Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Converting computer screen video images (AVI) to Mac (Quicktime/MOV)

I just spent about 4 hours figuring something simple out, and I want to save you faithful Revverberation readers the trouble. Suppose you want to basically videotape your screen activity so you can demonstrate software or a websearch and post it on Revver. You could shoot the screen with your videocamera, but you'd prefer to have clean video output that you can edit and upload.

So this morning I wanted to do just that: convert my computer screen activity (every movement that appears on my laptop screen-- even my mouse moving and my keys typing) into a movie file that I could edit in iLife (Mac). After a bit of Googling, I found a freeware/shareware application called "Replay Screencast" by Applian Technologies. Unfortunately, the free trial limits you to 1 minute, and I needed about 2. So I reluctantly paid $30 to buy the program... knowing I'd probably never use it again.

It worked like a charm- easy to use and the output was perfect. BUT its output was restricted to a stupid WMV file. My Arrogant Mac looked at the WMV file like one might view a drunk crack whore at a hospice bingo game. Fortunately, Mac offers Flip4Mac, a free tool that converts video files. Of course I learned that the free version of Flip4Mac was for viewing only -- not converting. So I shelled out another $30 to get the Flip4FrigginMac pro version. The result of $60 and 4 hours? My wmv files was a white screen with no sound!

Next, I find a freeware app called VideoZilla that converts WMV to AVI. But that turns the little MMV video into a monsterous 4 GB file that I can't seem to get off my IBM laptop despite ample room on my two Maxtor hard drives. So I converted the AVI to a MPEG on VideoZilla and imported it to iLife. It looked like a UHF signal during an electric storm.

So I'm now out 4 hours and $60 with nothing to show for it. I do another Google and find the Xilisoft Video Converter, and try transfering my Replay AVI to a Quicktime MOV file. It worked.

Lessons learned:

Read Specs: Read output specificationss carefully on these. Video file types are like highschool cliques.
Research Options: To downlaod free applications or purchase advanced ones, check out:
SnagIt? I wish I had purhased a SnagIt version instead of Replay, since Replay's output is limited to WMV. SnagIt for image grabbing is one of the best applications I have (for grabbing web impages and quickly cropping them and dropping them to a website, word, Powerpoint, etc.). I'm pretty sure SnagIt has a version that does what Replay does. But I'm not throwing good money after bad.


At 3/16/2006 9:55 AM, Blogger Antonio said...

Point me to the screen captured file and I'll try to convert it on my Mac. I went to get the demo version and discovered it's only a PC app. I was going to try it myself.

There's a couple possibilities here; the resulting screencast file uses, yet another of the thousands, of codecs that is not yet supported by Flip4Mac.....or #2, some other Mac OS system configuration was preventing the proper translation.

As far as the first possibility goes, Telestream is super about working to get every codec compatible. One way to provide them with requests is going here: Another way is to send email to

With regards to the second possible issue; if it works on my Mac, then we'lll have something to go on and I can then suggest some possible solutions for you.

Feel free to contact me at

At 3/16/2006 10:21 AM, Blogger Nalts said...

Thanks, Antonio!

Also want to pay tribute to Joyce from Flip4Mac... check out this note I got within hours of raising my concern:

Hi Kevin,

Can you send me the file? If it's too big to email, can you upload it to our ftp site?
(details masked)

I'll be glad to help! And, if you'll never use Flip4Mac again, we will refund your money (after I help you convert the file, of course!).

Flip4Mac Support


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