Movie/Cutscenes Questions

Why can't FS2_Open play the cutscenes from the CDs?

Due to licensing restrictions the code for playing the MVE format was removed from the FS2 source code before it was released to the general public. Code was eventually added back in to play MVE movies but if you're using FS2_Open 3.6.7 or earlier you won't be able to play them. Of course you can always upgrade to a more recent build but if you're reading this before an official build is released or if new builds won't work for you there are ways around the problem.

The lack of MVE code forced the SCP to add code to play other formats. As a result of this FS2_Open will play movies in pretty much any format you have the appropriate codec for. The big problem is getting hold of the FS2 cutscenes in a format other than MVE.

You have two choices. You can either download them or you can make them yourself. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

How can I download the FreeSpace cutscenes?

There are a few places you can get the cutscenes. Many thanks to DW-Hunter for hosting these.
FS1 Cutscenes, (mirror), (mirror)
FS2 Cutscenes, (mirror), (mirror)
Kosh has a backup of the FS1 cutscenes available from here
(NB: The FS1 intro has been renamed. It should be intro.avi same as the FS2 intro. If you're using the FS1 port you should drop the file into it's folder and rename it to make sure you see the FS1 intro instead of the FS2 one). The other movies do not overwrite FS2 movies which means that although the best place for them is also in the FS1 port mod folder they will run from \Freespace2 without problem too..
You can also get the movies on one of the FTPs mentioned on this thread. The FTPs tend to be very busy though so you should try the other links first.
The movies are in the XVid format for FS2 and a combination of Divx and XVid for FS1 so you'll need the codecs if you want to play the movies (The XVid codecs will play both and problems have been reported with the latest Divx one so stick to XVid for now).
Remember that if you have the FS2 disks you can simply choose to copy the

What about Silent Threat? Silent Threat didn't have any cutscenes for the campaign. It did ship with some movies buried in directory a few levels down however. You can also find those here, (mirror)

Where do I install the movies?

FS2_Open can read the movies anywhere in it's usual search path. Popular choices are in the main Freespace2 folder, in freespace2/Data or in a specially created Freespace2/Data/Movies folder.

Remember that if you have the FS2 disks you can simply choose to copy the MVE files to those locations instead so you don't need to download the movies just to avoid having to use the CDs. The avi versions are smaller though.

How do I convert the FS2 Cutscenes?

Converting the MVEs yourself is a more complicated task but if you're on dial up it's probably a better prospect than trying to download over 100MB of movies.
There is one big problem with converting the movies yourself. The program that converts MVEs creates huge files which must then be compressed. You'll need a gigabyte or 2 of space free to convert the smaller files. When I first tried to convert the FS2 intro however I ended up with a file over 4GB in size and then got told that the FAT32 partition I was using couldn't handle files that large. I only managed to convert the file by switching to an NTFS partition on another drive.
If you don't know what that means open up My Computer, right click on the drive you want to make the movies on and choose properties. If it says Filesystem : FAT 32 you may have problems converting the intro (although you should be able to convert the rest)

The first thing you'll need is a copy of MVE2AVI. You can download this from here. MVE2AVI creates uncompressed avi files (Which are HUGE as I said before) so you'll probably want to convert the resulting movie into a more useful format. The program I've chosen to use is Virtual Dub as it a widely known program and it is freeware. If you are more familiar with another program feel free to stop reading once the uncompressed avi has been produced and convert it to a more useful format yourself.

Once you have downloaded MVE2AVI and extracted it open a Command Prompt and cd to the directory in which you extracted the program. You may wish to copy the MVEs into the this folder or you can simply enter a full path to them. The MVE2AVI converter only uses two options you need to care about. The Input and output files (and the second one is optional!). Simply type in fsp [InputFile.mve] [OutputFile.avi] and sit back and wait while the file is converted (If you've never played FS2 turn the sound down so that the plot isn't ruined for you).
I've chosen to use the intro for this example but I'd recommend starting with Bastion or Endpart2a or b as they are the smallest ones.

Now you have the uncompressed AVI open it up in Virtual Dub. From the video menu choose compression. A list of the codecs you have will appear. Choose one like DIVX or XVid. You may want to play about with the codec's settings. Then choose Audio > Full processing mode and then Audio > Compression. Again pick a codec and play about with the settings. Finally choose File > Save As Avi. Sit back again and let Virtual Dub work. Once it's finished look at the resulting avi. If your happy with the quality and file size then you're done and can move on to the next cutscene.