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HOW TO ENCODE A MOVIE FOR THE iPod (H.264 and MPEG-4) WITH FFMPEGX FOR MAC OSX
  • This guide provides a step-by-step process to convert a movie into the special format used by the video iPod and to transfer it on the iPod with iTunes. This method allows encoding to both h.264 or mpeg-4 formats.
  • Encoding speed is extremely fast (h.264 encoding is up to 7 times faster than other methods).
  • The new iPod firmware update released in september 2006 allow to increase the h.264 playback resolution up to 640x480. To use this new format, check the guide to encode in h.264 high-resolution for the iPod.

Opening the source movie
Choosing the preset
Encoding
Copying the movie to your iPod


Opening the source movie

You have an .AVI DivX, a VOB file, or a movie in some other format, and you want to encode it for playback on the iPod. If your source is a DVD in VIDEO_TS format, use first a program to extract it as a single VOB file, then use the VOB file to encode. The iPod uses MP4 video in either mpeg-4 or h.264 codec baseline profile and AAC audio. ffmpegX has a special preset to encode video in such format.

  • Open ffmpegX and drop your movie file to ffmpegX icon or "Open" field or "From" area to open it, or click the Open.. button to locate the file from your hard disk.
  • The "Save as..." name and location will be set by ffmpegX. You may modify it if you like.

Choosing the preset:

  • Click the Target Format pulldown menu in the Summary tab and choose "iPod h.264 320w" (if you want the h.264 format) or "iPod mpeg-4 480w" (if you want the mpeg-4 format).

iPod preset

  • If you use h264: don't change the image width and the encoding options. You may change the image height with the "Autosize" button to match your movie aspect ratio (e.g. 4:3, 16:9 or 2.35:1). Click the "Best" bitrate button to calculate the best bitrate to use for encoding (iPod supports h.264 up to 768 kbps bitrate). Framerate may be NTSC or PAL.
  • If you use mpeg4: you may use 320 width (best for iPod viewing only), or larger widths (best for iPod and TV viewing by using the iPod A/V output cable). Recommended widths are 480 (works with all aspects), 640 (for 16:9 and 2.35:1 aspect), 720 (for 2.35:1 aspect only). Click the "Best" bitrate button to calculate the best bitrate to use for encoding (iPod supports mpeg-4 up to 2500kbps bitrate). Framerate may be NTSC or PAL.
  • You may go in the Filters tab to add cropping if needed.
  • Subtitles are not supported (unless you create a file beforehand with subtitles burned in the image, and then encode such file).

Encoding:

  • Click the "Encode" button.
  • Encoding takes places in ffmpegX Progress window.
  • You can continue working with other applications while encoding. OSX Unix core reallocates processor ressources in realtime as needed.

Copying the movie to your iPod:

  • Locate the encoded file by clicking the icon.
  • Open iTunes and select apple-O (File > Add to library). Select the encoded file to add it to your iTunes library.
  • Connect your iPod, and let iTunes synchronize it automatically, or select manually by ctrl-clicking the iPod icon in iTunes and choosing "Update":

  • Unmount and disconnect your iPod. Go the the Videos menu on the iPod. You should now see the movie name listed and you can select it to play.


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