Many moons ago I blogged about a video converter called Evom. I loved it (still do) for its simplicity and for its unique features. I’ve found something similar for the PC. It’s been available for a while, but a new version (3.0) has just been released that gets close to Evom for the PC. It’s called Miro Video Converter and to use it you simply drag your video file into the window, select what device you want to convert for, and then click the convert button at the bottom of the window. There are tons of choices to convert files to. All of the latest Apple devices are listed, as well as Android devices and even the Kindle Fire. It also allows the conversion to “open” format file types such as Ogg Theora (video) and Ogg Vorbis (audio). There’s even the choice of WebM for those of you still holding out hope for that format to catch on. Though my advice to you would be to exhale.
Now my favorite feature from Evom was that you are able to drag a YouTube URL from a web browser window into Evom and it would begin downloading and convert your video. That feature works much less consistently now, if at all. So I still use Firefox and the Video Download Helper plugin to download YouTube videos. Once they are on my machine I can then use Evom to convert them to an audio MP3 file. I’m happy to report that the MP3 conversion feature works in Miro Video Converter too, though quite a bit slower than Evom. But hey, these are free programs we’re talking about.
So Miro is also available for the Mac, but I prefer Evom, for most of what I do. Mostly because it is faster. However there is one other intriguing feature that Miro has. It can convert into what are known as “ingestion” formats, such as ProRes (what Final Cut Pro X likes), AVC Intra, and DNxHD. What this means in theory is that you could convert videos into formats that are recognized natively in video editing software. How this would work in practice remains to be seen. But it’s interesting to see those options.
I have several students every semester ask how they can get the audio from a YouTube clip into their projects, and now I have a program that I can recommend for PC users.
Often times the most innocent questions spawn a great deal of research for me. For example, I was asked recently what was the best way to download a youtube video to use in a project. It’s a pretty easy question to answer from a technical standpoint. I’ll answer it as part of this post. However, the question allows me to revisit a topic near and dear to us in the Teaching and Learning Technologies division. The idea of repurposing and transforming existing media to tell digital stories.
I’ve gone down this path before after a comment on a previous post led me to look into YouTube’s terms of service. The question is about the breaking of the terms of service for YouTube videos. A few things have changed about the YouTube service in the last three years since, but what has remained constant is the fact that the technology behind watching videos at their site is still “progressive download” and there is a whole raft of tools dedicated to exploit that fact.
So first the tools, because that is probably the most likely reason that you would be reading this. Let me first say that there is some secret sauce in YouTube’s implementation of progressive download technology. I believe it has to do with balancing the idea of using a technology that provides the best experience, but uses a few tricks to hide the video file that is downloaded to your computer.
My favorite and most consistent tool over the last few years is the Video DownloadHelper plugin for Firefox. The big advantage with this method is that, in my experience, it works the most consistently with the most number of videos available on YouTube. Relatively recently, YouTube has moved away from Flash format video and toward MPEG-4 video. The reason being that iOS devices don’t support Flash and the push of HTML5 compatible formats has pushed h.264 technology to the forefront. Video DownloadHelper will allow you to see both the FLV and the MP4 format files for a given video. The downside to this method is that Firefox might not be your browser of preference, and there is the plugin that needs to be installed. It isn’t terribly difficult to set up, but I do recognize that I only use Firefox when I want to grab a YouTube video.
Another tool that I have used for acquiring YouTube videos is MPEG Streamclip. While MPEG Steamclip’s raison d’être is to edit MPEG video, it has a built-in YouTube downloader that allows you to immediately begin to trim a video down to what you need for your project. It’s downside is that it doesn’t always allow you to get the video you want. It will display a “File open error”.
This would have been the space where I talked about a cool new tool called Adapter. It HAD a built-in web browser that allowed you to surf to your video and then would queue it up to start the download. Well, the latest Flash download (11.4) broke this program’s functionality to such an extent (it only would download videos that were 720p and 1080p mp4s), that they have pulled that feature indefinitely. A nice screencast would have gone here.
So what of the ethics of downloading YouTube videos? Well, the caution is that most of the videos on YouTube have full “all rights reserved” copyrights. You can’t obtain YouTube videos and do with them as you wish. There is a Creative Commons (CC) licensing system, but it’s rare that the average uploader takes advantage of this. What has changed over the last few years is that you can select CC licenses as your default copyrighting choice when you put a video up on YouTube.
The paradox is that YouTube’s terms of service states that “unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content”, you aren’t allowed to download. However, the technology is based on the browser technology downloading the given video every single time. It is part of the definition of “progressive download”. Now in browsers such as Google’s Chrome, and Apple’s Safari, the secret temporary storage is quite well hidden. With Firefox though, it can be proven that the video is saved in a cache folder and therefore the user is breaking the terms of service every time by watching the video.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Flickr photo by ShellyS
Welcome to the new school year. I’m still shaking my head about where the summer went. I’m also still grinding gears from vacation last week, but despite those issues, I’m very excited about 2010/11 at UMW. While perusing my RSS feed today, Lifehacker reminded me about Evom, a Mac only (sorry) video converter that is super slick and easy. If it were on the PC it could be the one program I would recommend to do a myriad of tasks.
Evom comes from a company called Little App Factory, makers of the Mac DVD ripping software RipIt! I don’t know where the name Evom came from, but the program works great. It converts many types of videos, and uses the ffmpeg engine to perform its magic. The beauty of the program is the ease in which it gets video into the right configuration for Apple devices. You drag a file from your hard drive into the interface and you get asked which device you want to prepare the file for.
Choosing the iTunes or iPod buttons gives you the option convert the video, or to ditch the video and just save as an MP3 audio file, so it’s handy for ripping audio from video files. You can also prepare videos for an Apple TV (and therefore iPad), or for uploading to YouTube. It’ll even take care of the uploading part (supply your YouTube credentials). You also have the option to simply save the file to a folder anywhere on your computer.
OK. So lots of converters do similar things to Evom. Big deal. Well, for me the big deal is that it can also convert videos that are ON YouTube. If you’re using Safari or Firefox, simply drag the YouTube link from the address bar to the Evom window, and then choose your destination. The downloading and conversion can take a while, depending on connection speed, length of the video, etc., but it all happens in the background. So it’s YouTube to iPod, or iPhone, or iPad, or Apple TV, or to PowerPoint or Keynote, in minimal steps.
One wrench in the works, and it’s not Evom’s fault, is that the Google Chrome browser doesn’t allow the dragging of links into the Evom window. I don’t know what prevents this, but there’s a simple solution. Simply copy the link, with a Command-c shortcut, or by clicking the Edit menu and Copy, then paste the link into Evom (use Command-p or choose Edit>Paste in Evom). Since Google Chrome still does not have a YouTube downloader extension, this is a great solution for grabbing those videos.
One final word about Evom. It’s free!
Standard disclaimer about grabbing YouTube videos or ripping audio from files. Remember there are copyright issues.
An experiMENTAL page
A YouTube video
A Blip video made for iPhone
A Photoshop.com slideshow
A Jing Screencast
A Picasa Slideshow
Apple’s iMovie HD (version 6) is the venerable video editor that users were so fond of that Apple offered it as a download after releasing iMovie ’08, which was not well received. The current version is iMovie ’09, which is included with all new Macintosh computer purchases or available separately in the iLife suite. iMovie HD is no longer available for download. If you still have iMovie HD available to you, it is a very capable editor and one to consider before you upgrade to something like Final Cut Express.
The video above is the introductory video from a playlist that you can use as a guide for how to accomplish basic tasks in iMovie HD. Each video will play in turn (with a slight delay between videos). You can view an alternative version of the playlist that allows slightly easier navigation of individual videos.
Do a search for “download youtube videos” and the results you get will offer up countless websites with instructions, services, tools, and videos dedicated to the subject. You would think that it was popular to download videos from the YouTube site, and you would be right. I’ve written numerous times on the subject of YouTube, outlining the benefits, but mostly I point out what a valuable resource the site is. Want to find a clip from a popular movie? Consult YouTube. Want to view that obscure music video from the 80’s? Consult YouTube. Want to watch your state’s governor deliver the latest information that will affect you? Consult YouTube.
Over the past year and a half I have written a few times on how to take YouTube videos and incorporate them into PowerPoint presentations (here, here, and here). Two of those methods involve downloading the videos and converting them to video formats that PowerPoint will recognize. One of them involves using the YouTube video live in the presentation. I received a comment on my post on Embedding YouTube in PowerPoint 2007 from “John” that was just a republishing of a section of YouTube’s Terms of Service:
5. Your Use of Content on the Site
In addition to the general restrictions above, the following restrictions and conditions apply specifically to your use of content on the YouTube Website.
- The content on the YouTube Website, except all User Submissions (as defined below), including without limitation, the text, software, scripts, graphics, photos, sounds, music, videos, interactive features and the like (“Content”) and the trademarks, service marks and logos contained therein (“Marks”), are owned by or licensed to YouTube, subject to copyright and other intellectual property rights under the law. Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only and may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, or otherwise exploited for any other purposes whatsoever without the prior written consent of the respective owners. YouTube reserves all rights not expressly granted in and to the Website and the Content.
- You may access User Submissions for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the YouTube Website. You shall not copy or download any User Submission unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the YouTube Website for that User Submission.
I don’t know whether anonymous John was trying to be helpful, or snotty, but there are several points I want to make about YouTube downloads. First, EVERY TIME you watch a video at YouTube’s site, or even embedded on another site, you are downloading it to your computer! You have no choice. You are not streaming it, you are using a technology known as Progressive download. Here’s proof (screencast “YouTube Video and Progressive Download“) Now if I download a video, then republish it in a PowerPoint video, then OK, you got me. However, if I’m sharing that presentation with students for their further enlightenment, then I have the start of an argument for Fair Use. Then depending on what content it is and how much, I hope to make my argument stronger. John posted his comment on the post that described the ability to embed a live video into PowerPoint, so if there is no live Internet connection, no video appears in the presentation. It is no different than embedding a video on another web page. It makes for a more seamless way of doing a presentation with web video, as opposed to switching out of Powerpoint and opening a web browser, then switching back to PowerPoint and continuing the presentation. Sorry John, the Terms of Service don’t apply here, or at best, it’s extremely muddy.
Which gets me to my next point. YouTube needs to rethink their download terms. Let me reiterate that the technology that YouTube uses to show videos breaks their own Terms of Service. They have begun to allow certain organizations the ability to offer “official” downloads and provide a download button. In an article from February, YouTube announced that they were exploring ways to offer videos offline. They were testing “testing free downloads of YouTube videos from Stanford, Duke, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCTV“. An example is “The Role of Creativity at Stanford“, a video from Stanford University that has a button to allow you to download an MPEG4 version of the video. YouTube is even experimenting with Creative Commons licenses, but I can’t see yet where an average YouTube member can implement these licenses. It is only open to approved partners, and the partners program isn’t a program you gain instant access to. YouTube is moving way too slowly for the average producer, and seem to bend over backwards to appease media companies with their shoot first, ask questions later take-down policy.
YouTube needs to catch up with Flickr in offering a streamlined way of licensing through Creative Commons. Instead, I see the monitization train coming on full speed ahead. Here’s an example of one of those partners participating in a test of revenue generation by offering downloads of their video, for $0.99. Copyright infringement is still rampant on YouTube, but I argue that it is good for the most part. If people are watching all ten parts of The Wedding Singer on YouTube, then more power to them. If they are using a program to download the videos and stitch them together again and burn them to DVD, then hire them as a New Media Specialist. Either way they are never going to make a good customer for purchasing the original DVD anyway. Now there are legitimate reasons to take down videos from sources that are already putting their content out on the web for free such as Comedy Central. They want the advertising revenue for their site, that makes sense, but come up with new models for other types of content. A good start is a link to the iTunes store for those obscure 80’s music videos.
Now I’m not saying that YouTube is doomed to fail (they’re obviously wildly sucessful), but they need to take a more balanced approach. YouTube is doing some good things with their YouTube EDU and non-profit sections. Now it’s time to make it easier to get the content out into the hands of the people who can make a difference, change things for the better, and do what the pioneers in this industry did in the first place – build on other people’s work. A little download help, please?!?
YouTube is a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. It’s been around since mid-February 2005 and most people know it as a place to watch millions of silly videos. However, YouTube is one of hundreds of popular “social” websites which allow you to sign-up and have a “space” that you can call your own. You can watch the videos, mark them as favorites, save them to a playlist, and leave comments (even video comments). You can also subscribe to other users and get notified when their new videos appear on YouTube.
The video above shows an example of how you can embed a video in a web page. YouTube provides the code that you need to publish a video, but it still is hosted on YouTube’s servers so you don’t have to worry about providing your own space to host video. They even provide customization for how your video is presented on a web page.
Watching videos is only the beginning. You can also be a video producer, and YouTube can be your screening room. Their motto is “Broadcast Yourself” and there is a whole host of resources that can help with the entire process, from shooting your video all the way to promoting it on YouTube.
So if you haven’t already go watch some videos at YouTube. Then sign-up for an account if you want to participate. The UMW New Media Center has several articles where we talk more about YouTube. We especially recommend that you start with “Making Movies for YouTube“. Also, Columbia University has an In-depth Look at YouTube that is quite good and filled with valuable information. If you have any questions feel free to contact us.
del.icio.us links for YouTube
Here’s a neat trick to use next time you want to show a YouTube video in class, or in your home theater (h/t to WebWare). You need to have the Firefox web browser and an add-on/plugin called YouTube Cinema. So you can go from this:
You can still view a given YouTube video in a normal fashion (with all the distracting images and adverts) by either clicking a button in the lower right corner labeled “Go To Site”, or you can hold down the Ctrl key while clicking the link to the video, which will prevent YouTube Cinema from kicking in. Then if you want to watch in cinema mode, right-click somewhere on the page and choose “Play in Cinema” from the menu. You can also play around with the background color used to display the film. By default it uses a dark-green color. I personally would go with black. It doesn’t appear to be an instant change, but will take effect on the next viewing.
YouTube may start to include a similar feature in all of it’s videos. It already has a “turn down the lights” button on some videos, including the Star Trek Original Series videos (for example). Also, it doesn’t appear to work with High Definition videos, and it also doesn’t work on videos where embedding has been disabled. You can display videos using the high quality setting and you can even make the video slightly larger than the normal size. It also will work with a playlist of videos, so you could conceivably watch an entire movie that has been broken up into parts and uploaded to YouTube – not that such things exist. Popcorn anyone?
YouTube Contest Challenges Users To Make A 'Good' Video Sarcasm notwithstanding, the sentiment in the above video is held by many people – “YouTube is a site of millions of sucky videos.” I have, in the past, argued against that statement here, here, here, and here. Until recently, a valid argument for YouTube’s suckiness would have been that high quality video was not an option. Today, that is no longer an issue and it’s ushering in a whole new incentive to get YouTube into new arenas such as the home theater market, and mobile computing realms. So what new places is YouTube popping up? Would it be a gross overstatement if I said “everywhere”? Without addressing further the argument of there being good and valuable content on YouTube, here is a list of some of the interesting places that YouTube is rearing its far-from-ugly head. New LCD and plasma panels – Manufacturers are starting to experiment with the idea of networked flat panel TVs. YouTube is one of the services included in Panasonic’s Viera Cast TV, and Sony’s Bravia Internet Video Link Module, an add-on that attaches to Sony’s Bravia televisions. Streaming Media set-top boxes – These devices are connected to the Internet, either through WiFi or wired Ethernet. Apple TV was one of the first to offer YouTube as an option for video content, in addition to playing movies, music, photos and podcasts from your iTunes library. Vudu is a set-top box for movies on-demand and adds YouTube access. Netgear, makers of networking hardware, is dipping its toe into the YouTube pool, and Tivo looks to have a pretty robust implementation as well. Update: Add a Kodak box to the list. iPhone – Though Apple is now boasting that it has had over 500 million apps downloaded and 15,000 apps are available in the iTunes store, there is a built-in You Tube application for the iPhone. It connects directly to YouTube and plays the h.264 versions of the videos. The quality and the experience is first rate, unless you’re trying to access it over the slower EDGE network, then the fun subsides quite quickly. Oh, and Windows Mobile (ick!) has a YouTube Player too. Computer (well duh?) – I know, you can go to youtube.com and access the videos, but the popular Miro software will search and play YouTube videos, in addition to managing video podcast feeds. DVD players and game consoles – Soon, in addition to watching your Blu-ray movies and Netflix Watch Now content, owners of the new line of LG networked Blu-ray players will also be able to connect to the YouTube service. Also, recently announced was the addition of YouTube interfaces for Sony’s PS3 and the Nintendo Wii. PowerPoint – I’ve talked about this before, but just in case you don’t know, it is fairly simple to Embed YouTube videos in PowerPoint. SlideShare presentations – Speaking of PowerPoint, the great SlideShare service now offers the ability to insert YouTube videos in between the slides in the online version of your presentation. Plugins for WordPress – Again not anything new, but a reminder that there are easy plug-ins available for the WordPress blogging (excuse me, web publishing) platform to embed your YouTube videos into posts. Anarchy and Viper’s Video Quicktags are two examples. There is also a built-in YouTube Plugin for Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer, which I still use (and am using now) to write my blogs posts, even though the WordPress interface is much improved with version 2.7. Now that’s a lot of places to put your lame videos!
One day, all of the people on the Internet will have an unlimited area to store all the digital media files they could ever want. Storage space is getting cheaper and digital files are getting smaller with the use of better compression techniques. What do people do now though? Let me give you a couple of situations where the storage dilemma rears its ugly head. Here at the University of Mary Washington, we’re moving to a hosted Blackboard solution, and the dilemma is that there will now be a smaller storage area (100MB quota) for files associated with a given course. For some faculty that could mean three, two, or even one PowerPoint presentation.
The other situation is our umwblogs.org installation also has a 100MB limit (though we do have some control over that limit). Where will users store their video and audio content? Privacy is also a concern for these files. How do we keep the control over who sees a PowerPoint presentation? YouTube is a great place to store video, but can those videos be made private? This article will provide those answers and more. Luckily, those answers involve using very cheap web services (as in free).
Make your files smaller
No matter where you store your files, you will want to make them as small as possible. When it comes to PowerPoint, keeping the presentation simple will make for smaller file sizes. However, if you use pictures, your presentations can balloon in size. So here is a way to make the pictures in your presentation smaller.
- How to compress photos in a PowerPoint presentation (step-by-step instructions)
- The Screencast version (this screencast references a video on how to create a photo album in Powerpoint)
Use “sharing” web sites
An alternative to sharing the PowerPoint files directly with the recipient, either through something like Blackboard, or through email, is to use a sharing site. Slideshare is a service that allows the sharing of PowerPoint presentations. You create an account, then upload your file and it gets converted into a Flash version for presenting on the web. You can present the small version or use the full-screen option. The Flash version does not include the animations or transitions that you use, but there is an option for downloading the original file which will keep those effects in tact. There is also an option for creating a private web address for sharing the file with only selected people. You can upload up to a 100MB file.
If you want to store and share video, we do recommend YouTube. Even though videos can be made private, faculty may be reticent to use it because of YouTube’s free-form nature and the sometimes objectionable content.
If that is an issue, we recommend a service called DivShare. For your video, as well as audio storage needs, DivShare will give you up to 5GB (gigabytes) of space to store your media. Just as a warning, you are allowed only 10GB worth of downloads per month, so you may at some point want to limit who you share your files with. You can make any audio or video files private. They use an un-guessable web address to link to the media. A built-in audio or video player will play the file on the web page. DivShare also supports images, PDF documents, Microsoft Word documents, as well as PowerPoint files. It converts those files to Flash documents as well.
All of the sharing sites we mentioned, YouTube, Slideshare, and DivShare, and others we didn’t mention, all work very well in concert with the umwblogs.org environment (in fact many were created with blogging platforms in mind). UMWBlogs also offers a variety of privacy protections, and it functions in a much superior way to Blackboard in terms of media presentation. You may want to consider using UMWBlogs for a course website.