Once upon a time there was a free utility for Mac users which squished movies down to an appropriate size for playback on Macs, iPods, online movie sites, and more.
It was called iSquint by a company called Techspansion. Then along came their big brother utility that did more and, appropriately, cost more. It was called VisualHub. Then, Techspansion and VisualHub died. Our favorite movie squeezing utility was gone, and so was $23.32.
Why do we have to squeeze or compress movies in the first place? Because the file sizes of digital movies can be huge. Because iPods and iPhones and web sites and other places to put movies have different file size requirements.
It’s a nasty fact of 21st century life that something so easy should be so complex.
Apple helps somewhat with point and click formatting of movies in iMovie. Click to make a movie for YouTube. Click to make a movie for iPhone. Click to make a sharable movie for the web or email.
Whatever the click, the file sizes are not the same, hence the need for a utility to make movies smaller so they can go more places. Not only would VisualHub and little brother utility iSquint squeeze movies, they could even change movie file formats.
What’s not to like? One was free. The other was a must have utility for movie squeezing aficionados. When Techspansion died, we cried. However, VisualHub lives on in a new utility called FilmRedux, also free.
FilmRedux picks up where iSquint and VisualHub left off. Except there isn’t much available to show you how to use FilmRedux, and support is a forum set up by the developer taking over the project.
Frankly, the user interface is an improvement. Both iSquint and VisualHub were a hubbub of options, an interface teeming with buttons; even a warning not to click on that which you do not fully understand or comprehend.
There’s plenty about movie file formats not to understand. FilmRedux attempts, repeat, attempts to improve upon that situation with an interface that is, well, uh, somewhat more intuitive for users.
The basics are easy enough. There’s a toolbar across the top with instructions to drag and drop your video file (more than one can be dropped at a time) in the middle space.
Below that are more options, including the basic Convert To drop down menu which gives choices similar to that provided by iMovie. The various iPods are listed, as are various file conversion options.
For now, the other options for devices, game systems, and file formats are grayed out, ostensibly to show up at some point in the future. You get what you pay for.
FilmRedux has more options for saving movies that have been squeezed, and, for the really adventurous Mac user, there’s the dreaded Advanced Settings option. Clicking it gets you more options for video, audio, trimming and so on.
There’s also buttons for iPod screen, TV scree, H.264 file format conversion, and a slider bar for quality; Tiny is low quality, Standard is viewable, and Go Nuts is better than High quality.
It’s a shame that in the 21st century we still have to deal with dozens of movie file formats that need to be squeezed down or converted to play on various devices. Again, iMovie helps with Apple’s legendary ease-of-use, but with limited options.
FilmRedux is an attempt to resurrect the promise of iSquint and VisualHub. It’s not ready for prime time usage yet, so don’t use it in a critical movie making project, but the promise is there, if not the spirit.