Is there an "ideal" converter or a compilation of converters to accomplish popular tasks? I literally know nothing of codecs and formats, but I'm willing to learn to be able to convert videos to supported formats for devices while preserving quality. Are there industry-standard video converters out there?
I did some research and found that Freemake Video Converter and SUPER converter seems to be the best ones (recommendations are welcomed). However, Freemake Video Converter seems to be lacking in options that I eventually want to tinker with to preserve quality. SUPER converter on the other hand seems to be capable of everything... it has more codec support and nearly all aspects of a video you can control, except that it seems to be buggy (often times, it won't show the progress of the conversion and you'd think the program freezes). It is also riddled with malware/spyware...
One feature that I found is "convert without transcoding" that only SUPER seems to support. Converting without sacrificing quality... seems too good to be true (why isn't it a must-have feature among video converters?).
Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_video_converters (scroll down)
Thanks, I really want to learn more about video converting and dealing with codecs, so any comments are much appreciated.
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Well, converting without transcoding is (from what I've experienced) a hit-or-miss proposition. I found mediacoder would sometimes allow me to copy an existing video stream to a different container (such as source of .mkv and destination of .mp4) while re-encoding the audio (for compatibility reasons), but it would sometimes work flawlessly, sometimes fail, and sometimes claim to have worked and the resulting file would not play. Video files are fairly complex beasties, with a multitude of possible options, formats, etc, so it's probably going to come down to "see of a simple conversion works, if not, re-encode".
For quite a while converting to AVI using the Xvid encoder was the standard. These days it's generally the x264 encoder and an MP4 or MKV container. Pretty much any recent video playing device supports h264 video. The differences between what devices will support is not the encoder/codec but the constraints used when encoding. They're referred to as levels. High Profile, Level 4.1 is pretty much the standard at the moment for hardware players, but there's older devices, or less capable devices such as phones, which might still only support a lower level.
Many conversion programs don't convert video without re-encoding (although there's many which do) as their main purpose is to re-encode, but for the popular containers such as AVI, MP4 and MKV there's free programs which will remux files or remux one type as another. MKVMergeGUI is very popular for working with MKVs. Most conversion programs will at least let you copy the original audio even if they expect to convert the video.
I use MeGUI myself. It's an AVISynth based encoder GUI. It's probably got more of a learning curve than other GUI's but it's also a good way to start learning how to work with AVISynth. Programs such as Super and Freemake are designed to make it easy to convert from lots of formats to lots of formats, programs such as MeGUI are usually able to open many types of video for encoding, but are dedicated to converting using just a couple of video encoders (usually Xvid and x264) and to the popular formats such as AVI, MP4 and MKV.
HandBrake is a quite popular encoder GUI around here as it does a good job and is fairly easy to use. RipBot264 is another which comes to mind. I'm sure you'll be offered several other suggestions.