Convert GoToMeeting video files to another format

Video files downloaded from GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar or similar services use a special codec in order to play them. On the plus side, the videos are well compressed and optimised for this kind of use, but on the downside, the codec is not a “standard Windows” codec that can be used by other players such as Windows Media Player or VLC. This is a big problem when publishing the videos on a website, as it requires users to download and install proprietary software on their machine to play it. That is not a reasonable expectation for end users.

The videos can be converted to other formats, and the instructions for doing so are nicely documented here:

Some things to note – because it does feel like some of those steps are a bit clunky – is the following:

  • You really do have to copy the encoder, codec and video file to the root C: drive. It simply does not work in a sub-directory.
  • You really cannot see the progress. The conversion runs in the background, and the only way to know it is finished is to check when g2mtranscoder is finished running in the background.
  • The converted file is copied over the top of your original file, so make sure you are always dealing with a copy. The timestamp of the file will change when this happens, so that is a potential indicator that the process has finished.
  • Conversion time: for an hour-long video could take hours, or could take 30 seconds. I have seen the full range and have no idea what makes them so different. Perhaps there are different internal formats, some of which take a lot of effort for the machine to convert.
  • Remove all spaces from the file name. You would think you could just put the file name in quotes, but that simply does not work.
  • Sometimes the conversion does not work, so just check the log file to see why. Haha! What am I thinking? This process has been designed to be as hard to run as possible, so the proprietary software can be installed on as many machines as possible. When that kind of thing appears to be happening, I start to question what else that software does once installed.
  • Finally – and this one gets me every time – since the process is messing around with files on the C: root folder, it needs administration privileges. So make sure you run the command prompt “As Administrator”. This can’t be stressed enough. You get no errors, no warnings – simply an unconverted file.
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