Evom. Is it Mov(i)e backwards?

Stormie Steve Does HomeworkFlickr photo by ShellyS

Welcome to the new school year. I’m still shaking my head about where the summer went. I’m also still grinding gears from vacation last week, but despite those issues, I’m very excited about 2010/11 at UMW. While perusing my RSS feed today, Lifehacker reminded me about Evom, a Mac only (sorry) video converter that is super slick and easy. If it were on the PC it could be the one program I would recommend to do a myriad of tasks.

Evom window
Evom comes from a company called Little App Factory, makers of the Mac DVD ripping software RipIt! I don’t know where the name Evom came from, but the program works great. It converts many types of videos, and uses the ffmpeg engine to perform its magic. The beauty of the program is the ease in which it gets video into the right configuration for Apple devices. You drag a file from your hard drive into the interface and you get asked which device you want to prepare the file for.

Evom convert
Choosing the iTunes or iPod buttons gives you the option convert the video, or to ditch the video and just save as an MP3 audio file, so it’s handy for ripping audio from video files. You can also prepare videos for an Apple TV (and therefore iPad), or for uploading to YouTube. It’ll even take care of the uploading part (supply your YouTube credentials). You also have the option to simply save the file to a folder anywhere on your computer.

OK. So lots of converters do similar things to Evom. Big deal. Well, for me the big deal is that it can also convert videos that are ON YouTube. If you’re using Safari or Firefox, simply drag the YouTube link from the address bar to the Evom window, and then choose your destination. The downloading and conversion can take a while, depending on connection speed, length of the video, etc., but it all happens in the background. So it’s YouTube to iPod, or iPhone, or iPad, or Apple TV, or to PowerPoint or Keynote, in minimal steps.

One wrench in the works, and it’s not Evom’s fault, is that the Google Chrome browser doesn’t allow the dragging of links into the Evom window. I don’t know what prevents this, but there’s a simple solution. Simply copy the link, with a Command-c shortcut, or by clicking the Edit menu and Copy, then paste the link into Evom (use Command-p or choose Edit>Paste in Evom). Since Google Chrome still does not have a YouTube downloader extension, this is a great solution for grabbing those videos.

One final word about Evom. It’s free!

I know.

You’re welcome.

Standard disclaimer about grabbing YouTube videos or ripping audio from files. Remember there are copyright issues.

Re-thinking YouTube Downloads

Re-think YouTube

Do a search for “download youtube videos” and the results you get will offer up countless websites with instructions, services, tools, and videos dedicated to the subject. You would think that it was popular to download videos from the YouTube site, and you would be right. I’ve written numerous times on the subject of YouTube, outlining the benefits, but mostly I point out what a valuable resource the site is. Want to find a clip from a popular movie? Consult YouTube. Want to view that obscure music video from the 80’s? Consult YouTube. Want to watch your state’s governor deliver the latest information that will affect you? Consult YouTube.

Over the past year and a half I have written a few times on how to take YouTube videos and incorporate them into PowerPoint presentations (here, here, and here). Two of those methods involve downloading the videos and converting them to video formats that PowerPoint will recognize. One of them involves using the YouTube video live in the presentation. I received a comment on my post on Embedding YouTube in PowerPoint 2007 from “John” that was just a republishing of a section of YouTube’s Terms of Service:

5. Your Use of Content on the Site

In addition to the general restrictions above, the following restrictions and conditions apply specifically to your use of content on the YouTube Website.

  1. The content on the YouTube Website, except all User Submissions (as defined below), including without limitation, the text, software, scripts, graphics, photos, sounds, music, videos, interactive features and the like (“Content”) and the trademarks, service marks and logos contained therein (“Marks”), are owned by or licensed to YouTube, subject to copyright and other intellectual property rights under the law. Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only and may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, or otherwise exploited for any other purposes whatsoever without the prior written consent of the respective owners. YouTube reserves all rights not expressly granted in and to the Website and the Content.
  2. You may access User Submissions for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the YouTube Website. You shall not copy or download any User Submission unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the YouTube Website for that User Submission.

I don’t know whether anonymous John was trying to be helpful, or snotty, but there are several points I want to make about YouTube downloads. First, EVERY TIME you watch a video at YouTube’s site, or even embedded on another site, you are downloading it to your computer! You have no choice. You are not streaming it, you are using a technology known as Progressive download. Here’s proof (screencast “YouTube Video and Progressive Download“) Now if I download a video, then republish it in a PowerPoint video, then OK, you got me. However, if I’m sharing that presentation with students for their further enlightenment, then I have the start of an argument for Fair Use. Then depending on what content it is and how much, I hope to make my argument stronger. John posted his comment on the post that described the ability to embed a live video into PowerPoint, so if there is no live Internet connection, no video appears in the presentation. It is no different than embedding a video on another web page. It makes for a more seamless way of doing a presentation with web video, as opposed to switching out of Powerpoint and opening a web browser, then switching back to PowerPoint and continuing the presentation. Sorry John, the Terms of Service don’t apply here, or at best, it’s extremely muddy.

Which gets me to my next point. YouTube needs to rethink their download terms. Let me reiterate that the technology that YouTube uses to show videos breaks their own Terms of Service. They have begun to allow certain organizations the ability to offer “official” downloads and provide a download button. In an article from February, YouTube announced that they were exploring ways to offer videos offline. They were testing “testing free downloads of YouTube videos from Stanford, Duke, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCTV“. An example is “The Role of Creativity at Stanford“, a video from Stanford University that has a button to allow you to download an MPEG4 version of the video. YouTube is even experimenting with Creative Commons licenses, but I can’t see yet where an average YouTube member can implement these licenses. It is only open to approved partners, and the partners program isn’t a program you gain instant access to. YouTube is moving way too slowly for the average producer, and seem to bend over backwards to appease media companies with their shoot first, ask questions later take-down policy.

YouTube needs to catch up with Flickr in offering a streamlined way of licensing through Creative Commons. Instead, I see the monitization train coming on full speed ahead. Here’s an example of one of those partners participating in a test of revenue generation by offering downloads of their video, for $0.99. Copyright infringement is still rampant on YouTube, but I argue that it is good for the most part. If people are watching all ten parts of The Wedding Singer on YouTube, then more power to them. If they are using a program to download the videos and stitch them together again and burn them to DVD, then hire them as a New Media Specialist. Either way they are never going to make a good customer for purchasing the original DVD anyway. Now there are legitimate reasons to take down videos from sources that are already putting their content out on the web for free such as Comedy Central. They want the advertising revenue for their site, that makes sense, but come up with new models for other types of content. A good start is a link to the iTunes store for those obscure 80’s music videos.


Now I’m not saying that YouTube is doomed to fail (they’re obviously wildly sucessful), but they need to take a more balanced approach. YouTube is doing some good things with their YouTube EDU and non-profit sections. Now it’s time to make it easier to get the content out into the hands of the people who can make a difference, change things for the better, and do what the pioneers in this industry did in the first place – build on other people’s work. A little download help, please?!?

Making YouTube More Cinematic

Here’s a neat trick to use next time you want to show a YouTube video in class, or in your home theater (h/t to WebWare). You need to have the Firefox web browser and an add-on/plugin called YouTube Cinema. So you can go from this:


To this:


You can still view a given YouTube video in a normal fashion (with all the distracting images and adverts) by either clicking a button in the lower right corner labeled “Go To Site”, or you can hold down the Ctrl key while clicking the link to the video, which will prevent YouTube Cinema from kicking in. Then if you want to watch in cinema mode, right-click somewhere on the page and choose “Play in Cinema” from the menu. You can also play around with the background color used to display the film. By default it uses a dark-green color. I personally would go with black. It doesn’t appear to be an instant change, but will take effect on the next viewing.

YouTube may start to include a similar feature in all of it’s videos. It already has a “turn down the lights” button on some videos, including the Star Trek Original Series videos (for example). Also, it doesn’t appear to work with High Definition videos, and it also doesn’t work on videos where embedding has been disabled. You can display videos using the high quality setting and you can even make the video slightly larger than the normal size. It also will work with a playlist of videos, so you could conceivably watch an entire movie that has been broken up into parts and uploaded to YouTube – not that such things exist. Popcorn anyone?

Think YouTube is Insignificant?

Then ask this guy . . .

President Obama not only makes his case for why we need the stimulus package, but he announces a new website to track the spending of it – Recovery.gov. If your reaction to all this is “We’ll see”, then you’re right. We will.

Hat tip to Eric Holscher for his tweet!

Ubiquitous YouTube

Sarcasm notwithstanding, the sentiment in the above video is held by many people – “YouTube is a site of millions of sucky videos.” I have, in the past, argued against that statement here, here, here, and here. Until recently, a valid argument for YouTube’s suckiness would have been that high quality video was not an option. Today, that is no longer an issue and it’s ushering in a whole new incentive to get YouTube into new arenas such as the home theater market, and mobile computing realms. So what new places is YouTube popping up? Would it be a gross overstatement if I said “everywhere”? Without addressing further the argument of there being good and valuable content on YouTube, here is a list of some of the interesting places that YouTube is rearing its far-from-ugly head.

New LCD and plasma panels – Manufacturers are starting to experiment with the idea of networked flat panel TVs. YouTube is one of the services included in Panasonic’s Viera Cast TV, and Sony’s Bravia Internet Video Link Module, an add-on that attaches to Sony’s Bravia televisions.

Streaming Media set-top boxes – These devices are connected to the Internet, either through WiFi or wired Ethernet. Apple TV was one of the first to offer YouTube as an option for video content, in addition to playing movies, music, photos and podcasts from your iTunes library. Vudu is a set-top box for movies on-demand and adds YouTube access.  Netgear, makers of networking hardware, is dipping its toe into the YouTube pool, and Tivo looks to have a pretty robust implementation as well.
Update: Add a Kodak box to the list.

iPhone – Though Apple is now boasting that it has had over 500 million apps downloaded and 15,000 apps are available in the iTunes store, there is a built-in You Tube application for the iPhone. It connects directly to YouTube and plays the h.264 versions of the videos. The quality and the experience is first rate, unless you’re trying to access it over the slower EDGE network, then the fun subsides quite quickly. Oh, and Windows Mobile (ick!) has a YouTube Player too.

Computer (well duh?) – I know, you can go to youtube.com and access the videos, but the popular Miro software will search and play YouTube videos, in addition to managing video podcast feeds.

DVD players and game consoles – Soon, in addition to watching your Blu-ray movies and Netflix Watch Now content, owners of the new line of LG networked Blu-ray players will also be able to connect to the YouTube service. Also, recently announced was the addition of YouTube interfaces for Sony’s PS3 and the Nintendo Wii.

PowerPoint – I’ve talked about this before, but just in case you don’t know, it is fairly simple to Embed YouTube videos in PowerPoint.

SlideShare presentations – Speaking of PowerPoint, the great SlideShare service now offers the ability to insert YouTube videos in between the slides in the online version of your presentation.

Plugins for WordPress – Again not anything new, but a reminder that there are easy plug-ins available for the WordPress blogging (excuse me, web publishing) platform to embed your YouTube videos into posts. Anarchy and Viper’s Video Quicktags are two examples. There is also a built-in YouTube Plugin for Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer, which I still use (and am using now) to write my blogs posts, even though the WordPress interface is much improved with version 2.7.

Now that’s a lot of places to put your lame videos!