Sunday, September 10, 2006

Great Video Tools for Mac Users

I've discovered a few handy video tools. For those of you who don't already know, I have a lot of video tools and so it's rare that I find new ones that have additional or otherwise remarkable features. I was wanting to save Youtube videos to my hard drive in a format that I could then replay locally. I found this clever app called PodTube. It will capture the Youtube video that was just displayed in the front-most Safari window. Most of the time, it will even convert it to something that my mac can play - MPEG4 with AAC audio (intended for iPod users). I've found a few YouTube vids (some South Park ones) that PodTube captures as Flash videos (.flv).

Next, I needed to view the .flv files. I tried the craptacular app called flv_viewer, and it did nothing. Instead, I strongly recommend getting iSquint. This is an easy-to-use video format converter that's free! I've now used it several times, and it works as advertised. While, I'll still use QT Pro for advanced video conversions, this little app is perfect for quick jobs. Plus, it will convert Flash (.flv) to other formats - and QT Pro won't do that.

The best part is ... the guys who developed iSquint have a great sense of humor. Clicking on the "Advanced" button brings up an interstitial dialog that's clever and funny. Also, the "Help" menu is very original. I'm seriously considering buying their other product: VisualHub. I've looked at the manual, and will test the trial version later today (trials are limited to very very short vids). VisualHub's manual shows the same humor and creativity as the iSquint GUI.

Another cool tool from the same people who brought you PodTube, is iGetMovies. This little gem captures Quicktime and Flash videos that you just finished viewing, and which are save-protected. So even my Quicktime Pro is unable to save the video to my hard drive. With this wonderful thing, now I can save them for repeat enjoyment without having to be connected to the Internet. An example: some videos on Atomfilms (most of theirs are RealPlayer or WMP though) and some media sites like CNN or others.

On the sad side: during my testing, I decided to compare iSquint to ffmpegX, which will also convert from Flash to other formats. My old version (0.0.9u) worked fine, and then I succumbed to the temptation to upgrade to the latest version (0.0.9w) and that failed, then the previous version failed, then removing the latest version and reinstalling the older version also resulted in no output. hmmmmm Good thing I found a new video conversion tool!

For you Windows users, the popular blog LifeHacker recommends using iTube for doing what PodTube does - capturing YouTube videos.

UPDATE: I just did a simple test. I tried to convert a 39 second mpeg4 video (AAC audio) at 320x240 into DivX using VisualHub trial download. It's been running for more than 30 minutes and there's no sign of progress. Meanwhile, I just did that same conversion using Quicktime Pro in less than 2 minutes (total time, including setting the options). hmmm I need to test VisualHub more. I may also checkout their user forum for more info.

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