I’m often given media to work with that aren’t ideal for editing directly. So here’s a few Automator workflows I use to batch convert media into more edit-friendly formats:
- Convert with Quicktime
- Convert GIF to movie
- Convert to PNG
- Convert to JPG
Also one extra workflow I’ve found useful:
- Add labels using Keyboard Shortcuts
Download a Zip file of all of them here.
The built-in Encode Media and Encode Audio services introduced in OS X Lion can convert some media directly in the Finder. But they offer a small number of inflexible presets. There are alternatives; but I find Compressor is slow and has limited format support, while other media encoding apps like Adobe Media Encoder are missing some functionality.
The workflows provided here are by no means replacements for Compressor, Streamclip or similar apps. They are effective single-function scripts which can be easily tweaked to requirements.
They do not need any third party software except Quicktime Player Pro 7 which comes with Apple’s Pro apps. They are tested in Mountain Lion but I make no guarantees for previous OS versions, or offer any kind of personalised support.
Feel free to use and edit them for your own needs.
- Download and unzip it.
- Put the workflow file in your /Users/[YourUserName]/Library/Services folder.
Using a workflow
- Right-click on your source file (or select the file and go to Finder > Services menu)
- Select the service you want.
- The workflow will run and you can monitor its progress or cancel it in the AppleScript gear menu.
Convert with Quicktime
This workflow will batch convert any number of movie files using your most recent Quicktime Player Pro 7 export settings. Download the workflow here.
Before you run the workflow, you should first choose your settings manually in Quicktime Player > File > Export… > Options and do a test export with a single file.
When you’re happy with the result, go back to Finder, select the other files and run the Convert with Quicktime service to export them all with the same settings.
Quicktime Player will open and close each file in turn so it’s best to let it complete the batch before trying to interact with it. This service isn’t designed for background processing, it’s just a versatile timesaver.
Please note converted files go into the source folder with _out appended to the filename. If a file already exists with that filename it will be overwritten. You have been warned!
Convert GIF to movie
Download the workflow here.
This converts animated GIFs into movie files using your most recent Quicktime Player 7 export settings. First open and export one with QTPro, then go back to Finder, select the others and run this service.
I found this workflow useful because few of the popular video utilities handle animated GIFs. This is a quick way to process lots of them into movie files. The workflow will only accept image files as input (images which aren’t animated GIFs will just become single-frame movies).
This is based on the Convert with Quicktime workflow. All notes and instructions for that workflow also apply here.
Convert to PNG
This converts any image files into PNG images. Download the workflow here.
Editing with compressed images like JPEGs will cause unexpected glitches and performance hits in Final Cut. You will get inaccurate composites, unreliable RT playback and need to render more often. This simple Automator workflow will convert multiple images to the reliable, uncompressed PNG format.
Convert to JPEG
Similarly, this converts any image format to JPEG. Download the workflow here.
I export lots of PNG screengrabs from FCP, so this workflow will convert them to JPEG files with a single click, for easier emailing and uploading.
Note that the JPEG format does not preserve alpha channels.
Labels with Keyboard Shortcuts
This Automator action, combined with the Keyboard Shortcuts preference panel, will put Finder color labels at your fingertips. These aren’t for media conversion, but they are a useful feature which I think OS X is missing. Download the workflows here.
Here’s how to set them up:
- Download the workflows and put them in your ~/Library/Services/ folder.
- Open System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts.
- Choose Services and the new services will be in the list on the right.
- Select each one in turn to assign a keyboard shortcut. (I personally use opt+cmd+0 through opt+cmd+7.)
- Now in Finder, select a file and press the appropriate keyboard shortcut to assign or remove a color label.
Notes and Disclaimers
These workflows were tested on OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. They’re not guaranteed to work on previous versions of OS X, but you are free to use and adapt them without limitation.
They are written to be non-verbose. You will get no warnings, dialog boxes or confirmations popping up when you run them. I’d strongly advise testing them with one file before you run them on batches. I am not responsible for any damage or loss of data, nor am I offering any personalised tech support!
The Convert with Quicktime and Convert GIF to movie workflows use Quicktime Player Pro 7 to do the conversions. OS X 10.7 and later do not install Quicktime Player 7 by default so you might need to install it from your OS X Install Disk. Also if you don’t already have any Apple Pro Apps installed (such as Final Cut Studio) you will have to purchase a Pro licence to enable the export functionality of Quicktime Player 7.
Your user Library folder is hidden by default in OS X 10.7 and later. You can use Finder > Go > Go to Folder… ~/Library/
Alternatively you can unhide it using this command in Terminal:
chflags nohidden ~/Library/
I highly recommend http://macosxautomation.com/ for more AppleScript and Automator resources.