Mac Video Converter - Not Just for Professionals
The concept of converting video files sounds daunting and scary. The file formats, codecs, bitrates, extractions, containers, inputs, outputs, WMV, AVI, MP4, iPod, PSP, Zune… it sounds like a different language from outer space. Here is a guide to help you through the video converter process.
Part 1. Choose a video converter program that suits your needs.Here is a quick way to decide which formats you might need. If you have... Look for...
- Mac- MOV, QT (QuickTime)
- iPod- MP4, MPEG-4
- iPhone - MP4, MPEG-4
- PlayStationPortable (PSP)- MP4, MPEG-4
- Microsoft Zune- WMV
- Creative Zen Media Player- WMV, AVI
- Archos Media Player- WMV, AVI
- Most other Media Players - WMV, AVI
For media players like iPod, iPhone, Creative Zen and others look at the specifications section or supported video formats section of your guide book. Remember, if you've downloaded a movie from a service like iTunes, chances are, even with a converter, your movie won't play on your PSP. iTunes movies have embedded encryptions that most video converters won't accept.
Part 2. Understanding Configurations
After you've decided which video you would like to convert and have selected the appropriate output format, a few located in the chart above, you might be asked to configure some settings. Don't let the language scare you. Here are some of those terms simply translated.
Codec- Most file types, like MP4, AVI and WMV can be converted and compressed via a codec. A fancy name for the “coder-decoder” algorithm used to make your video work on your computer or personal device. When selecting a codec, just choose one your portable device says it supports. To the novice there is very little difference between one codec and another.
If your computer does not have your chosen codec already installed, you can easily download it from the Internet using a simple Google search. Keep in mind that while most codecs are free, some of the more obscure ones can be quite expensive.
Video Dimensions- Sometimes called "Video Size" or "Resolution" your video dimensions tells the software how big a screen the video will eventually be displayed on.
- 320x240 is the standard 2.5 inch portable media player size
- 640x480 is about the size you would need for a computer screen
- 720x480 is the size of a standard television set in the United States.
- 720x576 is the size of a standard television set using PAL, which is most of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Bitrate- Without going into details, bitrate on audio and video files denotes quality. The higher the number the higher the quality; however the higher the quality the more memory (room) the file takes up on your computer or portable media device.
Video bitrate- Most video converter programs will have a default video bitrate of between 500 kbps and 1500 kbps (kilobits per second). With concerns to quality, 500 is a little on the low side, but will take up less space, whereas, 1500 will produce a better picture, but use more memory.
Audio bitrate- The all around standard audio bitrate is 128- 160 kbps and operates on the same principle as video bitrates. Most Mac video converter software defaults to 128.
Video Frame Rate- The frame rate is essentially the number of frames the movie goes through per second. Don't touch this unless you really know what you are doing. If adjusted improperly you could throw the sync between the video and audio off leaving you with what looks like a poorly dubbed Japanese movie.
Sample Rate- This is too complex to explain. Simply don't touch it.
Part 3. Enjoy.
After all your conversions are completed, transfer the files to your appropriate media device or email to friends and family just like a song from your iPod, and you are ready to go.