Updated: November 9, 2009
Have a lot of multimedia files in all sorts of formats? Would you like some of the less known ones converted into friendly, popular formats that everyone can play? Do not really know where to start, what programs to look for, what programs to use, or how to use them? Not to worry, you're reading the right article.
In this populistic article, I will show you a selection of useful websites that you can use to manipulate your media files, without having any programs installed on your machine, without any dependency on the operating system or the browser you use, without any great knowledge in media manipulation. Just point to the right file, let the cogwheels churn and out comes a cookie! Simple, appealing, yes, yes, yes. Indeed. Read on.
Please make sure that you do not break the law when doing all sorts of media conversions online, whether because the files you are trying to convert are copyrighted, licensed or whatever.
This website allows you to convert any Youtube videos into a number of formats, including stripping only the audio part in MP3 format. Just locate the desired Youtube video, choose the output format among many available choices, like FLV, HD, AVI, MP3, OGG, hit the green Go button in the right corner and let it work! Simple, friendly, powerful! The homepage also has an introduction video that explains how it all works. Very handy, very neat, very useful!
Media Converter allows you to work with online Flash files as well your own files, which you can upload for conversion. The free usage is restricted to files no larger than 100MB, slower conversion process, lower resolution, and only up to five actions a day. The free service also works with fewer online websites, although break.com, dailymotion.com, facebook.com, metacafe.com, and youtube.com are included. The services comes with a pleasant interface and useful help.
ZamZar is a tremendously useful and powerful online conversion service, which will work not only with a wide range of your media files, it will also work with many document types, compressed archives, CAD formats, and more. Media-wise, ZamZar works with MP3, RealMedia, FLAC, AAC, MP4, FLV, 3GP, QuickTime, and others. Unlike the other two services mentioned earlier, ZamZar does not work with Flash-streaming websites, but it supports a wider range of formats. No worries, download them using one of the other services, then convert with ZamZar! Wicked, ain't it?
ZamZar sends converted files to an email address. Registering for the premium service entitles you to a 100GB online storage, 1GB file limit size, secure transfer, and many other perks, but this does cost money. We will talk about ZamZar in the second part of this compilation, when we talk about document conversion services.
ConvertTube is a part of the PlayTube video blog. This service allows you to convert Youtube movies to a variety of video formats, like .mpg, .wmv, .mov, and .mp4, download the file in Flash (.flv) format or just strip the audio track and convert it to .wav, .mp3 and .3gp. ConvertTube is simple, but it does its job well.
movavi online convert service offers a simple, clean 3-step interface and works with either URLs or uploaded files, limited to 100MB in size and no more than 10 min in length.
movavi offers a useful range of output formats and codecs, including .avi, .mov, .mpeg. .mp4, and .flv, encoded as Xvid, Mpeg-2, Mpeg-3, iPod and iPod 5G, iPhone, PSP, 3gp, and 3gp2. The service can also produce audio tracks. The service also allows you to merge files.
I'm less familiar with these few listed below, but I've heard good echoes and whispers so far. If you have personal experience with these websites, plus if you know of any other useful, versatile multimedia conversion online services, feel free to email me.
vixy.net - This service allows you convert Flash videos MPEG4 files.
ConvertDirect - Like vix, this service offers downloading Flash videos from popular websites, or converting them to a number of formats, including AVI, MOV, MPEG4, as well as audio only MP3 and AAC.
KeepVid - This site works with Youtube, Dailymotion, Metacafe, and other popular sites and allows you to download Flash files to your machine. Probably redundant if you're using Firefox with DownloadHelper, but quite useful for people using other browsers.
Media Convert - This site can do a lot; it supports a wide range of file formats, including not only audio, video and image, but also documents and archives and comes close to what ZamZar offers. The service also includes advanced settings, like splitting and merging videos and changing the bitrate.
The old fashioned way
If you still want to know how to manipulate media manually, then you may want to read a number of my tutorials on the subjects, all which delve quite deeply into useful tools for audio, video and Flash conversion, editing and whatnot.
Likewise, feel free to check the entire Multimedia section, for many other useful tricks. For example, you will learn how to setup Flash or MP3 playback on Linux, how to work with subtitles, how to record your desktop and create Flash presentations, and more.
I hope you liked this article. Online conversions tools are quite handy. They save the user a hassle of downloading programs and trying them and mastering the use thereof, once they are found adequate for the task. Without wasting time on testing software endlessly and cramming the hard disk with useless bits, online services offer a quick, simple solution to most common needs.
For the young generations, the e-generation if you will, for people almost constantly online, working with music and video, hanging around media-rich social networks and media portals, the online conversions tools are a blessing. You have the Youtube videos and music streams ready, at the tip of your fingers.
What more, people who frequently travel or have weak computers will also like the notion of being able to work with multimedia files anywhere, on the go, without stressing their computers. The flexibility and the simplicity of this concept are simply great. In the next article, we will focus on documents, Word, PDF, images, archives, text files.
Many thanks to following people for their suggestions: rafi, iceni60, sach1000rt.