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Simple Video Tricks

by Miguel Guhlin
video tricks

A week doesn’t go by that a friend doesn’t ask me, “Can you help me with video editing?” Lacking formidable video skills myself, this blog will show you how folks continue to believe I’m a video editing whiz. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are my simple video tricks.

Trick #1 – Get Videos Off the Web

“I want this video. How do you save the video?” asks my friend. She will send me links to both YouTube and embedded videos on web pages. After explaining that this is a violation of YouTube’s Terms, I offer some tips. There are three tools that I will try to use. I’m going to share them in order of ease of use.

Approach #1 – Media Grabber (Chrome browser)

If you haven’t heard of the lightning fast Torch Browser for your Windows 10 computer, you need to check it out. It has a lot of amazing features, including streamlining your Facebook window (getting rid of advertisements), a built-in torrent downloader (we won’t be going into that much), and web music player. Since Torch Browser is based off of Chrome browser, you can use all your favorite add-ons (e.g. Screencastify) with it. Think of it as Chrome Browser Plus.

The tool that makes getting video easy is Media Grabber. This is the tool you will use to pull videos off web pages, including YouTube. It also makes it easy to strip the audio from a video. That is useful when you want just an audio file of a video file (Note: Torch saves audio in AAC format. You can convert AAC to MP3 audio format with Audacity or Cloud Convert). This is what the tool looks like in the tool bar:

You will want to click on the blue arrow icon. It will save the video to your computer as an MP4. You can further customize Media Grabber to also save the audio. To do that, go into your browser settings, just as you would in Chrome, and then go to Advanced–>Media Grabber screen. As you can see from the screenshot below, you have several options.

Approach #2 – Video Download Helper (Firefox Quantum browser)

Familiar with the new, fast Firefox Quantum browser? If not, you should give it a whirl. A complete rewrite of Firefox, it offers vast speed improvements over previous lag-prone versions. The Quantum version also features low compatibility with add-ons. Two that I must mention include the Video Download Helper and Multi-Account Containers.

The add-on that has been a long-term friend of folks who need to save videos off the web, including YouTube, is Video Download Helper. As you can see from the screenshot, I must get a copy of that Hotel Transylvania movie trailer. Video Download Helper makes doing so in a wide variety of formats easy.

Aside: What are Multi-Account Containers? This add-on is fantastic for keeping your internet cookies separate (e.g. Facebook can’t track you since all its tracking cookies are kept in their own jar). This add-on has nothing to do with video, I just felt compelled to mention it.

Approach #3 – ATube Catcher

ATube Catcher gives you access to an actual program you install on your Windows computer. It has a variety of features, best represented with this opening menu of options:

As you can see, these are drop-dead simple options for pulling video off the web. There are many options for how to save the video you get off the web. Here’s what that looks like:

The process is quite simple, only many are unaware of such a powerful, free, open source tool at their fingertips.

Trick #2 – Cropping Videos

Now that you know my top tricks for getting video off the internet, you may find this one a bit esoteric. I am often asked “How do you crop videos, like you would a picture, to get rid of a caption?” Consider this image below:

If you want to use this video in an instructional setting, you may not want to see the caption, “Not for Sale to Persons Under the Age of 18. Drink Responsibly.” To get rid of that, follow these general steps:

  1. Use a screen-casting tool to capture your screen and system audio
  2. Select only the part of the screen you want in to get
  3. Save the video

This process can be problematic for some since some screen-casting tools only let you grab the entire desktop or tab in a web browser. Still, there are several ways. This is just one approach I use with Screencastify Premium.

This awesome Chrome browser friendly add-on allows me to record a video, then crop it AFTER the screen-cast is complete. Here’s a video from Screencastify that explains the process.

Wait, wait, here’s one more trick that often comes in handy.

Trick #3 – Flip that Video

Flipping video on Android using Google Photos – Edit the video, then tap on the ROTATE option at the bottom of screen,

“An epidemic at little kids’ sporting events, I refer to this as vertical video syndrome (VVS),” says Dawn Bradley. Ever start recording video on your phone and then realize you’re holding it wrong? Here’s an example. When recording video, you are supposed to hold it sideways (horizontally). Often, though, in the excitement of the moment, we forget and the phone is held in a vertical manner (a.k.a. portrait mode). There are several ways to flip the video so it displays in landscape mode.

  • Use an online tool like Clideo
  • iOS user? Try Video Rotate and Flip ($0.99 for cropping feature)
  • Android user? Use Google Photos app on your device to edit the video, then rotate it.

Wasn’t That Easy?

If you are saying to yourself, “Wow, that was less painful than I thought it would be,” you are right. Getting and flipping videos isn’t as hard as it once was. Much of the work can be done with no-cost tools. Give it a try. You never know when these tricks will save you, or maybe someone who needs your help, time and stress.

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