legal video conversion
November 18, 2008 9:32 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to legally automate the conversion of quicktime .mov files videos to .flv, providing a drop box service, preferably under linux, but I'm getting tripped up on the first and last parts

My users are requesting a simple video ingestion/conversion service and they don't want to use YouTube in an attempt to maintain control of their content.

There are plenty of tools that will take video file format x, y, and z and convert them to H.263/Sorensen Spark/H.264 .flv files. The obvious choices are ffmpeg / mencoder / vlc project libs. Unfortunately, to accomplish the conversion they have reverse engineered U.S. patent restricted commercial codecs (please correct me if I'm wrong). Since I'll be doing this in a professional capacity, I'd like it to be completely in compliance with the law.

So I guess my question is three fold:

1. What's the cheapest way I can legally do quicktime to flv conversion?

2. If I've got a choice, what's the best codec to use for web distribution?

3. What automatable software would you recommend?

We can probably afford to spend some money, but not, for instance, the $3000 On2 wants for it's conversion tools. Also, we have Adobe CS3 Flash and Flash Video Encoder, but I was unable to find a way to script them (on Mac) to do a conversion. Last, if at all possible I'd like to avoid really hacky solutions like "this cool app that records mouse movments and lets you play them back..."

posted by roue to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I did this a couple of years ago, the paid codec was only necessary for decoding the flvs from FMS, which means your project would only need it for submitted flv's, You can refuse these files anyway because why would someone want to convert flv to flv? So, you don't need it, and ffmpeg will write Flash 7 (or whatever version) flv's just fine.
posted by rhizome at 10:58 PM on November 18, 2008

The legal hangups are almost entirely imagined, would only apply to binary software distribution, and only the distributors would be liable, not the end users. There are no problems at all for source code distribution — if you're extra hand-wringy compile it yourself on each computer you run it on.

Basically, don't worry about the legal crap at all, and for god's sake don't pay for any of the commercial stuff, they are largely steaming piles of crap.

I'd recommend using ffmpeg, it's never let me down, and has full support for all the containers and codecs you'll need.
posted by blasdelf at 4:55 AM on November 19, 2008

Automation: Sorenson Squeeze or Episode HD both have 'drop folder' capability; where you can drop files into folder will process them and put them in folder B (or upload them to an FTP site.)

Best codec?
For quality WMV or H.264.
Compatibility? FLV
posted by filmgeek at 6:03 AM on November 19, 2008

You might want to look at Fluendo's website, or contact them directly. They offer licensed, US-legal versions of many Linux GStreamer codecs. I can only find the playback plugins on their page, but they might have the encoders around somewhere that's not obvious. I think you'd want an MPEG-4 AVC encoder, since that's the format that's actually inside the .flv containers in recent versions of the Flash Video format.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:06 AM on November 19, 2008

A couple of years ago, I saw what was basically a HOWTO build your own Youtube, using the Amazon computer & storage cluster. Here's a really terse variation, though I don't think that's exactly what I was looking for. Now Panda looks well-suited for you.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:00 AM on November 22, 2008

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