Unless you are staying in an underground cave for more than a year without an internet connection, there's a healthy chance that you have at least watched, if not downloaded, an online video on Youtube or Google Videos.

The online video sharing space has exploded in the recent months with the entry of new players like Metacafe, Blip.tv, Revver, Yahoo Videos and so on. Millions of video clips, technology shows, music albums, movie trailers are available on these video sites for online viewing or they can also be downloaded to your hard drive for offline viewing.

The downloaded video files are generally in FLV format (Flash Video) which is an Adobe standard for video compression. It has fast becoming the web standard for delivering online video (replacing Apple QuickTime, AVI, Windows Media and Real rm formats) because Flash Video can be viewed inside Macromedia Flash Players which is shipped by default with most web browsers. [Flash Video Editing Guide]

A lot of us know how to download Google Videos or Youtube videos from the internet but what do we do next ? Can we make the FLV video files searchable ? How do you edit FLV files ? All your questions and concerns are answered here:

How do I download videos from Youtube or Google Videos or Metacafe ?

It's strange that none of the video sharing sites provide a simple one-click button to download videos. So we will have to take the help of easy workarounds to download the videos. Here are three different ways to download any video from the internet though internally, they employ the same hack (Right-click -> "Save Target As" OR copy the link into your download manager. but change the file extension to .flv)

Approach 1: The easiest way is to copy your video URL and paste it on KeepVid Lite. When you click submit, you will be provided with a link to save the video as an FLV file.

Approach 2: Bookmark this Link or drag it your browser links toolbar. When you want to download a certain video, open the link in your browser and click the KeepVid button.

Approach 3: For Firefox Users - Install the VideoDownloader Extension from Mozilla Addons website - It downloads all embedded objects on a webpage including the video clips.

What naming convention do I adopt for saving video files on my hard disk ?

With time, as the collection of FLV files on your computer grows in size, it may get impossible to keep a track of the video files. The drawback of flv files is that they are neither searchable nor indexed by media gallery software like Picasa or Apple iTunes. Hence, an intelligent approach would be save the files in such a manner that it becomes obvious even for a layman to understand what the video is all about.

Try to include a short context and duration of the video in the name. For instance, the Google Factory Tour video is 5hours, 39minutes and 41seconds long. You can save it as Google_Factory_Tour_053941.flv or GoogleFactoryTour_053941.flv.

Such files are easy to find later using desktop search programs. Alternatively, if you have the time and energy, the FLV Meta Data Injector can insert additional meta data into FLV files. It's a free command line utility. [Watch Video Tutorial]

How can I play FLV files on my computer - They don't open with Windows Media Player or Winamp or iTunes ?

You can download free FLV players to watch FLV files locally. My favorite FLV player has a simple and easy-to-remember name - FLV Player. Another nice alternative is the Riva FLV player.

I download a large 30 minute video from Youtube but I am only interested in the last 10 minutes of the clip. How do I split a large FLV file into smaller playable video clips?

This is the most common question among video enthusiasts - they want to split a large FLV video file into smaller chunks for editing or resharing only the interesting tidbits on the internet. To break an FLV file, get the free FLV Parser - a tiny command-line tool to split FLVs into pieces. Its intended use is to convert a large FLV into a series of shorter FLVs based on a series of millisecond-based timecodes. Using the -s switch will split the audio and video of the outputted files; the audio track will be extracted as a series of MP3 files, and the short FLVs produced will have no audio track at all.

How do I convert FLV videos to Flash SWF or Windows AVI or Apple Quicktime mov formats ?

The free Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer software from Super can convert FLV files to practically any other video format including MP4, MOV H.264, AVI, ASF or Flash SWF animations. Download here.

How do I convert my AVI MPEG MOV 3GP movie clips back to FLV format ?

Say you complete editing your movie in Windows Movie Maker or Avid and now left with an MOV file that you want to convert to FLV. Just get the free Riva FLV encoder and relax. The Riva encoder even lets you select parts of the video that you want to convert to FLV and crop the rest.

I have three small video clips that I download from Google Videos and now want to join them into one single video - How do I merge FLV files ?

I am not aware of any free software that let you join FLV files other than the expensive Macromedia Flash Professional. However, here's a simple workaround to join several flv video file - convert individual flv files to avi using Super [as mentioned above], then join the multiple Avi files into a single avi file using free VirtualDub and finally convert this avi back to FLV using Riya FLV encoder.

How do I watch Youtube Video on my iPod, PSP or Television ?

Again we'll make use of the Super Video Encoder mentioned above. Just convert the FLV file into a corresponding format (like Apple iPod or Sony PSP or MPG) and transfer it to your gadget.

I want to add my own music and photos to a Youtube video clip but don't have the budget to buy Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro or Macromedia Flash. Can I still create my custom video for free ?

Chances are that your computer already has a full fledged video editing application installed by default - it's called Windows Movie Maker and should satisfy the needs of most hobbyist film makers. You can add titles, transitions and even certain video effects.

Here's how to edit a Youtube video inside Windows Movie Maker - First convert the FLV to AVI format using Super Encoding software, then add your own pictures, music or video clips and finally export the completed file into any video format of your choice. It's that simple.

I don't like the FLV Video Player provided by Google Video. Can I create my custom skin for embedding the video clip ?

The problem with official video players, like the ones provided by YouTube or Metacafe, is that they cannot be customized and the embedded video content is completely contolled by the video hosting site. You cannot personalize the layout of the FLV players like the color settings, logos, etc.

Hence the best solution is to get your creative juices flowing and design the skin of the FLV player yourself. Instructions are available at Adobe Website. You may have to have to download trial version of Macromedia Dreamweaver and Flash Professional software for this trick to work.

Google Videos are not available in my country yet - Can I set download them or view them online ?

Absolutely, you can still watch and download Google Video - read workaround.