Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Working with Video Just Got Easier...

I was catching up on my reading and ran across an article in MacWorld I know many of you would be interested in. For those of you that have tried extracting video from a website like YouTube, or use video from the Flip or Aiptek cameras in iMovie...have I got a deal for you! Sounds too good to be true, huh? After all, I have sat with many of you working for hours to get one stupid little video off the web and into a format we can use on our ipods or in a video editing program. Well, here are two free items that will allow you to get what you want.

The first is an extension for Firefox called Video DownloadHelper which installs a little tool to the left of your Firefox address box. When you are on a site with a video, you simply click this little tool and it downloads the video into a flash format (.flv)

Now, if you are a PC user, there are all kinds of free tools that will let you convert that .flv file into a format that is editable (like .wmv, .avi or .mov). However, if you are a Mac user, this is the first program I have found that will QUICKLY & EASILY & FREELY convert that .flv file into something editable.

QTAmateur is a small program you install onto your Mac. You can open the .flv file in it and export it out as practically any file format you want! I think I saw over 20 different choices!

I tried a little experiment to see how easy it would be to install both applications and capture one video clip (3 minutes in length) off of YouTube, then convert it to a format that would work with my ipod. I also imported the finished video clip into iMovie just for fun. It took me less than 10 minutes from start to finish. If you are using a lot of videos in your teaching and want to extract them off the web, archive them for future use, or store them on your video ipod...you MUST HAVE THESE TOOLS! I would be happy to help you if you run into a snag.

If you try one or both of these, comment on your experience; tell us how easy/hard it was for you, any hurdles, or any other information you think is important for folks to know.