I’ve been working in my spare time recently on finishing up my Smart Search For Excel app, and today I got to the point where I wanted to show it off to some friends. The problem is that it turns out it’s rather difficult to find free software that also doesn’t have malware, when it comes to screen capturing and converting video formats.
For capturing the video in the first place, I ended up going with a program called HyperCam 2. It’s not the best software in the world, and it’s not open source. It is free, though, and it works for what I need for the moment. One small problem with it is that it outputs in fully uncompressed AVI video. For a 2 minute video at 720p, we have a file that is 250MB. I began looking around for conversion software.
When you google “avi to mp4”, you get a massive list of really crappy software which either costs money, is loaded with malware, or both. The problem is that these sites have gotten very good at SEO, and even places like CNET’s Download.com doesn’t really scan them well. On further research, though (involving actual forums), I found an program called Handbrake, and it is superb.
Handbrake is an open source project housed on Sourceforge. It’s a very small download, and it installed in 15 seconds (including the time it took me to click Accept Terms). It has a pretty simple interface. You select the source file, select the location and name of the new file. You choose what format you want to convert it into, and then click Convert. It took about 20 seconds to convert my 2 minute video. And file size went from 250MB to 5MB. That’s a rather incredible reduction. (Granted, I did select Optimize for Web, and the new video is just very slightly more blurry because of that. When I didn’t optimize, the video ended up about 30MB). See the screenshot below to check out what it looks like.
As someone who has written several WordPress plugins that I let people use for free, I very much appreciate kind words from someone who benefits from them, and in turn I try to give positive feedback for freeware that I benefit from myself. Hence this post. HandBrake is lightweight and works like a charm, plus it’s malware free. Give it a try next time you need to convert video.