How to Send Large Files (mostly for free)

augustus gloop chocolate tubeNeed to send giant video files, but don’t want the hassle of FTP? There’s a proliferation of free sites that will allow you to upload a giant file (100 MB to 1 Gig) and provide someone else with a URL or e-mail so they can pull it down. Some require “client” software, but many need only a web browser and are supported by advertising or upsells to fancier versions. I used to be a loyal Pando user, but there are three problems:

  1. I don’t like the way I have to locate the file and drag it to the clumsy file interface (the user experience for finding a file on my Mac via Pando is painful).
  2. Most people don’t want to have to download and install a client application to retrieve it (even though it’s quite easy). And once you’ve done that, it’s usually the most convenient way to go (because it’s a one-step operation — instead of uploading, waiting for a unique URL, then e-mailing that URL and hoping your recipient downloads it before it expires).
  3. Pando seems to be constantly nagging me to upgrade, and I never see any improvements. It also crashes quite often.

Now I’m finding a wealth of alternatives, and the web interfaces have improved. The ads are still there, but it’s a small price to pay for free storage and upload/download. Here are just a few… No doubt Google will invent a free one that will crush this marketplace, but you gotta love ’em all for trying.

  • sendspace: Currently my favorite. Up to 300 MB, no fee, and very few limits. Has some upsell packages with a lot higher limits (1.5 gigs).
  • mediafire: One to watch. Has really good reviews (PCMag, CNet and PCWorld) and is apparently new.
  • senduit: Extremely easy, but it vanishes in 7 days and you have to wait for the unique URL (then e-mail it). Lose that code, and the file vanishes.
  • yousendit: I moved to it, but it started nagging me about reaching a limit. It’s got some upsell features.
  • dropboks: Haven’t played with it yet, but seems simple enough.
  • nakido: Another one I haven’t tried, but looks simple.
  • Plain Old Webserver: A Firefox add-on that does the trick apparently.
  • diino: Another client one, but decent file limit.

How to Watermark Logo on Video’s Black Bar (Letterbox)

How to Watermark Logo on Video’s Black Bar (Letterbox)Sorry. Bait and switch. This post isn’t giving the answer, it’s asking the question. But no worries. Someone will come along with the answers, and may even direct you where to buy Percocet online without getting ripped off.

So here’s the question: how do I replicate this image? I want to subtly watermark my URL on the black area beneath the letterbox. Of course in iMovie that bar doesn’t really exist. It’s like the most important part of the cup. The space in between. Ever elusive but essential for the lifeforce.

The black bar is created after I export to QuickTime. So I imagine I could export the “DV normal” into a high-resolution QuickTime file, then reimport it into a DV Widescreen Final Cut Pro Express file (which I still am too lazy to learn). Then use some image overlay and export it again.

But all that sounds like so much work unless you’re a total geek like TheMightyThor1212 or CharlesTrippy. Isn’t there some widget or some magical software that does it for me? If not, why don’t you get some programmer to make it. I’ll pimp it and even buy it. Because I’m too lazy and impatient to find free software on bit torrent.

Converting PC Videos to Mac

Visual HubMy favorite new software for converting avi and mov files to Quicktime or Mp4s for iMovie is called Visual Hub.

I have paid to download countless Quicktime pro and WMV converters, and most of them frustrate me endlessly. Visual Hub is easy (drag and drop) and hasn’t failed me yet. It also has a free trial without annoying watermarks or frequency limitations (although it does limit duration to under 2 minutes).

Most importantly, when it’s done its work, it boasts a lovely “ding” that sounds like a toaster. I sometimes salivate when I hear that ding.

Importing PC .mov Video Files Into Mac iMovie (without audio and video missing)

It’s the age old problem. You import an MPEG, Quicktime (.mov) or AVI into iMovie, and get a video with no audio. Or the dreaded white screen with working audio. That, of course, plunges you into countless hours of Google searches, flings you into the black hole of forum & help sites, and ultimately convinces you to buy several $20 downloads that don’t work. Then you finally figure it out, but the next time you forget what you did.

Today, after spending $100 on Flip4Mac’s WMV and upgrading to Quicktime Pro, I found the solution in free software from Squared 5. It’s called the MPEG Streamclip. It also allows you to rip videos from YouTube and other video sites (see picture), and save them in a variety of ways.

When I do collaboration videos, I’m often sending large files (using free Pando software or YouSendIt), and the video files usually work fine.

streamclip to convert video files between mac and PCBut sometimes video files present problems because they are muxed (the audio and video are mixed). The odd part is that the clips sometimes play fine on Quicktime but won’t import into iMovie. That’s because iMovie doesn’t support muxed files. So you need to demux the puppies.

First, download and launch MPEG Streamclip, and then open your problem video file. Next, select “File>Demux>Demux to M2V and AIFF.” This may give you a strange video file that still won’t open in Quicktime or iMovie. But at least you can import the audio portion, since AIFF exports separately, and imports as audio to iMovie without problems. To patch up this “Grant Giggles” video built from ancient .mov files, I had to import the videos as Quicktime .mov files, then import the audio separately as AIFFs (which I created in Streamclip). I next locked the audio and video using Apple-L (a nice trick Charles Trippy taught me).

This may not solve all problems because the file extensions “.mov and .mpeg” can be deceiving. There are lots of different CODECs (ways to code them), and some versions are Mac friendly and others aren’t.

Still, Streamclip is free (thanks, guys) and has a lot of different import and export/convert options that I would have thought would come with Quicktime Professional or Flip4Mac’s WMV professional studio (and I have no idea what I just payed $100 for, since WMV can’t solve this, and I’m not quite sure what it does otherwise).

Here’s another site with a buttload of information about file conversions.

Got any better tips for solving PC/Mac or Mac/PC conversion problems? Please comment below!

Addition December 19: Thanks ChristopherMast for pointing out iSquint. If you’re on Mac and want an easy way to rip videos from the web, try Tasty Apps.  Marquis- this is for demuxing your own clips if they’re old (like these, which I captured via MPEG on my digital camera). Also- sometimes you lose a video and have to go rescue it from Revver or something. And finally, when I make videos and want to show a highlight of someone else (usually ask permission if I’m not sure they’ll say yes).

How Do I Post Videos So They Can Be Seen on iPhone?

iphone video playerDec. 2 Update: This didn’t work. Garfield writes in the post that you need a “pro” account which is almost $100 a year. Mike from writes: “If the video you upload originally is iphone compatible it should work. If not, the pro account allows you to convert it to be compatible. We have full and automatic iphone compatibility on our roadmap.”

I was quite surprised to discover that iPhones can’t view the majority of online videos because they reject Flash and Quicktime. What’s with that?! But the solution lies in this video. It’s rather slow, so here are the highlights:

  1. Export your video (from your editing software) as a .mov file
  2. Upload it to (I use the lovely and talented to push my videos to a bunch of sites)
  3. Once it’s on, here’s what you do:

embed videos for iphoneNow it’s up on Here’s what’s next.

  1. Go to your video.
  2. Select “share” underneath the video
  3. Mode should be “inline playback”
  4. Preferred format: “Quicktime .mov”
  5. Be sure to select “update copy and paste code”
  6. Grab the HTML and paste it on your site (I use iWeb for quick and simple sites because it’s pretty easy… but for the life of me I can’t get my purchased domains to mask the Mac address).

If someone knows a way to simply upload videos and post on a website to the iPhone can view them, please let me know! I’ve spent hours and hours today trying to get this solved. I can’t wait to post the solution!

Creating HyperVideo: Hyperlinks Over Your Video With Asterpix

Remember when hypertext was all the rage? Then hypervideo was going to allow Seinfeld viewers to click on the phone and buy one?

Asterpix has a somewhat new service that allows you to rip a video from YouTube or other sites, and then drag hyperlinks over the images. Your video, which would now be served via Asterpix (but can be embedded on your own site) can have small dotted-line squares that appear temporarily over a particular image. If your viewer “mouses over” the square, they can read a short description, see tags, and follow a hyper link.

This has been discussed for years, but I haven’t, until now, seen it deployed as a free and easy-to-use tool. I learned about this from Scobleizer, a braniac that called it the “coolest thing I’ve seen in a while.” The Asterpix’s CEO writes about hypervideo in this 3-post blog.

Why would you want to do this? It gives the viewer the ability to interact or learn more about specific objects or people in the video. Now the marketer can promote the product that is otherwise resigned to a preroll or subtle product placement. Your viewer can also learn more about a video’s actor/actress or object (or actress that is an object).

asterpix spencerIn my own experimental demonstration, I brought my YouTube video (Poor Man’s GPS) into Asterpix and dropped a few links over parts of the image (only in the first minute). This video is one of my sponsored videos for GPSManiac, so I wanted to see how I could introduce the client more visibly. It took about 15 minutes for me to figure it out, but that’s probably because Patrick was talking to me the whole time.

What I Liked:

  • Asterprix is simple and doesn’t require me to upload a video to Asterpix because it rips it from YouTube.
  • Putting in the hyperlinks is fairly easy.
  • It’s free, and the name is cool (based off “asterix”)

What Needs Work

  • It was hard for me to understand how to turn the dotted-line squares OFF. I suppose they’re duration based, but maybe they’re based on image recognition. In any event, the user absolutely has to control the duration because even the subtle dotted-line square is obstrusive if it sticks around too long. And in some cases, my image has changed, and the boxes are looming over something else.
  • The dotted-line square is subtle, but I’d probably want to tone it down further. I know some of my viewers are irritated by even the subtle YouTube InVideo ads that only occupy 20% of the screen for around 15 seconds. So I can imagine they’d be really annoyed if white boxes are appearing all over the video.
  • There’s a potential copyright problem with the business model. I don’t prove I own the clip, so I can do this to anyone’s video. Maybe in my sign-up I promised not to do that (but who reads those things?).

Where It Will Work & Won’tasterpix screen shot

  • It’s not a tool people can use on major online-video sites (like YouTube) because, like any dynamic ad, it gets stripped away. I remember trying desperately to upload my Revver-tagged ads to YouTube. Kinda cute in retrospect.
  • This does have some nice application for the video “long tail” (although a few sites dominate in online video, the bulk of viewing occurs in fragmented areas all over the web). There will be a lot of content that would benefit from a way for viewers to dig more deeply into a video.
  • It has a lot of potential creative applications. An instructional video could have a way a viewer can follow a side-bar for more information. I’m surprised Asterpix doesn’t use its own technology to demonstrate how to use it. There are some fairly weak demos, and the “how to use” section is pure text and images.

I am curious to see how the company monetizes this tool. Does it charge a flat or recurring fee for advanced functionality? Does it try to squeeze yet another ad into the video and feed itself via ads (which may repel people)?

9 Tips for Videos and Hard Drives

big ass computerI just counted. Nine hard drives. If you create videos, you probably have at least one or two backup drives.

So keeping with Number 9, here are 9 tips about hard drives that I’ve learned the hard way.

  1. Don’t trust them. I had a Seagate crash and burn on me once, and lost some of my favorite videos. Fortunately I have some of the videos in lower resolution on other drives. Three stores couldn’t recover it and I was too mad at Seagate to get a refund or ever buy another one again. Then I broke my rule and bought another one because it was so cheap. Neither my PC nor my Mac recognize it. Desk weight. Dear Seagate: eat me.
  2. Buy only what you need now. The prices drop frequently, so if you rush to buy the terabyte drive you’ll find out it’s 30% less expensive by the time you actually need the space.
  3. Stay slightly behind what’s “hot” for the best deals. The real hard drive bargains now are on the 500 gig external drives. I like the Western Digital “My Book” drives (Amazon has a 500 gig one for $150). Call me crazy but I’d rather have too many drives because if one of them Seagates I know I won’t lose more than a few weeks of videos.
  4. Never pay more than 50 cents per gig, and shoot for 25 cents. So if it’s a 500 gig drive you want to shoot for between $150 and $250.
  5. Shop around. Last night I bought a SADA drive at BestBuy for $120, and while searching for installation instructions I found it for $75 at one of those “can I trust or not” online stores. So don’t be impulsive like me.
  6. Export best quality video. I try to save the original files of most of my videos in iMovie, but those can be 3 gigs per video (even if they’re short). So I’ve been saving the CD-ROM quality versions I upload as a backup. BIG mistake. Save a version that’s the highest quality your editing software can export. For the Mac, the difference between “full quality” and CD-ROM quality is day and night when played on a DVD player.
  7. Save editor file for your favorite videos. If you ever think you’ll need to change the music or condense your video for other mediums, then you absolutely have to save the master version. When I get a request from a network for one of my videos, I sometimes need to tighten them up or remove certain audio (not to mention export them in the highest quality I can). Note that iMovie may hide your footage and let you delete the clips you don’t use. But it secretly maintains the full version of each clip so that you can “return to original.” There’s a complex workaround, but it plays havoc on your file sizes. It’s worth ensuring your input settings break video into chunks no longer than 5 minutes.
  8. Keep your software and footage on separate drives. An editing pro told me that I can get faster performance by running my software from the main hard drive, and saving my projects on a separate internal drive. I haven’t noticed if that works, but I’ll take his word for it.
  9. Keep your main drive free of lots of space. My editing software runs radically slower if there’s not plenty of room on the drive.

Hope this helps, and look forward to your tips. Especially from Windows users since some of this applies just to Mac folks.

Live Help on YouTube: Customer Support and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

YouTube is now offering live technical support via NALTS: North American Live Tube Support. It’s a volunteer-based system where you can get help with common YouTube problems such as file upload requirements, registration problems, account suspension problems, and other frequently asked YouTube questions.

To demo the live support feature, see Help: Live YouTube Technical Support. You’ll need to be registered before they can help you.

P.S. When you’re done, see the video to which it responds. And my strategy worked. It’s now the first video you’ll find if you search “help” on YouTube. 🙂