Saturday, March 18, 2006

saving and transcoding web video

Yesterday I included a link to a South Park episode on YouTube. YouTube uses a Flash-based player video and previously there was no easy way to save your own copy of the stream. Thanks to KeepVid, a new web-based application, now you can.

KeepVid is quite simple to use. Go to KeepVid’s website, enter the URL of the web page with the content you want to save, and KeepVid does the rest. It works with YouTube, iFilm and about 50 other sites that don't offer a download capability.

For iFilm, the videos are in .mov format and can be played easily on your computer. For YouTube, videos are encoded using Flash video format (.flv). Flash was designed for streaming, so desktop players don’t recognize these files. To view .flv video, I recommend installing VLC media player, a cross-platform, cross media application. There are a few rough edges, but it will play in full screen model. Versions are available for the Mac, Windows and Linux. Even better, VLC can transcode (convert) flv to other formats, although the controls for this are designed for advanced users.

The most common reason for transcoding video is for portable devices like the video iPod. For PC users, a fast and simple way to accomplish this task is to use Videora iPod Converter. It doesn’t have the world’s most intuitive UI, but it had no trouble converting South Park Episode 912 to mp4 format. It also handles the more common formats like wmv, avi and mpeg-2.

Videora is Windows only, so Mac users may want to try iSquint. It supports many formats and has been getting great user reviews. It is also free.

Applications mentioned: KeepVid website, VLC media player, Videora iPod Converter for Windows, iSquint for Mac

Bonus link 1: A detailed guide for DVD to iPod conversion using Windows. Wired Magazine also published a similar recipe.
Bonus link 2:
Handbrake Lite, the only software Mac users need to accomplish the same DVD to iPod task


At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are still using IE, for some reason, you can grab most videos after you've finished downloading them from your Temporary Internet Files directory. For YouTube video files you'll have to give them a proper name and tack on the .flv extension (no need to do that with Google Video files). You might also need an FLV player to view the video outside of your browser.

This works for most things that are not true streaming videos (e.g. an ASF video). One exception is if you made the mistake of downloading a newer version of Apple's QuickTime player. They use a different caching mechanism now to try and force people to upgrade to QuickTime Pro to save videos locally. Newer versions also removed other features that used to be in the older free versions like the Movie Properties information. Thanks Apple!

For some reason both Firefox and Opera both make it difficult to pull items from their caches though Opera is slightly easier than Firefox since you don't have to remember any mystical incantations like you do with Firefox ("about:cache" for those that want to know how).

-- Michael Wang

At 9:42 AM, Blogger cole said...

I recently downloaded a song from the web and it came in as an flv file with no video. Is there a way to transcode this to mp3?


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