MPEG Streamclip and HandBrake: Two Solid (and Free) Video Transcoders

ScreenLight has recently introduced server-side encoding for all of our user’s videos. In addition to allowing ScreenLight to be used on handheld devices, this change also simplifies the process of preparing your videos for upload to ScreenLight.

Getting videos into your account is a simple, 3 step process: Export, Transcode, Upload. Exporting and uploading don’t need much explaining, but the Transcode step of that process requires a 3rd party encoding application. If you are trying to decide which ones are right for you, I thought I would weigh in on two of my top choices: HandBrake and MPEG Streamclip.

HandBrake 0.9.5

HandBrake bills itself as an open source, multiplatform video transcoder that comes loaded with a diverse range of iOS encoding presets and runs on Windows and Macs. It uses the high-quality x264 codec, with lots of configuration options and a really good preview function. In my opinion, HandBrake produces the best quality of all free transcoders out there. This is my encoder of choice when encoding MP4 deliverables for clients. It's not all good news though. In the user interface, the resolution controls are totally separate from the encoding controls, which feels a little disjointed. And, it only produces H.264 files, so has limited use as a general-purpose encoder.

To date HandBrake does not support ProRes 422, so it makes things a little tricky for FCP users exporting ProRes 422 timelines.

MPEG Streamclip 1.9.2

MPEG Streamclip may have an unwieldy name, but the application is dead simple to use. Okay, it hasn't been updated since 2008 and, unlike HandBrake, comes with no presets. But if your making more than H.264 MP4 files, then it's just what you need. It can output to DV, AVI, QuickTime, MPEG-4 (including H.264), and any QuickTime-compatible format installed on your system.

Unlike HandBrake, MPEG Streamclip not only supports ProRes 422, but just about anything else you can throw at it. In my workflow it's the go to encoder if I need any kind of file I can't make in HandBrake.