Publish a Podcast – Take Control of iWeb: iLife ’06 Edition

Chapter . Publish a Podcast

What’s the fastest-growing new media on the planet? Podcasts. Podcasts, online radio shows, are created to be consumed whenever, wherever, and however the listener desires. A typical podcast has three features:

  • It has a number of episodes, all dealing with a particular subject.

  • Listeners can subscribe to a podcast using podcatcher software like iTunes or Juice. By subscribing to a podcast, listeners will receive the latest episode automatically.

  • Listeners can enjoy a podcast on a mobile device, such as an iPod or other MP3 player.

Hundreds of thousands of podcasts are available today on almost any conceivable topic from “A Bluegrass and Old Time Radio Show” to “Zolfo Springs, Florida Weather.”

Podcasts can go beyond the audio to include video, at which point, we call them video podcasts, or vodcasts. Video podcasts won’t necessarily appeal to people who like to listen while they do something else, but they do have advantages:

  • It’s easier to demonstrate devices or processes when you can show your audience what you’re talking about instead of describing it.

  • The combination of sight and sound is much more engaging than audio alone. Would you rather see bright blue water, sparkling sand, and swaying palm trees in a travel podcast, or only hear the podcaster describing them?

Note

In this ebook, I don’t show you how to make a podcast. You can find help, though, in Take Control of Podcasting on the Mac, by Andy Affleck (http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/podcasting-mac.html).

As an owner of iLife ’06, you have three powerful, integrated tools at your disposal for recording, editing, and publishing podcasts—GarageBand, iMovie HD, and iWeb. GarageBand has special podcast tools built-in, including automatic ducking (turning down the volume of music when narration begins) and adding iTunes enhancements (like chapters). iMovie HD is the video podcast equivalent of GarageBand, and it can transfer your video masterpiece into a Web-friendly, low-bandwidth version that plays nicely in a Web browser or an iPod with video.

Follow along in this section as I work in GarageBand to encode a completed podcast and transfer it to iWeb. Next, I work in iMovie to export video for iPod-friendliness and publish it via iWeb. I also talk about the pros and cons of some options, such as non-GarageBand podcast encoding, and the trade-offs of different iMovie options.

Once your podcast file is ready, you must create a section of your iWeb site for it, and you must Add an Episode. Here we go!

Create a Podcast Section

Although you can use your blog area to host your published podcasts, you will probably want to add a special podcast section to your site. For instance, on my example site, I created not one, but two, new podcast sections, one for my audio podcast called Listen, and another for my video podcast called Watch.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Add a podcast section: Choose File > New Page (Command-N) or click the button below the Site Organizer. Select the Podcast page type for your template, and then click Choose.

    The Site Organizer shows a new Podcast item, a new Entries item, and an Archives page. Initially, iWeb selects Entries, showing you a default layout for a new episode in the Canvas, and an episode list above the Canvas.

  2. Click Podcast in the Site Organizer to view your new Podcast summary page (Figure 46).

    Here is the Podcast summary page in the White template. iWeb also creates a podcast summary page (called Entries in the Site Organizer), and an Archive page that organizes older podcasts.

    Figure 46. 

  3. Customize the Podcast summary page:

    1. Change the page name: Your Podcast summary page has the default name Podcast and that name appears in the navigation links. If you prefer a different name, double-click Podcast in the Site Organizer to select it and type a new name following the naming suggestions I made earlier in Name Your Site. For my sample site, I used Listen as the Podcast page name.

    2. Customize the title: In the Canvas, double-click the title to select it and type a new one. I chose Take Control of Steve’s Podcast for my podcast.

    3. Replace the podcast description: Double-click the description text to select it, and replace it with a persuasive reason why people should take the time to listen to your podcast.

    4. Change the picture: Drag a photo from the Desktop or the Media Browser to the placeholder (see Change the Picture for help with the Media Browser). I snapped a quick photo with my Apple iSight showing me wearing my podcasting headset and dragged that photo to the placeholder.

    5. Set the number of entries to show: It’s good to keep the Podcast summary page short, so it will load quickly. In the Inspector, click the Blog & Podcast button () and, in the Blog view, set the number of excerpts (in this case, “excerpt” means “episode descriptions”).

    6. Set the length of each episode description: With the Inspector still open, adjust the excerpt length by moving the slider left or right. Show at least five lines so your description is long enough to encourage visitors to click the “listen” link.

That’s it—you’ve customized your Podcast summary page. Now, it’s time to add an episode.

Add an Episode

You can add an episode from GarageBand or iMovie HD. If you’ve already taken care of the encoding and don’t want to use GarageBand (see the sidebar a few pages ahead, Better Podcast Encoding), or if you’re using other software to create your audio and video podcasts, you can add episodes from the Finder or Media Browser. I provide the steps for each possibility here.

Add an episode from GarageBand

If you created your episode in GarageBand and wish to add it to your Web site in AAC MPEG 4 format, you can accomplish that with only a few clicks:

  1. With your podcast file open in GarageBand, choose Share > Send Podcast to iWeb.

    GarageBand launches iWeb, creates a mixdown (mix of the different channels you have recorded) of the podcast, and converts the recording from GarageBand format to AAC MPEG 4 audio. Patience is a virtue during this process—it took my iMac G5 almost 2.5 minutes to process a 5-minute podcast.

  2. Choose the “blog” to send the podcast to (iWeb considers a podcast to be another type of blog), and click OK.

    Your podcast episode is added to the episode list. If you added pictures to your podcast while editing it in GarageBand, the first picture in the podcast track appears in the picture placeholder (I used a picture of the ebook cover, as you can see in Figure 47). If you don’t add any pictures to your podcast, iWeb uses a generic podcast icon.

    The first picture in your Garage-Band podcast track appears in the picture placeholder. iWeb uses the name of your Garage-Band podcast as the title description.

    Figure 47. 

    Warning!

    If you try to drag-and-drop your own image into the picture placeholder, you’ll lose your picture and podcast episode as well. Use GarageBand’s podcast track to add the picture or use the generic podcast icon added by iWeb as your picture.

  3. Edit the episode title—you may have given your episode a name in GarageBand that doesn’t make sense for it on the Web. If you want to change the name, triple-click the title and type the new name.

  4. Edit the headline. To delete it, click the headline and press Delete. To change the headline, triple-click it and type your new headline.

Your podcast is now added to your iWeb site. Save your iWeb site and publish it using the instructions in Publish Your Site.

Podcast won’t play.

You may run into a situation where you’ve exported a podcast directly from GarageBand to iWeb, then found that it won’t play in a Web browser. Instead, you see a QuickTime logo with a question mark on it and when you click that logo, it takes you to a download page for the latest version QuickTime.

If this happens to you, share the podcast with iTunes and use iTunes to convert the file to MP3 format, as I discuss in the sidebar on the next page. Drag the converted MP3 file to iWeb and drop it on the podcast placeholder, and publish your Web site again.

Add an episode from iMovie HD

You can easily add video podcast episodes made in iMovie HD to your iWeb site:

  1. With your episode file open in iMovie HD, choose Share > iWeb.

  2. iMovie HD prompts you to choose between two types of Web movie file settings. Select the “Share for Video Podcast” radio button, and then click Share.

    iMovie HD processes the video clips, transitions, and effects you’ve added, and compresses the video into M4V format. The processing can take some time. My example video is slightly over a minute long, yet it took 3.5 minutes to complete this step.

    Note

    If you were to select “Share for Web,” when prompted to pick a Web movie setting, iMovie HD assumes that viewers will watch the video from a Web site, while “Share for Video Podcast” expects the podcast to be viewed on an iPod with video or other mobile device.

    There is a difference in quality: Share for Web creates a 320 x 240 pixel movie at 12 frames per second with medium-quality stereo sound, while Share for Video Podcast movies are made at 30 frames per second with H.264 video and 44.1 kHz AAC stereo sound.

    My example video podcast is a little over a minute long and the difference in size between the two settings wasn’t remarkable—5 MB with “Share for Web” and 6.4 MB with “Share for Video Podcast.”

  3. When prompted, choose any blog or podcast on your site as the location for your episode.

    Your episode is added to the episode list in the section you chose. iWeb shows the first frame of the video on the episode page.

    Tip

    I began my first video podcast with a black title screen that shows an animated title. Unfortunately, the first frame is completely black so the picture in iWeb was a black box. To avoid this in your video podcasts, either add a still photo at the start of your video podcast or overlay titles right onto the video.

  4. If you gave your video podcast episode a name in iMovie HD that doesn’t make sense for it on the Web, change it now by triple-clicking the title and typing the new name.

  5. Delete or change the headline. To delete it, click the headline and press Delete. To change the headline, triple-click it and type your new headline.

    Your video podcast is now ready to go live! Save your iWeb site and publish it using the instructions in Publish Your Site.

Add an episode from the Finder

If you’d prefer not to use the encoding options in GarageBand or iMovie HD, or if you already created the file in another program, follow these steps to add your episode (in MP3, M4A, or M4V format) to your iWeb site:

  1. In iWeb’s Site Organizer, under the name of your podcast, select Entries to show the episode list and Canvas.

  2. Click the Add Entry button below the episode list to open a new episode page in the Canvas.

  3. Drag your podcast file from the Finder and drop it on the podcast placeholder, which looks like a picture with audio/video player controls below it (refer to Figure 47).

  4. Set up the picture:

    1. In the case of an audio podcast, if you added any pictures to it, the first picture appears in place of the placeholder picture, and you are all set. Otherwise, a new placeholder appears with the words “Drag Image Here.” Drag a picture in from the Finder or the Media Browser and drop it on the placeholder.

    2. In the case of a video podcast, iWeb uses the first frame of your video file as the podcast picture.

Your podcast is now ready to go live on the Internet. Save your Web site, and then publish it using the instructions in Publish Your Site.