Seventh String Software

Using Video with Transcribe!

Transcribe! can display the video of many movie files, synchronised with Transcribe!'s variable-speed audio playback. Basic help for this is in the main Transcribe! Help, but here are some additional notes about coping with different types of video.

On Windows and Mac, Transcribe! uses QuickTime for video display, which means that on Windows you must install QuickTime if you haven't already - it's a free download from Apple. If you are having trouble using a video with Transcribe! then the first reality check is to see if it plays ok in QuickTime Player. If it does then Transcribe! should be able to play it too, and if not, then not. It is possible to install plugins for QuickTime to enable it to play additional formats.

On Linux, Transcribe! uses GStreamer for video display. If you are having trouble using a video with Transcribe! then the first reality check is to see if it plays ok in GStreamer - try the default media player on your system, e.g. Totem, which uses GStreamer. If it does then Transcribe! should be able to play it too, and if not, then not. It is possible to install plugins for GStreamer to enable it to play additional formats.

Many of the comments below apply to Windows/Mac/QuickTime, and not to Linux/GStreamer.

You will find a link to view a video of this feature in action, near the bottom of this page

You Tube

Lots of people ask about this. Transcribe! can play video but you need to have that video on your hard disk first. For downloading from YouTube, I have had good results with YouTubeInMP4 but also see below for more suggestions.

Video Formats

There are countless different video formats out there (wmv, mov, mp4, avi, flv, etc. etc). Transcribe! uses QuickTime for playing video, which means that mov & mp4 files should work straight away. For other formats there are two options. The preferred option is to install a plugin for QuickTime to enable it to play the format in question, if there is one available. The second choice is to use other software to convert the video to a format which QuickTime can handle.

What format to choose, if you have a choice

If you are using software to convert video from one format to another, or to copy video from DVD, then you may be able to choose what format to use for the resulting video. Transcribe! needs to control the playback speed very precisely in order to synchronise the video with the audio at any speed you choose, and some video formats work better than others for this purpose.

So if video is not playing at all, or playback is jerky or takes a noticeable amount to time to synchronise when you start playing (or loop back) then trying a different format may help. Converting to a smaller size may help. Another setting that can make a lot of difference when converting video formats is the "I-Frame Interval". For example one user (thank you Olda) tells me that when using Avidemux to produce Video MPEG-4 ASP(Xvid), the resulting video works much more smoothly with Transcribe! if you set Xvid Configuration / Frame / Maximum I-Frame Interval to 1 (instead of the default 300). The video file produced is huge, but for short videos this won't be a problem.

I've had good results using Movavi Video Converter to convert formats. For output format I select "General Video", "MPEG4 Video", "Settings - Video same as input", and I find this works pretty well with Transcribe!

I hear that My Video Converter is effective for producing videos which work with Transcribe!

I've also been told that using HandBrake for video conversion, these settings work well: high profile selected; tweaks on Video tab; container MP4; large file size checked; codec MPEG-4; FPS same as source constant framerate; quality slider to right 1.
Or, here is a different recommendation for Handbrake, using H.264: Use the Normal profile and make these changes: RF slider to 30 (worse quality than default), and change the output file suffix to mp4 so Transcribe! will recognise it. This setting defaults to H.264.

And that using Magix Video deluxe for video conversion, "MPEG-4 simple" gets a better result than "MPEG-4 H264".

Possibly there is a bit of a pattern emerging here... that H264 is best avoided. However this is all depending on the decoder that QuickTime is using - if QT gets an H264 decoder which works more smoothly, or if you install a QT plugin which provides an alternative H264 decoder, then H264 might work very well with Transcribe!

Installing QuickTime Plugins

Various third parties produce plugins for QuickTime which enable it to play other formats. Launch QuickTime Player (on Windows you'll find it on the Start menu) and in QuickTime Player select Preferences -> QuickTime Preferences. Select the "Update" tab, press "Install..." to "Find and install new third party QuickTime software". This will take you to a page listing plugins, for instance the DIVX plugin listed here is free and will allow you to play avi files.

There are other plugins to be found as well, for instance Perian - "a free, open source QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats" and flip4mac which does the same trick. This will enable QuickTime to play many video formats including Flash video (flv files - YouTube etc.), which means you will be able to play them in Transcribe! without needing to convert them to a different format. If you want to play YouTube videos in Transcribe! then you still need to download them first - see below.

Special Note About YouTube Format

By default YouTube has always used Flash video (flv) but these days it is possible to download other formats directly from YouTube, by adding an extra option to the address you use for viewing the video. For the full details see this page.

The main point for us is that by adding &fmt=18 to the address, you can view & download mp4 instead of flv. E.g. use the link instead of This mean you can use the resulting file directly with QuickTime and therefore with Transcribe!, and it can also mean superior quality because of avoiding format conversion. Brilliant!

(Warning : apparently this doesn't always work : sometimes you get Flash video even though you used "&fmt=18". So try it and see...)

See below about how to download the YouTube video file, after you have watched it in this way.

Downloading Video, and Converting Video Formats

For format conversion I have had reasonable results using Movavi Video Converter on Windows and VisualHub on Mac, but there are many many more : search the web for "video format conversion" or "convert wmv to mov" or "convert DVD to mov" or "convert flv to mov" and you will find lots to choose from.

Here are some free video format converter programs. I haven't tried them but they have been recommended to me.
"Free Video to iPod and PSP Converter" for Windows
"Super" for Windows
MPEG Streamclip for Windows & Mac

For downloading YouTube on Windows or Mac you could try or or KeepVid or Zamzar or TubeSock or DLNow or ConvertToAudio ... and many more options if you look around.

For downloading YouTube on Windows you could try GetFLV or UltraGet Video Downloader or ImTOO YouTube Video Converter or Any Video Converter or Orbit Downloader or aTube Catcher ... and many more options if you look around.

Also try OnlineVideoConvertor. You can choose either mp4 or mov as output.

For downloading YouTube on Mac you could try Videobox or CosmoPod or TubeTV ... and many more options if you look around.

Another option for format conversion on Windows is Format Factory. Use mp4 with default settings.

If you are using Firefox then you could try a Firefox add-on called Video DownloadHelper. You download it by going to Firefox's Tools menu, "Add-ons" or "Extensions", and click "Get Extensions" or "Get More Extensions". Or another Firefox add-on called 1-Click YouTube Video Download.

Another Firefox add-on is Fast YouTube Download. Apparently this one can download YouTube videos as mp4, ready for use with Transcribe!

BTW I've had reports that the ClipGrab downloader does not work well with Transcribe! Video Viewer. Produces jerky videos.

For copying from DVD on Mac you could try MacTheRipper ... and many more options if you look around.

You can find a wide range of video software for download at

Video Sources

1) Disk file : If you already have the video as a file on your computer then all you need to do is make sure QuickTime can play it - see above.

2) DVD, unprotected : if you look then you will find many programs capable of reading an unprotected DVD to a QuickTime movie file on your hard disk. Be aware that this can be a slow process, and the resulting file will be large. If the software allows you to select which scene to copy then so much the better. There is another issue here : many DVD copy programs assume you are copying a feature film. They look for the longest single track and copy that. But music and teaching videos are often divided into multiple video tracks, so the copy software finds the biggest single track and copies it, ignoring all the others. So you may need more sophisticated copying software for dealing with this - see below.

3) DVD, protected : almost all commercially produced DVDs are copy protected. I believe it is possible to obtain software which can copy protected DVDs to hard disk or to another DVD, while removing the protection. This may very well be illegal.

4) Online Video : there are huge numbers of music videos for online viewing on YouTube and other similar sites. These mostly use Flash Video (flv files). There are two issues here: you need to download the thing, and you need to convert it to QuickTime movie, or install a suitable QuickTime plugin. Search for "download youtube video" or "download flash video" and you will find any number of sites dedicated to downloading Flash Video (flv) files from YouTube, and from the many other sites which use flv for video. Sites like YouTube don't want you to download their video files so they tweak their systems from time to time to prevent these techniques working. Consequently some of the websites and techniques will work, others won't. I have no idea whether this is legal or not, especially considering that many online videos may have been posted without the copyright owner's permission anyway.

Some websites offer "one stop" solutions, allowing you to download from YouTube and save as QuickTime movie. Others merely help to download the flv (Flash Video) file, after which you would need to convert to QuickTime movie using one of the many converter programs as mentioned above. In fact it is possible to download video from YouTube and similar sites without special tools, read on...

Getting an individual track from a DVD

Here is some advice (for Windows) I've had from a user (thank you Ron) (I haven't tried it myself):

Downloading FLV (Flash Video) from YouTube and similar sites, without special tools.

First, watch it right through in the usual way. This results in the flv video file being temporarily downloaded to your computer. Then you will need to find the cached video file. The location varies between systems but in all cases you can identify it by its large size (typically several MB), by its creation time which will correspond to the time you viewed the video, and also its name or description might include words like "video", "flash", or "flv".

Here are the places to look (depending on operating system and what browser you used to view the video):

Safari on Mac: On the Window menu select "Activity". You should see the video file in the list. Double-click it and it will download to your desktop. Then ctrl-click it, "Get Info", and change its name to end with ".flv" because it is in fact Flash Video.

Firefox on Ubuntu Linux: Look in /tmp and you should find it. Copy to some other location and rename so the name ends with ".flv". Transcribe! for Linux doesn't display video but there's no reason why you can't use a Linux machine if you have one, for downloading videos.

On some versions of Firefox you may find the video listed if you go to the Tools menu, "Page Info", then "Media".

Internet Explorer or Firefox on Windows XP: The files and folders involved are "hidden" so in order to see them you must use Windows Explorer, go to your hard drive ("C:\" probably), select Folder Options on the Tools menu, and on the View tab you must check "Show hidden files and folders" and uncheck "Hide protected operating system files".

After viewing the video in Internet Explorer: navigate to the folder "C:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files". Click on either the "Size" column header to find the largest files there, or the "Last Accessed" to find the most recenty accessed, and you will find the video file listed as something like "get_video?video_id=vEdeBtd...........".

After viewing the video in Firefox: navigate to the folder "C:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\eyi885a5.default\Cache" and sort by "Date Modified", look for a large recently modified file with a name like "562F42DDd01".

Once you have found the file, control-click it and drag/copy it to a more convenient folder. Rename it as MyVideoName.flv

If you have any problem with this method, click here for a different Windows XP approach.

Internet Explorer or Firefox on Windows Vista: Apparently on Vista you'll find the video file stored at C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\Temp as *.tmp file (not .flv). But by making them .tmp files they prevent backups etc being made easily.

If you have complete instructions for a way of doing it in Vista, do let me know.

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