A MegaVCR in Your Pocket

I walked into Hal Davidson's NECC session titled The MegaVCR: Media in Your Pocket. He had an iPod hooked up to the projector and he was already playing clips. The clips are VCR quality and would look fine on a television screen, not so pristine on a computer screen or projector (but still very useable). He demonstrated playing and pausing video, just like a VCR. Over 4,000 United Streaming video clips fit on a 30 GB iPod. (that's 250 of hours of video--not that you'd want to really have that many). The videos can be organized in playlists. Videos, PowerPoints, Flash, Music, Photos, and Animated GIFs will work on an iPod.

To connect an iPod to a TV you need a special cord ($19 from Apple). If your television if old, you may need to connect the red, yellow, and white cords into a VCR connected to a TV.

Hal then showed a PowerPoint with video playing of the iPod. Hal recommends that you get QuickTime Pro ($30) if you want to edit video clips--you can just highlight portions and delete. QuickTime Pro also lets you download movies from the web to your hard drive more easily.

When you download videos on the web to put on your iPod, you need to download as a file QuickTime can open. Remember, QuickTime works on Windows, not just Mac, and there is a free version. If it runs in QuickTime, you can get it to run on the iPod. To do that, launch iTunes and choose File > Import. iTunes will suck the video in. Once it's in the Library, it won't necessary go onto an iPod. Right click (or Control-Click) the video and choose "Convert Selection for iPod" from the pop-up menu. Hal says that sometimes this doesn't work, but tends to work 90% of the time. Then in your Library you'll have two versions with the same name. Drag the version that is in mv4 into an iTunes playlist (choose File > Get Info to see which one is which) for transfer to an iPod. Sync your 'pod and it should be ready for viewing on the device.

Hal showed how to convert a PowerPoint to view on an iPod. First, in PowerPoint, choose "Save As" and select JPEG. Choose a location in a folder on the desktop. Then in QuickTime, choose File > Open Image Sequence.. Open the first JPEG and then it will ask you how long you want each slide to appear on screen. It will turn this into a video you can import into iTunes for playback on iPods. With QuickTime Pro you can paste a video inside the already-converted movie. However, if you are a Mac user, you can just go to File > Make Movie... Doing this will play embedded videos for these lucky Mac users. This option isn't in PowerPoint for Windows. Remember to follow the steps in my fourth paragraph above for playback on iPods.

Hal's PowerPoint will be posted on this website: www.haldavidson.net. I'm disappointed that the session focused on iPods with no mention of other players like Palm or Windows Mobile handhelds. I will tell you that TCPMP is a free player that can play most all formats on a Palm or Pocket PC from an SD card--no need to covert the video like you do for the iPod. In addition to other devices, I would have also liked to learn sources with free videos for education (but there was barely time to cover getting video on iPods).

The session began at 2:00 and ended at 3:00 Pacific Time.