Rumors abound that Apple is working on a Movie Store to go along with their highly successful Music Store. Whether or not the rumors are true doesn't matter, since there's already a way for you to download and watch video using iTunes. But the bonus is that you can create a video channel within iTunes to distribute your own videos. After you've created it, your friends, colleagues, and rabid fans can subscribe to it and automatically download your latest episodes.
To get started, you'll need a video file. You can create one using your favorite video editing tool or, if you have a webcam and the Pro version of QuickTime 7, you can simply record a quick video. To record a video using QuickTime 7:
The content isn't really important right now. However, if you plan to distribute your video, your viewers will feel otherwise. Caveat Downloader.
Whichever approach you take, editing tool or uncut video, make sure you compress your video for distribution on the net. What constitutes "compressed for the net" is debatable (and boy do people debate it), but for the sake of argument--and brevity--you can select one of the presets QuickTime provides.
When recording directly using QuickTime Pro, select either the Good or Better preset for your recording quality. To do so, open QuickTime's Preferences and select the Recording tab. Then, make your selection from the Quality pop-up.
If your editing tool is QuickTime-enabled, then you should be able to export directly from it; you can also export from within QuickTime. To export a compressed video from your editing tool or QuickTime Player, select File->Export and then "QuickTime to QuickTime Movie" from the Export pop-up at the bottom of the Export dialog window. Then, select "Broadband - Medium" from the Use pop-up menu.
QuickTime will apply a set of presets to your video for export, so all you have to do is click the Save button and wait for QuickTime to do its thing.
Once you have your video prepared for distribution, you'll need to post it online. There are a variety of ways to do this, and how you accomplish it completely depends on what tools you have at your disposal. If you have your own server, well, put it there. If not, don't fret. You still have options.
If you have a .Mac account, you can upload your video to your iDisk. Inside your iDisk is a Sites folder, which is where .Mac allows for you to host files for web distribution. One method for enabling the download of your video is to create a Video directory inside your Sites directory. By doing so you can easily link to your video. For example, if you've uploaded a video named "MyVideo.mov" to your newly created Video directory, then you'll be able to download it from: http://homepage.mac.com/yourname/Video/MyVideo.mov. (This link will be important later in the process.)
If you don't have a .Mac account, you can still get your video out to the world. OurMedia allows you to upload your files, where they are hosted for free. Additionally, they provide both web-based and desktop-based tools to make the process as painless as possible. You'll need an account to upload files, but if you have previously signed up for an Internet Archive account, you've already got one on OurMedia.
Note: OurMedia is still undergoing tests, so your experience may not be 100 percent to your expectations.
After uploading to OurMedia, you will be provided a URL to link to your video file. Hold on to it.
OK, you've got your video and you've managed to get it online. Now, how are you supposed to notify people it's there? Simple. Really Simple. Really Simple Syndication. Yup. RSS...aka big buzzword of the year. If you already have a blog, you can skip over the next paragraph. If not, read on.
There are a ton of blog sites out there, and just as many options. You can host your own blog (on your own server), pay someone to host it for you, or use any number of free or pay blog services. Which solution you choose is completely up to you. A couple of the services you might want to look at are:
So, you've got your video and you've got your blog. Now you need to marry the two together. How? Easy. Simply create a new Post on your blog, optionally describe your video, and link to your video file using the following HTML snippet:
<a href="http://www.domain.com/Video/MyVideo.mov">watch it</a>. Replace the "http://www.domain.com/Video/MyVideo.mov" with the actual location of the video you'd like people to download (remember that URL you were holding onto?). So, if you've posted to your iDisk, you'd replace it with something like "http://homepage.mac.com/YourName/Video/MyVideo.mov"
After posting to your blog, go to your blog's public homepage and copy the RSS link that allows people to subscribe to your site. You will find the link under a heading like "Syndication" or "Syndicate this site." Some blogging tools, such as Blojsom (included in OS X Tiger Server) or MoveableType, will provide enclosures automatically. If you are using a blogging tool that doesn't automatically provide enclosures, like Blogger, then you can use FeedBurner to enable your feed for podcasting through the use of their free SmartCast service. In such a scenario, you will want to copy the URL that FeedBurner provides to you, instead of the one your blogging tool provides.
If you'd like your video feed to appear in the iTunes Music Store, under the Podcasts section, you'll need to create an account. If you've ever purchased music from the store, then you have an account. Once you have an account, from within iTunes go to the Music Store and click on the Podcasts link.
Once you're in the Podcasts section, click on the Publish a Podcast link. It should be located in the same area you initially found the Podcasts link.
Next, enter the URL to your blog's syndication feed, in full including the "http://"; this is the RSS/FeedBurner URL you obtained earlier. After you clickthe Continue button, iTunes attempts to parse your feed to make sure it's valid. After the validation, you are asked to enter additional information, including the Category for your feed. Since there's no Video category, you can select whatever category most closely suits your taste. Alternatively, you can select the Audio Blogs feed, if you plan to distribute a diverse set of videos.
If you plan to post content that might be considered Explicit, including foul language, check the appropriate box. Once you've entered the requisite information, click the Publish button and wait for your feed to be approved. But you don't have to wait for approval to get your feed into iTunes.
Finally! Video in iTunes. Since you've already put everything in place--your video, your blog, your post, and your feed--why wait for Apple to approve your feed? While running iTunes, select Advanced->Subscribe to Podcast and enter your blog's feed URL in the resulting dialog box. Then, click OK.
Once you've subscribed to your feed, iTunes will start downloading an initial set of videos from the blog. To view one, select the Podcasts item from the Source pane, and then open the feed by clicking on the triangle next to the feed's title. From there, click on the video you'd like to view.
You'll notice that the video begins playing where your Album artwork usually appears. Yes, the video appears small. Fortunately, there are two options available to enlarge it.
Your first option is to click on the video. This opens a resizable window, therefore allowing you to make the video larger. Notice that when you resize the video, the window's aspect ratio is constrained so you can't distort the image.
Your second option is to click the Full Screen button, which is the fifth button on the bottom left of the main iTunes window. This button is only enabled while the video is playing, so you'll have to start the video and then click on the button in order to get full-screen video.
Alright, I wanted to leave on a fun note. Yahoo semi-recently enabled video search on their site and when you combine that with their developer's API, you can have some random fun. Since the search results don't come back in an iTunes-friendly way, you'll have to jump through a little FeedBurner hoop.
The URL format for a RSS video search on Yahoo looks like:
At the end of the URL, you just need to add your search term. So, for example, if you were looking for videos with a red car, you would add "
red+car" to the end of the URL. Then, enter the complete URL into FeedBurner as the Source Feed URL.
Although it's not recommended, you will need to enable the SmartCast and Convert Format Burner features. When you enable the Convert Format Burner, select to convert the feed to RSS 2.0. Even though SmartCast is supposed to override the conversion, it leaves in an additional namespace attribute that seems to confuse iTunes. The Convert Format Burner option ensures that only the iTunes namespace is included in the feed.
Once you've saved your search feed, jump back to iTunes, select Advanced->Subscribe to Podcast, and enter your new FeedBurner URL. Voila! Your search term delivers the found videos to your iTunes doorstep.
There is a lot of video out on the net right now, and more is added every day. For example, you can subscribe to newly posted videos at OurMedia through: http://www.ourmedia.org/mediarss/videomedia
Unfortunately, iTunes doesn't work with every syndicated feed and finding video feeds within the Music Store is a hit-and-miss adventure. Hopefully that'll change in the future. But, for now, if you want to live on the edge and don't mind doing some manual work, you can locate a ton of video feeds at VlogDir and plug them into iTunes. Some work. Some don't.
You should also check out FireANT, which is a video aggregator and comes "pre-loaded" with a bunch of video feeds...and while you're at it, head over to videoblogging.info for an in-depth foray into the video blogging world.
Josh Paul is the founder and CEO of Aweli, a startup focused on digital video solutions, and the author of Digital Video Hacks. He has provided software and service solutions to entertainment production companies throughout Los Angeles and New York.
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