Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Converting video for portability using Miro

Bronwyn recently discovered Miro for video conversion and she wont stop talking about it. Miro is an open source tool which solves some of the format problems encountered when using video on various online platforms, and mobile devices such as ipods and cellphones.  Bronwyn stumbled upon Miro when looking for free online stuff  to convert video for use on WikiEducator. Also a staff member was having problems with students viewing Windows Media video formats in Moodle - they only played in Internet Explorer - they would not play in Firefox browsers. This dilemma shows how important it is to use a more portable format for video, e.g., MP4 (MPEG) or Ogg. What are these formats you might say? Well MP4 is a bit like MP3 for audio - a more compressed version of the file, though there are software patents on them so they are not what is considered an open format. Ogg on the other hand is fully open which means anyone can tinker with the codecs and improve them as they are not patented.  So if you want fully open video use Ogg formats, otherwise use portable options such as MP4. The long and the short of it is that video in MP4 format compared to AVI or Windows Media will be more likely to play in any browser,  or on mobile devices - other formats would be very frustrating for students.

Here are the links for more information about converting  video to MP4 and Ogg. See: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Help:Converting_video. Ogg enables video to be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and WikiEducator. The free Miro Theora video converter is available for Windows and Mac computers and features a simple drag and drop interface. This is the recommended tool for converting video.
When you install Miro, it will prompt you to download the .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1

It's a bit like having to download Lame to use Audacity for converting wav to mp3 files.

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