WWW FAQs: How do I make a video podcast?

2006-12-18: Video podcasting is a way to reach people who prefer to watch video on portable players such as Apple's iPod Video. This article will explain how to create video podcasts yourself.

Before you get started, be sure to read the article how do I make a podcast? This article will assume you are already familiar with the basics of audio podcasting.

Video podcasting isn't that much different from audio podcasting. All you need is an appropriate video file wrapped up in an enclosure element, just as I explained in the article how do I make a podcast?

Ah, but that nasty word "appropriate" is where all the trouble comes in!

iPod Video: Anything Does Not Go

You might think you could take, let's say, a Windows Media (.wmv) file produced with Windows Movie Maker and use it in a podcast. But that won't work. The video-capable iPods support only two basic formats:

1. Certain types of H.264 video.

2. Certain types of MPEG4 video.

You can find a more exact definition of what is supported in Apple's podcast technical specifications.

So what can we do about it? Do we have to understand these formats in agonizing detail? Fortunately, no. There are tools available to do the conversion for us. And some of those tools are free!

Since most of my readers have Windows, I'll spend the bulk of my time explaining how to do the job for free in Windows. But first, let me briefly address how to solve the problem on other systems.

Creating iPod Video With MacOS X

MacOS X users have it easy: Apple has an official HOW-TO document explaining exactly how to create iPod Video under MacOS X with QuickTime Pro. See Apple's official video podcasting tutorial page for everything you need to know.

Creating iPod Video With Linux

Linux users also have a solution available to them, though it's not as easy as the solutions for the Mac or for Windows (hands up, anyone who is surprised). Visit diveintomark.org's iPod video HOWTO for Linux.

Similar techniques can also be used on MacOS X, but most Mac users will prefer the simplicity of QuickTime Pro, even though it does cost approximately $30 as of this writing.

Creating iPod Video With Windows

Windows users who want to do this as painlessly as possible have the option of buying QuickTime Pro for Windows. Though it does cost a little money, QuickTime Pro provides the most painless and professional way to create iPod-compatible video files. After all, Apple makes both QuickTime and the iPod.

If you do have QuickTime Pro, you can do your conversion to an iPod-friendly format right in iTunes. Add video files in any Windows video format to your iTunes library via the "Add File to Library" option on the File menu Then select "Movies," right-click the movie you want, and select "Convert Selection for iPod." You'll then be able to find the resulting .mp4 file on your hard drive. It doesn't get much easier than that.

If you've read this far, though, you're more interested in the free solution. And right now, the best free solution for Windows is Videora iPod Converter.

Creating iPod Video For Free With Videora iPod Converter

Videora iPod Converter is a free program that can convert AVI files to iPod-compatible .m4a format. As of this writing, the program is spyware- and malware-free and safe for your use. And it gets the job done, though I did encounter a few snags on one of my computers.

Just follow these steps to install Videora iPod Convert and convert your first video to iPod format.

1. Visit the iPod converter home page.

2. Read the page carefully. Click on the download link for the "full install" of Videora iPod Converter. You don't need Videora itself. You don't need to buy anything.

3. If you downloaded the software with Firefox, double-click it in the "Download" window once the download is complete. If you downloaded the software with Internet Explorer, you'll be asked whether you want to save or run the program. Select "Run."

4. When the installation program begins, uncheck the "launch on startup" box. It's not necessary to slow down your computer's startup, you can run it when you really want it. Be sure to leave AviSynth checked.

You may see this error:

AviSynth 2.5.6

You need administrator rights to install AviSynth! (Could not write to registry)

In my tests the product worked anyway. Just click "OK."
In future don't run the installer every time! Just pick Videora iPod Converter from the All Programs section of the Start menu.
5. When asked if you want to run Videora iPod Converter now, say yes.

6. Now, record your video and copy it to your computer (if you haven't already!) and edit it with Windows Movie Maker (standard in Windows XP). When you are done, click "Save to my computer" under "Finish Movie." Give your movie the name mymovie (or any name you wish) and accept the default setting of "best quality for playback on my computer (recommended)."

7. When the Windows Media file is ready, you will have a file called mymovie.wmv in your "My Videos" folder.

If you don't edit your movie with Windows Movie Maker and save it in WMV format, Videora iPod Converter might not understand what to do with it. In my tests, videos moved directly from my camera to Videora iPod Converter did not convert successfully, but anything saved with Windows Movie Maker worked just fine. So I recommend editing with Windows Movie Maker as an intermediate step. You probably want to clean up your video anyway. But your mileage may vary.
Once you have saved your movie with Windows Movie Maker, start up Videora iPod Converter and follow these steps:

8. Click "Convert"

9. Click "One-Click Transcode"

10. "My Video" opens. You'll see all of your video files here. Select mymovie.wmv and click "Open."

11. A progress display appears. Be patient. Depending on the size of your video, the conversion may take some time.

A common problem: If you see "Transcode Complete" instantly, with no delay to actually get the work done, and you don't see a .mp4 file afterwards, you have encountered what may be a bug in Videora iPod Converter— although I only saw the problem on one of two computers tested. I have found that restarting the computer (not just Videora iPod Converter) solves this problem and allows me to start converting videos again.
12. When you see "Transcode Complete," exit Videora iPod Converter.

13. Your video is converted to a file with the same name but a .mp4 extension. This is an MPEG 4 video stream compatible with an iPod. However, note that the .mp4 file winds up in C:\Program Files\VideoraIpodConverter\Videos, which is very easy to miss. So don't go crazy looking for it!

14. Via "My Computer," browse to the C:\Program Files\VideoraIpodConverter\Videos folder. If you have QuickTime Player (the free edition is just fine, you don't need Pro), you will be able to double-click it to play it. If you don't have QuickTime Player, you can pick it up from Apple's site. Note: you do not need to pay for Quicktime Pro just to test your finished movies. Simply click "Free Download Now" on that page.

Great, I Have An iPod Video File! Now What Do I Do?

OK, we've got a video file that's compatible with the iPod! So far, so good. But how do we add it to a podcast? If you have already read my article how do I make a podcast, then you know the basics. Audio and video files must be enclosed in enclosure elements. Here's how to enclose your new video file correctly in your podcast XML file:
Note that the type attribute is now set to video/mpeg rather than audio/mpeg.

length="100000000" type="video/mpeg"/>

The length attribute is set to the size of the .mp4 file in bytes. You can find that out by right-clicking the .mp4 file and picking "Properties."

So, a complete podcast XML file for a video podcast would look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title>Cat Paws</title>
<title>Episode One: Here Comes the Tabby</title>
length="100000000" type="video/mpeg"/>
<pubDate>Mon, Dec 18 2006 14:00:00 GMT</pubDate>

Once again, if you're not 100% clear on what to do with the XML file, you need to read how do I make a podcast?" first before reading this article.

Hey Now, You're A TV Star

... And that's all it takes! Your users can subscribe to your video podcast in exactly the same way they subscribe to an audio podcast. Sometimes iTunes is not set up to automatically sync video podcasts to the iPod, so your users may need to left-click on the iPod in iTunes, select the podcasts tab, and set it to sync your particular podcast before right-clicking on the iPod and selecting sync (thanks to Chris Koeberle).

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