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I have several similarly-encoded .ts video files that I would like to concatenate and encode into a single .mp4 file.

The .ts files look like

Input #0, mpegts, from 'input1.ts':
  Duration: 00:01:24.14, start: 0.066778, bitrate: 15941 kb/s
  Program 1 
    Stream #0:0[0x44]: Video: h264 (High) ([27][0][0][0] / 0x001B), yuv420p(tv, bt709), 1280x720 [SAR 1:1 DAR 16:9], 59.94 fps, 59.94 tbr, 90k tbn, 119.88 tbc
    Stream #0:1[0x45]: Audio: aac ([15][0][0][0] / 0x000F), 48000 Hz, stereo, fltp, 251 kb/s

The output should be 640x480, 29.97fps video. (The .ts files contain digitized old Hi8 camcorder video, digitized at a much-too-generous bitrate & resolution for the Hi8 video format.)

I can encode a single .ts file like this:

$ ffmpeg -i input1.ts -c:v libx264 -vf scale=640:480 -aspect 4:3 -preset slow -crf 22 -r 29.97 output.mp4

What is the correct way to concatenate several .ts files into a single .mp4 without creating a huge intermediate .ts file?

This ffmpeg documentation presents three concatenation methods: filter, demuxer, and protocol. I think I want the "filter" flavor. However, their example of it is confusing.

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You can just use the protocol

ffmpeg -i "concat:in1.ts|in2.ts|in3.ts" -c:v libx264 -r 30000/1001 -vf scale=640:480 -aspect 4:3 -preset slow -crf 22 output.mp4

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