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15 Powerful Video Converting and Encoding Applications for Mac

Danny Greer

With all of the choices out there you may be wondering, “What the difference?”  Learn about each of these powerful conversion applications and find the one that’s right for you.

★  = From personal experience, these are encoding/compression applications I recommend.

Adapter – Free
Macroplant’s Adapter is one of the newer video conversion applications to hit the market, and it’ssimplicity and price (freeware) make it a good choice for consumer video users.  Adapter converts to and from some of the more popular video formats (avi, mp4,mov, h264,flv) as well as some popular audio formats (wav, mp3).  Easily convert your videos for ideal performance oniPod, iPhone, PSP and Blackberry using the application’s default settings for these devices.
Compressor – $49.95
Now a standalone application, many editors may befamiliar with this application as it was previously included in the Final Cut Studio package.  Compressor excels as a companion to FCP (and FCPX) and offers a wide variety of presets for converting to DVD, H.264 and Web optimized videos.  Compressor can also blaze through compression by taking advantage of the processing power of other joined computer systems using Apple’sQMaster software (thus creating a render farm).  Those looking to convert to Windows Media or Flash formats may want to look elsewhere, as Compressor isn’t optimized to convert to these file types.
DV Kitchen $79.95
DVKitchen may not be one of the more popular video encoding applications, but many pro users (such as FCP guru Ken Stone) have praised the software for it’s strong feature set.  Anyone who has exported a still image from Final Cut Pro knows that quality can suffer due to interlacing andartifacting.  DVKitchen’sTimeFreezer function solves this issue bydeinterlacing the image and adding digital info back to the still…creating a much cleaner, crisper image.  There’s also functionality to automatically upload your video to a server after compression/converting, saving you time and making delivery more efficient.
DVDRemaster Pro $49.99
As the name suggests,DVDRemaster Pro is specifically geared toward those users who want to convert or backup DVD video.  Using presets, quickly convert your DVDs to formats that are optimized for devices such as iPhone oriPod.  DVDRemaster also has the ability to take a large DVD andrecompress it so that the video data will fit on a standard DVD.  Try out the software risk free before you buy!
Episode $495
Episode is a professional grade video encoding application (and my personal choice for most uses).  Use Episode on your local machine or scale up your power by creating aworkgroup cluster.  Episode has an extensive list of presets for all major video formats (including Flash,Quicktime and WMV).  Burntimecode onto your video from within the application….perfect for dailies or client approvals.  After applying your settings, Episode allows you to preview exactly how your video will look BEFORE encoding.  From broadcast towebcasts, Episode is built to encode high quality video using industry standards.
Handbrake Free
Handbrake is one of the most popular DVD-ripping videotranscoders.  Built to rip both DVDs andBlu-Rays, Handbrake will convert this video into MPEG-4 or H.264 video files…which can then be used in your NLE (FCPX, Adobe Premiere).  Due to it’s open source nature, the application is constantly being updated and improved.  If you’re looking for a high-quality, customizable DVD ripper, give Handbrake a spin!
Media Converter Free
Media Converter is designed to be a batch video converter.  It’s super simple interface makes it easy to convert your videos to and from some of the most popular formats (wmv,mov,avi).  If you’re looking for a free video conversion software that will tackle some of the more standard conversions, this might be a good bet.  However, it is not suited to tackle broadcast delivery standards and should be considered more or a consumer application.
Miro Video Converter Free
With all of the new mobile devices hitting the market it’s tough to keep track of what video format plays best on what.  What are the best settings for an Android phone?  For aniPad?  Miro makes it easy with their built-in video conversion presets.  The application has a whole slew of Android phones, Apple devices and other specialized formats (such as PSP).  Simply drag your video into Miro and choose what device you’d like to optimize it for.  It’s that simple.  It may not have all of the customizable presets as some of the more expensive encoders, but it’s simplicity may be just what you need.
MPEG Streamclip Free
MPEG Streamclip has long been the pro video editors secret weapon.  A highly flexible encoding application that can read/play the majority of video file types, and transcode into many broadcast standards.  MPEG Streamclip can also download and save videos from YouTube or Google, simply by entering the URL into the application.  Check out our previous post on bringing DVD videos into FCPX using MPEG Streamclip.   So versatile…a personal favorite!
Popcorn $49.95
Roxio’s Popcorn is a consumer-oriented application that specifically tackles DVD processes.   Copy andrecompress DVDs, with the ability to put a commercial 9 GB DVD on a consumer 4.7 GB DVD.  Rip portions of a DVD and convert them toQuicktime files. Got aTiVo?  Popcorn will stream directly from your Mac to yourTiVo set-top box.  Popcorn’s easy to use and quite efficient, if not more limited than some of the other applications on this list.
Adobe Media Encoder Adobe Media Encoder Included with other Adobe apps
Professional software-based background encoder from Adobe.  Comes included as a support application for popular Adobe products (Premiere Pro, After Effects & Prelude).  AME has presets for all standard broadcast, online and portable device file types, and allows for custom template creation as well.  Drop a file into a pre-assigned Watch Folder and AME will automatically begin encoding (big timesaver).  Media Encoder CS6 is equipped to handle all professional codecs and files, including ARRIRAW and 5K RED footage.  High performance encoding and background batch processing make this app one of the best on the list!
RoadMovie $29
Encode your movies withRoadMovie’s easy-to-use interface!  Presets foriPad, Apple TV,XBox,Wii and iPhone will give you the optimized output for some of the most popular game systems and handheld devices.  RoadMovie support subtitles and in many cases will process at a full 64-bit, speeding up your conversion time!  Other highlights includeAppleScript support, fulliTunesmetadata editor and batch encoding.  For the low price of $29,RoadMovie’s got quite the comprehensive feature set!
Squeeze – $799
Squeeze is the most expensive software encoder on the list, but it’s also one of the most professional.  Get control over every aspect of your encode or conversion usingSqueeze’s diverse set of adjustments and presets.  Encode to nearly every known video file type — including broadcast transport streams and web optimized video formats.  Squeeze also offersplugins that integrate directly into your NLE, taking the work out of exporting out and then bringing into the program (compatible with AVID,Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere).  If you’re looking for quality and options, Squeeze is the way to go.
VideoMonkey Free – Before VideoMonkey, I enjoyed using a simple (yetefficient) video encoder calledVideoHub.  A few years back the makers of that application abandoned the project andVideoMonkey sprung from it’s demise.  Using much of the same coding asVideoHub,VideoMonkey is a basic video encoder that excels in it’ssimplicity and speed (for a free application the compression times are quite impressive).  VideoMonkey’s totally free, so give it a try for your encoding needs.
Wondershare Video Converter $39.95
WonderShare is an affordable video converter that tackles some of the more simple converting and encoding tasks.  Some of the standout features include the ability to add a watermark to your video footage on export, join several separate video files into one larger one and export still images from your video.  It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles as some of the others, but it’s effective it you’re dealing with common formats and need simple encoding.

Do you use an encoding application that didn’t make the list?
Let us know in the comments!