Apple wants our bandwidth; I want your thoughts.

OK folks, what do you think of this? Should I start encoding/re-encoding my videos at 640×480/360? I’m thinking “no.”

Advantages: Maybe Apple will pay attention to me. Yeah, right.
Disadvantages: That’s a ton of extra bandwidth, multiplied by a few thousand viewers, and that’s just my podcast. Besides, does anyone out there in Internetland actually have an Apple TV?

Greetings from the iTunes Podcasting Team:

Apple TV is here, and podcasts are making a big move into the living room. We want all of them to look as good as possible, so we have three video formatting recommendations for you. Also note that we have just posted a revised and expanded technical spec. Finally, the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference is coming up. There’s a major focus on developers of content in addition to developers of software.

Recommendations for Formatting Video Podcasts

1. If you’re encoding your video podcast at 320×240, please increase the resolution to either 640×480 or 640×360 (depending on the aspect ratio of your source files). Why? Because video podcasts at this resolution look great on Apple TV and still port to video iPods. Lower resolution podcasts might also work on both platforms, but they don’t look nearly as good on a widescreen TV. As always, make sure to test any encoding changes you make to ensure device compatibility. QuickTime 7.1’s “Export to iPod” function will ensure that a video file is encoded at a width of 640 and is iPod-compatible.

2. It’s best not to create two different podcast feeds for different resolutions. By doing so, you dilute the popularity of your podcast and reduce exposure in our charts. It’s better to have one feed high in the charts than two that are lower.

3. If your source files are 16:9, stick with that aspect ratio. Don’t add letterboxing to make them 4:3. By doing so, you prevent the video from expanding to fill a 16:9 widescreen TV and instead end up with black space on all four sides. Also, your original source files should be at least 640 pixels wide.

Of course these are just recommendations. We understand that there are good reasons for 320×240 (bandwidth bills) and 720p (looks fantastic). Do whatever makes the most sense for your show. For more information on formatting video, see the recently updated spec:

http://www.apple.com/itunes/store/podcaststechspecs.html

To see a sample of excellent podcasts that also look great with Apple TV, check out the Apple TV Podcast Showcase.

Rich Pav

Richard has been living in Japan since 1990 with his wife and two teenage sons, Tony and Andy.

20 thoughts to “Apple wants our bandwidth; I want your thoughts.”

  1. N0, whats the point, the video is fine as is, we dont want hd or anything close for podcasts its a bit like watching an old program say REDDWARF here in the uk, when it came out originally it had that certain look and feel like a bit cheap but unique, then they decided after a few series to give it a gloss over using film camera techniqes and it lost something.

  2. I plan on getting one (if they make the neccessary upgrades to it). I’ve hooked my laptop to the tv already to watch some content and yours looks good already. Don’t worry about it.

  3. I wouldn’t be too concerned about it. Don’t bother with the switch. Perhaps you should plan to switch when you reach a certain milestone in donations/advertising revenue. Unless extra $$$ is coming in, it doesn’t make sense. I for one will be buying an Apple TV sometime in the next couple of months but I don’t see the need for everyone to switch. I venture to say that most people who download the podcasts aren’t that concerned with video quality, it’s the content that brings back your viewers/readers.

  4. Either way is fine. What matters most is your time/effort/$. Right now I am watching your (and others’) podcasts on my mac. And while I do have a mac mini w/Front Row as a media system for the living room, I’ve not yet bought into the whole podcast viewing from there thing.

  5. I have an Apple TV connected to HD plasma and I am here to say that my demand for 720p content is insatiable. Washington Post’s HD is very average, but the few trailers that are out there in 720p look AMAZING. Clearly I need a connection with a significantly higher allowance, but compared with cable, it’s still a bargain.

  6. I would say no, I can barely get this machine to decode the current videos with a FPS high enough for me to not notice the flicker, higher resolution would just kill me. Just my selfish two bits

  7. The question of whether or not to switch plagues me. I’ve literally lost sleep about it. Admittedly, my only real concern was how much longer it was going to take to compress the videos. Bandwidth didn’t occur to me, and certainly it should have. I just changed my settings to 600×400 because it’ll still play on (newer) ipods, but 680 means messing with the margins on my site. I don’t compress with Quicktime, so that means even more weird numbers-crunching, which I’m not very good at.

    I do plan on getting an AppleTV unit and hooking it up to the digital projector, which would be a terrific way to watch videoblogs, and with a far better picture that hooking up my laptop to it, which is what I’ve been doing. But I’m in no rush. Only two of the videoblogs I watch have changed their settings.

  8. NOOOOO!!!! Personally I don’t like Apple computers or any of their products (except for there ads) I think the videos play grate on my computer and on my MP3 player. the only thing I could want would be for them to be a git bigger, but that would only be for playing on my computer. (love my new wide screen monitor) I also wouldn’t do it to apples recommendations because I don’t think that every one will get the apple Tv, and I like you stuff the way it is!!!! NEVER CHANGE!!! Only get better!!!!!

  9. + there MAKING APPLE TV’s?????? not here my friends (as far as I know) I love the little flag, computer funning and browser stuff! it really interesting you can find out more stuff about your users an find out if your putting on stuff to this sight that the can view and stuff ( I had problems with one website that I mad that for some reason only parts of it came up in Firefox but it came up totally with internet explorer)

  10. I say go 640×480. I tend to watch everything on my desktop machine rather than a iPod, and 320×240 is just a bit crappy at full-screen.

    I recently put up my first attempt at producing a video podcast (http://darkline.co.uk/sessions) and I ended up putting up two feeds (although it looks like that was a bad idea judging by Apple’s mail to you) – I may drop the 320×240 feed…

    Since blip.tv provides some fantastic free video hosting, might as well make the most of it!

    Flash is fine for in-browser and 640×480 gives the user as much choice as possible – i.e. you can still watch on your ipod but have can watch in glorious full-screen if you want. I don’t have Apple TV (or intend to, since they seem to have gone out of their way to make it incompatible with my TV) but it’s nice to be able to watch it big on the desktop or laptop.

    BTW, remember the conversation from a while back about why the cell phone companies don’t release their Japanese phones in Europe (or the US)? I was recently talking to a guy high-up at Panasonic Mobile in Europe. His answer? ‘Style and fashion’. Two guys from NEC gave me exactly the same answer. Crazy thing is, I think Japanese cellphone look sweet – much more interesting than the grey-boxes that everyone else sells.

  11. Its probably expeses too. thats why Australia has a lot of Japanese cars (other than the fact that all of our have gone out of the country and are slowly becoming foreign made…) I doubt it’s because of ‘style and fashion. I really also think that maybe Japan doesn’t have a great slice of the apple pie of the mobile sales in America either… and the few that may be out there man not be doing so well being ‘unknown brands.’ My Asian ‘MP4 player'(it doesn’t actually play MP4’s) still has a few language kinks in it and that may also be another problem too. I doubt that any one want to work that long on all the language flaws on a product and then ship it in new packaging to another contry which may have some high tarrifs (sp?) and other stuff. ..

  12. Get with the program Rich! It’s just a money problem as far as I can see, so if you can’t afford a few more dollars (I don’t know how much of difference it makes) then don’t do it. Otherwise, do it.

  13. @David: Since I’m hosting at Blip.tv, it won’t cost me more money or effort, only a bit more waiting for movies to encode if I decide to put out larger videos. What I’m wondering is if the extra bandwidth from larger format videos will cause problems for anyone. People like Jon whose CPUs can barely handle H.264 at 320×240 can still watch the Flash versions I’ve started posting. I think I’ll put one or two out and see how it goes.

  14. Remember it’s ultiamtely up to you in the end. We can’t expect you to do something you don’t want to. If you find that you get a better since of accomplishment or what not by doing it the higher encoded way then roll with it. If not just consider some of us spoiled crybabies that aren’t getting it the way they want.

  15. I’m all for higher res video – I think it would make it look more professional, like, something more than Youtube stuff. And about the higher res running slow on CPUs, maybe try using a different media player to view the files? For some reason iTunes won’t play my videos anymore without chopping about, so I just use mPlayer…

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