How to Prep a Video Clip for Inclusion in an iBooks Author Document

It’s a lot easier than you might expect.

iBooks Author’s Media Widget enables you to include video files in your books. I recently took advantage of this feature in the iBooks 2 Interactive Edition of my book, iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook by including a total of 53 videos in the book.

iBooks Author is picky about video formats, however. It only accepts videos encoded with the AAC and H.264 codecs with the .m4v filename extension. While this format isn’t uncommon, it’s not the QuickTime format you might have expected.

So how do you convert a movie file that isn’t in that format to the format iBooks Author can understand? Oddly enough, you can use QuickTime. There are a number of different ways to do this. The easiest is to use the Export command.

  1. Open the movie file in QuickTime Player 10.1 or later.
  2. Export DialogChoose File > Export or press Shift-Command-S to display the Export dialog.
  3. Enter a name and choose a disk location to save the new file.
  4. Choose a FormatChoose an option from the Format menu. I normally choose iPad, iPhone 4, & Apple TV. This gives me high enough resolution for the iPad’s screen without generating a very large file. You can experiment with other formats if you like.
  5. Click Export.
  6. Export ProgressWait while QuickTime Player exports the file. A progress dialog appears while the file is being exported. When it’s finished, the file is ready for use.

I’ve been very pleased with the size of the exported file. For example, the movies I created for my book were shot full screen on a MacBook Air set to 1280×800 screen resolution and encoded with Apple Animation/Linear PCM. The resulting movies were downsized only slightly to 1152×720 resolution when converted to AAC/H.264. A 53 second movie that was 59.9 megabytes was compressed down to 6 MB — with virtually no quality hit.

Although the new iPad announced today has a much higher resolution screen, it remains to be seen whether higher resolution files are really necessary in your iBooks Author documents. If you have a new iPad, why not experiment a bit and let us know?

9 thoughts on “How to Prep a Video Clip for Inclusion in an iBooks Author Document

  1. Thanks for spelling out the process but what do you do when the video is still crashing iBooks app in the iPad? The video will play and pages will flip but the second you try and change the page orientation, iBooks blacks out. I noticed your movies don’t do this, exporting instructions as described above are done exactly as described. By the way, yes 1080 will work in the iPad3, just as it does in the new apple tv sporting the same A5x chip. Thanks for any tips.

    • I don’t know why you’re having this problem. Unfortunately, I can’t troubleshoot a problem unless I’m experiencing it, too. Have you tried Apple’s support forums? Reinstalling the software from scratch? Creating a test book with a different template? Hope you find a solution — must be frustrating for it to not work right!

  2. I recently worked through your “iBooks Author” book to prepare myself for my first eBook.
    There are two questions left so far: Is there a possibility to change the background-color for a normal page, like to change it from the plain white into black or whatever?
    My second question is: I couldn´t figure out a way to set the frontpage also into a landscape-format. Is it just possible to create a frontpage in a portrait-format?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Thanks for buying my book. I really appreciate the support.

      The answers to your questions: yes and no.

      Yes, you can change the background color. You need to place a shape (rectangle) over the entire page and then send it to the background. Not sure how this would work in portrait view, though. Maybe I’ll tackle this in a future article on this site.

      No, to my knowledge, the book’s cover — I assume that’s what you’re talking about — can only be displayed in portrait view. You can’t set up any other page to be portrait view only.

      Hope this helps.

      • Hi Maria, thanks for responding. You are absolutely right, I was talking about the book’s cover!
        Besides I got one more question.
        I downloaded the new Version (1.1.). The description says that the new version takes advantage of the Retina display on the new iPad. So I was expecting that the resolution of any single page of an iBooks Author file might be bigger, equivalent to the growth of the resolution of the new iPad. But the sides in the of the iBooks Author files still having the same aspect ratio (1024 x 768 pixel).
        Any idea of how taking advantage of the Retina display works?

        • Unfortunately, I don’t know for sure. I assume that you could include higher resolution graphics and videos and iBooks will use this info to make a higher resolution display on a new iPad. But I don’t necessarily think that’s a good idea; doing so would make a book’s file size huge without benefiting original iPad and iPad 2 readers.

          Wish I could be more help, but I don’t really have an answer for you.

  3. To allow only part of a movie or sound-file to play in a book you describe in your book that one can drag the start and stop indicators in the widget inspector. This is also shown in the Figure 7.26 in your book. But it doesn´t turn up in my inspector, so I don´t have this function of the start and stop indicators! Did it dessapear in version 1.1?
    Thanks in advance.
    Best, Frank

    • Wow! You’re right. That control is gone. Dang! I hate when they change the software right after the book comes out. Thanks for pointing this out. I’ll fix it in future editions — with my luck, when I fix it, they’ll put the feature back in. :-(

  4. Pingback: Florimont – formation livre numérique | Mark Pentleton

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