I can’t be the only one who complains about the plethora of video formats these days. It’s a serious mess. Converting from one format and size to another, Mac or PC, iPhone or iPod, or wherever, is one royal pain. Fortunately, there are solutions. Unfortunately, each solution carries a little pain, too. Here’s one of my trusty solutions.
Video format standards are anything but standard. There must be twenty eleven standards, Mac or Windows. Even video cameras can’t agree on what standard their videos are these days.
Look at all the different place we want to put our videos. Macs. PCs. iPods. iPhones. Television. AppleTV. DVDs, CDs, PSP, TiVo and many more. Then look at all the different video file formats.
There’s DV, AVI, MPEG, MP4, WMV, Flash, DivX, H.264, and a dozen more. I figure I can remember maybe three or four. Five, tops. Could it get any worse?
Yes, Virginia, if there’s a way to confuse and frustrate customers, product makers will find that way and exploit it. DVD videos are huge in size and it takes forever to compress them, reduce them in size to fit on our Macs, iPods, iPhones, and elsewhere.
There’s that nasty conversion process between formats and between sizes, large to small. Meanwhile, the makers of VisualHub put it rather succinctly:
Converting a bunch of AVI files to a DVD shouldn’t require a Computer Science degree. Getting movies from your digital camera to your iPod shouldn’t take hours. Wading through a sea of video formats shouldn’t pull you under.
Without a few good utilities to help, you may need a Master’s degree in Video Formats, Standards, & Conversions just to move a few movies here and there. It’s not pretty.
Among my multitude of video utilities is Visual Hub, a handy little conversion tool that tries to make sense of the crazy formats, and helps to get your video where you want it to go without taking a course in the local community college.
VisualHub bridges the gap between numerous complicated video formatting standards, and people that just want to get the job done – just what you would expect from the Mac.
VisualHub is very easy. VisualHub is very complicated. Fortunately, you get both versions for the same price. In other words, stick to the script, and VisualHub is easy. If you like to dink around, the treading is more difficult (click any image for a pop up, close up view).
See? Not bad, huh? Drag and drop the videos that you want to convert into VisualHub. Click on the tabs above to convert your video to the desired format. I told you it was easy. Drag, drop, point, click. It’s a great way to live.
Convert multiple videos to the same format by simply dragging multiple videos into VisualHub’s file list. Want to create a DVD simply and easily? VisualHub can fit up to 18 hours of video on a single DVD. Burn multiple videos to a DVD in a single batch and skip through them like CD tracks on your DVD player. No need to juggle multiple programs.
Why is it that ‘Advanced’ always means more complicated? It just does. I think it’s a plot started by some invisible supernatural force. Or, circumstance.
VisualHub does advanced, too, though tread carefully into those waters. Frankly, VisualHub does a good job of hiding the horrendous and confusing options which can render your video formatting efforts to naught.
The Advanced panel of VisualHub allows every aspect of encoding to be modified. Automatically crop, change the size, the framerate, the bitrate, the decoding method, and much more. You can even add “cheat codes” – extra modifiers to get even more out of your encodes.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Follow the Yellow Brick Road of VisualHub tabs and you’ll be happy and healthy. Venture from the beaten path and prepare to be beaten. Click the Advanced button.
If your eyes still hurt from looking at all the Advanced settings, you’re in good company. Yes, it’s that confusing, complicated, and an idiotic way to manage the world of digital video just to get a movie from your camera or DVD over to iTunes or your iPod or iPhone.
For whatever reason, VisualHub works well, albeit converting formats and sizes is time consuming and mostly dependent on the speed of your Mac. It’s also $23.32. Go figure.
The same crazy folks who make VisualHub for $23.32 (you have to be crazy to understand all those Advanced settings, right?) also make a free version called iSquint, ostensibly because you have to squint to see a video or movie on your iPod, and that’s what iSquint does—squishes movies to fit on iPods.
iSquint is an iPod video conversion app for Mac OS X. It’s many times faster than QuickTime Pro, works with almost all popular video formats, and it’s infinitely free-er. It’s also really easy. Just drag in your file, and click Start. You can also choose “TV” or “iPod” size, set your quality, or even go all-out by playing in the Advanced drawer.
Whatever you do, don’t click the ‘Advanced’ button.
VisualHub is a solid utilitarian tool for converting videos from one format or size to another. iSquint does a little of that for free, which is $23.32 less than VisualHub. They also make an audio conversion tool called AudialHub because—you’re reading ahead again—there are a dozen audio formats out there torturing music buyers.
None of these Mac utilities actually fix the format and standards problems, but they help us wade through it until Apple wakes up and decides to stick in a media converter chip in every Mac, iPhone, and iPod they sell. Hear that? It’s the sound of me not holding my breath.