VisualHub, a leading video encoding tool for Mac OS X might live again thanks to the open source community.
Last week, news that Techspansion, the developer of two very popular Mac OS X video conversion tools -- iSquint and VisualHub -- was shutting shop left the Mac community feeling a little, well, empty.
Both apps made it easy to convert videos for playback on an iPod, while VisualHub added the capability to convert to PSP, DV, DVD, AVI, MP4, WMV, MPEG and even Flash.
While neither app included particularly polished user interfaces, the functionality, usability and reliability of both apps made them very popular amongst Mac enthusiasts. With VisualHub, converting a bunch of videos in just about any format and adding them to your iPod was as simple as dragging the files onto the app and clicking start -- VisualHub handled the rest.
In an initial report over at TUAW, Tyler Loch, Techspansion's founder said that there were no plans to move VisualHub to open source.
However, after considerable community outcry from people who loved (and had paid for) VisualHub, Tyler has now released the source code for two of his projects (with new names) online to a SourceForge repository. On Techspansion's homepage Tyler says 'these are new projects, with new names, ready for a new life with smarter people.'
The first project, known as FilmRedux is in pre-Alpha stage and there is little written information about the app available. One screenshot however reveals that the program has its roots in VisualHub but with a refreshed visual interface and a more traditional Apple style property inspector palette.
The corresponding ReadMe file says 'it's unfinished, unpolished, and includes latent code from another project, but a lot of the core is in place. iTunes-compatible conversions mostly work, and 80% of the UI is working. Intentions are there, it just needs some TLC from smarter people.'
The other app called PunyVid is, according to the Readme.txt a 'simple iPod video converter program' and 'may look strangely familiar to you.' (a reference to iSquint). The ReadMe doesn't provide much more information except 'It's a new program with a new name, ready for others to give it a new life.'
Until these new projects go live (neither app is available yet) Mac users will need to rely on other Video conversion programs. One that looks promising is a new 'snapshot' beta version of Handbrake, a better known DVD ripper. Version 0.9.3 (svn1797 (2008093001)) is the first to introduce AVI transcoding compatibility.
I downloaded and tested Handbrake 0.9.3 with a couple of AVI files and it crashed on me each time, and, unlike VisualHub there was no obvious way to automagically have your converted video files added to iTunes and your iPod.
I don't think it's ready for prime time, but your mileage may vary.
If you're in the market for video trans-coding utilities and you missed VisualHub or iSquint, you can always try Elgato Turbo H.264 (hardware and software) or RoadMovie.