Lecture 10: Getting Started with Videos on your BlackBerry

CrackBerry.com's BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series

Happy Tuesday Class! Thanks to the Smartphone Round Robin I'm into my third week of No BlackBerry Use, which also means our third week of Guest Professors in the CrackBerry.com BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series.

This week's topic? Getting Started With Videos On Your BlackBerry. It's a fitting topic since one of the rules of the Round Robin is that we must view videos on the smartphone we are given. Dieter of WMExperts.com has the BlackBerry Curve this week and since this is his first time using a BlackBerry (he's a total newbie to them) we figured he'd need all the help he can get! :-) Dieter actually just posted his initial "I'm a BlackBerry Newbie and Needs Lots of Help" questions in the CrackBerry forums, so head on over there after you read this lecture and help him out! Don't forget, just by helping you'll have the chance to win a new smartphone of choice! 

Our BlackBerry 101 guest lecturer this week is no stranger to the topic of videos for your BlackBerry, considering he is the owner/operator of Videos4BlackBerry.info. Our guest lecturer is also a loyal CB member who you can always be found in the CrackBerry.com forums.

Welcome to BlackBerry 101 Bla1ze, Let's Get Crack'n!

CrackBerry.com's BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series
By Kevin Michaluk on 13 Nov 2007 11:08 am EST
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Happy Tuesday Class! Thanks to the Smartphone Round Robin I'm into my third week of No BlackBerry Use, which also means our third week of Guest Professors in the CrackBerry.com BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series.

This week's topic? Getting Started With Videos On Your BlackBerry. It's a fitting topic since one of the rules of the Round Robin is that we must view videos on the smartphone we are given. Dieter of WMExperts.com has the BlackBerry Curve this week and since this is his first time using a BlackBerry (he's a total newbie to them) we figured he'd need all the help he can get! :-) Dieter actually just posted his initial "I'm a BlackBerry Newbie and Needs Lots of Help" questions in the CrackBerry forums, so head on over there after you read this lecture and help him out! Don't forget, just by helping you'll have the chance to win a new smartphone of choice! 

Our BlackBerry 101 guest lecturer this week is no stranger to the topic of videos for your BlackBerry, considering he is the owner/operator of Videos4BlackBerry.info. Our guest lecturer is also a loyal CB member who you can always be found in the CrackBerry.com forums.

Welcome to BlackBerry 101 Bla1ze, Let's Get Crack'n!

Getting Started With Videos On Your BlackBerry
by Bla1ze of Videos4BlackBerry.info

As new BlackBerry devices are being released it’s becoming more and more apparent that RIM has intentions for their devices to be pushed out of the corporate world and into the hands of consumers who are looking for more than just an email and web enabled gadget. These consumers are looking for all-in-one devices to feed their digital needs. BlackBerry devices now include digital audio players as well as the ability to be able to play videos encoded to specific formats. But as of late alot of questions have arisen in the forums as to how to take advantage of all these capabilities. Hopefully this article will help clear some of the air and answer some of those important questions.

Let’s start with having a look at the video capabilities of the latest generation of BlackBerry devices. While there is plenty of room for improvement in this area... BlackBerry is off to a flying start considering it was not that long ago that it was not even an imaginable item on a BlackBerry.

MPEG-4 Part 2 (Simple Profile and bvop, including DivX 4)

  • File formats - .avi, .3gp, .mp4, .mov
  • Video - Up to 320 x 240, up to 800 kbps, up to 30 frames per second

H.263 (Profile 0 & Profile 3)

  • File formats - .avi, .3gp, .mp4, .mov
  • Video - up to 320 x 240, up to 800 kbps, up to 30 frames per second

Windows Media Video (Simple Profile)

  • File formats - .wmv
  • Video - Up to 320 x 240, up to 800 kbps, up to 24 frames per second

Now that’s all fine, But what does it all really mean? Lets break it down even more...

.avi, .3gp, .mp4, .mov, .wmv are all supported video formats for BlackBerry devices but there are limitations imposed on these types of files. Extracting the information from above, all of the files are limited to 320 x 240 resolution (aspect ratio). This is basically the size of the video as it will appear on your BlackBerry screen, similar to WideScreen and FullScreen aspect ratios that are so relevant in the DVD world.

Movies on your BlackBerry

The next item to address is the limitation of 800Kbps you see above. This is relevant to the quality of the encoded file, and by quality I mean clarity of the file itself. If a video file is encoded in a lower kbps it will look grainy and pixelated.

Movies on your BlackBerry

As you can see from the examples above the higher the kbps, the higher video quality. Keep in mind this is also relative to the size of the video - the higher the kbps, the larger the end result will be in file size.

The next item to address is the frames per second (FPS). Now while this is a highly technical aspect of filming in television and video, I’ll try to explain it as easily as possible, or better yet, the problems that can arise from not assigning the right FPS to a video that you are trying to convert for your BlackBerry device. Every video that is filmed or captured has to have an appropriate FPS to it otherwise things filmed will look like they are either moving too fast on the video or possibly even too slow, as well, this may cause problems with audio when converting for BlackBerry devices, or any other devices for that matter such as PSP, Home DVD’s etc. If the right FPS is not used you may find that audio will be out of sync on your videos. I realize that the specifications call for a range of 24 to 30 FPS for all videos to fall under the compatible category, but honestly this will be based more on the programs used to encode the video files than anything. It really is trial and error when selecting a the right FPS, and we'll dive into that further next.

Applications Available For Encoding Files For BlackBerry

When it comes to encoding files to be compatible with BlackBerry devices their really are many choices out there, both free and paid applications, depending on your personal preferences of course.

We’ll start with the more commonly known application - BlackBerry Desktop Manager's Media Manager of course!

Movies on your BlackBerry

Movies on your BlackBerry

Now while the Media Manager in the BlackBerry desktop program does do a great job of converting files for optimal playback , some people also find it cumbersome and NOT really user friendly when converting files, often times creating incompatible files. This is from my personal experience as well as comments from others that have come to the CrackBerry Forums. The drag and drop interface seems nice, but is confusing to some.

Movies on your BlackBerry

Movies on your BlackBerry

Next we’ll have a look at SeaByrd Technologies BlackBerry Video Converter v1.1. This program boasts a lot of power in a small package and allows for you to make personal backups of pretty much any file you may have on your computer. A note to mention here is that this program will NOT work for Verizon 8830 devices as Verizon changed the type of video they use. They reccomend using the supplied Desktop Manager available on the Verizon site (I’m unaware of what file changes they have actually made). This encoder is based on the mencoder encoding engine, thus allowing many file types to be encoded.

Movies on your BlackBerry

Boy look at all those options, Too much maybe?

This is a FREE application that works amazingly well - it even allows you too transfer files right from the encoding process direct to your BlackBerry device.

Movies on your BlackBerry

But just look at all those options and tabs up there, the application it’s self is quite good at guessing what would be the best option, but once again from my personal experience, it often times selects options that may not be optimal. But don’t let that sway you from it’s use, it really is an excellent application that with use you will grow fond of and will have you enjoying videos on your BlackBerry in no time.

Next up I have to introduce my personal favorite and the only application that I use for my site Videos4BlackBerry. Now while this application is NOT a free application it is well worth the purchase cost of $29.00 from AOne Soft. Ultra Mobile 3gp Converter is tops in my book supporting just about any format you can throw at it and having a nice clean and simple user interface. It allows any user to quickly convert files for their BlackBerry. AOneSoft offers a limited free trial of UltraMobile 3gp Converter, which of course I'd recommend taking a look at before committing to the purchase price.

Movies on your BlackBerry

Using the 3gp profile under the mpeg4 codec creates optimal files for BlackBerry devices with little to no fuss. One thing you will notice here is that the application supports the 14.95FPS option - this is personally the option I choose all the time and have never had any problems with it. Out of the 3 mentioned so far, I’d have to lay my support here. Another option for getting movies onto your BlackBerry that I haven't tried yet but appears to work great is the Neuros MPEG-4 Recorder. It was recently reviewed on CrackBerry.com.

Now remember with any of these applications time will be a factor, depending on the filesize you are trying to convert and the quality you are wishing to achieve here, times may go up. Rule of thumb is always the higher quality video, the longer it will take to encode. 

Now I need to return back to the supported files mentioned just for a moment, so that there is no confusion. All of the listed programs will support output files compatible for BlackBerry devices, but a few things to take under consideration in the listing of files is that you will see some items have “profiles” listed next to them. There are a few things to consider:

H.263 (Profile 0 & Profile 3) - You will be hard pressed to find any encoding programs that specifically state they use these types of profiles, thus making it harder to determine wether or not the file will be compatible.

Windows Media Video (Simple Profile) - This is a codec based on Windows Media Player 9 (remember we are now into Windows Media Player 11) and while it was widely used in the past, applications have long since moved onto more advanced codecs like the H.263 and it may be hard to find applications that state specifically that they use it.

In the end the most compatible and reliable codec to use would be based on .3gp. This codec is pretty much standard for all phones and mobile devices developed in the last 10 years.

How To Get Videos Onto Your BlackBerry Device

This will be the final item we cover in this BlackBerry 101, so now that we looked into some of the applications to”convert” or “encode” the videos to a BlackBerry compatible format we need to cover the methods on how to get it transferred to your BlackBerry device. the first and most common method would be to use the BlackBerry Desktop Manager, utilizing the “move up” and “move down” feature as pictured below.

Select the Folders tab, then navigate to the desired location (folder or file) on the computer for media to be transferred.

Videos on your BlackBerry

Navigate to the desired location (Media Card or Device Memory) on the BlackBerry for media to be transferred.

IMPORTANT: Files larger than 2.86MB cannot be transferred to the BlackBerry device when using the device memory.

Videos on your BlackBerry

Once the desired locations have been selected, click on the media file to be transferred and select the appropriate action.

NOTE: If transferring a media file to a Media Card, mass storage must be enabled on the BlackBerry.

  • Copy Down: Transfers a copy of the media file from the computer to the BlackBerry.
  • Copy Up: Transfers a copy of the media file from the BlackBerry to the computer.
  • Move Down: Moves the media file from the computer to the BlackBerry.
  • Move Up: Moves the media file from the BlackBerry to the computer.

The second option of course would be to have your media card act as a extra hard drive on your computer in which case you may just be able to drag and drop the files right into the video folder of your BlackBerry device. Again, Mass Media Mode must be enabled for this to work and you can achieve this by going to to Settings > Options > Media Card > Auto Enable Mass Storage When Connected (see below):

Videos on your BlackBerry

Videos on your BlackBerry

Videos on your BlackBerry

Now that those settings have been configured, anytime you connect your BlackBerry to your computer you will see the following screen.

Videos on your BlackBerry

In which case you will want to “Open folder to view files”. Inside you will see a folder called “videos” you may then drag and drop your videos into that folder. Once transferred, disconnect your BlackBerry from your computer then browse to your Media and look under your videos, if encoded correctly you will see your files listed and it will be viewable on your BlackBerry!! Enjoy Folks, I hope this guide was in some way helpful to you.

Wrap Up

Thanks for the Lecture Bla1ze, that was clear and concise and HELPFUL! And I now can be confident that Dieter will have no issues viewing videos on his BlackBerry this week.  And remember, if you want Videos for your BlackBerry, you can always make a visit to Videos4BlackBerry.info.

Topics: BlackBerry 101

Reader comments

Lecture 10: Getting Started with Videos on your BlackBerry

41 Comments

Great post, very helpful! Is there a way to update the codecs on the blackberry to support H.264/X264 videos? Are there any media player options other than the integrated player that comes with the bb?

For a new user, these are excellent and thanks, I use Roxio Media version 10 to navigate files to and from my BB8830.

Will try the Videos4blackberry this week for creating videos for my BB8830.

Again, Thanks,

John

I have been using FFMPEG with great success to encode files for my 8830.

The command line I use for full screen is:

ffmpeg -i -f mp4 -vcodec mpeg4 -b 400k -r 14.985 -s 320x240 -aspect 4:3 -acodec aac -ar 22050 -ac 2 -ab 48k .mp4

and for letterbox:
ffmpeg -i -f mp4 -vcodec mpeg4 -b 400k -r 14.985 -s 320x240 -aspect 16:9 -acodec aac -ar 22050 -ac 2 -ab 48k .mp4

It also handles most every kind of file you can throw at it. Handy for non MS blackberry users, or those on a BES who can't install the desktop software out there. I have an example batch file on my web site that shows how to make this a batch file in your send-to folder.
-Rob A>

Great tutorial. I downloaded a few vidoes from your website "videos4blackberry.info", and they work perfectly.

Qucik question about the program though. Everything I've tried to play on my BB (8130) either reads "unable to read content" or plays audio with a blank screen. When using the trial version of Ultra Mobile 3GP, I get the sound but no video, just text saying something along the lines of "this is a watermark, which is removed upon purchase" behind a grey screen. I was under the impression that watermarks are transparent, and you can still see the actual video. My question is if this is just the nature of the trial version, or if it should infact show some video and it's not working properly for me.

maybe is a stupid question but how i enable the mass storage?on my bb8100 on media card i get the message:
"media card support : off" & a "lock" icon

I tried this and am still getting Unsupported File when trying to play the video. The file is .avi and the BB should be able toplay this. Any idea?

This is a great guide! I just started messing around with some options, and Youtube allows you to MMS videos to them and they upload instantly to your account so the world can view! Great way to share videos when on vacation and such!

This was a great tutorial! Thank you!! I just have a silly question, what size media card would you recommend? I have Curve 8330. I would like to try out some video and also add some music.

Thanks for this excellent tutorial! I have been wanting to add a couple of videos to my BB for my grandson to watch when needed for entertainment.

Hi all!

just got my bb 8320(tmobile) Ive been trying for like 3 hrs to load some videos onto my bb, ive downloaded the free program seabyrd, pretty sure ive done all the procedures, but then i check my bb and nada! can some kind person give me a step 1-20 on how to load a dang video, iam going crazy here!!! thanks richard7791

Bla1ze, thanks so much! Been trying to get my movies on my 8100 for a long time! Now with this post and my 8 gig card, I'm set. Indebted to you!

i have spent quite some time and cpu on converting videos for my bbstorm, i have had minimal success but then again i cant really afford to have my cpu maxing out for 2+ hrs just to convert a dang .avi. but the few times i did convert full length movie to mpeg-4 i screwed up the fps and resolution, when converting to compatible video format, you could always try just using the roxio media manager software that came with your device, theres a reason they gave it to you, it will convert, just drag from computer to device (mass storage, not device memory) and tell it to convert for optimal playback, and as long as it is one of the file formats listed above in this tutorial roxio will handle the rest.

the only drawback for me is that i cannot do anything else with my computer while the media is being converted and my machine is making hella noise with fan trying to cool off my soon to be fried motherboard.

anyways, good luck.

I downloaded the Seabyrd converter from download.com and have tested it with a part of the movie: Transformers for my son. I have an 8100 Pearl and the only thing I changed was I checked High resolution instead of medium. It has many options but don't get worked up, there's nothing serious in there that I can see. I'm no computer whiz either. It took a while to convert (1/2 hour for a little more than 1/4 of the movie). I connected my Pearl to my laptop and transferred the converted file to my media card and it played, 1st TIME! =) Thanks Bla1ze for the tutorial, it makes perfect sense. I've had this phone for a couple years and finally bought a memory card for it last fall. I think I need to buy a larger one now that I can put videos on my BB haha!

I downloaded the Seabyrd converter from download.com and have tested it with a part of the movie: Transformers for my son. I have an 8100 Pearl and the only thing I changed was I checked High resolution instead of medium. It has many options but don't get worked up, there's nothing serious in there that I can see. I'm no computer whiz either. It took a while to convert (1/2 hour for a little more than 1/4 of the movie). I connected my Pearl to my laptop and transferred the converted file to my media card and it played, 1st TIME! =) Thanks Bla1ze for the tutorial, it makes perfect sense. I've had this phone for a couple years and finally bought a memory card for it last fall. I think I need to buy a larger one now that I can put videos on my BB haha!

I have found that the HandBrakeCLI can be used to encode video to BlackBerry devices as well. Google for how to install HandBrake for your Linux distribution. This command works with my Curve to rip from DVD:

HandBrakeCLI -i /dev/dvd -t 2 -o output.mp4 -e ffmpeg -E faac -b 700 -B 92 -w 320 -R 48 -2

This example is:
-i /dev/dvd means the DVD drive
-t 2 means the second title on the DVD (check the DVD title you want to rip by first playing the DVD and seing which title plays)
-o output.mp4 means create a video file called output.mp4
-e ffmpeg means use the ffmpeg program to encode MPEG-4 video
-E faac means use the faac program to encode AAC audio
-b 700 means use a video bitrate of 700kbps
-B 92 means use an audio bitrate of 92kbps
-w 320 means resize the video to a width of 320 pixels (same as the Curve's screen)
-R 48 means keep the audio at 48kHz (same as DVD)
-2 means do a two-pass (high quality) encode

Rock on Linux BlackBerry junkies.

i have the blackberry bold 9000 my wife has an lg phone cu515 my bold records up to 1min30sec when i send her the video she only gets 10 sec of it. when i record up to 10 sec than send it like that she only gets a second of it i cant figure it out on what to do is there a way to shorten my recording time so it matches her phone please help me. thank you

Where to u get this tutorial.
i taken a video from blackberry and want to view like a .avi on my computer and share. Any ideas?

This tutorial was posted some time ago and I'm trying to find out if there are recommendations for converting software that will utilize the 8900's 480 x 360 screen. I tried the Blackberry Video Creator, and it does work for me, but I'm not getting a video that uses the full screen. I need a simple conversion program, and it doesn't matter to me if it isn't free, if it's reasonably fast and easy. Looking for recommendations.

I have tried to use the Roxio Media Manager, but it just does not cooperate with my computer, which I am running Windows XP Version 2002 Service Pack 2 on. So, I have tried the drag and drop method. I can get it on there no problem, but when I go to play it, it shows "an error has occured attempting to play media. Am I doing something wrong? Is there an alternate way to get these on my phone that might work? Please let me know. Thank you.

As a provider of web services - I decided to give the blackberry storm a workout and it failed miserably when it came to playing standard codexes.

In today's world of malware, most web users are not going to download a codex - even if the blackyberry os was smart enough to prompt for the download. Bottom line is, blackberry's codexes are anything but common and blackberry itself provides no ready access to their codexes for developers can make products that can be viewed on the blackberry.

I would love to be able to get Sony Vegas Pro to be able to render for the blackberry - but so far, it's not been possible. Not sure if users of Final Cut and Adobe Premiere are have the same problems.

I have 4 machines doing network renders pretty much all day and there is no way I'm going to alter the workflow and add another process just to make a mp4 that the blackberry can play.

This might be less frustrating if Sony Vegas was cheap software or not wildly used in the industry - but it's a very stable professional program that is very wildly used in the pc world of video editing.

Bottom line is, as a consumer I'm totally frustrated with the product and as a web developer, I'm almost ready to write the blackberry market off and nonviable - people that want to view videos online will just switch to a different produxct if that have to go through what I did. .

I use the Roxio Media Converter to convert videos to my Blackberry 8330. It is very simple. I am often never home and prefer to watch my favorite television shows and movies on the road when I am travelling or waiting in line. I have found that the easiest way for me to do that is to connect my blackberry at night when I am sleeping and do as many videos as my memory card will hold. In the morning when I wake up they are usually complete. Sometimes there is a small band of blurr on the bottom of the screen, however the videos play crystal clear on my WinMo Device that I use for work and my kids basic phones.

I am new to BB. Where do you go to download movies, tv programs, etc.? Is it a specific site? Thank you for your answer.

Great tutorial! It makes my BB Storm more useful. As a side note, there is a freeware called YouCast for Blackberry which allows you to send your personal video from your blackberry to your friends' blackberry via WiFi or data plan. Leave the blackberry on overnight and watch the video next morning at bus/subway on the way to work... No more signal/streaming hassel.

Product detail at http://www.youcast.net
Free download at http://m.youcast.net/blackberry.html

Hi my name is ladyofthemoon and the information is great however what if your trying to put a movie on your form a dvd and it only gives you convert with no conversion?

This is way more information than I need, I'm just trying to figure out why I can't view video file attachments on emails. Can someone please help? I've looked all over on here for the answer.

This is a great tutorial and I ended up purchasing Ultra - it already has a drop down for my storm, and I've already moved several of the clips from my Sony camera to my Blackberry. Your text is succinct and it made it very easy to follow. Great work!

While I am apparently an idiot in trying to figure the BB out on my own, with this tutorial I am able to do more in 20 minutes than on my own for 2 weeks! Good job guys, this is exactly what I have been searching for. I appreciate the help and free apps!!!