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How to import WMV videos into Final Cut Pro

Final Cut doesn't accept video files encoded into WMV. Fortunately, I've found a simple way to turn WMV into MP4, which Final Cut will happily import. Read on to learn how.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

I was recently putting together a small video. All was going well until I tried importing a vendor-supplied asset into Final Cut Pro. As it turns out, Final Cut doesn't support WMV-formatted video files.

What is WMV?

WMV stands for Windows Media Video, which is a Windows media format, as you might imagine from the name. It's a Windows-centric video codec that's roughly competitive to MPEG-4, but it's managed within Microsoft's Advanced Systems Format media container format.

Since it's a format produced by Windows Movie Maker and Vegas Video, among others, WMV files tend to be created by lower-end video production apps. Unfortunately, since Final Cut is tightly integrated into the Apple ecosystem, it doesn't support WMV.

Introducing HandBrake

To be able to use a WMV file inside Final Cut, it needs to be converted to another format. The easiest is the aforementioned MPEG-4. To do that, we need a program capable of converting one video format to another. For that, we turn to HandBrake.


HandBrake icon

HandBrake is an open source application that runs on Linux, MacOS, and Windows. It converts a wide range of formats to MP4, MKV, or WebM. It also lets you crop and resize your video and supports a wide range of powerful tweaks that enable you to tune your video quality. However, be aware that those tweaks get increasingly technically arcane the more you dive into the product.

As for why it's called HandBrake, I haven't found a good answer. And, as for why the product icon is a cocktail with a pineapple (and yet, it's called HandBrake), I also haven't found a good answer. There is a cocktail called a Devil's Handbrake, but it looks nothing like the icon. It's just so random! If anyone knows the answers to these burning questions, please feel free to post in the comments below.

We're going to use HandBrake to convert our WMV file to MP4.

Converting WMV to MP4

Once you download and install HandBrake, go ahead and launch it. For a simple format conversion, the process is very straightforward.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot
  1. Open the file you want to convert
  2. Pick a preset format (I tend to use 1080p at 30fps for almost everything)
  3. Pick an output format (MP4, because that's why we're doing this), and
  4. Press Start

The conversion speed depends on how powerful your machine is. I used a M1 MacBook Air, and it took all of about five minutes.

And then, you're done. The resulting MP4 should import perfectly into Final Cut.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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