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I want to test a couple things with my encode before I encode the whole file. Is there a way for me to make a sample file (30 seconds long or something like that) that I can analyse using different applications (not just the built in sample preview).

By the way, I'm using the OSX Handbrake. Alternatively, the question can be stated as: "Where does handbrake store the short sample video files after creating them?"

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The Handbrake previews are stored in ~/Library/Application Support/Handbrake/Previews in a subfolder with a random name composed of digits.

You will find an .m4v file there, for example, if you encode with x264. The Previews folder will be cleared every time you open Handbrake. If you close Handbrake, the file will stay there.

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Nailed it on the head, thanks. –  maxmackie Dec 4 '12 at 22:11

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