[Pod Cast]

The iPod, and more importantly the creation of iTunes and the iTunes Music Store has totally altered the music industry by changing the way the people purchase and listen to music. Now the iPod for video, with over a million $1.99 video downloads within the first 30 days, is having the same effect on the video industry.

Audio podcast and video podcasts (also known as vlogs, vidcasts, or vodcasts) are much more than just an entertainment phenomena, education has really began to embraced the small hand-held sound / video player. Numerous colleges and universities such as Duke University, Brown University, University of Wisconson-Madison, University of Missouri and Stanford University, presently, podcasts their faculties' lectures for student use. In Britain, a large national educational news podcasts is produced for subscription on a monthly basis.
			University Podcast page]
In an British elementary school, sixth grade students produces a podcasts newsletter for the school's parents (see Sandaig Primary School). At WarrrenTech, a technical high school in Jefferson County. CO west of metro Denver, podcasts are being used as an alternative method for curriculum delivery.

The importance of this educational tool has created a need for both faculty and students to learn to create podcast. The following is a step-by-step guide:

Shooting Video for a Podcast

The rules for shooting are simple: shoot the subject close-up, keep the fore ground and the back ground very simple and less complicated and keep movement to a minimum.

Avoid shooting wide shots with lots of details. Minute details add to a story presentation when seen on a large movie theater screens or HDTV, but on the iPod's small 2.5 inch screen details will become a blur of visual picture noise. Instead, shoot closer than you would normally. Simple back grounds and fore grounds also lessons detail clutter. Shoot in standard (4:3) mode rather than wide-screen (16:9) to utilize the full screen area. Movement can also suffer image and detail degradation. Keep the camera on tripod with slow pans and tilts. Even the subject moving within the frame can adversely affect the image.

Titles are often too small to be read on the iPod screen. Even at the maximum settings, the title producer in most non-linear video editors render titles too small to be legible on the iPod screen. There are plug-ins That will allow the creation of larger titles , but I find the titles are still too small for the iPod screen. You may want to create larger titles using an image editor. Create a 200-by-200 pixel title and import it into the video editor.

Keep it short. A seven minute movie optimized for the iPod can take up as much as 40MB. This takes large bandwidth, and most importantly, long download times for your viewers. Limit your productions to five minutes or less.

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Additional Podcast Materials

[Working with the iPod
			  in the Classroom]

Other content that could be used for podcast includes any video recordings you already have or have made, multimedia materials eg. electronic slide presentations and video materials from a DVDs.

Older video recordings may be on tape and must be converted to digital format before it can be used as a podcast. Go to MacWorld for a step-by-step guide for converting and importing footage to a usable digital format.

Most multimedia materials such as a electronic slide presentation can be saved in a QuickTime movie format and is ready to be converted and compressed. If your software does not allow saving to QuickTime format, you might consider purchasing Apple's QuickTime Pro ($29.99).

The files on DVDs must be ripped and converted to a podcast format. The simplest way to do this is with Handbrake (free), a software that converts DV to MPEG-4. Some newer DVDs are copyright protected and you will need Mac The Ripper (free) to bypass the protection. The creators of Mac the Ripper have problems keeping an established web site so it would be better to check Version Tracker.

Editing and Compressing the Video

I use Apple Final Cut Express on the Mac platform or Adobe Premiere Elements when I edit on the PC. More extensive editors are not needed. Use simple transitions and simple cuts. The size of the final podcast is actually smaller than the viewing window in most editing software. Reduce the size of the editing window to approximate the size of the iPod screen to more accurately see and evaluate the effects and cuts.

Before the podcast can be published, it must be optimized for the iPod screen. The HD version of iMovie will export the optimized H264 format, but the viewing window of the software cannot be resized as suggested above. OuickTime Pro can be used to optimized the podcast but it is pains taking slow. There is a faster, simpler and less costly way to optimized the video.

Podner ($10.00 shareware) and iSquint (free) are two applications which I use to optimize podcasts. I prefer Podner because it is works fast and supports drag-and-drop video conversion. It will also place the finished files into iTunes. Simply save your video file full-size and full-quality from an editor. Drop the video file on the Podner's window and it will do the rest.

Audio Podcast

[Student testing a podcast]Many podcasts need to be sound only, and do not benefit from video. The majority of the faculty lectures which are recorded at the colleges and universities are sound podcast.

To create a sound pod, Record your music, sounds or vocals directly into the computer. Early Power Mac G5 (1.6, 1.8 or 2.0 Mhz), do not record sound well using condenser or battery powered microphones which connect to input sound port, so use USB mics. I use Griffin's iMic ($39.95). iMic allows you to connect virtually any microphone or sound input device to your iBook, PowerBook, PowerMac or other Mac or PC systems via a USB port.

Use Final Vinyl, Griffin's outstanding recording software provided with iMic, to record material to the computer. Other free or nearly free recording softwares include: RecordPad $48.20, WireTap ($19.00) or Audacity (free). With Audacity, you can record and edit the recordings.

One the recording is edited and finished, it must be converted to MP3 or H264 format. iTunes will convert some sound files. Many of the free or shareware programs will save directly to the MP3 format. The best converter, however, is SoundConverter ($10.00). The little program will convert many sound formats. It dose not officially support Windows Media or Real Media files.

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Adding Descriptions

Once the podcast has been converted, open it in iTunes. Go to the Get Info Window or press apple key-I. Click the Info tag and fill in the Name field, the Artist field and so on.

[iTunes Information Box]

Artwork or a cover art should also be added. The art work can be a still from the video, a logo created in an image editor or it may be a digital photograph. The standard ia 150 X 150 pixels, but I use 240 X 240 pixels. Create, edit and crop the work in an image editor. Open the Get Info window or press apple key-I. Click the Artwork tab. Click the Add button and navigate to you cover art. Select Choose and the cover art is attached to your podcast.

Distributing the Podcast

Distributing can be as simple as giving a copy of your podcast to everyone you know with an iPod or as complex as placing it on the iTunes site to be downloaded by any one who wants it. Why not go all the way and broadcast it big time!

To distribute your files and make them accessible to the largest number of people, ftp it to a Web server and create an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed for it. I use Feed for All ($38.95), created for both Mac and PC platforms, to create the RSS.

Another way to get an RSS feed is to create a Blog. Blogger (free) is very easy to set-up. Once the blog is up and running go to Feed Burner (free) to attach your video or audio to your post.

Promoting the Podcast

You can publicize you podcast in numerous places (a very comprehensive list is on this page), but my two favorites are Podcast Alley and the iTunes Store as both have categories for educational materials.

[Podcast Icon] In Podcast Alley, click on the Add A Podcast link at the top of the page. Fill in the required information. Be sure to include the address of the RSS that was created either with Feed for All or with Feed Burner.

Open the iTunes Music Store. Select Podcast from the menu. Click on Submit A Podcast. Enter the address of the RSS that was created with either Feed for All or Feed Burner. In a few days your new podcast will appear on the iTunes Store.

I also like LearnOutLoud.com which is a resource for audio and video learning material. It has a directory of educational and self-development podcasts. There is no open submission. All podcasts are hand-picked to ensure quality of content and production.

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Apple Computer has added podcast producing capabilities to GarageBand, one of the programs in the iLife suite. If you are using a Mac, it is the fastest and easiest way to create a podcast. The Apple web site has a short and barely adequate tutorial on GarageBand and podcast.

[iPod connented to a TV]

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Podcasts Converters


RSS Feed Readers

Encoders —

Sound Utilities / Equipment

Other Tutorials

Text / Reference Books


Web Sites

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