Thursday, November 14, 2013

RTMP downloading

I am currently teaching a class on "Modernizing Europe" and like to incorporate as much documentary video as possible to help draw in the students who are visual learners, and who have been socialized into a media-oriented culture. Unfortunately, several documentaries produced by news organizations are not available other than by directly viewing them online (they aren't on sale), which isn't always feasible in a classroom setting, where sometimes internet glitches occur, such as inability to connect to internet, or an unexpectedly slow connection for video. So I like to have a personal copy of such videos to show in class on a jump drive in case of such an emergency. Often videos are available in torrent form for sharing (Pirate Bay sharing site, qbittorrent software, etc.), but sometimes they aren't, which means finding a way to directly download the videos from the host site, for example, PBS.

I used to have occasional success using browser extensions, especially when the video was directly served as an flv or mp4 file, but none of those seem to work any longer as the video is often on a separate server in an RMTP process. The most recent solution I have found is reasonably complicated, so I'm writing this to remind myself of the process. The software rtmpdump works to extract the video. For my system (Windows 8, using Mozilla) I had to download the main file, rtmpdump, and then a second file from NirSoft, rtmpdumphelper. From the rtmpdump download I had to start "rtmpsuck.exe," then from the second download I started "rtmpdumphelper.exe." I then opened my browser, navigated to the page with the video, and started the file. The rtmpsuck program recognizes that an rtmp file has been accessed and is playing, then identifies the source. Rtmpdumphelper imports that information and begins downloading it.

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