“Internet Video Converter” provides powerful, portable video conversion for a wide range of formats

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Internet Video Converter is a free program that performs video conversions (including FLV and SWF formats), downloads from a wide range of video sharing sites, and can also play/view a wide range of formats.

IVC is a GUI frontend for a number of free tools and is available as an installable version, a portable zipped version, and even as a U3 USB key (.u3p) version.

What I like about this program is that it is self-contained; it includes all codecs/filters that it needs.

In fact you could use the no-install zipped version to convert and play a wide range of video formats without writing anything to the registry or having codecs installed and running in the background at all times (consuming resources or potentially causing conflicts with other codecs).

IVC is a frontend that uses FFmpeg or Mencoder to transcode most video/audio formats, Mplayer to play video, FLVtool2 to process FLVs (which is why converting to FLV/SWF is handled separately from other video formats), as well as other tools. It uses Downloader.net to download videos. The rest of this review will contain the following sections (1) Formats supported, (2) Video conversion, (3) Downloading videos, (4) Demuxing audio, (5) Video-to-flash, and (6) Video playback.

(1) Formats supported: FLV, SWF, Vcd/Svcd/DVD, MP3G, MP4 (Ipod, PSP), 3GP, MOV, AVI, and WMV.

(2) Video conversion using IVC: a number of pre-defined profiles are implemented that you can select from, including Ipod, PSP, and 3GP (mobile) formats. When you select a format IVC defaults to a 1:1 aspect ratio which will resize your video to the new maximum resolutions of your selected formats but will keep the aspect ratio of the original. For example if you are converting a source that, say, has a 608×256 resolution and choose the 320×240 Ipod MP4 preset from the dropdown, your video settings will be defaulted to 320×136 in keeping with the aspect ratio of the original. This for me is really exciting stuff because it avoids the blind resizing to 320×240 (or 640×480) Ipod formats that some converters default to which in many cases completely messes up the aspect ratio of the source video.

Notes on video conversion: choosing your desired output format is a 2 step process. First, you have to select your desired format from the dropdown; once you do that, strangely, you still have to click on one of the 4 format buttons (Ipod/PSP, Mobile 3GP, or “other”). Here’s more info on the available settings:

  • Typical settings: include the typical conversion settings you see in most converters: width and height, 3 choices for aspect ratio (16:9, 4:3, or the aforementioned 1:1), and the frame rate (fps) and bitrate. For audio there are 3 decisions: the bitrate, sample rate, and whether the audio is stereo or mono.
  • More interesting settings: you can rotate the video by +90° or -90° (but for that you will have to use Mencoder for encoding), you can deinterlace the output video and you can add black bands around the video if needed. You can also disable sound to generate a video without sound if you want, you can choose the conversion duration (did not try personally) and lastly you can use the “fit on 1 cd” button which in theory will determine the video bitrate for you that would result in a 700 meg file.

(3) Video downloading: IVC uses the Downloader.net service for downloading videos. This site supports downloading from a large list of video sharing websites, but in all honesty it seems simpler to just use that website directly rather than from within IVC. Because of this this feature seems somewhat needless/redundant to me. Moreover, when I chose one of the sites at random to test the downloading process (music.com) it did not seem to work.

(4) Demuxing audio: from the “Download and play video” tab, select a video for playback then click the “-> wav” or “->mp3” buttons and the soundtrack will be saved in either WAV or MP3 format in the same directory as the video file. Tried this on an FLV file and it works great.

(5) Video-to-flash: a number of really cool things about this (a) it can create both FLV and SWF videos, (b) it can create a self contained HTML file for SWF’s that will play the video when launched, (c) you can specify width and have height be automatically determined, and (d) you can disable sound if you only want the video part.

(6) Video playback: from the “Download and play video” tab you can select and play any file from the supported formats using Mplayer without having to install filters/codecs on your machine. This can be useful if you are using this software portably from a zip drive, otherwsie I would installing and using VLC media player or GOM Media Player instead of this. Two noteworthy features: (a) easily get screenshots from any video, and (b) rotate video playback by +90° or -90°.

Wish list (or how this program can be even better):

  • The interface is a little bit quirky and at times buggy and could be cleaned up IMHO.
  • “Fit to 1 CD” in seems to misestimate and generate a considerably larger size file, which is no biggie as the “File Size” button predicts size very well.
  • Generated MP4 Ipod video files, while they worked very well with ITunes, required that I use a third party program to add the video title to the metadata (Mp3Tag). It would be nice if the program automatically added the filename as title.
  • Real Media support would have been great insofar as it would have made the format support quite comprehensive.
  • Batch processing would also be a great feature, as currently there doesn’t seem to be any way to perform a string of conversions in a row.

The verdict: I like this program a lot and recommend it highly, especially the no-install portable version. I used it to convert videos to MP4 Ipod files as well as FLVs and SWFs and it worked great, with impressive speed.

Version tested: 1.50 (English version)

Compatibility: Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista.

Go to the developer’s page to download latest version (approx 21.5 megs).