The gadget of the year is clearly the Apple iPad, and content creators are in a rush to make sure their video looks sharp on it. That shouldn’t be too difficult, as many online video platforms and video production tools have been quick to announce support. If you want to make sure your videos can be seen on the iPad (and don’t show up as an icon marking unsupported Flash content), read on.
To get the inside info on creating video for the iPad, we spoke with Eric Quanstrom, Sorenson Media‘s vice president of marketing. Like many online video platforms, Sorenson 360 has been providing support for the iPad since the tablet came out.
The iPad can play H.264 video with an extension of M4V, MP4, and MOV. Those are two variants of MPEG4, Quanstrom says, as well as Apple’s proprietary MOV format. Your video can have a maximum resolution of 720p. The iPad’s screen itself measures 1024 by 768 pixels which is the standard 4:3 television ratio. If you want to present 16:9 widescreen video, the iPad will automatically letterbox it, adding black bars above and below the image.
The most popular resolution for those serving video to the iPad is 960 x 720, which is the 4:3 ratio size. If you want to present widescreen video as large as possible, choose 1280 x 720.
You video can be 30 frames per second. The audio codec used needs to be AAC, which can be up to 160Kbps.
The videos you serve can be smaller; these are just the maximum allowed sizes. If you’re presenting videos within your website, you’ll need to decide if you want your viewers to get a full-screen experience or if you’d prefer they view content within your pages. Quanstrom recommends that you don’t encode your video higher than 1.5Mbps. If you want your work to play over a 3G connection, drop that down to 1.1 or 1.2Mbps.
“I’ve seen people use their iPads in places where a laptop wouldn’t go,” says Quanstrom, noting that the iPad provides a “lean-back experience.” Its giant screen shows video quite nicely, he says.
Your Own Private App
iPad content is largely about apps, which can be downloaded for a fee or for free from the iTunes Store. Some companies go for the glamour and experience-customization available by creating their own video-streaming apps.
If this is the road for you, check out OnlineVideo.net’s story on Sorenson’s partnership with ProKarma offering custom iPhone/iPad app creation.
To decide your way, think about what your goals are and whom you’re trying to reach. Organizations that choose to create their own apps tend to be larger enterprises with a brand message, says Quanstrom. They’re interested in raising awareness around a product.
Choosing a Platform
Self-hosting video is a lot of work, cautions Quanstrom, as you’d need to create your own player, decide how to manage and store your assets, and encode for a variety of platforms. Even then, he says, you’d have no control over scalability in case of traffic spikes.
Hosting with YouTube isn’t the only want to serve video inexpensively. Sorenson 360’s base level service goes for $99 per month and includes iPad-compatible streaming. In fact, most online video platforms now offer iPad support. For more on other inexpensive hosting options, check back tomorrow for our story on bargain-priced hosting.