Digital video is admittedly much easier to transfer between formats than old-fashioned video kept on big, bulky tapes, but that doesn’t mean that changing formats is a pain-free process. It can be particularly difficult on Windows computers because the available free movie maker software – Windows Movie Maker – doesn’t offer that large a selection of output formats. Uploading a YouTube video in HD has been particularly difficult, for example.
Enter Freemake, a free video converter that was designed with ease-of-use in mind. I’ve used different free video converters before in an effort to resolve my issues with publishing movies only using Windows software and have walked away unsatisfied, leading me to simply publish videos using my Mac instead. Freemake has made me consider using Windows for video again.
Just one quick note, however – this free video converter does require the latest installation of Microsoft Windows .NET – and it can be quite a sizable download if you don’t already have .NET.
The main use of Freemake is, of course, video conversion. The program will accept virtually any video file you can dream of as an input. Selecting a video for conversion is as simple as hitting the large Video button at the top of the program and then browsing to find the video file that you want to convert.
Once the video file is selected it will appear on a list in Freemake. You can select numerous files at once and convert them in a batch. Once you’ve selected one or more files you can simply click on one of the output options at the bottom of the program to begin the video conversion process.
While a wide variety of inputs are accepted, the outputs are more limited, but still very robust. AVI, MP4, WMV, 3GP, DVD, MP3 and Youtube output is supported. The AVI and WMV options allow you to chose from a variety of quality options including 1080p, 720p, DVD quality, TV quality and mobile quality. The MP4 conversion is optimized for mobile devices including the iPhone, iPad, the Sony PSP, and smartphones. The 3GP format is also targeted towards mobile devices.
The DVD option will, as you might expect, burn video to a DVD if you have a burner installed in your computer. The MP3 option also does what you might expect, stripping out video data and hanging on to audio, effectively turning a video file into a podcast.
Last, but not least, the Youtube option automatically uploads the video files you’ve selected once you enter your Youtube username and password.
Audio, DVD & Photo Conversion
Freemake’s greatest strength is its ability to accept a wide variety of input video files, but its capabilities extend beyond accepting traditional video formats. Audio, DVD and Photo formats can also be accepted.
Being targeted towards video conversion, there are not a lot of audio conversion options. You can convert to the video file formats, but there are no real options available in regards to audio quality. MP3 conversion is the only real audio conversion option.
However, one nifty feature is the ability to add audio tracks to video files, which can be done by adding a video file and audio file and then selecting the “Join into one file” checkbox.
The DVD option lets you rip a DVD to your computer. Once you have selected the DVD in your DVD drive, you can convert it to any of the available formats. You can also press the Edit button on the right to cut out any advertisements or other non-essential video content included on the DVD.
Finally, the photo option makes it possible to create movie slideshow files out of a set of photographs. Clicking the Photo option lets you browser and select multiple photo files. Once selected, you can convert them into any of the available formats to make a slideshow. The Edit button again lets you modify the video, although in the case of photos you can only change the interval between photos and add music into the background.
Freemake is an exceptional program. It has one of the best interfaces I’ve ever come across in a free video converter, but it is also a powerful program despite its simplicity. If you’ve been frustrated with other video conversion programs for Windows you should definitely check this out.