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Using Zamzar to Collect Movies Offline

Page history last edited by Doug Peterson 15 years ago

About Online Movies

There are enormous selections of movies on the Internet that can contribute so much to the classroom situation.  Unfortunately, as with so many good things, there can be issues.


  • Often the movies are stored on a website that is blocked by a content filter.  By rule, you aren't allowed to even access the movie.  Why?  There could be a concern about using up bandwidth, or the site just might have other movies with content that isn't appropriate for the classroom.
  • You've found a great movie and it would be PERFECT for today's lesson.  Suppose you can get through the filter only to find that the site is "under construction", the file has moved, the file has been removed, or the original site has just plain gone missing in action.  This is really bad if you have all your eggs in that basket.
  • Or, you can get through the filter, get to the file but there is so much traffic that your movie is paused and restarted and paused and restarted because you just don't have the bandwidth to do it justice.
  • Name your own issue.  Everyone has issues.



What to do?  Wouldn't it be nice if you could guarantee that the movie is ready the moment you need it?  If you agree, read on.


About File Formats

Movies can be found on the internet using virtually any type of file format.  Some of the common ones are:


  • MOV (Quicktime Movie)
  • AVI (Audio Video Interleave File)
  • ASF (Advanced Systems Format File)
  • MPG (MPG Video File)
  • MP4 (MPEG-4 Video File)
  • SWF (Macromedia Flash Movie)
  • WMV (Windows Media Video File)




Increasingly, though, you'll find video hosting sites using FLV files.  (Flash Video Files)  This is a lossy format, to be sure, but is very nicely optimized to play quickly across the Internet.


All of the above issues go away when you use the services of the free website Zamzar.com or any of the others listed at the bottom of this page and put the video file on your own computer for playback on your terms.



It's a very simple concept.  You tell Zamzar where the file is that you would like.  You tell Zamzar what file format to convert it to.  Finally, you let Zamzar know how to contact you when the job is done. 


What file formats are supported?  Check the link here.


Make sure that the file that you're about to get is copyright clear for your intended purpose.  This includes public performance permissions if that's what you'll be doing. 


Step by step, here's how it's done.



    Visit Zamzar.com





    Click on the Download Videos tab and enter the full URL to the move you wish to download.






    Select the file format that you want your movie converted to.  FLV is a good choice.  The reason why is apparent when you need a player for your downloaded file.





    Provide an email address where Zamzar can let you know when the conversion is complete.  Click on the Convert button and let Zamzar do its thing.






The conversion isn't necessarily immediate so give Zamzar some time to do the conversion.  When it's complete, you'll be given a link in email.  Click on the link and you'll download the file to your computer where it's now yours to play back on your terms and without the issues that we've identified above.  Make sure that you've made a backup and that file can be used over and over again.  When it's part of a lesson that you use regularly, it's now yours for good!


How do you play the file?

Basically, any player that will play FLV files will do.  A really good open source player is FLVPlayer4free.  Kudos to the developers for producing such a fine product.  However, there's another option.


The SMART Notebook software will play FLV files natively!


From the Insert Menu, select Flash Video File.  Your video is inserted into a Notebook page and it's ready to go.  There's an added advantage with playing your video in Notebook.  Add additional pages and create a complete lesson.  The possibilities are endless.



Watch a TeacherTube Video illustrating this



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