Weekend Project: YouTube Downloads, Mashups, Screencasts, and More

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So you've read our DIY guide to viral video, and you've been keeping tabs on the Internet's latest in Viral Views. Now you're all hyped up to start making some videos and mashups of your own, but there's just one catch: You wouldn't be caught dead in front of a camera. Fear not, we have a few tools that can help.

Make Simple Mashups With YouTube Doubler

Usher's song "Papers": Not funny. A goat yelling in a vaguely human manner: Not funny. Playing the two of them at once with YouTube Doubler: Hilarious.

YouTube Doubler lets you play two YouTube videos simultaneously. Just plug two video URLs into the corresponding fields, use the 'Start (seconds)' fields to choose where on each video's timeline you want to begin, and get mashing. If you need inspiration, impromptu guitar battles, ominous cat videos, and making fun of Nickelback are pretty good places to start.

YouTube Doubler lets you play two YouTube videos at the same time.
YouTube Doubler lets you play two YouTube videos at the same time.

Write Your Own Google Search Stories

By now, you have probably seen several of Google's "Search Stories" ads on TV--imagine a story told through various Google search queries, and you basically have the idea. (My personal favorite is the one for Cookie Monster, from Sesame Street.)

It isn't hard to make your own. Head over to the Search Stories portal and click on the Search Stories Video Creator button. Type your series of search queries in the boxes on the left, choose the type of search (Web, Images, Books, Products, etc.) from the drop-down menu on the right, and preview the result to make sure it plays out the way you want. Once your searches are done, just click Next to add music from the available soundtracks, and that's it.

Write your own Google Search Stories.
Write your own Google Search Stories.

Cast Virtual Actors With Xtranormal

Fancy yourself a director but can't find (or afford) the actors you need to prove it? Check out Xtranormal's Text-to-Movie, a Web app that lets you choose a variety of animated settings, characters, and voices--all you need to do is write the dialogue.

Although the built-in text-to-speech packs have a certain deadpan charm to them, they might not communicate the depth and humanity you're looking for in your cinematic masterpiece. Grab State, Xtranormal's desktop app, and you can record the lines yourself.

Xtranormal's Text-to-Movie lets you quickly create movies.
Xtranormal's Text-to-Movie lets you quickly create movies.

Record and Share Your Screen

Maybe you want to show off your mad Microsoft Office skills, or record yourself connecting to a network share once so you can just point your tech-challenged relatives to a YouTube link every time they forget. Either way, plenty of utilities out there will help you record your own PC screen as a video, complete with microphone input so you can narrate your instructions.

Camtasia Studio ($300) may be overkill for your needs, but the 30-day free trial might get you hooked on the editing functions. Alternatively, use the oldie-but-goodie HyperCam ($40), which also has a free trial. If you want to use your newfound screencasting power to share clips of your favorite games (most overpowering wins or most embarrassing losses--take your pick), you'll want to use Fraps, which can record OpenGL or DirectX video effortlessly.

Download YouTube Videos Onto Any Device

Once you become the newest YouTube star, you won't have the time to catch up on all your subscriptions and favorite videos. Fortunately, a wide range of apps will let you save them onto your device of choice. For downloading video to a PC, I prefer KeepVid--it lets you pick the file format and the quality level, and it's available as a desktop app if you don't like the ad-supported Web version.

If you want to download videos onto your other devices, you'll need to look elsewhere. YouTube Ripper will let you save YouTube videos as MP4 files on your Android device's SD Card. iOS devices are a bit more complicated: You'll have to jailbreak your device first, and then grab MxTube from the Cydia app store.

Also, don't forget to read "Download YouTube Videos for Offline Viewing" to see some other options.

Feel free to leave your own YouTube video links, tips, and apps of choice in the comments!

This story, "Weekend Project: YouTube Downloads, Mashups, Screencasts, and More" was originally published by PCWorld.

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