances from coworkers) and thought of something.
I installed Windows 8 a few months ago, just to see what all the fuss is about. I remembered that the ads had some kind of video making program, so I did a Bing search (I’m playing ball today Microsoft) and managed to install the Windows 8 Movie Maker.
The Windows 8 Movie Maker opened the .mov, and saved right out to .wmv. No fussing, no noodling with settings, no nothing but good results.
Windows 8 beat my Mac in built-in functionality. How about that.