How-To: Encode Videos For Your N97 and 5800 XpressMusic

24 May

You’ve got an N97 or a 5800 XM, and you’re fiending for some content. Movies. TV shows. Funny video clips. Where do you start? What settings do you use?

I’ve written up a short guide that will get you up to speed with encoding videos for the S60 Fifth Edition phones’ default RealPlayer application. Hopefully it’ll take out a little of the guesswork that normally goes into the encoding process.

We’ll be re-encoding files in the MPEG-4 video format, with AAC audio. Let’s start!

What You Need

– SUPER (scroll all the way to the bottom to see the download link), or any other encoding application such as AVS. I did all of my encodings with SUPER, so I can vouch that the settings below work perfectly. And it’s freeware. Technically, it shouldn’t really matter which encoder you use, as long as you use the same basic settings.
– A source video file.
– Enough hard drive space for your re-encoded file (twice as much to be safe).

Getting the Right Video Encoder Settings

Once you’ve downloaded and installed SUPER, run it. In the top left corner, you should see “[1. Select the Output Container ]“. If you see anything else, click on the top radio button below that message. The first time I ran the program it defaulted to Output Process instead.

The screenshot should match your SUPER settings. (Click to view entire image)

These SUPER encoder settings should match your own.

1. Make sure the output container is MP4.
2. The Output Video Codec should be MPEG-4.
3. Use AAC LC for Output Audio Codec.
4. Check the DirectShow Decode box. This may or may not cause problems with your hardware setup. In my case, I couldn’t finish encoding anything without it checked.
5. Change the Video Scale Size to 640 width x 360 height. To get to the custom video size, click on the More checkbox twice.
6. The Aspect Ratio should be 16:9.
7. Frames/Sec should be 29.97.
8. For Bitrate, I used 2016kbps. Multiple tests with 3024kbps and 4032kbps showed no discernable difference, even with high quality sources. I just couldn’t tell the difference. If you can, feel free to change this to a higher value.
9. Check the High Quality checkbox. DO NOT check off Top Quality or anything else.
10. Make sure the Sound Freq is 44100.
11. Change the Audio Bitrate (it might be this by default, can’t remember) to 96 kbps. You can increase this value if you want. Again, not much of a noticeable difference for me.

You now have the correct settings for SUPER – let’s start encoding some videos!

Encoding Videos

To encode a video, find the file using Explorer, and drag and drop it anywhere on the SUPER screen. The video name should appear in the box below the “DROP A VALID MULTIMEDIA FILE HERE…” message, and you can double-click on it to show your video’s nitty-gritty details. You may want to check some things here, like the source bitrate and aspect ratio. If the source bitrate is significantly lower than your encoded bitrate (See #8 above), you might want to either modify the new bitrate or get a better quality video source file. As for aspect ratio, sometimes you may find movies that are 2.35:1 aspect ratio – these will look a little strange on the 5800XM or N97 (people will be taller and thinner than they should be), since both phones are 16:9.

Now hit the Encode (Active Files) button and the fun will begin. Remember, encoding can potentially take a lot of time – depending on the size/complexity of your source file and your settings, it could take 1 minute or hours. A 3-minute fight scene from The Matrix (39.4 megabytes) took me about 2 minutes to encode, while a 40-minute episode of Veronica Mars took almost 30.

Once it’s complete, transfer it to your phone. You can use either the File Manager application or RealPlayer to play your videos.

Encoding Alternatives

If you don’t have the time, or the inclination, to re-encode your files, there is another way to get DiVX videos running on your phone: Lonely Cat Games’ Smartmovie. Smartmovie allows you to play DiVX/XviD videos on your phone without needing to re-encode (although you may want to, to save space). Note that I haven’t tested the latest S60 Fifth Edition version of Smartmovie yet (working on it).


I can’t take too much credit for this guide. Most of the important settings were taken from comments on this post (ignore the original post, it’s pretty useless), with a lot of experimentation thrown in.

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