As web video has become the dominant standard for video consumption, there are many affordable (or even free) options to create optimized video files. The biggest difference here is that many of these tools lack batch processing and often offer minimal support for customized presets.
- QuickTime and QuickTime Pro (www.apple.com/quicktime/pro) – This versatile tool makes it easy to convert video from one format to another. QuickTime Pro is a cross-platform solution and lets Mac and Windows users convert video files to work with Apple’s portable media players. The files QuickTime produces are very compatible, but don’t offer as many options as other tools. A version of QuickTime that can create iOS compatible files is included with newer Mac operating systems. The more versatile QuickTime Pro sells for $29.99 and is a preferred tool for most media pros toolbox.
- iTunes (www.apple.com/itunes) – While generally though of as a media player, you can use iTunes to convert incompatible media to an iPod/iPhone ready format. Additionally, iTunes is essential for testing your files to see if they are compatible with Apple’s portable media players. iTunes is a free, cross-platform solution. Free.
- MPEG Streamclip (www.squared5.com) – MPEG Streamclip is a powerful video converter, player, and editor. It works on both Mac and Windows. It can encode to many formats, including podcast compatible formats; it can also cut, trim and join movies. The biggest benefit, its free!
- Stomp (www.shinywhitebox.com/stomp/stomp.html) – This Mac-only tool bridges the gap from consumer to professional. It offers an easy-to-use interface but also unlocks filters and customized presets. The tool produces great results and offers excellent visual feedback when changes are made to a clip. Another unique feature is that the tool offers Core Image Filters, which are very fast and can perform tasks like color correction. $30.
- Microsoft Expression Encoder & Expression Encoder Pro (www.microsoft.com/expression/products/Encoder4_Overview.aspx) – This PC-only tool comes in both a free and a pro version. It is replaces the Windows Media Encoder, which was retired in mid-2010. It can create both Windows Media Video and Silverlight files. The Pro version can also output H.264 and AAC files as well. Basic version is free.
- Apple Compressor (www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/compressor/) – This powerful compression tool used to be included with Apple’s Final Cut Studio bundle and is now sold as a standalone application through the Mac App Store.. It has full support for batch processing and filtering. $49 from Apple App Store.
- Adobe Media Encoder (www.adobe.com) – The Adobe Media Encoder is not a stand-alone product. Rather it is a core-technology in the Adobe Creative Suite products that work with video. You can easily access it through products like Adobe Premiere Pro. It supports several formats besides podcasting, and offers excellent control. Bundled with Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Creative Suite.