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How to Create Audio and Video Content for the iPod

Audio
Creating audio for the iPod is very similar to the process for other online delivery methods and even uses similar file formats. The gold standard for audio outside of iTunes is the .mp3 file, which is utilized in most podcasts and has been used for years in online music downloads. I record a weekly audio podcast with two AT3035 studio condenser microphones and a hard disk-based recording system, and I save the file as an .mp3 at 64Kbps stereo or FM quality. You can also record directly into GarageBand and then export a file for Spoken Podcast, which is an AAC file at 64Kbps stereo. In addition to MP3 and AAC, iPod can handle these audio formats: WAV, M4A/AAC, Protected AAC, AIFF, Audible audiobook, and Apple Lossless audio.

Once you have your file you will want to open it in iTunes and select File-->Get Info, which will bring up all the information housed in the file. Select the Info tab and enter or review your file information. Name of Track, Author, Date, Genre, and a host of other information will let you optimize your file for iPod playback. Select the Artwork tab and you can place a photo or image that will be attached to your file and will be displayed on a Nano, Photo, or iPod video while the track is playing.

Below: Apple’s GarageBand lets you export your audio track directly in to a Spoken Podcast AAC file.

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The AAC format also adds another tasty feature for audio content on an iPod. Creating a podcast or audio file with embedded photos and web links is as easy as pie. Using GarageBand, open a new podcast file. Record your audio content into the voice tracks, and select a few loops for your intro and outro music. Then comes the fun part. Select the podcast track, and the editor window will open with a place for the main photo and an area to add new markers. Select a place during the piece that you want to highlight and press the Add Marker button in the editor. Drag a photo from your iPhoto collection on the right into the new marker, add a name for this area, link title and URL, and then you’re in business. You can add multiple markers throughout the file with photos, names, and web links. Adam Curry’s Podfinder is a great example of a podcast using this new AAC feature.

Below: GarageBand also allows you to add images and weblinks to appear at set marker points while your file is playing.

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Video
Creating video for the iPod is very simple with Apple’s new set of iLife 06 tools. I used some test video shot on my prosumer Panasonic camera and iMovie HD to build a simple video for an iPod. Open iMovie and select New File and MP4 file formatting as the default encoding. I plugged in my camera via FireWire and was able to instantly upload my video by pressing the Import button in the view area.

It amazes me that iMovie even recognized the brand and model number of my video camera. After a few editing tweaks and some sizzle, thanks to iMovie’s rather nice title options, I was ready to serve up my video. Select File-->Export, and it opens up an option window with multiple output formats. There is a tab just for the iPod and it renders out the video as an MPEG-4 video file, 320x240 at 30 frames per second using H.264 video and 44.100kHz AAC stereo audio encoding. It even automatically puts it into iTunes and opens it up for me when it has rendered out the file. Next time I hook up my iPod, I can drag and drop this onto my video iPod, or it will upload automatically if I have iTunes’ automatic update option selected.

Below: iTunes features a "Send Your Movie to iPod" tab that automatically renders it as a 320x240, 30fps H.264 file.

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Once you have created these scrumptious media files, it’s time to share them with your guests and hope they come back for seconds. You can submit content to iTunes or you can host the files and supply links to the hungry masses. With Apple’s grip on the mobile media marketplace, creating content for the iPod is no longer a novel idea but a necessity. Remember to keep the content short or in-depth and build your media for your target audience’s transit time. With more devices and ideas on the horizon I am sure we will be cooking up content for iPods for years to come.

Nutritional Information
iLife 6
iLounge, an excellent third-party iPod information site
Getting the most out of your iPod video

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