iTunes 6 has a feature that enables you to convert your existing QuickTime videos to iPod-compatible movies. This is a great feature that a lot of folks don’t know about. Previously, you either had to buy third party software or upgrade to QuickTime Pro to easily rip to this custom .m4v format.
The process in iTunes couldn’t be simpler. Use the “Add to Library…” command to bring your movie into iTunes. Then click once on the movie to highlight it, now choose “Advanced > Convert Selection for iPod.” iTunes with rip your move to the appropriate iPod configuration, then save it as a copy in your Library, leaving the original untouched.
Another lesser known tool in iTunes is the “Get Info” command that allows you to change the ID3 tags without having to resave the movie or export it. Go to “File > Get Info > Info” and fill out the appropriate fields. When you click OK, the data is saved to the movie file.
I use this method for adding the metadata to my The Digital Story podcasts. Once I add the data, I go to my Music folder, open the iTunes folder, find the file I just adjusted, and drag a copy out to the Desktop (Option/drag). I can then upload the podcast to my server for publishing with the correct tags.
I’ve uploaded a sample clip of Tim O’Reilly speaking at WWDC ‘05 using iTunes to rip it. The original 1:47 movie (320 x 240) was encoded with Sorenson Video 3 and Qualcomm PureVoice Mono codecs. The file size was 18 MBs. The re-ripped iTunes version uses H.264 for the video and AAC Stereo for the audio. Its file size is 9.4 MBs. The audio for both movies sounds identical, and the video quality is comparable (slight nod to the original Sorenson). This is amazing considering that the H.264 version was ripped from the Sorenson version, not from the master file.
If you have an iPod video, using iTunes 6 is by far the easiest way to prepare your movies for portable viewing.