Liberating Video From Flash or Silverlight via Quicktime Screen Recorder

Example Quicktime video made from a embedded flash view

I had a recent situation where some video I need to deal with was locked into Silverlight, Flash or other website embed from the source. I am not advocating you duplicate restricted material with this method. You shouldn’t. This is just a quick guide to generate an editable movie using the default software inside Mac OS X. In the following example, I am just going to snag a clip from an embedded video on my own site.

There are other ways to do this and you can use additional software options from various vendors for video and audio, but my way only uses the following:

1. MacBook Pro with Line In and headphone jack
2. 3.5mm audio cable
3. Mac OS X 10.6.x or Mac OS X 10.7.x
4. Quicktime Player version 10.x (version that ships with Snow Leopard (10.6) or Lion (10.7)

I am running Lion (OS X 10.7) in my example. Here we go.

Step 1: Confirm Audio Settings and Cable setup

You can just trick the audio recording with a simple 3.5mm cable in the headphone and line in jacks. You can get software from Rogue Amoeba or others like SoundFlower, but I have always found quality issues and “stadium” echo sound effects when doing that. A simple audio cable does the trick.

Simple audio cable looped into both ports


Simple audio cable looped into both ports


Once you have the cable plugged-in, you need to check to be sure your Sound settings are correct. These will probably be set by default, but good thing to check.

OS X Sound Preference Pane Input Setup
OS X Sound Preference Pane Output Setup

Step 2: Position and setup video

In my tests, lowing the resolution down from the very high-res setting makes sense to do. In my tests, I usually cut the resolution to 1200×1024 or even 1024×768. If I am watching the clip in non-fullscreen mode so I don’t generate a huge video file.

Thinking about the setting of the display

Then, you want to go to the video via the web browser or whatever and get it queued up and ready to play. The more you have it setup, the less you will have to trim for the final video.

Prepping location for the video you want to capture

If you have the option, you can decide to record the video in fullscreen mode. Most embedded videos will give you the fullscreen option, but in my example, I am just snagging a fixed size embedded video.

Step 3: Quicktime Player New Screen Recording Prep

If you have the audio setup and the video queued and ready to go, then you can start the Quicktime Player. Inside QT Player, select “New Screen Recording”

File > New Screen Recording

Screen recording functionality is wonderful for training videos on how to walk people through something on the computer. The audio setting is typically the internal mic by default so you can narrate or do a voice-over of what you are doing. You do though have the option to change the audio source. In our case for this, you will change it to Line In.

Use Built-In Input: Line In

I have Soundflower installed, but am not using it. You might have other audio sources available too, but because of the audio cable setup, you will use Line In. Move the Screen Recording controller out of the way of the video location on your screen and get ready to record.

Step 4: Start the recording and play the video

When ready, press the record button. You can leave the volume on this controller down to the minimum. It does not dictate the volume. The Sound prefs do. (step 1 above.) When you trigger the record, you have to select the region of the screen to record.

Starting the Screen Recording

Get as close as you can to the core of the video you want to snag. If you just click, it will record the whole screen, so you probably want to just create a region around the video only. You can do the whole screen and then trigger fullscreen playback on the video, but that may or may not be really necessary depending on what you want from this all.

Selecting the Screen Recording Region

They press the the button to start recording to start the acquisition. Immediately then play the video. You will need to trim the screen recording of you pressing play on the video but that is super simple in Quicktime.

When have recorded the piece of video you require, you can stop recording and stop the video playback. Quicktime Player will open the screen recording capture for you.

Screen recording as a Quicktime Player movie

You can trim that initial part of the recording and you have a viable quicktime movie to export to mp4 or whatever.

Yes, not the most elegent or highest video quality in the world, but it does generate a workable video file with decent audio that came around via the loop cable. Hope this helps if you get caught in a situation that requires something like this.


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