• A Wetpaint Site
  • Sign in to Wetpaint

Create and Convert 3GP video

Put video onto smartphones in the 3GP format

With smartphones, as any portable device, there are three big chunks to the process of getting your favorite episode of Twin Peaks out on the road with you:

  • Recording or downloading the video
  • Converting the video, if necessary
  • Transferring the video

3G phones and 3GP video standards

Once you've undergone these three ordeals, you should be able to play the video on your smartphone. Thankfully, since smartphones, are, after all, phones, they adhere to certain standards. Why is that? CDMA and GSM include standards for encoding voice and other types of data. In fact, the 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) created standards for many phone features, including video. Hence, the 3GP standard.

Less thankfully, the fact that the 3rd generation CDMA and GSM standardizations were taken so far means that each has its own specification for video. In other words, CDMA (3G2) video files are not necessarily the same as GSM (3GP) video files, hence the different extensions. Although they use similar codecs, the audio streams may be encoded in the format for voice -- and since CDMA and GSM use different types of voice compression over the air, this can translate into different types of audio in the video file -- and incompatibility of video between phones.

Here are how the 3GP and 3G2 formats are specified:

  • 3GP: H.263 MP4 Video, AAC-LC or AMR-NB Audio
  • 3G2: H.263 MP4 Video, AAC-LC , AMR-NB or QCELP Audio

As you can see, the main difference is that 3G2 may contain an audio format not specified for 3GP. That said, it seems to be the case that many phones, regardless of carrier type, can support either format. This is dependent on the phone itself, as well as the video file. You may find that video files are cross-compatible depending on the design of the phone and its software.

In general, assuming a video file is NOT cross-compatible on a given phone, here are they types of carriers in the United States, for future reference:

  • CDMA: Verizon, Sprint, Cricket, US Cellular and Alltel
  • GSM: Cingular (AT&T), T-Mobile, Edge Wireless and SunCom

Keep your carrier in mind when encoding or downloading video, and you can be more confident about avoiding incompatibility.

Getting the video in the first place

You can get digital video in a few ways:

  • Rip it from a DVD
  • Record it with a hardware device
  • Download it

The process of using your PC to extract video from your DVD collection for viewing on your phone is beyond the scope of this article. However, you can check Doom9.org for a wealth of technical information and tools on the topic. (Note: It may be illegal to copy your DVDs to your PC -- as odd as it may seem, breaking the CSS encryption on a DVD, even for your own use, is illegal per the DMCA. We do not advocate breaking any law or infringing on any copyright.)

Downloading video is another thorny area. Aside from the large amount of free, legit video content out there (vlogs, open video projects, etc.), the larger portion of commercial content is DRM-protected, meaning that it will be difficult and/or illegal to convert the format if it's not already in 3GP. For example, the videos on iTunes fall into this category. It's up to the reader to locate viable sources of legal videos to download, but it should not be hard to find what you're looking for, out on the wild, wild internet.

Recording video is legally safe and often allows the user to skip the encoding step. We'll cover this after a discussion of encoding.

Encoding to 3GP format

Based on the last section, we assume you already possess a video you'd like to put into 3GP format and watch on your smartphone. This section provides an overview of the Japanese program 3GP Converter.

3GP converter is a small freeware app built around ffmpeg that allows conversion of many videos to 3GP formats at various resolutions, along with other formats. Here is a step-by-step guide to using 3GP Converter:

How to convert digital video clips with 3GP Converter 0.34 software:

This software, while seemingly incomprehensible at first, gives a nice front-end interface for video conversion, along with a bevy of handy presets.

Download the program here: 3GP Converter Info & Download page (Japanese)

Step 1:

Screenshot of 3GP converterDownload and set up the 3GP software. It is available here and does have an English variant. After downloading and unzipping the file, run Setup.exe. It will bring up a window with a bunch of gibberish -- look toward the bottom and select ''English'' (or your more preferred language) in the dropdown menu.

Next, in the menu above, select the item that most closely corresponds to your smartphone -- you'll need to check the video resolutions supported by your phone. Check the user manual, product website, or, if your phone came with or captures video, check these files to determine appropriate settings -- you can be pretty sure that if you encode a file to the same thing the phone records that it will play back as well.

second screenshot

Step 2:Create and Convert 3GP video - htc

From here the process is fairly intuitive. The main converter window opens, and you will be presented with a drag-and-drop field for your video to be converted, a dropdown list of quality settings that are sub-settings of the preset you selected in the previous step, a ''Browse'' button to select the output directory, and a grayed-out progress indicator.

First, select your desired quality setting. This will be up to you. The settings vary in resolution, framerate, video bitrate, and audio bitrate. The most appropriate choice for each of these will vary with your preference, the amount of space available on your memory card or phone, and the quality of your source video. In general, you'll want to use lower bitrates, resolutions, and framerates when you are short on space -- likewise, if your source video is only 15 frames per second, there's no need to convert it to 30. A good rule of thumb is to use the lowest setting you can while maintaining a respectable level of quality -- the level of which is up to you.

Step 3:

Now, select an output directory. Make sure you remember your selection, as you'll need to find the file later to transfer to your phone. When in doubt, just use My Pictures, My Documents, or My Videos, depending on your version of Windows. When really in doubt, just dump it onto the desktop.

Step 4:

Now, find the video you'd like to convert and drag it to the ''Drag and drop files here'' section. The software will begin to encode the video. This will take a few minutes at least, depending on the size, length, and type of video you're processing.

Step 5:

You should find a new .3GP file in the directory you selected earlier. At this point, your video has been converted. It should be ready to transfer to your phone, according to the specific needs and procedures associated with the model.


More resources and links related to this article:

  • Engadget Tutorial on 3GP Converter


How to record video to 3GP format

Recording video to a PC has been done with video capture cards for a long time. This is still an option, and today there are even very slick USB and firewire options. There isn't a good way to give an adequate treatment of the whole field of video capture using video capture cards here, but here is a short summary of how they work:

  1. Install the card, via PCI, USB, or other connection
  2. Connect the analog video source
  3. Record the video using the card's interface
  4. Save the video to your PC's hard drive

Of course, "Install the card" is easier said than done, but there are many robust solutions available for those who need them.

There are other types of recording devices that also encode directly to digital formats. Among them is the Neuros MPEG-4 Recorder 2 Plus, which can encode directly from analog to .3GP format in multiple resolutions. It records directly to memory cards such as MMC, CF, MS/DUO/PRO DUO, SD, etc. This is good news for users whose smartphones include slots for these types of memory cards. It may simply be a matter of recording to the card and moving the file to the phone.

To record to 3GP using the Neuros Recorder 2 Plus:

  1. Connect the power and AV in/out cables to the R2: This means connect the AV-in connector to the output of your TV, DVD player, cablebox, etc. Connect the AV-out connector to the TV's inputs to enable viewing on the on-screen menu of the R2.
  2. Turn on the R2 and move to the record menu.
  3. Hit the menu button on the remote and enter the quality setting screen.
  4. Select the 3GP format that is most appropriate for your smartphone.
  5. Exit the quality setting screen.
  6. Hit the record button and record your video. When it's done, hit the button again to stop.
  7. Turn off the unit and remove the memory card.
  8. Now you have two options: Either transfer the memory card to your smartphone or move the memory card to a card-reader, transfer the file to your PC, and then move the file to your smartphone via USB.

At this point, you may be able to access the file straightaway, but you may need to complete a few more steps to watch the video.

How to watch the video once it is converted to 3GP format

Assuming from the previous steps that you now have a .3GP file that you'd like to watch at some point, and you're ready to put it on your phone. Now, there are some issues to consider here. In many cases, you will be able to browse the video files directly in your phone's media player, whether it be proprietary or Windows Media Player 10.

In other cases, you'll need to put the files in a specific directory in order for them to be read and played by the phone. For example, some models, such as the Palm Treo 650, have a folder labeled '''DCIM''' that is searched for video files. If the .3GP files are not in this folder, they won't appear in the media player's file list. Check the memory card for evidence of such a file system if the videos aren't showing up right away when you look for them on your phone. See if you can find other .3GP files on the card or the phone, and place them in that directory. Check your phone's manual for any special transfer procedures or file protocols that must be used.

If all else fails, you can install TCPMP on many smartphones. TCPMP stands for The Core Pocket Media Player, and it's a robust media player for mobile devices. This is a free and highly capable media player, and is recommended even if you can access your .3GP files directly. TCPMP allows compatibility with many other formats, is free, and should be able to see files that the proprietary media player might not. Check this site to download this nice piece of software. You will need to follow your phone's specific instructions for installing third-party software, assuming doing so is possible and there is a compatible version for your smartphone.

Now, sit back, relax, shift your knees to the side to let that portly gentleman get by, and enjoy that M*A*S*H rerun on the train ride home.

Neuros Homepage

Latest page update: made by talontsi07 , Aug 31 2009, 4:55 PM EDT (about this update About This Update talontsi07 Edited by talontsi07

view changes

- complete history)
Keyword tags: 3G2 3GP conversion Convert
More Info: links to this page
Share this Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Delicious Add to Favorites Email
Started By Thread Subject Replies Last Post
Anonymous thnx 0 Sep 17 2007, 6:26 AM EDT by Anonymous
Thread started: Sep 17 2007, 6:26 AM EDT  Watch
super cool...thnx
Do you find this valuable?    
Keyword tags: None
mutant Super 1 May 13 2007, 6:14 AM EDT by Anonymous
Thread started: Dec 28 2006, 6:51 PM EST  Watch
This software is free, and; providing you have all the codecs installed on your PC; can transcode just about anything into just about anything, including 3gp. I love it.
4  out of 5 found this valuable. Do you?    
Keyword tags: None
Show Last Reply
Mystik awesome 0 Apr 18 2007, 9:46 PM EDT by Mystik
Thread started: Apr 18 2007, 9:46 PM EDT  Watch
Props. this is an awesome guide... i've never converted into 3GP before and this util, made it super easy. :)

thanks a lot! :D
7  out of 7 found this valuable. Do you?    
Keyword tags: None
Showing 3 of 3 threads for this page

Related Content

  (what's this?Related ContentThanks to keyword tags, links to related pages and threads are added to the bottom of your pages. Up to 15 links are shown, determined by matching tags and by how recently the content was updated; keeping the most current at the top. Share your feedback on Wetpaint Central.)