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Tips for Downloading Videos from YouTube

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 4/19/2010

Learn how to download videos from YouTube and then how to use them in your video editing project.

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    Going for YouTube

    YouTube exists as a cultural and commercial revolution that changed the way in that media is both produced and distributed and consumed by the general public. Anyone can create and post a video on YouTube, and since there is limited accountability it is pretty easy to use copyrighted material and footage that is not even in the public domain. Since YouTube remains a main source that people get video footage and information from it serves to reason that you may want to pirate many of those videos yourself and use them in your digital video project. It is not easy to just go and download YouTube videos to your computer, but there are ways to do this effectively. Here is a workflow and some tips for downloading YouTube videos in a way that will make them useful.

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    How To Download YouTube Videos With Keep Vid

    There are a number of computer programs that will allow you to download YouTube videos and turn those YouTube videos into a movie file, but they are usually undependable and expensive. It is just as easy to use one of the respected web services to download YouTube videos. There are several of these, but Keep Vid has always stood out. Go to where you will have a bar near the top of the home page where you can enter a web address. Here is where you enter the specific address of the YouTube video that you wish to download. Just hit the Download button, which is kind of like the search button in a regular address bar, and then Keep Vid will search for the video you want. Once it finds it you will get a couple different options for actually downloading that YouTube video. These options will be to download the YouTube video in different film formats at different levels of quality. For example, you will often be asked to choose between high, medium, or low quality on either 3GP, FLV, or MP4 format. What format you choose will depend on what you end up using this for, but you should always choose the highest possible quality. If you plan on using this in a video editing project then it is pretty much required that you use a high quality format or the footage will likely be unusable.

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    After You Download YouTube Videos

    Do not expect that the YouTube video you download is going to come in perfectly. Keep Vid can only get the video that is displayed on YouTube, not the source video from which the YouTube video came from. This means that any error or problem that is in the video on YouTube will come through perfectly to your copy. This is part of the reason that you choose the high quality format, but it is still not going to come in clearly. If you are going to be using this YouTube video in your film project and non-linear editing system then you should go through and mark the areas that have problems so that you will remember not to use them in post-production.

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    The music will usually come over well enough, but it is also subject to some transfer issues. Often times people are taking music videos from YouTube, so if this is the case you may want to use an audio file of the song on its own as well. Music videos are usually perfectly synced to the studio track so you can easily do this in your editing software.

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    Editing With Downloaded YouTube Videos

    The YouTube video that you download is not going to match anything that you produce yourself. This is not necessarily a quality issue, but instead a formatting one. Not only is the video itself likely produced on different video equipment, but since it is being ported and compressed to get into your editing software there is no way that it is going to look exactly the same. If you plan on using this footage in your video project, such as a cut away or in a documentary B-roll presentation, the best way to approach this is to openly acknowledge this. You do that by positioning the footage so that it does not take up the full screen and holds an independent aspect ratio to the rest of the footage. This will make it stand out and will show that it has been taken out of its original context. This will also be good since the resolution of the YouTube video you downloaded will likely have been decreased.