I’m not convinced that podcasts are much ado about not much. That didn’t stop me from producing a podcast for the family web site.
Apple makes it so easy to produce audio and video podcasts with iLife ‘08. The only real issue is whether or not a podcast is worth the effort.
If you have a Mac with a microphone you’re ready to produce your own podcast. Everything else you need comes in iLife. iWeb. iPhoto. iTunes. And Garageband.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you have a few hours to wile away working on a nebulous project to create an audio or video production about whatever suits your fancy. A podcast.
If there are not millions of podcasts already floating around the web-o-sphere, there soon will be. Apple makes it so easy I can do it.
I’m in the process of setting up a family web site using only Apple’s iLife tools. The site will be full of photos, articles, albums, eventually movies, but for now, a podcast.
The idea is to create everything on the site, or nearly everything, by using the basic tools supplied by iLife ‘08. For example, the site itself is constructed using iWeb, and uploaded with a click to Apple’s .Mac service.
Check it out Here. It took a couple of hours to select a theme, tweak it appropriately, add some photos and articles, and get it online.
The site looks professional, attractive, easy to navigate, though it’s a bit slow to download a page.
Creating articles in the iWeb blog could not be much easier unless Apple develops a blog writing tool that writes what you think. Dropping in photos from iPhoto is about as simple. Drag, drop. Tweak as desired.
Podcasting is different, though Apple goes to great pains to make it simple enough if you’re using iLife. Podcasting is an audio or video program about something, anything, whatever you want it to be. An interview, a discussion, a rant. Whatever.
Come up with some subject matter, and use Garageband to begin recording your podcast masterpiece. Garageband has a podcast track which lets you drop in photos at various locations within the podcast audio track. Again, it’s drag and drop simple.
You can add background music, multiple audio tracks, or, create and open and close using loops from Garageband’s library. That’s what I did. Again, it’s drag and drop simple.
For content, I simply used some of my previous blog’s articles and recorded each one as an audio track in Garageband. I also edited out the mistakes, and added and intro and a close.
Also, I wanted some video but didn’t want to make a video podcast, so I did the drag and drop routine and placed a few photos from iPhoto into the podcast track in Garageband.
Frankly, that looked boring with just the photos sitting there while I read from my blog, so I cheated and created some text on the photos using Fireworks, then drop the images back into Garageband.
The elements of a podcast production in Garageband are drop dead simple. Podcast track. Audio track. Music track for intro and close. Images or photos to drop into the podcast track. All of that takes barely a few minutes (minus the audio recording time) in Garageband.
When your podcast is finished, it’s a simple menu selection to move the exported podcast into iWeb, where I created a podcast among the photo albums and blog. iWeb sets up a page which lists the podcasts in order, an archive page, and the actual podcast entry page (similar in structure to the blog page).
Already included in the iWeb page for the podcast is the Subscribe button. Click the button and the podcast gets downloaded to iTunes, and you may subscribe to future updates. Configuration is automatic. You don’t have to do anything.
My first podcast production was about one minute long, and more of a test to see how everything worked than it was a piece to be proud of, let alone promote, even to family members.
Over the next few days I added a couple more, improved the production value, and lengthened the podcast to over five minutes total (I backdated each podcast to match the blog entries).
You can even set chapter markers in the podcast so users can jump from one location within the podcast to another. Since my podcast is just a blog reading, there’s no need for the markers.
The iWeb-produced .Mac web site looks great in Safari, decent in Firefox, and not quite so good in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Like that’s a surprise. Safari rendering is most accurate, and downloading the site is faster, too.
Remarkably, once the Garageband “template” is set up to record and drop in photos, it does not take long to produce a podcast, and even less time to incorporate it into iWeb for inclusion in the .Mac web site.
For example, the most recent podcast which runs about five minutes, took all of about eight minutes to produce—five minutes for the recording, and three minutes to drop in the graphics and photos.
I’m hard pressed to see how the whole production process can be much simpler and still retain the high level of quality afforded by using Garageband. It is easy to produce a podcast, which no doubt accounts for the millions of podcasts available online these days. Still, everything works fine in Internet Explorer.
I’m also hard pressed to see much value in most podcasts. Video podcasts, perhaps, especially instructive or entertaining podcasts. Family podcasts? The jury is still out.
It isn’t as though family members have been calling to see when the next podcast episode will be broadcast.
What about you? Do you subscribe to podcasts via iTunes? Which ones and why? What’s wrong with podcasts? Will you use iLife to create your own podcast production? Share your considerations in the Comments section below.