Now Showing On Your iPod: Movies

By: Steve Kadinski


Apple's iPod has transformed from a digital music player to a digital media player par excellence. Now in its fifth generation, the iPod brand covers devices that play music, display pictures of album covers, allow touch based interfaces, and even play your favorite movies and television programs, all available through the Apple Music Store. Beyond the commercial options, you can also download copies of your own video programming to your iPod through the iTunes music store.

Once you've gone to the iTunes music store, you select what movie (or episode) you want to see - most cost between 99 cents and $1.99; there are a few free trial offers as well. You can then download them onto your Mac or PC, and synchronize them with your iPod like any other media purchase. Buying your movies commercially through the iPod store ensures that they'll be of the highest quality for play back, and guaranteed compatible with the device.

For one thing, it is not so easy to convert DVD into iPod movies because of the possibility of incompatibility with the software. Secondly, you can be sure of the quality of your iPod movies.

If you still want to rip an existing DVD movie on to your iPod video, start by downloading software available on the web but be careful! Choose only those that support the iPod video format. Look for features that are easy to use and fast,brief interface and design

What this means for you is that what's going to be available on the iTunes store for digital content is likely to change over time. For example, NBC Universal (the production house behind Desperate Housewives and Heroes, as well as Battlestar Galactica) has withdrawn from the iTunes music store. Others may follow suit, trying to set up their own branding options.

In light of this, knowing how to load your own copies of digital media on the iPod from DVDs you already own, is important - it lets you stand up for the WGA, by making sure that what you purchase actually supports them.

Copying an existing DVD to iPod formats means that you need to "rip" it to an MPEG 4 with (preferably) an AAC sound codec. There are software packages that can do this, and do it seamlessly.

For now, iPod video economics are set by the Hollywood production companies, because the cost to produce and create those programs is very high, while the cost of distribution can be very cheap - and they want to make sure that they make money doing their jobs. This is an area that's going to change rapidly over the next ten years.

Once the digital video stream has been converted, you just drag and drop the file to your iPod and it'll show up on the digital playlist, and you're good to go. Now, be sure that you're only doing this with DVDs you legally own, and be aware that there's a movement afoot to make DVD copying software illegal, or harder to use. People getting paid for their work is a touchy issue - don't be a pirate.

Creative issues aside, an iPod is a great way to share videos with your friends; you can show it to them on the little screen, or wirelessly connect to a digital media center, or just use the TV Out jack and wide screen options. Understand that digital video compression will make most of the videos come out a little darker than usual.

The licensing agreements made are there to keep everyone afloat - producing television shoes costs nearly two million dollars an episode for a lot of them, for example, so shooting an entire 22 episode season is 44 to 45 million dollars invested, and the investors want to see a return on their money.

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