Previously, this page just had one software application listed, which was the VLC Player. That app is still listed first here, as it's potentially the most important for watching and enjoying the films here. But, over the course of running this site, and expanding my own enjoyment of these films, I have run across some other great software that I want to be sure to point out to everyone. What's also important is that these programs are free, even though some will basically be trial versions with limited functionality - that functionality still does the job. These programs will be listed in an order of progressive use (as I see it). Which means that you would typically run across a need for what's at the top of the page first, and what's at the bottom of the page last. That being said, the bottom of the page is devoted to software that will let you build your own DVD's, as well as a cover gallery. So, be sure to check that out!
In my personal experience, I have had trouble viewing several fan films on my PC. Why? The best way I can explain it is this: Microsoft and Apple don't play nice with each other. Most films you will find are in .mov or .avi formats. Vista has a hard time running .mov, but that's the most popular format for film makers. So, instead of downloading Quick Time, get the VLC Player. You can get it for free by right-clicking HERE
I can't say enough good things about this player!
Click the logo to go to the Videolan site and get VLC for any OS.
Once you get it, there's a small trick.
You'll need to do the following:
Settings -> Preferences -> Video -> Output Module -> check Advanced Options -> choose Windows GDI video output
Winrar is one of the programs that basically comes as a free trial, with upgraded functionality when you buy it. I will tell you that I still use the free version, and have plenty of functionality for what I need. I do get a message that pops up when I kick it off that says I can buy it, but I just skip that and continue. This is a great file compression program. Unlike some others, you can split large files into pieces (volumes). When they're unpacked, they re-constitute into their original, single file. Many of the DVD version downloads in the Downloads Library are done this way. So, you will need this program or one like it to use those. Click the logo and it will take you to the download page.
I have to say, this is an extremely useful application. It can do a lot of things, but I really use it for one thing: capturing streaming video. That's not so that I can offer them here for download, but so that I can archive them, and on rare occasion I find something that I will use when I build a DVD (like a tralier). There are other programs out there that pull down streaming video (like YouTube downloader), but I've found that Real Player gets stuff that those others just don't. It's very rare that I can't grab a video using this. Files come down in .flv format, and from the Real Player library, you can right click and move the files to your hard drive, a disc, etc. Click the logo to go to the Real home page and download.
This app will allow you to convert from one format to others. It starts out as a free download will broad functionality, but when the trial period ends, you are left with being able to convert to .avi or .wmv. Not every conversion goes off cleanly, but most that I have done to .avi have been very good. What I have used this for most is converting .flv files into .avi, and then using them when building a DVD. If you want broader functionality, go with AVS video converter - but it's not free. The other thing here is that at times the download for this is bundled with other software. I brought it down and deleted the other stuff. Click the logo to go to the home page for downloads.
Would you like to watch some of these films on your PSP? Use PSP Converter to change files to .mp4 format, configured for the PSP. Also note that this is good if all you want to accomplish is getting the file to .mp4 format. Click the logo to go to the download page.
|The Videora i-pod converter is great for converting videos to a format that you can watch on your i-pod. This goes beyond the stuff on this site. Like a music video on YouTube? Grab it with Real Player, convert it, and you've got it on your i-pod. Click the logo to go to the download page.|
OK, this is by FAR the best software that I have. This software will build you a pretty good DVD - for free. What's even better is it's easy to use. You can pull files in here in almost any standard format, and it will build it into a DVD. It supports .mov, .avi, .wmv, .mp4, .mpeg, etc., and it will create and burn DVD's in NTSC and PAL formats. That being said, not every file will come out well as a DVD. Some of them are just too small in original resolution. The other thing to note is that the video on DVD will always be a little bit darker than it is when viewing it on your computer. But, if you go through the Favorites page, you can get a good DVD out of pretty much anything that's there that isn't already available in a DVD version. The only negative at all is that there are only a handful of menu's that you can use when you build the DVD. Believe me though, that's not a big deal. When you go to build your first DVD, look around to see what extras you might be able to find. My favorite example is Forced Alliance. There's a MySpace page for the film where you can find the trailer. You can pull it down with Real Player, and convert it with Prism to have it ready for the DVD. There's also an interview on the Spearshield website with the film-makers. Grab that too.
There's also something else to be aware of. At times, the conversion process for building the DVD files can take a long time. I have built DVD's that took as long as 30 hours to build. That's rare, but I would rather mention it here, because chances are good that you will build something where that happens. So, as you're getting into this, take your time and start small.