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?