For the first time today, I used some free tools to convert a QuickTime movie into flash format and make the file web-accessible. You can upload a video file to YouTube or Google Video and have the website perform the conversion, but in this case I was converting a video I don’t personally own the rights to and therefore couldn’t legally republish for a global audience without permission. I was needing to share the video with other people who are not likely to already have QuickTime installed on their computer systems, and by sharing a link to a Flash video version it permits them to view the clip without downloading and installing any additional software.

I used the free OS X program ffmpegX to convert the file from QuickTime (.mov) to ffmpeg flash video (.flv). I then used these instructions to create a webpage with the correct HTML syntax. Like the LAME encoder for Audacity, when installing ffmpegX you have to download three other files, save them somewhere on your computer, and then “point” the program to them so it can use them to convert files. To create the webpage I used the free “Composer” application included with Mozilla’s free SeaMonkey program suite. (Remember Netscape Composer? This is its latest iteration. Yes, it’s cross-platform. And free.)

In addition to the converted flv file created by ffmpegx and a simple HTML document that included the “object” and “embed” tags, I also had to upload a SWF player application to the same web directory. The ffmpegX instructions include a link to a file that works great, as well as the HTML code syntax. I used the free Cyberduck ftp client to upload the files to my server.

I love the QuickTime format, but I also love accessibility and like to remove as many barriers to content access as I can. Having the capability (with free tools, no less) to make any video available in Flash format is a very powerful and good skill. :-) I love powerful open source tools like these!

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  • http://stigmergicweb.org Rob Wall

    I can’t thank you enough for blogging about this. I’m working on a project in which I’m using iShowU to record some screencast video and iMovie to overdub the sound. I’ve been wanting to convert all the quicktime to flash video format, but buying Flash for just this one purpose. This should do the job quite nicely!

    The “free” part doesn’t hurt either! I’m constantly amazed that whenever I think “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a program that …”, someone has developed an open source/free software application that does just what I need.

    Again, many thanks.

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Glad this is helpful, Rob. If there is a Windows-based open source program like ffmpegX I’d like to know about it and give it a try also– since the program uses UNIX command line tools via a GUI interface, I am doubtful there is a Windows equal to it– certainly is a handy program!

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