Quality YouTube to go – as MP4s

January 11, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Computers, Events, Internet, Media, Movies, Online services, Software, Web Apps | 5 Comments

Recently, YouTube has been encouraging posters to put up higher quality videos, including HD widescreen. You may have noticed the screen got wider. And that some posters are making a setting error and getting stretched videos. But some of the clips are quite good, especially considering how compressed they are to be so easily viewed on-line.

I’ve also noticed some people putting higher quality clips on Vimeo. Is this YouTube’s response? Longer material is better on Google Video, but some end up posting things like 12 parters on YouTube.

Anyway, sometimes now, a video clip will offer you a higher resolution. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to download that favorite in MP4 instead? YouTube’s MP4 files may have a higher resolution, stereo sound and can be played with more of the players, including portables like iPod.

Straw, over on AllThatsNew, has a post on how to download those MP4 files instead. Google System explores it in more detail, offering an easy way to get the Bookmark plus further background. (MP4 is format 18, so the URL just needs “&fmt=18” added & reload)

I also notice the Firefox Add-in DownloadHelper is now offering mp4 files as an option too. (Update: see comments – only with the above)

[Update: Download Helper Addon now does support HiQ downloads from Youtube (ver 4.2). It has the advantage of preserving file names.]

A few key points:
– The MP4 file has to preexist so not all videos will have the option, especially older ones.
– the clips will all be named “video.mp4” so be sure to rename them after download so you can ID them later.

I should also mention the free KMPlayer. It will handle not only the FLV’s that may be the only option but Quicktime, Real, WMV and so forth. No need for all the obnoxious players. Its fast and lightweight, VERY configurable with capture, playlists, skins, and more. It also handles audio files well. Nicest of all, it only takes over file associations when asked. Right click to find the massive menu. The only gottcha I’ve had is the Skins sub-menu is only available in certain Shade modes. [Turns out to be Advanced menu mode]

How is all this changing things? At a recent discussion group with friends, we did not watch a DVD as usual, we watched YouTube on their flat screen TV. I can easily drive that 50″ screen with my netbook. Download the clips in advance and there’s no need for an Internet connection. You may also have noticed the trend of all screens going wide – desktop, netbook, laptop, etc. Video is a great way to demo those screens – even on the netbook…

Have fun


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  1. Thats awesome!! i used to convert videos which takes quite a long time, which I then watch on my iPod Touch. But with the simple javascript I can get MP4 videos instead of flv and in just a click too. Anyway hopefully youtube offers a way for us to download the videos which would be really great. Thx for the pingback 😀


  2. Yeah, I used Super and Riva and some other stuff. I concluded the best bet was to use viewers on hardware that were more open so conversion was not needed. I’ve also been a fan of memory card players, so internal memory is not a capacity limitation. Cameras do it, video cameras, computers, phones, why not most MP3 players, especially iPod? That said, the Touch is very cool.

    Thanks for the article!


  3. Downloaded a set of clips today. DownloadHelper did not offer MP4 format UNLESS i used the special bookmark. The bookmark worked well. You can change the file name when it asks you where to save it. And the quality was visually better.


  4. Another tip I discovered – if you want to trigger the Hi Res version on YouTube without clicking the extra link, add &fmt=18 to the end of the URL.

    You can then email that or embed that, as in the post above:


  5. The Firefox Addon Download Helper that I mention above now detects HiQ formats on Youtube. (Ver 4.2) The pick list offers the usual FLV and if HiQ is available, indicates it. It also has the advantage of using YouTube filenames, rather than just “video.mp4”


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