Pain and suffering and ffmpeg

All I wanted to do was to transcode real media files from MIT OCW to iPod compatible mp4 on Linux. It shouldn’t have been this difficult. As of now, I still don’t have a satisfactory solution.

Problem 1: mplayer / mencoder read and play the stream correctly, but the mp4 files they produce when transcoding don’t work on the iPod. In particular, they’re not readable by any utilities I have such as Easytag and Amarok.

Problem 2: ffmpeg can’t read rv30 files, so won’t encode them. One possibility is to use mencoder to encode to something mutually acceptable, but that involves transcoding twice which is far below ideal.

As of now, I’ve found some of the videos I want to watch on Google Video, but that’s not a guaranteed solution. Uploading them to Google Video just to download them again is also a non-starter.

Anyone have any ideas?