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Yes, you can do it. Pretty easily in fact. Go to the YouTube site and find the video that you want, then open it. Then add “pwn” to the URL. For example, this is a trailer for a game called Ni No Kuni: http://www.pwnyoutube.com/watch?v=4MznAY8Es5c&noredirect=1
This is a redirect to a non-youtube website that will allow you to download in either MP4 of FLV format. If you don’t want to do it this way, I think you are stuck with the browser plugin option.
I know there's that 'ss' thing you can do, but I never trusted that either. I started using the torch browser, so it's not exactly a software-free solution. But it's a chromium based web browser with the media grabber and a torreent client built in. I've never had any security issues so far. http://www.torchbrowser.com/