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YouTube

Those of you who frequent YouTube will know that there have been numerous changes, and not necessarily for the better. Well, a big recent one is the change in internal file format. This matters if you download content from YouTube, as I do - mainly to get a smooth playback and also for use in places where WiFi is patchy or just unavailable.

YouTube loves FLV files. I don't know why, as the H.264 video codec and AAC audio codecs will live quite happily in an MP4 file, as they were until recently.

This is a problem as my habitual playback software does not understand the YouTube FLVs. It will play FLVs, just not from YouTube. For those it says it sees a video stream with width zero, and height zero. Then fault it, a lot.
MediaInfo gets on better, but doesn't understand the video container.
AVIdemux faults it.
The list goes on. In fact, the only thing I have that can play these files is VLC.

YoutubeDownloaderHD to the rescue!
Well, sort of.
It appears to work with a bit of a kludge - an option to transcode to MP4, but goes by way of the AVC1 codec - I don't understand why the H.264 data can't just be "repackaged" into an MP4 file.

To explain why I don't like the transcode, here is the original 480p FLV, screenshot from VLC:

Screenshot from FLV original.

And here is YoutubeDownloaderHD's transcode of the same thing, screenshot from FLV:
Screenshot from AVC1 copy (transcoded from original).

You can see the loss of quality if you look around the edges of the balls. Or, look at the "blown up" snippet:

Close-up of transcode quality loss.

To make matters worse, there is no "medium quality" MP4 version available. Just the FLVs. What the hell Youtube?!? If you're going to use FLV, don't use weird ones.

YoutubeDownloaderHD screenshot

 

The song referred to is 『惑星の森』 (Forest Planets? a bit of a Ghibli vibe, no?) by 鬼束ちひろ (Chihiro Onitsuka), watch it on Youtube.

 

Credit where credit is due. It would be nice of YoutubeDownloaderHD to do a straight container-type conversion, or to offer quality options. But then again, we're already up to v2.2 of the program. When I came on-line a year ago, it was something like 1.5. How much pulling of hair takes place over the random caprices of YouTube? Not just the coders of this tool, which has kept step with YouTube, but also us users that seem to find the bl**dy thing looks and works a little different each time we visit...

 

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Rob, 30th July 2010, 18:25
And then you can consider HTML5 videos ... I've had a few flag as such browsing with Opera.. 
 
(Currently on a 2006 version of !Netsurf so I don't see anything!)
Rick, 3rd August 2010, 02:46
Just to clarify something... 
"but also us users that seem to find the bl**dy thing looks and works a little different each time we visit" 
 
While that could apply to the YoutubeDownloaderHD software, that must change by necessity of YouTube's alterations, I was actually referring to YouTube itself that - it seems - is always slightly different each visit. Like, guys, why do I get the feeling you're now changing stuff for the sake of changing it? :-/

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