RoadMovie makes video conversion easy

Danny Gorog
14 November, 2008
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The market for video conversion apps just keeps growing. On the surface, it’s impressive that so many developers are jumping on board and releasing apps that let Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPods and Apple TV, view videos that aren’t in the required Apple sanctioned formats. But every time I crack open a new video conversion utility I spare a thought for what could of been, especially if Apple had chosen to include broad codec support in its products.

It’s never too late, but I think at this point in time, Apple opening up official support for anything but H.264 and MP4 video seems unlikely. Anyway, I digress; back to RoadMovie.

RoadMovie comes from the same creator of Submerge, an app, as its name suggests, that’s well regarded for encoding movies with subtitles. I suspect in fact, that RoadMovie inherits a lot of its code from Submerge, but takes video conversion to the next level of convenience, especially when converting TV shows.

It’s also another shining example of the excellence of the third-party development community in terms of user interface; it’s really polished. If you’ve added video to other encoding apps, you’ll be familiar with the drag-and-drop. But unlike programs such as VisualHub, which provide a list view of the content awaiting conversion, RoadMovie presents each video in its own window, complete with a preview and the options to choose the encoding preference and destination.

There are benefits to being able to have granular control like this for each file; it’s mainly useful because you can do different things with different content, set it all up, then walk away from your computer while RoadMovie does its thing.

For instance, I might want to encode one movie for my iPhone, another for my Apple TV, and save them both in different locations. Other apps that I’ve tried don’t provide for this level of control. While RoadMovie provides a default set of destinations and presets, others can be added as required.

Again, as a point of difference, RoadMovie doesn’t just assume that your converted file will end up on your hard drive, but provides the option to automatically upload the file to various online spaces, including .Mac accounts, FTP hosts and even Amazon S3 services. Likewise, presets can be adjusted and fully customised, but in most cases, you’ll likely stick with the default settings which include Apple TV, iPhone and iPod.

RoadMovie uses the same export functionality built into Quicktime so if that’s what you’ve been using to convert your videos, you’ll be familiar with the export options in RoadMovie. RoadMovie can also take advantage of the Elgato Turbo 264 USB hardware encoder if you’ve got one attached to your computer. Using the Turbo 264 can significantly speed up your video conversions.

Like Submerge, RoadMovie makes it easy to encode subtitles directly into your video. Just click on the subtitles tab and select the subtitles file (usually in .srt format). Adding chapter markers is also easy. Click on the ‘Chapters’ button in the menu-bar and then click the check-box that says ‘Add chapter to the exported movie’. Now, as you scrub through the preview movie on the left hand side of the window click the ‘+’ button when you want to add a chapter marker. This feature is particularly useful if you want to show someone a presentation on your iPhone or iPod and need to quickly jump to different parts of the film.

The last great feature of RoadMovie is its ability to automatically filter file names and add corresponding metadata to your exported file. You can also easily specify whether your video is a TV show, music video or a movie. In fact, this feature alone almost warrants the $US19.95.

RoadMovie has a bright future. It’s still a version 1 product, and the developer, BitField promises that development will be rapid. RoadMovie is still a version 1 product and there is some room for improvement. Exported files tend to be larger than the original file which means they take up more room on your device, and there’s only limited flexibility to customise the export format. RoadMovie costs $US19.95.

Australian Macworld Buying Advice. If you’re sourcing your videos from other places besides iTunes, then a video conversion utility is an essential tool for your Mac. While Quicktime gives you some ability to convert files, having a dedicated encoder, like Roadmovie is a good idea. Roadmovie is easy enough for the novice user, but also has some powerful features that will make even a hardcore video junkie happy.

Price as reviewed $US19.95
Manufacturer Bitfield
Cons Converted files may end up bigger then the original
Pros Easy to use, supports Elgato Turbo 264 hardware encoder, great interface
Rating 4
Type Video encoder application

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