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4.04.2009

Free Software III: Media Edition

In what's become an unintentially annual tradition, I bring you some more free software I've found useful over the last year or so.  This year's list is mostly concentrated on video and other media.  Hopeful someone will find these programs of use or at least of interest.

FYI, the old posts are here and here.

A great, lite media player than can handle virtually any format you throw at it.  When I can’t get a file to play in Windows Media Player or iTunes, I use this.  Lately I’ve just been using it to play all my videos and DVDs.  There are lots of options, yet it’s still simple to use.  Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

I used to use Azureus for my torrenting needs few and far between as they were, but then they messed it up with Vuze.  μTorrent is a simple, fast little program with no frills and no fat.  There is no reason your Torrent program should have a large footprint.  This does what you need it to and no more.  Available for Windows.  Beta version available for Mac.
For those with iPods, HandBrake is indispensable for video conversion.  This program will transcode many video formats into formats compatible with iPods, iPhones or other media devices.  You can even rip unencrypted DVDs straight to iPod format.  Unlike a lot of transcoders, this one has a nice user-friendly interface so even if you don’t own an iPod, it’s worth checking out.  Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
If you want to rip an encrypted DVD (a questionable legal activity, but probably an ethical one as long as you aren’t ripping them for nefarious purposes) you can use DVD Decrypter.  This program will rip your encrypted DVDs into .VOB format which can then be converted into another, more widely accepted format or simply played back on your computer using appropriate software (VLC will do this.)  If you have no idea what I just wrote, you might want to pass this one up for now.  Windows only.
CamStudio is a free, open-source screen capture application.  You can use it to easily capture video or take screen shots of your computer screen.  It’s got a fair amount of options, although it is still a work in progress.  Still, it’s only truly free screen capture application out there right now.  Windows only.
It’s exactly what it sounds like.  This program is extremely simple to use.  Just copy the YouTube video URL, click a button and download.  Once downloaded you’ll probably want to convert the .flv file into something more usable.  YouTube Downloader does that as well and is, again, very easy to use.  Windows only.
Celtx is a great tool for aspiring filmmakers like myself or anyone who wants to try their hand at writing some kind of script.  This program is built on the same technologies as Firefox and is therefore open-source.  It not only helps with formatting screenplays, stage plays, and other scripts, it can also be used to organize your project’s characters, actors, set, props, etc.  Also useful if you are participating in Script Frenzy like I am!  Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.