Quick. Answer this. What’s the successor to MP3 files? MP4, right? Almost. Apple calls it AAC. Then there are M4A audio files, M4V video files, H.264 files , all of which are only part of a confusing alphabet soup of media file formats.
Why can’t we all just get along?
Long before the media file format wars get better they’ll get worse as competing technology giants are working toward ever more ‘standards’ to push us deeper into the 21st century. Today, your iPhone is capable of recording audio and video with higher quality than commercial broadcast stations just a decade or so ago.
This weekend I came across a cleverly designed Mac utility which creates and edits MP4 video files. It’s not iMovie. It’s a file conversion utility called MP4tools which takes many standard video file formats and converts them to the latest MP4 file format, including MKV, OGM, AVI, and others. It also converts audio tracks within the video files during the process.
As you’ll see, there isn’t much to master in MP4tools so it will not look anything like iMovie or the typical non-linear digital video editor. Instead, MP4tools is a straightforward implementation of presets designed to make it easier for Mac users to convert video file formats so they’ll run without difficulty on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and other devices.
What I like about this utility is that many videos can be converted to MP4 without having to re-encode the video or audio track. That means conversion processing takes much less time and with no loss in quality.
Presets are where you start. Select a video file to convert, select the preset, go. Embedded sub-titles can be edited, too, with controls for font and font size. Even the aspect ratio can be adjusted, but the only real editing capability is the option to split or join MP4 videos.
Preferences and initial setup couldn’t be much easier to manage.
As much as you’ll appreciate the standard presets, MP4tools also has a lengthy list of more geeky options including mixing subtitles into a new MP4 file, re-encoding AAC and AC3 files to a 6-channel audio track (think surround sound). Even bit rate and resolution are editable on each file.
For Mac users deep into media file format conversions MP4tools has a good list of useful functions, and it’s priced right, plus there’s an option to use it in a trial mode and if you buy it you get more features.
There’s much to like here.