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HandBrake is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs.” At UW Extended Campus, we use it as tool to fix an array of video incompatibility issues.

Download and Install

To download and install…

  1. Go to https://handbrake.fr/
  2. Click the red download button on the homepage
  3. Save and open DMG file
  4. Follow install steps and instructions
  5. After a successful install it should show up in your applications folder

Compatibility Issues

Video Coding Format

A common issue is receiving a video file that cannot be natively played on a Mac operating system or cannot be read by Premiere Pro, After Effects, or Media Encoder. This stems from incompatiable or support for certain coding formats, codecs, and containers. For the purposes of this resource page, we will overly simplify all of these. For a deeper dive and understanding, check out this video: Video Formats, Codecs and Containers (Explained)

Common Culprits

There are some common video “types” that will cause you issues.

  • .wmv
  • .avi
  • .mkv
  • .mpg or .mpeg
  • .trec

If you encounter any of these you’ll want to use HandBrake to encode your video to something that is Mac/Adobe friendly.

Variable Frame Rate

A variable frame rate is just what the name implies. The frame rate of a video fluctuates throughout it. Variable frame rates can cause many playback issues, but most commonly it can create audio/video sync issues. For this reason, all variable frame rate videos must be encoded to a constant frame rate and thankfully HandBrake can do this easily. If your video does not have one of the frame rates below than its safe to assume it has a variable frame rate.

Constant Frame Rates

  • 23.976 fps or 24 fps
  • 29.97 fps or 30 fps
  • 59.96 fps or 60 fps

When and How to Check Frame Rate

When and how do you check the frame rate of your video though?

  1. If the video file is from an outside source or created by software who’s main purpose is not video editing or encoding (Ex: PowerPoint) than you need to check.
  2. You can check the frame rate by opening it in HandBrake and looking at your video’s source information. We’ll cover this below in a walkthrough of how to use HandBrake.

Using HandBrake

These instructions cover the very basic need to know steps for using HandBrake for UW Extended Campus projects. If you’d like to know more there are many free resources available via Google or YouTube.

Selecting Your Source

  1. Open HandBrake
  2. Click Open Source in the upper left corner of the application window
  3. Navitate to your video file and click Open

Assess Video Source Information

Once your video is loaded you should see its source information right below the the open source button. The two pieces of information you need to pay attention to are the resolution and frame rate.

Encode Settings

Now its time to set up your encode.

  1. Go to the Preset dropdown
  2. Select one of the “Fast” settings. Pick the resolution that most closely matches your source video and always round down

  1. Next go to the Video tab
  2. Click Constant Framerate
  3. Select the closest matching frame rate from the Framerate fps dropdown menu


Finally, select an output location for your video by selecting the Browse button at the bottom of the applicaiton window and then click Start at the top of the application window to begin your encode.

Published on January 25, 2021 at 1:19:18 pm CST. Last modified on January 26, 2021 at 8:50:11 am CST.