I googled quite a lot for a free and simple tool which can convert my existing AVIs to iPod compatible H264 format. I found lots of them, some were free but had problems with audio tracks, some worked well but they proudly put a bold watermark on the video for not having paid them, some needed to be compiled and there were compilation errors. I even tried with Quicktime Pro, but somehow QTPro plays all my AVIs quietly, without any sound. I tried installing QT components, but everything was in vain. I tried VLC, but to my dismay, iTunes did not accept those files. Finally I thought, I should boot my XP through Fusion and search something there.
But like they, there is light at the end of tunnel; the light for me came in the form of ffmpegX. Most of the geek communties know that ffmpeg is the most versatile and most widely used converter on Linux (though it's platform independent). I tried downloading the source and compiling it, but again these efforts were futile, for there were some header files missing and I was in no geeky mood to solve all such issues. Finally I thought there should be some pre-built binaries for Mac OS X and googled with the keyword "FFMpeg for Mac OS X" and there I got the official website of the ffmpegX: http://www.ffmpegx.com/
FFMpeg binary (32MB) could be downloaded from here: Download ffmpegX
It uses three components, which could be downloaded by clicking each of them:
Mplayer, Mencoder and Mpeg2enc binary (On Mpeg2enc binary, right click and save).
Put the required components in a particular location and specify them in ffmpegX window, key in your admin password and you'll see this easy this most intuitive, simple and not-so-geeky window:
Just drop the input files, select the output format and hit Encode. It brings up this window:
If you're an expert then you can tweak around with the settings on video, audio, filters and options tab in the main window, before you hit encode. Don't forget to check out the How-to pages, it's got some very useful information for better quality encoding.
For me this tool worked just too perfectly and am glad I found this. Hope it works for you likewise.