Take Flash. Please. It works reasonably well enough as a de facto video player standard for Mac and PC. But not so well for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 7, or anything else you can hold in your hand. How about the much heralded H.264 and HTML5? Fine for some browsers, not for others (Mozilla, I’m lookin’ at you).
FFmpeg to iFFmpeg: Free to Not So Free
While MP3 audio files play nearly anywhere, the top example of the mess in video is the need to convert a video file to it will play on other devices.
Mac and PC users have this wonderful tool call FFmpeg which records, converts, and even streams video. It converts files quickly and easily from one file format to another. And it’s free. The only problem is that FFmpeg is a command line app. You need to use Terminal.app to make it work and that’s not so much fun for the average Mac user.
For a few bucks, iFFmpeg adds a Mac-like front end to FFmpeg so you can point and click to convert video from this to that. iFFmpeg claims over 170 options and easiest way to convert MPEG4, H.264, Flash, Ogg Theora, VP8, and other file formats back and forth.
Sounds easy enough, right? The first screen of iFFmpeg beckons you to give it video to convert.
What’s not to like? What do you do next?
Amazingly, all these choices are considered easier than using plain old free FFmpeg instead of point and click iFFmpeg.
Trust me. This is easier (even if it seems horribly complex).
To take advantage of an app that does so much, you’ll need to start with FFmpeg, the app that’s so complicated. Then, download and install iFFmpeg, grab a video to convert, and drop it on the Drop Files Here sign. Whatever you do, don’t panic when you see so many options. 170 options is a big number, but most conversions don’t require you to try that many. Start with simple. There are plenty of presets for iPhone iPad Mac and PC and other devices which make converting most video files from one format to another mostly point and click.
If you’ve ever used FFmpeg to manage video file conversions, you’re on the geeky level already. If you manage to get a few video files converted successfully using iFFmpeg, you’ll feel geeky, even if you don’t quite qualify.
What both FFmpeg and iFFmpeg tell us is that video on the web, on Mac or PC, is a huge mess in need of a very worthy standard.