Audacity fails to import mp4

Ever tried to edit sound using Audacity? Did you see the random error that just pops up for some video files? While you could listen the sound from Video, Audacity simply rejects the file from opening? If you are nodding head for most of these questions, you have experienced the same moment that I have been through recently.

Audacity import file failure
Arggghhh… (Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash)

As already explained in my prior article, I have been using OBS Studio for screen and audio recording. And most importantly everything is captured in the raw state, no video filters, no audio enhancements – everything in plain raw format. Well, it is true that the output size is unusually large. This gives me the advantage to process the video and audio contents using specialized software(s).

Workflow

Due to the unavailability of some softwares on Ubuntu, I had to switch back to Windows. It gave me an edge to experiment few effects which are easily available for Windows And Mac. Naturally, I had to reinstall everything fresh – OBS Studio, Blender, Audacity etc.

I had a repository of few recorded videos which needed editing and hence I thought to begin with my workflow

  1. Open video in Audacity and tune sound.
  2. Use Blender to merge audio and video.
  3. Edit unwanted portions in Video.
  4. Add background music, intro slides etc.
  5. Render the Video with HD quality settings.
  6. Use special softwares for Professional editing.
  7. Render Video again.
  8. Use Handbrake to compress the file and retain HD settings.

Roadblock – Audacity fail

The workflow is pretty simple and with the fresh environment, I started with the first step. And here comes the bang!!! Audacity simply denied opening the file. It out-rightly rejected and kept annoying me that it can’t do the usual job.

Import Video failed in Audacity
Import Video failed in Audacity

This was quite frustrating, I never faced this issue on Ubuntu and suddenly what happened on Windows. I tried restarting OS, uninstalled audacity, installed codecs and nothing seems to work.

I was losing the time and with every second the pressure was just mounting on me.

I am running on some tight schedule and this video needs to be published somehow. Audacity continued to mock me and with its poker face, it started getting on my nerves.

Abracadabra

Well it was time to prove who gives up. I used my tricks of doing Google search, going through the forums, searching through YouTube videos and finally. I found the solution – it was pretty simple.

Due to licensing issues, Audacity doesn’t bundle some of the softwares and one amongst them is FFmpeg.

For those who are not aware of FFmpeg, it is a super duper popular, life saver, multimedia framework.

Yeah, FFmpeg is literally that great, believe me, it has saved countless hours of many living souls and some aliens too.

No Magic

Aha, nothing magical, the answer for this error actually lies in Audacity itself. Open Audacity, go to Edit > Preferences > Libraries. You will see some suggestions to download libraries. One of them is FFmpeg. Click the download button and you will be redirected to an HTML page.

I told you answer is in Audacity :)
I told you answer is in Audacity 🙂

Follow the instructions for your operating system and install FFmpeg distribution. Once the installation is complete, simply restart Audacity and VOILA!!! You should now be able to import a majority of the formats into Audacity.

And yeah, here is my Happy Audacity screen with Audio waves

Audacity file import
Audacity file import
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