During Tuesday’s special iPod event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs went to great lengths to emphasize that the company doesn’t (currently) believe people want to watch video on their iPods. I beg to differ. (OK, I really don’t — at least not at this point in time — but for the purposes of this article, let’s assume that I do.) Although I wouldn’t want to watch a three-hour epic on a two-inch screen, it would be kind of cool to be able to watch short video clips.
So I got to thinking… The iPod Photo can display images in “full-screen” mode on the iPod’s new color screen. And what is video but a sequence of images played one after another very quickly? Put the two concepts together, and you’ll begin to see what I’m getting at. If you could get individual frames of a video onto your iPod…
Hold that thought, and follow these instructions:
1) Open a movie file — preferably a movie without sound — in Quick Time Player. (Note that this trick requires QuickTime Pro.)
2) Choose File -> Export.
3) In the Export dialog, choose “Movie to Image Sequence” from the Export pop-up.
4) Click the Options… button and choose a frame rate (15 fps works well) and an image format (I use JPEG).
5) Save the movie to a new folder.
6) Open the new folder containing the exported movie — the folder will be full of images.
7) Drag the images into a new iPhoto Album; make sure the images are in the right order within the album.
8) Copy the new album to your iPod Photo (via iTunes Preferences).
So now you have the individual frames from your video on your iPod Photo. Unfortunately, the fastest “playback speed” provided by the iPod’s standard slideshow options is 2 seconds per image, which is far too slow to get smooth video. Instead, select your album and then select the first image in the album (the first frame of your video) to display it in full-screen mode. Now use the iPod’s Click Wheel to “play” the movie (by scrolling clockwise) at whatever speed you like — you’ve just created the first electronic photo flipbook!
Now, granted, this isn’t true video playback — for that you’d need to be able to select a playback speed that corresponds to your video’s frames/second rate, and you’d need to be able to synchronize the video’s audio track, as well. (Developers, are you listening?) But I think it’s clear that if Apple wanted to make an “iPod Video,” they could do so fairly easily. Until then, we’ll just have to be content with our 21st-century flipbooks.