Saving embedded videos?
July 27, 2022 12:18 AM   Subscribe

I paid for a six month subscription to a set of exercise videos hosted on a private site. It is now about a week until the subscription ends. I did not use the exercise videos once (*shocked face*)

I would very much like to save them in case I wake up with an entirely different personality, which of course I'm convinced will happen.

I did try and figure this out myself and ended up with Internet Download Manager, which is free for 30 days. It only gave me the option to download the videos as ts files, which I did. But when I open the files (using vlc), it takes 30+ seconds to load, and if I try to skip forward or back it has the same lag. Same lag happens if I try to interact with files themselves, like rename or move them.

I tried to look that up, and someone recommended converting the files to mp4 using Handbrake. It took about 2 hours for a 15 minute video and resulted in some type of error. I figured there's a high chance I wasn't using the right settings and put it in the 'too hard, figure out later' basket.

Now the 30 days are up, I don't have access to Internet Download Manager anymore, and I only saved approx half the videos in this barely usable format (at least I'm consistent).

Googling gives me a million options, but the majority seem to be pretty sketchy apps or lines of code using ffmpeg, which seems above my tech level (but maybe it's not as intimidating as it seems?)

I have a less-than-stellar laptop with Windows 10 and an Android phone. Can anyone recommend an app/program they have used themselves?
posted by Adifferentbear to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
There should be some extensions that will let you save the video completely. If it's in a webpage.
posted by kschang at 1:21 AM on July 27, 2022

Best answer: You could try DownloadHelper - Video download browser extension (Chrome, Firefox). But yeah, I'd say ffmpeg would probably convert the ones you have. Looks like .ts is just some sort of streaming format for MPEG-2. When I use VDH on streaming places it spits out .mp4 files so it may do that for your site (maybe?). Don't think I've ever seen a .ts file in my life.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:35 AM on July 27, 2022

.ts — "transport stream" — was most commonly seen as the format DVDs used (and so DVD rips).

VLC should be able to convert it (possibly using ffmpeg as the backend, I forget the gory details).

The trick is that ts is a container format, and sometimes you need to know what codec settings to give ffmpeg, if it can't figure it out itself and/or you can't read what it dumps without reencoding.

Still, since I find VLC's UI to be more confusing than helpful, I would install ffmpeg and try this before anything else (from the command line, in the directory holding the video files):

ffmpeg -i in.ts -c copy out.mp4

This just copies the stream to a file; it doesn't reencode it (which is probably what you want).
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:38 AM on July 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My weapon of choice for this kind of work is also command-line based: the excellent yt-dlp, a better maintained and now somewhat more capable fork of the previously excellent and still quite useful youtube-dl. Sometimes the combination of Video DownloadHelper and its companion app is enough less fiddly for a particular site than I'll use that instead, but because it runs in-browser it's not so good for scripted, fire-and-forget download sessions for entire seasons of things.

If you can't make these tools work for you, and you'd trust an internet stranger with the login credentials for your soon-to-expire subscription, shoot me a memail and I'd be happy to have a crack at it on your behalf.
posted by flabdablet at 5:01 AM on July 27, 2022 [11 favorites]

I’ve had good results with JDownloader.
posted by rodlymight at 5:54 AM on July 27, 2022

If all else fails, do you think you could follow the videos just by listening to the instructions? Then you could use a voice memo tool on your phone or computer to record the sound while you play through one or more of them (and possibly watch it so it's easier to follow later). I recorded the sound from a yoga DVD that I like so I could listen to it while traveling, and it works well...
posted by pinochiette at 6:34 AM on July 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, yt-dlp is a mighty sword. Are these directions simpler?
posted by wenestvedt at 6:36 AM on July 27, 2022

Copyright issues aside, which is more valuable: your time, or the amount of money you lost on an unused subscription? You might be better off avoiding all the VLC/FFMPEG stuff and just resubscribing if you ever think you'll actually watch the videos. or just find equivalent stuff for free on youtube.
posted by jonathanhughes at 6:42 AM on July 27, 2022 [10 favorites]

You subscribed to a thing and didn't use it.

The original problem was 'I want to feel healthy', but now the problem has changed to 'I want to feel healthy, but the thing I tried didn't work, so I want to also feel like I didn't waste money'. Right? You have two problems now, the latter exists only because of the former. First problem will never go away. We all share that same problem throughout our lives. But we can totally eliminate the second problem.

This question asks for help to violate a subscription site's terms of service via technical solution. Putting aside the ethical/moral considerations, I'm going to assume that you've spent at least 3 hours on solving the latter problem, looking for software to break DRMed video files, trying to 'beat the system' by acquiring files. These 3 hours don't 'count' towards solving the core 'I want to feel healthy' problem.

There are technical solutions to the problem that might help you out in the short term, but this being metafilter, I hope that you consider my meta-suggestions here:

1. Cancel the subscription today to stop the investment from snowballing. That money is gone, don't let it get worse.
2. Make peace with the fact that the US fitness industrial complex relies on persuading customers to sign up for gym memberships or other services that won't be used in full by 90% of signups. Have compassion and forgive yourself for not using this specific subscription.
3. Use this experience as a learning to avoid this class of problem in the future. At minimum, when you sign up for any new subscription, commit to set yourself a calendar reminder to cancel every 30 days or so, to 'stop the bleeding' sooner rather than later.
4. Focus your energy on building structures into your life that will help you establish and re-establish a consistent routine of doing free or non-subscription fitness stuff - spending at least the same amount of time you've spent on the technical approach asked in this question. You don't have to build a whole different personality, but having a 'don't break the chain' calendar tracking days when you've worked out, maybe sometimes with a fitness accountability buddy, might be a good motivator.
5. If you can recommit to regular routine - and you still find you want these videos - subscribe again.

Best luck on your journey.
posted by enfa at 7:59 AM on July 27, 2022 [31 favorites]

Really depends on the site. I did this for a popular product, and I eventually had to resort to recording the screen because of how the site protected their property.
posted by terrapin at 9:16 AM on July 27, 2022

If an individual made these videos, you might reach out, tell them what happened, and ask if they'll extend your sub to give you another try. I've done this with software trials before, and indy developers usually give me a second chance.
posted by 10ch at 10:09 AM on July 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The other extensions didn't work, but DownloadHelper did! Although apparently they are HLS Streaming files and I can only download 1 of those every 2 hours, so not ideal.

I'm going to give yt-dlp a proper go, fingers crossed.
posted by Adifferentbear at 7:00 PM on July 27, 2022

... I can only download 1 of those every 2 hours, so not ideal.
The Bastard Administrator From Hell in me chuckles "as it should be". Depending on how long the videos are, and the relative exercise schedule, aside from a bit of a buffering allotment, there's no need for you to be able to download a lesson in much less time than it takes to do the lesson. If you hit record on the VCR or omg cassette tape on your stereo or save a live stream you don't magically get the whole thing in in a few minutes.

Some places will rate-limit the stream to roughly the time that it would take you to actually watch/listen to the media and not expose the raw source lickety-split.

I tested some other place (pretty sure) and downloaded a 11 minute HLS streaming video in 3 minutes. They don't have Bastard Administrator From Hell.

It's capacity planning, your high bandwidth speedy download stream is 20 other people getting the dreaded buffering message because you're hogging the bandwidth available.

(ex-network administrator from hell, I would do things like this for Quality of Service reasons). YMMV.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:39 AM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

I would do things like this for Quality of Service reasons

and one way to work around it that succeeds far more often than it should is using multiple yt-dlp sessions to grab multiple videos at the same time. This makes all the difference if the rate limiting is being done per stream rather than per IP address. I frequently max out a fairly fat Starlink connection by doing an entire season's worth of yt-dlp HLS downloads at once.
posted by flabdablet at 9:19 AM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

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