Multiple times a week my wife and I have to manually convert videos into the proper format (mp4, m4v, mov) in order to watch them on our Apple TV. Sure there are a number of ways to get around this problem but most involve too many complicated steps or are just too cumbersome to deal with. I tried creating shortcuts using a combination of Handbrake, AppleScript and Automation but I could never get it to work seamlessly. Then I stumbled into this program called iVI. It's a video converter that will turn your video files (AVI, MKV, WMV, others) into iTunes friendly files and then add them into your iTunes library. If its a movie or TV show it'll even add all the meta-data to the file like show title, episode, season, etc., making your videos nice and orderly. There are even settings to automate the entire process. Here's an example on how it works:
1. This is what iVI looks like when open. On the far right is the SETTINGS where you'll go to set it up.
2. You can easily choose which device you want your videos to play on. It even has support for 1st gen Apple TV's and older iPhone/iPod Touch devices. Depending on which you choose will determine the resolution of the video and how long it'll take to convert it.
4. The CONVERTED FILE tab lets you set what information you want added to the file and where you want the files to go after being converted.
5. The VIDEO SOURCES tab lets you choose where iVI should look for files to convert. This is very helpful when setting up automation. Instead of manually dragging and dropping each file you can just have it automatically check a specific folder. You can also tell it what to do with the original file after the conversion, which is a nice feature if you want to keep the raw footage.
6. The AUTOMATION tab is where you set how often you want the program to check the specified folder for new files and what you want done to them.
iVI is $9.99 on Apple's Mac App Store or you can get the "Pro" version for the same price on the developers, South Pole Software's website. The Pro version allows you to import DVD's, a feature they can't add to the Mac App store version for obvious reasons. After using it for a week I've very pleased with it and has made my life much easier. I don't have to worry about converting files or my wife calling me because she forgot a step.
There are other really good, free video converters out there for both Mac and PC if you don't want to spend the $10. Handbrake for Mac is awesome and is what most Mac users default to. For PC users, Any Video Converter is a free video converter that works with a wide range of formats.