Recently a friend of mine asked for my help to find a video of a good presentation to be shown to one of his classes. He also requested for it to be iPod friendly as he would also distribute the video to his students. Three things came to my mind: Steve Jobs, Quicktime and Handbrake.
Mr. Jobs is well known for his great presentations which are often used as references. I have several Apple Keynotes videos. For my friend, I decided to choose the one that introduced MacBook Air – the one that never fails to deliver the wow effect to the non-techie audience. It’s a part of January 2008 Macworld Keynote.
First step: The Cutting
To get only a specific part of the Keynote, I clipped the 1+ hour video into about 20 minutes using Quicktime X (which comes with Snow Leopard).
I opened the movie using Quicktime X and chose Trim from the Edit menu (Command + T).
Then I chose the start and end of my clip by moving both edges of the trimming bar to the desired position.
To increase the precision, I moved the edges little by little using the left and right arrow buttons.
Then I clicked “Save As” from the File menu (Command + Shift + S)
To know more about Quicktime X, also check out our article on using it to do quick screencasting.
Second Step: The Conversion
In the computer world, the name Handbrake is identical with video converting. This open source application is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. In late November 2009, Handbrake just released its latest version: 0.94 with several new features and changes.
To me, the most notable change is the speed. This is because the latest Handbrake is already supporting 64-bit while the old ones are still in 32-bit. This allows the 64-bit build to utilize the real power of Intel Core 2 Duo, even if your Mac is still under Leopard.
Please note that this speed-up applies only to the Mac and Linux versions. Windows users are still stuck with the old 32-bit for some more time.
To convert the video file, I selected the clipped presentation video file by clicking “Source” and browsed to the location. To speed up the process, you could use the search feature.
I, and I’m sure many other users also, don’t know (and don’t want to know) the exact settings of video files which will play along well with the iPod. Handbrake understands this and give its users several pre-configured presets available from the side window.
Just choose iPod from the options and everything will be adjusted accordingly.
If you know what you are doing, you can add more presets to the list by clicking the Plus (+) button on the lower part of the side window.
You could also do several conversions one after another by putting the configured video file to the queue and clicking “Source” to add others.
And after everything is set, click the start button and make yourself a cup of coffee.
In my 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook, Handbrake needed a little more than 8 minutes (probably faster because Handbrake’s seconds ticked faster than the menubar’s clock) to convert 140.3MB of .mov file to 113.3MB of iPod compatible mp4.
After the conversion was done, I opened the file using iTunes. It will be synchronized with my iPod the next time I plug it in. I also passed a copy to my friend.
A Little Experiment
I was curious. I felt that the 64-bit build is faster. But is it really faster? I wanted to compare both the 32-bit and 64-bit builds head to head. Fortunately, I still keep an older version of Handbrake. For the sake of comparison, I reinstalled version 0.93 (the 32-bit build) and did the exact same conversion of the same movie file on the same machine.
On a smaller size movie file, the difference is not really notable. But with larger files, the 64-bit build is clearly faster.
These are the comparisons I did using one and a half hours of .avi movie:
32-bit – about 20 minutes (because the ETA counter moved up and down)
64-bit – about 15 minutes or less (because the ETA counter moved down faster than the real clock)
Aside from the speed, there are more features hidden underneath this new version. You can refer to the official site for more information and if you haven’t upgraded your version of Handbrake, now is the perfect time to do it.
Don’t forget to check out our older article about using Handbrake to convert a DVD for the iPod.