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I know I can use Handbrake to do this all by hand, but I'd like to automate the process. I'm on a Mac, so as a first step, I've tried downloading ffmpeg for the Mac but it's a nightmare to get it going. (This requires XPorts, XPorts requires the Xcode unix tools, those aren't available to install in the Mac App Store as best I can tell, etc...)

Ideally this would all be done on a remote server instead of on my Mac... my dream setup is a box in the cloud (like an Amazon EC2 instance?) that monitors a folder; when AVI files appear in that folder, it converts them to mp4 that's good for iTunes, then on my Mac I can just automate the last step: FTPing them down to the iTunes "automatic import" folder (so they eventually end up in my iTunes library and sync to the iPhone... phew, that's a lot of steps!!!). Is that out there?

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> downloading ffmpeg for the Mac but it's a nightmare to get it going. – Install Homebrew and then brew install ffmpeg, you're done. It just involves a bit of waiting. Been using it on all my Mac installations so far. – slhck Feb 3 '12 at 23:25
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Handbrake includes a command line version, which is nice. That makes it amenable to the wonders of Automator, and there is a bunch of good documentation on the Internet about combining the two; one is at

You can also use other tools, as noted here, which covers the Automator side very well:

Making any of those work with ffmpeg rather than Handbrake, or QuickTime, is pretty simple: work out what you need ffmpeg to do (or grab one of the set of wrappers for it), and then have Automator do the driving for you.

If you want to do this on a remote Linux then inoticoming, inocron, or other tools built on inotify can do the same "watch a folder" stuff that Automator on the mac will do.

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