When you begin working with Digital Signage you often discover a great need to be able to convert files into and out of different formats. For example, our platform supports video files in the format of mp4, m4v, flv and swf. So having handy tools to convert lets say avi or mpeg into flv are essential. The following is a list of great ( mostly free ) utilities you can use to convert media files into new formats.
Media Converter SA Edition
Media Converter SA Edition is a free file converter which supports many file types. It has also an integrated video downloader to download videos from Youtube and co.
VLC media player (Open source/All platforms)
Ok, so VLC is a media player, not converter, but if you’re watching digital video, it’s a must-have—plus VLC can indeed rip DVD’s, as well as play ripped discs in ISO format (no actual optical media required.) VLC can also play FLV files downloaded from YouTube et al, no conversion to AVI required. Since there’s a portable version, VLC’s a nice choice for getting your DVD rips/saved YouTube video watching on wherever you go.
MediaCoder (Open source/Windows)
Batch convert audio and video compression formats with the open source Media Coder for Windows, which works with a long laundry lists of formats, including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, AAC+, AAC+V2, MusePack, WMA, RealAudio, AVI, MPEG/VOB, Matroska, MP4, RealMedia, ASF/WMV, Quicktime, and OGM, to name a few.
Make your video files burnable to a DVD with Avi2Dvd, a utility that converts Avi/Ogm/Mkv/Wmv/Dvd files to Dvd/Svcd/Vcd format. Avi2Dvd can also produce DVD menus with chapter, audio, and subtitle buttons.
Videora Converter (Freeware/Windows only)
Videora Converter is a set of programs, each designed to convert regular PC video files into a format tailored to your favorite video-playing handheld device. The Videora program list includes iPod Video Converter (for 5th gen iPods), iPod classic Video Converter (for 6th gen classic iPods), iPod nano Video Converter (for 3rd gen iPod nanos), iPod touch Video Converter, iPhone Video Converter, Videora Apple TV Converter, PSP Video 9, Videora Xbox360 Converter, Videora TiVo Converter, and Videora PMP Converter. Lifehacker alum Rick Broida used Videora in conjunction with DVD Decrypter to copy DVDs to his iPod.
Honorable Mention: Ares Tube for Windows converts YouTube and other online videos to iPod format.
Any Video Converter (Freeware/Windows only)
Convert almost all video formats including DivX, XviD, MOV, rm, rmvb, MPEG, VOB, DVD, WMV, AVI to MPEG-4 movie format for iPod/PSP or other portable video device, MP4 player or smart phone with Any Video Converter, which also supports user-defined video file formats as the output. Batch process multiple files that AVC saves to a pre-selected directory folder, leaving the original files untouched.
Web application Hey!Watch converts video located on your computer desktop as well as clips hosted on video sites. Upload your video to Hey!Watch to encode it into a wide variety of file formats, like H264, MP4, WMV, DivX, HD Video, Mobile 3GP/MP4, iPod, Archos and PSP. Hey!Watch only allows for 10MB of video uploads per month for free, and from there you pay for what you use, but it’s got lots of neat features for video publishers like podcast feed generation and automatic batch processing with options you set once.
iSquint (Freeware/Mac OS X only)
Convert any video file to iPod-sized versions and automatically add the results to your iTunes library. iSquint is free, but Lifehacker readers have praised the pay-for iSquint upgrade, VisualHub, which offers more advanced options for a $23 license fee. Check out the feature comparison chart between iSquint and VisualHub.
DVD Shrink (Freeware/Windows only)
Copy a DVD to your hard drive and leave off all the extras like bonus footage, trailers and other extras to save space with DVD Shrink. Download Adam’s one-click AutoHotkey/DVD Shrink utility to rip your DVDs to your hard drive for skip-free video play from scratchy optical media.
Honorable mention: DVD Decrypter (beware of advertisement interstitial page), which Windows peeps can use to copy DVDs to their iPods.
Handbrake (Open source/Windows, Mac)
Back up your DVD’s to digital file with this open source DVD to MPEG-4 converter app. See also how to rip DVDs to your iPod with Handbrake.
Super (Freeware/Cross platofrm)
Easy to use and supports almost any format on earth. A very powerful converter that comes highly recommended.
Super is a free media converter that acts as a graphical front end to several of the most powerful command line tools like FFmpeg, MEncoder, and MPlayer. The application boasts extensive options for customizing your preferences with virtually any aspect of your conversion. The downside to that control is that Super’s interface is cluttered and intimidating for first-time users. Luckily for most purposes, converting a file to the right format with Super is as simple as selecting your output format (e.g., Apple iPod) and just sticking with the defaults.
Free web service. Worth a shot.
Format Factory is a free media converter for Windows that converts video, audio, and even images between formats. With a nice icon-driven interface for helping you choose the kind of conversion you’re looking for, FormatFactory is one of the friendliest batch media converters you’ll find.
FFmpeg (All Platforms)
FFmpeg is free, cross platform command-line encoding tool that powers many of the more popular graphical applications in this Hive Five. While FFmpeg has more of a learning curve than the rest, it’s also undeniably powerful and flexible. If converting your media from the command line with FFmpeg appeals to you, check out how to FFmpeg your way to media conversion bliss.
Switch is an audio converter quite similar to Media Converter SA, due to its simple and easy-to-use interface. Supporting numerous audio formats is only part of Switch’s large array of options. Other features include: the ability to import playlists, ability to convert up to 32,000 files all at once, settings for individual audio bit rates, etc. Switch could be used for a multitude of different media.