• Creating an Enhanced Vodcast with Chapters and Links

    Creating an Enhanced Vodcast with Chapters & Links

    Viewers are less inclined to watch a lengthy vodcast on a take-it-or-leave-it basis unless they already know and like the content. One way to make longer video clips more attractive is to add interactive elements to them. An interactive feature that’s pretty easy to add to a QuickTime movie is “chapters.” With chapters embedded in the clip, the viewer can jump immediately to specified places in the video. ABC News, for example, uses chapters to link to individual stories in its World News (Enhanced) podcast. You could also use chapters, say, to let viewers jump to particular questions and answers in a political debate or news conference video.

    Another helpful enhancement is to add web links within your vodcast so that viewers can click on the video to get more information on topics within the clip.

    Here’s how to add chapters. After that you’ll find instructions on adding web links.


    Record, edit and save your video. If you want to embed a web link into the clip, be sure to add some visual cue such as a super or other graphic. If using iMovie or Avid, export the finished sequence as a 320 x 240 QuickTime movie. Do NOT convert to the “iPod friendly” .m4v format. At the moment, that format does not accept embedded chapters. As a result, video iPods cannot display the chapter information. People viewing an “enhanced” vodcast must do so through iTunes on their desktop or laptop.

    Open the clip in QuickTime Pro.

    Go to the Window pulldown menu and select Show Movie Info. You will need this window to find the “exact” timecode for the start of each chapter in your video clip.


    Notice on the left that the time, depending on the frame rate, will show up in

    hrs:min:sec:frame fractions.

    Because of a quirk in iTunes, we will need to “round” the timecode to thousandths of a frame (three places after the decimal point).


    Open Microsoft Word or some other editor that can save a file as plain text with line breaks. You will create a simple text file that tells the QuickTime Player and iTunes what to label the chapters and where to insert them within the video timeline.

    Here’s a link to a blank template for QuickTime movie chapters that you can modify for your own purposes.


    In the example above, notice the highlighted areas. The only changes you need to make to this text file are the actual timecodes and names for your chapters. The {doNotDisplay:on} tag essentially creates a transparent text layer in your video clip. The other specifications regarding font style, size, color, etc. don’t really matter since the text of your chapters will not be superimposed over the image. But do not delete or change the other text parameters or the chapters function will not work.

    Notice also that the {timeScale} tag is set to 1000. Typically we don’t measure video clips that way, but iTunes will not display your chapters properly unless set to that measurement. That means you must specify the timecode out to three places beyond the decimal point. Depending on how you compressed your video clip, QuickTime Pro may not show the timecode out to three places. Just round it up in the text file. For example, in the Movie Info box shown above, the video playhead was stopped at 00:01:09.5/15. If this were the spot I wanted to insert a chapter link, I could change the code to 00:01.09.333.

    The final timecode listed in your chapters file should be the total length of your clip.

    Be sure to save your chapters file as plain text with line breaks.


    Open the chapters text file in QuickTime Pro. Go to Edit, Select All then Edit, Copy. Close the text file.

    Open your video clip in QuickTime Pro. Go to Edit, Select All then Edit, Add to Selection & Scale.

    Now go to the Window pulldown menu and choose Show Movie Properties.


    You should see information about the tracks or layers that make up your video clip. Click on theOther Settings tab. Click on the Video Track to highlight it. Select Text Track from theChapters drop-down menu.

    Test your clip to make sure the chapters work.

    A chapters menu should appear to the right of the timeline/playhead bar. Is it there?

    Click on the bar. Your chapters should appear in the order you specified them.

    Click on a chapter title. The video should jump ahead to that chapter.


    Test each chapter to make sure your labels and timecode are correct.

    Then go to QuickTime Pro’s File menu and click on Save As

    Specify the name and location for the new, “enhanced” clip and be sure to Save as a self-contained movie.

    The chapters menu will appear a bit differently in iTunes.

    And iTunes is the place you ultimately want viewers to display the video by downloading the file from your podcast.

    When you open a video clip in iTunes, it is displayed by default in the Artwork (Now Playing) pane in the lower left corner.


    To see the video full size (or larger) click on the image.

    It will open in a separate player window.


    The latest version of iTunes overlays a black and gray playback control panel when you mouse over the clip. It fades away when you mouse away.

    Notice to the right of the fast-forward button is an icon that looks like a text file. You may have to open the playback window a little wider (depending on the dimensions of your clip) in order to make this icon appear. Clicking on the icon displays the chapters list.

    You can also bring up the chapters list in iTunes by going to the iTunes menu bar at the top of the screen.

    The Chapters menu will appear anytime a video clip including chapters information is opened.


    Click on the menu and choose the chapter you want to jump to in the video file.


    You can add one or more hypertext links within a QuickTime movie using the same text layer process that works for chapters.

    Open Word or some other editor capable of saving a file as plain text with line breaks. Here’s a link to a template file you can customize for your own clip.


    In the example above, I’ve chosen to create a transparent layer over the video clip so that at approximately 6:06 on the timeline you can click anywhere on the video to open up a myspace page. Why at 6:06? Because that’s where I’ve place a graphical cue that tells viewers to click for more information.

    Do not change anything until you get to the {size}, {width} and {height} tags. The size is set to 240 pixels. No actual text will appear on the screen. But you need to specify a size that, in this instance, is to fit into a text box that covers the full screen of a 320 x 240 video clip. That’s also why the width and height tags are set to those dimensions. Don’t ask me why, but you have to specify the timecode and a blank text box at the beginning of the clip (00:00:00.000). The four numbers in the {textBox} tag say to place the text layer in the upper left hand corner (0, 0) then fill it with “text” that fills the screen.

    The link specification for the second text box must look exactly as it does above, including the “phony” text (XXXXXXXX). Of course, you put in your own URL. Just copy and paste additional {textBox} tags and timecodes if you want to insert additional links within the video.

    The final timecode, once again, is the total time for the clip.

    Save the file as plain text with line breaks. Embed it into your QuickTime movie following the same steps you used to embed the chapters. A new text track should appear when you open the Show Movie Properties menu. Again, save the video clip as a self-contained movie.

    Download this file to see what an “enhanced” video clip with chapters and links looks like.


    Upload your enhanced video clip to the server so it can be accessed via the internet (typically your Bengal space). Follow the instructions in our “Basics for Creating an iTunes-Friendly Podcast” tutorial to create the <item> tag for the podcast.

    However, you must make one significant change with the item tag that tells iTunes the enclosed clip is not an .m4v file (one that can play on a video iPod), but a QuickTime movie instead.

    <enclosure url=”http://www.missouri.edu/~elgfz6/YuliyaLinkChapters.mov” length=”8026502″ type=”video/quicktime“/>

    ----------Posted on March 21, 2012 by in Help Files

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