Adding Video, Screencast, and Audio Files in iBooks Author

You can add iPad-compatible MPEG-4 video (.m4v) files to your iBooks Author text — including movies and screencasts — and AAC audio (.m4a or .m4v) files. But you can’t use the usual import or drag-and-drop methods. Instead, you need to drag and drop a file from the Media Browser panel — from its Movie pane for video files and its Audio pane for audio files — onto a page or layout, or onto a placeholder widget (which is labeled Movie, even though it also supports audio files). To open the Media Browser, click the Media icon in the toolbar or choose View→Show Media Browser; these actions also close it.

The Media Browser lets you add a video file to a media object.
The Media Browser lets you add a video file to a media object.

You can’t import QuickTime (.mov) videos or MP3 audio files into iBooks Author, so you need to convert them to a compatible format to use them. Also, copy-protected media files don’t import, even if they’re in a supported format.

To be available for import into iBooks Author, the media files must be in the content libraries of iTunes (for video and audio), iMovie (for video), iPhoto (for images), or GarageBand (for audio), or they must be in the Mac’s Movies folder (for video). You can’t import files from other locations.

But it’s easy to get media files into iMovie and iTunes:

  • In Mac OS X’s QuickTime Player application, open the audio or video file, and then choose Share→iTunes or Share→iMovie to export a video file to iTunes or iMovie. This export also converts incompatible formats to those compatible with iBooks Author.

  • Use video-conversion applications such as HandBrake to convert video files to a compatible format, then move them into the Movies folder on your Mac.

  • Add audio files to iTunes by choosing File→Add to Library or pressing Command+O. If the file isn’t in the AAC format, convert it to AAC by selecting it in iTunes and then choosing Advanced→Create AAC Version.

By the way, the QuickTime Player application that comes with all Macs also lets you record what’s occurring on your screen — these videos are called screencasts — so you can show people how to work with software or how other aspects of Mac OS X work. If you run Windows in a desktop virtualization environment, such as Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion, you can also capture Windows how-to’s on your Mac. Ambrosia Software’s Snapz Pro X also records screencasts, in addition to taking screenshots with more controls than Mac OS X’s Grabber utility provides. Also, you can find more-professional paid screencast programs, such as Camtasia, for both Mac OS X and Windows, whose video files you can convert to an iBooks Author–compatible format in QuickTime Player like you would any video file.

You can add web widgets by entering the HTML code yourself. You can also import, or drag and drop, a web snippet (.wdgt) created by Apple’s Dashcode utility into iBooks Author.

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