I’ve been having a lot of people ask me lately how to produce and syndicate a video podcast show. Since Apple began personal content distribution, by supporting podcasting through the iTunes music store, they opend up the flood gates to a generation of would-be video producers. People are now able to easily distribute their video content without the need for expensive advertising. Video Podcasting is easier and less expensive to distribute than other forms of media including DVD’s. It has a potential to reach Millions of viewers world-wide and can pe produced on a shoe string budget.
The power of video can best be demonstrated in what happened with the launch of MTV. If anyone remembers the debut of MTV, with Video killed the radio Star , some 20+ years ago, then you don’t have to think too hard to answer that question. Video of course!
Video podcasting sets a higher standard for your program. It will require time to learn a NLE (Non Linear Editing) system and understand how to encoding/transcoding Digital Video.
Things to consider to create a good video podcast.
1) A consumer or pro-consumer video camera. (The Sony DCR-TRV80 is my personal favorite for inexpensive all around versatile use.)
2) Good audio. (This may require audio adapter)
3) Proper lighting. Next to good audio, proper lighting is very important for a video podcast. No one wants to look at shadowed faces.
4) A computer with firewire inputs and an analog-digital converter if your camera is not firewire capable.
5) Non Linear Editing (NLE) software. Standardize on one format (Quicktime is the best cross platform medium) Windows Media is not.
6) Good content, good content and good content. Did I mention good content?
7) Eye pleasing backgrounds and stage appearance. Take time to plan out your video podcast. Try to use original content. Write a script. Do not use copyright video and audio material without author’s permission.
8) Keep your content under 15 minutes and remove distracting things from the background when recording.
Choose a camera model that has an audio in port and digital (IEEE-1394, firewire, or iLink) out capabilities. Buy used at a reduced price through ebay $200-$800.
Digital8, MiniDV etc. will all work.
Firewire capable Mac or PC and NLE software.
Mac’s are much easier to work with in the DV environment. They have many advantages over PC’s, including built in Firewire, and free bundled software.
Quicktime Pro. Mac or PC versions, $30.00 or compatible editing software using iMovie, Final Cut express, Final Cut Pro Studio. iMovie is free with any new Mac.
PC, using Adobe Premier Elements or equivalent software.
Software must be able to transcode into .mp4 or .mov format, Quicktime Pro can do this for you.
You do not need to use videotapes to record. User your laptop and external hard drive instead. This saves wear and tear on your video heads and cuts your postproduction time in half.
If you are using an older analog camera then it will require an analog to digital converter. Conopus ADVC110 bidirectional Analog/Digital Video converter. Others on the market like Pinnacle are not as good and suffer with problems like audio sync issues. This is the best product for the price @ ~ $180.00
External Firewire Hard Drive
Hard drive storage space adequate enough to store your digital files. Preferably a firewire external hard drive. USB 2.0 is not as fast and does not work as well when working with digital video. You will need at least 13 gigabytes of free space for every hour of DV you capture. DV is a compressed video format (5 to1) so there is no need for expensive compression hardware.
A 250 gig external Firewire 400/USB 2.0 combo drive will run around $200.00.
Seek times and peak transfer rates mean nothing for video production. All that really matters is sustained throughput. The highest specs of the drive are not as important. You only need to care about the minimum. If the sustained data rate of the drive dips below the required transfer rate for your video, the result is jerky playback, messed up audio and dropped frames. Given today’s technology, there is no excuse for this. When in doubt, get better storage than you think you will need.
RPMs are a good indicator of a drives over-all performance. For video work I recommend drives rated 7200 RPM or faster. Most 5400 RPM drives do not have the sustained throughput required for Non Linear Editing work. This is because a hard drive is a spinning disk. Back when we all had turntables and records, this was very easy to explain. If you placed a penny on the outer edge of the record, it would travel a much greater distance in a single rotation then a penny placed near the label on the inside of the LP. More distance over the same period of time equals greater speed. A single EIDE drive will get slower as it fills with data.
Drives are so big, affordable & fast today that this rule at times does not even apply. You can buy a 250GB drive for around $200, that’s big enough to store over 9 hours of video. Lets say you can only use 75% of the drives capacity. That still leaves you with enough room for 6 hours of video! Do not use generic brand firewire drives. They use substandard logic boards and that will cause you problems in the long run.
Get yourself a good Tripod with a fluid panning head. Shaky video is horrible to watch. Borgen, Manfrotto are very good. Find one used on ebay for around $150.00
Video without good audio will not work. Hum and buzz are a constant problem when feeding a direct audio line into your camera. Sony’s are notorious for this problem. You will need to purchase a Beachtek DXA-10 or equivalent audio adapter. ~ $180.00 This device is an absolute necessity. It allows for auxiliary inputs and balanced microphones using XLR. It completely eliminates hum and buzz off your audio feeds caused by ground loop problems and interference.
If you are using a Sony or a Canon camera a LANC (Local Application Control Bus System) controler is a good thing to buy so you can zoom control from the tripod head mount. Canon ZR-1000 ~ $180 is a good choice because it allows you complete control over the zoom functions.
Firewire cable – 6′ – 12′ 4 pin to 6-pin firewire cable (good quality) $12.00 -$20.00.
Audio patch cable. Direct patch cable from microphone or mixing board. R-59 cable can be used to create longer lengths with BNC to RCA style connectors.
Web hosting site. Choose a web host that provides fast downloads and adequate space to store your video files. Not all web hosts are the same. Find one that uses fast servers for video content and FTP site maintenance. Libsyn is a good source to host your content. This type of web hosts are setup specifically for podcasting. Their servcie will cost you $20.00 for 525 megs of space a month.
FTP uploading software. If you are using a PC you can use the built in FTP function of Internet Explorer for upload and site manage your files. If using a Mac you can use Cyberduck, Transmit or Fetch.
RSS feed generator for syndication. This appears to be the biggest issue when it comes to promoting your content. What is RSS? What does it do? How do you do it? It stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary – very popular with bloggers. It was developed by Netscape back in the late 1990’s for portal content , but was later abandoned only to be resurrected several years later by Dave Winer of Userland Software, where it was refined and developed to a definite standard. I won’t elebarate on the many flavors of RSS (RDF, RSS2, ATOM) and what the differences are, however, regardless of which version you use most aggregate clients can read most of them. What do feeds do besides syndicate your content for publishing? Allows a person to subscribe to your content. (Push technology) An RSS file is created in a XML file format (Extensible Markup Language) under the RDF specifications. This file lists what your content is, where it is located, who created it and when it was created etc.
What are a few of the RSS differences? Some are more robust than others. RSS2 and atom are more detailed than earlier versions of RSS and allow for additional information about your content like thumbnail previews for your videos etc. using the media RSS specs.
For a novice user I recommend using a web hosting site that will manage and generate your RSS feed for you. Most blogging software will generate your feed after posting. Movable Type, WordPress, Blogger etc.. are examples. Broadcast Machine is web server based software that will publish and create thumbnail vid-caps when it generates the RSS feed as well.
There is dedicated software that can help you create an RSS feed for you.
FeedForAll both Mac & PC versions. $25.00 (A little difficult to master at first but very powerful)
Podcast Maker Mac only $30.00 (Very easy to use)
Feeder Mac only $30.00 (Very easy to use as well)
Upload your rss.xml, rdf.xml, rss2.xml or atom.xml file (www.yoursite.com/rss.xml) onto your website along with your video media file. etc.
Publish and submit your RSS feed with podcast search engine and directories like Feed Burner, Podcast Alley, Podcast Pickle, Veoh, Fire Ant, Democracy, Google Video, Youtube, etc. and of course the iTunes music store.
You don’t need to create all the flavors of RSS only one. Submit your one feed to Feed Burner and they will manage all the other feed types for you.
Test your feed to see that it validates with Feed Validator. Feeds that do not validate will be rejected and your content will sit there and not be found.
The most popular of all the aggregatgors is iTunes. If you want your content to reach as large of an audience as possible then iTunes is the place to go. Read the iTunes FAQ for more information about submitting your video podcast.
Now to review the process
1) Capture your video footage. (Monitor your audio feed at all times with headphones. Video without good audio is worthless)
2) Offload your video onto a hard drive and edit your footage. Don’t forget to get a Creative Commons License. This is free for the asking.
3) Encode/Transcode your footage to mp4 format or .mov format. (It is important to make your video iTunes compatible and video iPod compatible. Windows Media and AVI formats are not iTunes compatible) Why iTunes? iTunes currently controls 80% of the podcast syndication market. iTunes works with both Macs & PC’s. It is expected in 2006 alone that 50 million ipods will be sold. No one else has the content or the distribution system that Apple has that is why iTunes and the iPod will remain on top for a long time.
4) Upload your video file to your website.
5) Generate a feed for your content and upload your rss file onto your website.
6) Publish (ping) your rss feed with any podcast directory or search engine.
Hello world, here you go.
A little info on transcoding information and codecs.
MPEG4 & H264 codecs
Quicktime Pro export option for mp4 video files. (Quarter Video Graphics Array)
DV Camera ~$500.00 (Sony DCR-TRV80 or equivalent)
Audio Adapter ~$180.00 (Beachtek DXA-10 or equivalent)
Good Tripod/fluid head ~$150.00
Firewire 6 pin to 4 pin cable ~ $20.00
Firewire External Hard Drive ~$200.00
Quicktime Pro software ~ $30.00
FeedForAll software ~ $25.00
Yearly web host contract ~$240.00
This assumes a computer is available to editing for postproduction work.
Good luck and happy video podcasting.