Streaming video of public meeting. How do I download for offline viewing?
February 8, 2011 12:34 AM   Subscribe

Video pirates, ahoy. All I want to do is save .wmv streams of some Seattle-area public meetings to my computer, for offline viewing. Simple, right?

Easier said than done! They are in WMV format, I believe, and stream just fine, but the setup seems designed to confound downloading.

I tried VLC 1.1.7, but didn't seem to be getting any audio. Is there a simple fix for that I'm overlooking?

The tools I have available are Firefox, Chrome, IE, Windows Media Player and VLC.

Guidance gratefully appreciated.
posted by Alaska Jack to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
i've had good success with Orbit Downloader. They have both a "sniffer" utility that looks at the different streams coming into your machine and lets you decide (usually based on file size) which one you want, and they have a "get it" button which appears over streaming movies. Click on the button, and download away! Hope this helps.
posted by alchemist at 1:02 AM on February 8, 2011

If shit for some reason hits the fan, you can always use a screen capture tool.
posted by phaedon at 1:43 AM on February 8, 2011

Usually how these things work is that the server generates a one-time key that will allow you to stream the content; that key is invalidated as soon as you try and re-open the content. To get around this:
  1. Install the Firebug Firefox plugin
  2. Locate the source of the content stream:
    1. Open firebug
    2. Click on NET
    3. Select ALL content
    4. Wait for the page to load, then CLEAR the list
    5. Now play the video using whatever frontend they've provided (probably Flash)
    6. The streaming video should be the only active item in the panel
    7. Right-click the stream to get the URL
  3. Open a new browser window
  4. Paste the URL you got from Firebug and hit ENTER. The page will try and download, but the key (which will be in the URL as a long string of random characters) is currently in use in the other tab of Firefox, so the page won't load. Let it continue to try and load.
  5. Switch back to the other tab where the video is playing. Close this tab.
  6. The remaining tab (the one with the copy-and-pasted URL) will now start working. It essentially takes over the valid key before the server that issued the key has a chance to revoke it. This is the raw video file which you should now be able to directly download by clicking FILE -> SAVE AS
This doesn't work everywhere, but it works most places that use server-generated one-time keys (almost all Flash video, for example).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:12 AM on February 8, 2011 [6 favorites]

Try this:

Use Safari.
Load the page.
Start the stream.
Open the Activity window.
Scroll down the list of items for the big one that's still loading.
Click once to highlight.
Copy the link (Ctrl-C, Apple-C, right-click+Copy, whatever).
Open the Downloads window.

Apparently this works in Chrome / WebKit browsers too, but I haven't tried it.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:36 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

( those browsers, just Safari. I haven't tried it for your page, either, because I'm at work and stuck on IE.)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:37 PM on February 8, 2011

Another option, presuming you have install rights, is StreamTransport, similar to the program alchemist recommended.
posted by aerotive at 8:13 PM on February 16, 2011

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