Wii Motion JPEG

Did you know that the Nintendo Wii can play user videos? I didn’t, but the Wii can apparently play videos through a user’s SD card. I also didn’t know what format they have to be converted into in order to be played back — Motion JPEG.

Nintendo Wii

There is a Windows program based on — what else? — FFmpeg called Wii Video 9 that handily converts anything into the accepted multimedia format. From the Sony PlayStation 3 and PSP to the Apple iPod and now the Nintendo Wii, the trend is for consumer electronics devices to be able to play user videos. But they usually support more advanced formats like MPEG-4 and H.264. I’m guessing that part of the Wii’s comparably low price is directly attributable to lower multimedia technology licensing costs.

I don’t know why I find it so humorous to read the Wii Video 9 forum posts, such as “Why are the converted files so HUGE?” I think we all need to respect that the deeper aspects of multimedia technology are not second nature to the general populace. One day, this stuff may truly be transparent and ubiquitous. Until then, Monsieur Scandragon has a point when he rants, “It doesn’t matter how bad it is at playing compressed video.. 10 seconds at BAD quality should NEVER be 25MB!!”

I have been too lazy to try the program myself. I wonder if it’s normal MJPEG data, or if it is unescaped data like that seen in the THP format common on the Nintendo GameCube. I also wonder about the audio format. Presumably, if they were too cheap to license MPEG-4 or H.264 video codecs, they’re not going to license MP3 or AAC either. I am guessing either straight PCM or their own custom ADPCM format.

5 thoughts on “Wii Motion JPEG

  1. Bobby

    Actually, IIRC it plays MJPEG in AVI/MOV with MP3 audio. Can’t find the manual right now, but it said somewhere in there the formats it’ll play.

  2. Ian Farquhar

    In defense of Nintendo, it might not have been cheapness which mandated this decision. The Wii approach was to minimize the console cost, and focus on the development of broadly appealing games for markets where the other two players had very little penetration. Paying the MPEGLA a huge royalty payment for a feature few people would have used doesn’t make sense.

    Having spent the last month looking deeply into the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray fiasco, and the amazing number of patents involved which should NEVER have passed the obviousness test, I can really understand any company not wanting to dip their toes in that mess.

  3. RC

    If it’s just a matter of license fees, why not use MPEG-1? Certainly a big improvement over MJPEG in every way.

  4. Multimedia Mike Post author

    You would have to ask Nintendo. But I doubt they explain their engineering decisions with the public.

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