How to rip anything: view & copy streaming videos

In our how to rip anything series Jenneth Orantia and Mike Le Voi will show you how to (legally) copy rip or download virtually any form of media so you can enjoy it permanently.

There’s a wealth of streaming video services available online between the short clip video services like YouTube catch-up TV services like Fixplay and ABC iView online rental services like iTunes and Foxtel On Demand and overseas content providers like Netflix Hulu and BBC iPlayer.

If only it were as easy to save a copy of these streaming videos as right-clicking the playback screen and hitting Save like you can with online images! Unfortunately streaming video services all use DRM encryption of some kind to prevent this so even if you were able to find the direct link of the streaming video you wouldn’t be able to play the file on your computer.

Thankfully you can work around this copy protection using screen capture software. Instead of trying to crack the streaming video encryption these programs circumvent it by simply recording anything that’s displayed on your screen. But not all screen capture programs are created equal. The applications that aren’t optimised for capturing streaming video (that is the free screen capture programs that are available) don’t do a very good job at maintaining smooth frame rates or keeping the audio and video in sync so it’s worth your while to test each program beforehand to ensure it produces copied videos that are actually watchable.

Screen capture programs are also dependent on how well your computer renders the streaming video in the first place so if either your internet connection or your computer isn’t fast enough to keep up (both of these may be issues if you’re streaming a high definition video file) then the final saved video will look just as jittery as it did when you streamed it the first time.


Catch-up TV services
You can stream video from hundreds of sources but in recent times we’ve seen the arrival of “catch-up” TV services. The shows here are generally first-rate. If you missed your favourite free to air program you might have a second chance at recording it from a catch-up service. Most of the major shows are available on the networks web sites for a few weeks at a time including Bones How I Met Your Mother and Glee to name just a few.

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Replay Video Capture (US$39.95) is one of the better Windows programs for saving streaming video to your computer. A 30-day trial version lets you save two minutes of video per stream and you can choose a high-quality MPEG-2 capture or a smaller Windows Media Video file.

Once you’ve installed Replay Video Capture open the web browser window where you’ll be copying the video stream from. Click ‘Get Window’ in Replay Video Capture and move the green frame that appears so that it surrounds the browser window completely.

Launch the video stream so it appears full-screen (typically an option to the right of the video timeline) then press [Ctrl]+[F12] to start recording. Replay Video Capture will then make a copy of everything that appears on-screen until you stop recording so make sure you don’t do anything on your computer until the recording is finished. Press [Ctrl]+[F12] again to stop recording.

By default Replay Video Captures saves videos to the ‘Videos > RVC Recordings’ folder. A 45-minute video stream saved in the MPEG-2 format is approximately 1.5GB while the same video in WMV is 280MB. The quality difference between the two is noticeable with the former appearing significantly smoother and clearer due to the higher frame-rates and less compression applied.


Snapz Pro X (US$69) is a powerful Mac program that captures video stream as well as individual screens. A full-featured 15-day trial version is available after which time any captures have a watermark put across them.

Launch Snapz Pro X select the Movie option change the frame rate to 25 and tick the ‘Mac Audio Track’ option. Using the mouse cursor frame the video stream window then double-click on the video to start recording. When the movie has finished press [Command]+[Shift]+[3] to stop recording. A new dialogue box will appear for compressing the copied video to a manageable size; by default it uses the H.264 codec which provides a good balance between file size and quality.

Check the ‘Include audio track option’ (otherwise the final video will have no sound) then click ‘Save Now’. For a 45-minute TV show using the settings mentioned above the file is just over 1GB.

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