Here are some great open source software applications that you can download for free on your own systems… Open Source is a type of free, legal software license applied to an application that is produced by one or many individuals or organizations and is released into the world for the benefit of all.

Mpeg Streamclip – This is a very user friendly video conversion app that works on Mac and Windows. I find that the windows version requires a lot more codecs (small plugins that help your computer decode video) installed and is somewhat less functional. The Mac version works flawlessly for jobs like transcoding your Canon h264 footage to Prores422 and converting FLV or MP4 files to Quicktime for editing. FLV and MP4 are the formats that Youtube uses.

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VideoDownloadHelper – This is a plugin for your firefox browser that allows you to download files from video sharing sites like youtube or vimeo. As long as you take into account copyright concerns, youtube can be a good source for public domain and creative commons material, but there is no way of downloading the videos in the site. This plugin will add a button to choose to download whatever video you are currently watching. Make sure to download the version with the largest vertical resolution (360p is a lower res movie than 480p or 720p).

Find VideoDownloadHelper here

– This is an open source audio editor and recorder. Audacity can do some multitrack work but it is not as sophisticated as some of the other DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) apps. Use it for simple editing of single sound files. The best way to integrate Audacity into your editing workflow is for doing simple clean up or processing of sound tracks. One way of doing this is to export your movie as an audio file, which will give you a WAV or AIFF audio file that can be loaded into Audacity for minor tweaking. As long as you don’t alter the length of the sound you can import the entire sound file back into your timeline and it will remain in sync (remember to snap it to the beginning of your file).

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Blender – This is a 3d animation application that is becoming more and more sophisticated. The learning curve for Blender is a little more advanced than these other applications but it is a very rewarding app to use. There are many tutorials on youtube and forums for getting help on using the Blender interface and understanding working in a 3D environment. The results you can get from blender are as good as any commercial app. Blender also included a new compositor that allows you to mix video and 3d objects in a single video sequence. This is a very rewarding piece of software to learn.

Find Blender here


Processing – This is not a video or audio utility this is a computer language that allows you to build any number of applications yourself. The language is aimed at creating new visual effects, animation, interactive games, automatic drawing programs, etc. Like Blender, Processing requires a little work as the learning curve is a steep especially if you have never programmed before. The results can be very rewarding because you are creating your own unique visual experience.

Find Processing here