Speed up video to get through lots of conference recordings

Sat 23 March 2013 by Matthew Scott

I’m writing this on the heels of PyCon 2013 as someone who didn’t attend in person. Hats off to the Next Day Video crew! They did an awesome job of capturing the event, as they have been for the last several years. Their videos are posted at the pyvideo.org site.

Even if you did attend a conference in person, there are many talks you miss. After all, you can only be in one physical place at a time. If a conference has dozens of talks, you can spend a lot of time watching video footage!

How to speed up videos with VLC

Here’s a workflow you can use to absorb videos like these in a minimum amount of time:

  1. Visit an index of the videos, such as the PyCon 2013 videos.

  2. Open each video you want to watch in a background tab. (If you’re on a Mac, hold down the command key and click on a link.)

  3. Download each video.

    • Find the direct download link if available. Right-click the link and save it to your Downloads folder:

    • If the video’s only on YouTube or another video site, use a browser extension to download the media file. I use the Easy YouTube Video Downloader extension in FireFox:

  4. Use the VLC player to watch each video.

  5. In VLC’s Playback menu, adjust the playback speed to your liking. Depending on the speaker’s pace, my own preference is between 1.2x and 2x. (If you’re using Windows or Linux, this will look different!)


I like to vary how I watch videos, instead of just watching each video one time through while paying full attention.

For example, I found the “Good enough” is good enough! talk by Alex Martelli pretty inspirational, so I played it on a loop three or four times while working.

When watching videos once, I also like to keep noteworthy videos in a folder, so I can watch them again in the future, perhaps with a colleague.

How do you like to absorb lots of conference recordings?


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