Disclaimer: don’t download any video that isn’t yours. Stealing is bogus. Don’t be a goon.
Download Brightcove videos with this step-by-step tutorial. Downloading videos from Brightcove is actually very easy, if you have the right tools. I’ll explain the materials needed and walk through each step of the process.
- Safari 4+ WITHOUT Flash Player installed (how to temporarily remove Flash Player from Safari)
- Firefox or any other browser
Downloading Brightcove videos
I have only tried this on Mac OS X. It should work the same way on Windows, but the steps to remove Flash Player will be different.
Locate a webpage with a Brightcove video embedded
Load that page in your Flash Player-less Safari 4+. Click to load the video, if required.
At this point, you should see something like this.
If you don’t see this Flash Player error message, it means Flash Player is still installed in Safari. Go back to Gruber’s instructions to make sure you properly removed Flash Player.
Enable Safari’s “Develop” menu
If you don’t already have Safari’s “Develop” menu enabled, you’ll need that. Go to Safari > Preferences > Advanced.
Trick the Brightcove video into HTML5 mode
Safari 4+ comes with the ability to render webpages as multiple other browsers, including Mobile Safari for iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. In the Develop menu, find User Agent and choose iPhone.
Rendering the webpage in Mobile Safari for iPhone (or iPad/iPod) tells Brightcove that you’re using an iOS mobile device which, by definition, won’t support Flash. So, since Brightcove doesn’t want to exclude Apple fans from their video platform, they serve an HTML5 version. [Update: not all Brightcove videos have this HTML5 version. More about that issue later.]
Open Safari’s Activity Window
Find & open the video file
Locate the file you want. It will probably have a .mp4 extension. Double-click the filename to open the file.
One last hiccup: Saving.
For whatever reason, Safari won’t let you save the file you’ve just double-clicked and opened. This is where Firefox or any other browser comes in. Simple copy the URL of the .mp4 video file and open it in Firefox.
I failed to mention one limitation when I first published this post. For this technique to work, the Brightcove video in question must have a non-Flash fallback.
In my experience, most Brightcove videos are H.264-encoded by default and are served through a Flash player—the same method YouTube and Vimeo use. And like YouTube and Vimeo, without the presence of Flash Player, Brightcove can serve up the H.264 file using HTML5′s
<video> element. However, not all Brightcove videos have that
<video> fallback. Unfortunately, my technique is useless without it.
I hope this helps others reclaim a few Brighcove videos. Again I’ll point out that this How-to is not intended to be used for stealing videos. No one likes a thief. But in the event that you have legitimate use for this technique, I hope you find it helpful.
Did you find this post helpful? Do you know of another way to download otherwise-protected videos? Did I miss something or get it wrong? Let me know in the comments or tweet at me.