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Downloading Clips from YouTube and Converting Flash Videos

YouTube and other short-form Web video sites are a huge hit, partially because of the way Flash Video makes them so easy to use -- just click on the video window, and the clip just starts playing. There's no fuss -- no separate player, no additional downloads, just the video playing right there in the browser.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Flash Player is "the world's most pervasive software platform," according to Adobe, reaching 98.7% of Internet-enabled desktops worldwide.

As Flash Video has become an extremely popular format for delivering video on the Internet, it is starting to be added as a video output format by both consumer and professional video editing tools -- Much as MPEG-2 become ubiquitous with the growth of DVD, and then MPEG-4 become an important feature with its use on the Apple iPod, Sony PSP, and mobile phones.

Yet, also like the MPEG formats, Flash was originally designed as a delivery format -- the final output to be played for the viewer -- and not as a general-purpose editing format like DV or AVI or QuickTime that could be saved, edited, and otherwise repurposed.

Sound familiar? Remember the early days of MPEG-2, when the DVD was a huge impenetrable block of stuff with the original content locked up inside -- playable, but not otherwise accessible? And then the early days of MPEG-4, when you could capture and play files on your mobile phone, but then struggled to find any solution for playing them on a computer (kudos to Apple QuickTime).

And now, of course, most video tools easily can crack open a DVD to extract the content, then edit MPEG-2 and even MPEG-4 files, and export clips with presets for the iPod, PSP, and more.

Now we're in the same beginning situation with Flash Video -- you can easily play it while browsing the Web, but there's no easy way to download those clips (.FLV and .SWF), much less play them on the desktop, or convert them to other formats.

Adobe is addressing this developing need with the Adobe Media Player,
a desktop media player due as a free beta later in 2007, which will provide the
ability to download and play back locally stored FLV files.

For professionals, the new Adobe Creative Suite 3 suite features the integration of Macromedia Flash into the Adobe product line, including exporting video (and even entire DVD productions) in Flash Video formats. And the Adobe Bridge media manager included with the CS3 suite can preview Flash Video files. But the CS3 tools do not import and edit Flash Video as a standard video format.

So, as in the early days of other new formats, the first answers are coming from small developers who can bring new technology into the market more quickly.

See full article for more details: Flash Video: Downloading from YouTube and Converting Video Files

Here's a summary of some of the alternatives to get you started, with more to follow ...

Summary of free and low-cost tools for working with Flash Video, especially for Windows

-- Capture Streaming Flash Video (YouTube)

KeepVid - Free Web service to download streamed clips as FLV files

Applian Media Catcher - Record streaming Flash video and MP3 audio ($39.95)

-- Play Flash Video Files (.FLV)

VideoLAN VLC Media Player - Cross-platform multi-format player, free under GNU

Applian FLV Player - Free Flash player

-- Convert Flash Video Files

eRightSoft SUPER © - Free open source converter, many formats

Applian Replay Converter - Convert between popular formats ($29.95)

Pegasys / TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress - Video encoder for many formats ($99.95)

Manifest Tech Site