The Complete Guide to iPod, iPhone and Apple TV Video Conversion (Windows) | iLounge Article


The Complete Guide to iPod, iPhone and Apple TV Video Conversion (Windows)

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Converting Standard Digital Video Content

In the context of this article, Standard Digital Video Content refers to the various types of digital content that can be stored on a computer, such as that obtained from web sites and already pre-extracted from DVDs into other non-Apple-ready formats.

Formats that are normally encountered in this category include Quicktime movies (MOV), Windows Media Video (WMV), DivX, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 content, although there are a host of other formats that you may also encounter.

With the exception of content in these formats that may be protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions, the conversion process is relatively straightforward, and there are a number of different tools and methods to handle this process.

The first and most obvious tool for video conversion is iTunes itself. As of iTunes 6.0.2, the option to convert videos into an iPod-ready format from directly within iTunes became available, and this was expanded in iTunes 7.1 to include a preset to convert videos into an Apple TV ready format. Any video that can be imported into iTunes itself can be converted in this manner simply by clicking on it from within the iTunes library and choosing either Convert Selection for iPod or Convert Selection for Apple TV.

Note that these options may not appear in some cases if the target video is already in the selected format, and will definitely not appear for iTunes Store purchased content, as these videos cannot be converted due to the DRM protection on them.

For the most part, iTunes itself can import and play any content that is supported by Apple’s Quicktime application, although it does not necessarily support formats that are only playable via Quicktime plugins, such as WMV or DivX.

Unfortunately, this approach also has some additional limitations:  The conversion time is extremely slow compared to third-party options that are available, and if you are converting MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 files with “multiplexed” or “muxed” audio tracks, the resulting iPod and Apple TV format track will have no audio. This second issue is in fact a standard issue with Quicktime itself and affects most of Apple’s video conversion and editing applications. Further, there are no advanced conversion options available when using the iTunes method—iTunes simply converts the track into what it deems is the most appropriate format.

While this method may be fine for the occasional video clip downloaded from the Internet for casual use, users looking to convert any serious content will likely prefer to use another tool for all but the most basic conversion tasks.

The Great Equalizer - Hardware Encoding If you’re planning to do a lot of video encoding and are using a slower PC, you might want to take a look at a video encoding hardware accessory such as ADC’s Instant Video To-Go unit (see iLounge’s review here), which can accelerate video conversion on just about ANY PC to near real-time performance or better by offloading all of the conversion processing from the PC’s own CPU to this external USB-connected device.
Quicktime Pro Mac, $30

Even though iTunes uses the Quicktime encoding engine, it does not provide support for importing files that can be rendered with the various Quicktime plug-ins available that provide support for other formats. Formats like WMV and DivX will be flatly refused by iTunes, even if Quicktime itself can handle them.

Since Quicktime is the official Apple solution for video encoding, it is included here for the sake of completeness and a proper comparison. However, with a $30 price tag, very slow encoding performance, and the inability to encode video formats such as MPEG-2 without purchasing additional plug-ins, we feel that Quicktime Pro should not really be somebody’s first choice for video conversion unless they have very specific requirements where it might be of benefit.

To convert videos using Quicktime Pro, simply open them in Quicktime as you normally would. You will see the standard Quicktime playback window, and from here you can preview or do basic editing on the video.


You can export a Quicktime video simply by choosing File, Export, which will prompt you for a location to save the resulting file and a format to export it to:


From the list of formats, you can choose presets such as Movie to iPod, Movie to iPhone, or Movie to Apple TV.


Note also the Movie to iPhone (Cellular) option. This produces a smaller format 3GP video file in 176 x 132 resolution at 80kbps suitable for streaming or downloading across an EDGE connection. As an added bonus, the resulting 3GP file can be played on most other phones that support video playback.

The performance of Quicktime is nothing short of abysmal when compared to the other options out there, especially considering its $30 price tag, and the bottom line is that this performance will probably be unacceptable for all but the shortest video clips.

Also keep in mind that Quicktime Pro, even with the separately-purchased MPEG-2 Playback Component from Apple, will still not render multiplexed MPEG-2 audio output properly, meaning that such files will be lacking an audio track. Since this is the standard audio configuration used by most commercial DVDs, this makes Quicktime Pro completely unsuitable for converting ripped DVD content.

Videora Apple TV Converter Windows, Free

Since the release of the original 5G iPod in the fall of 2005, Videora has been one of the more ubiquitous conversion tools available. While the full version of Videora is a commercial application, they offer a basic “Videora iPod Converter” package which converts videos for the iPod easily, and now a “Videora Apple TV Converter” package which provides support for the higher-resolution video formats available on the Apple TV. The Apple TV version will handle both iPod and Apple TV conversion in one package, making the separate “Videora iPod Converter” package redundant.

As a free application, Videora tends to be a bit ad-heavy, particularly in wizard mode, but it does the actual conversion job reasonably well once you get it going. You can choose to run it either in an unattended “wizard” mode or customize the settings manually to get access to more advanced encoding options.

The automated “wizard” mode is extremely simple, requiring you to do little more than select the source file, select a name of the output file, and then hit the “Start Converting” button.


Videora will simply begin converting the selected file into a standard iPod-ready 640x480 video at an average 1000 kbps bit-rate by default, although this can be customized in the application settings.

Users wanting more control over their video conversion options can select the “Current Conversion” tab, which will reveal the ability to queue up multiple videos and select different conversion profiles.


The predefined profiles provide encoding using either H.264 or MPEG4 codecs, at either 320x240 (QVGA) or 640x480 (VGA) for the iPod, at a variety of different bit-rates, and with the option for two-pass encoding, which will select an optimal variable bit-rate based on a first analysis pass through the video:


To encode videos in higher resolutions specifically for the Apple TV, select “Apple TV” from the Device pull-down, and the video profile list will change to reflect profiles specific to the Apple TV, allowing for encoding in resolutions up to 1280x720 (720p HD):


If more advanced customization is desired, the “Settings” screen provides the ability to set default profiles for both the queue and one-click conversion modes, as well as create additional customized profiles:


To create a customized profile, simply click “New Profile,” ensuring that you have also selected the appropriate device you are creating the profile for. In the initial screen, you can give the profile a name, and select your encoder:


Most of the other relevant settings can be found on the “Video” tab, which contains several sub-tabs for general and advanced video settings. The first “General” tab allows you to specify the video codec to be used, as well as which profile to use in the case of the H.264 codec. The Baseline Level 1.3 profile is for 320x240 iPod videos, while the Baseline Level 3 profile is used to produce 640x480 iPod videos. If you are creating or editing a profile for the Apple TV, your options will also include the Baseline Level 3.1 profile and the H.264 Main profile.


You can further specify bitrate, framerate, aspect ratio, and input and output resolutions on this first screen.

The second tab, “General 2” provides cropping and padding settings. Cropping will allow you to trim the video to either change the aspect ratio or remove “hard letterboxing.”  Padding is used to do the reverse, and can actually create a hard letterboxed video if you so desire (by padding the black bars into the top and bottom of a 16:9 video, for example).


Although these advanced settings in Videora can be used to push video encoding to higher resolutions for the Apple TV, Videora does not, however, support anamorphic encoding, nor will it push a video file’s resolution beyond that of the source file—so a DVD clip will still be set to a maximum of 720x480, for example.

Roxio Crunch Windows

Another solution on the commercial software front is Roxio’s Crunch for Windows. Originally released as a Mac application, Roxio has recently ported this tool to Windows, and it offers a number of conversion options, including presets for Apple TV and iPhone, as well as for the iPod.


While Roxio Crunch is also capable of converting unprotected DVDs, this is not necessarily its primary feature, particularly since most users will not have a lot of non-copy-protected DVD content to convert. As a general video conversion tool, however, Crunch does a reasonable job, with a better user interface and options from some of the alternatives.

The conversion process itself is extremely simple:  Select your videos for conversion, either from a file or by selecting a (non-copy-protected) DVD, selecting the appropriate preset, choosing whether to save to a file or import directly into iTunes, and then clicking the button in the top-right corner, which will be labelled either “Save As” (if saving to a file), or “Copy” (if importing to iTunes).



As mentioned, content can also be opened from a non-copy-protected DVD source, with an integrated browser for specific DVD titles. Attempting to do this with a copy-protected DVD, however, will show a small padlock symbol over the images of any protected titles:


This can also be observed by selecting the DVD properties:


The presets available include options for the Apple TV, iPhone and iPod, at various quality levels and speeds, and limited custom presets can also be defined:


The presets labeled “Fastest” provide MPEG-4 encoding, while the others encode using the H.264 codec.

The only particular oddity in the current version of Crunch is their choice of resolutions for the various presets. The “Apple TV High” preset, for example, encodes at 320x240—a resolution completely unsuitable for viewing on an Apple TV, and therefore the “Apple TV Highest” at 960x540 needs to be used to produce realistic results. There also appears to be no support for true anamorphic encoding.

Page three: Converting Recorded TV Content…


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« iTunes Other category and TV show syncing

Keeping content only on the iPod »

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Is it possible to get this guide as a PDF?  And the other guides, too?

Posted by GrilledGrouper in Toronto on September 4, 2007 at 10:16 PM (CDT)


how to use in sim cade contan, how to transfer music & Videos to the Iphone & How to Converting Videos & Audios Plz Tail my about.

Posted by mohd.afzal in Toronto on May 9, 2008 at 8:06 AM (CDT)


Good !!!

Posted by pRinCy in Toronto on May 19, 2008 at 5:55 AM (CDT)


I Downloaded some Movies and When i tried to play them on my 80 GB Ipod Classic It Said TV Out Enabled. Please Connect Video Accessory. What does that mean and how do i do that?

Thank-you for all your help.

Posted by Garrett in Toronto on May 24, 2008 at 5:18 PM (CDT)


That message implies that you have the “TV Out” option turned on under Video, Settings.  Simply go to that menu and turn it off, unless you actually do want to watch your videos on a TV screen, in which case you will need to attach an iPod classic compatible video out accessory.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on May 25, 2008 at 3:05 PM (CDT)


Can you retreive lost songs, if so how do you?

Posted by catilyn abercrombie in Toronto on June 8, 2008 at 12:53 PM (CDT)


Hi Jesse,
Do DVDdecrypter and DVD43 run on windows Vista yet?

Posted by phillipjfry in Toronto on July 6, 2008 at 11:48 PM (CDT)


I got an iphone 3g 8g!  Incredible…However, I am trying to add movies that I burned on my hard drive and I keep getting the “Ghostbusters” sign.  Is it possible that the movies are ripped at an mpeg4 instead of another format?  If so, which format?  Do I have to rip it again (entire movie)? or can I just rip the mpeg4 to the correct format.  Thanks!


Posted by Jason in Toronto on July 12, 2008 at 12:33 PM (CDT)


Great guide; can you help with this issue?  When trying to use the iTunes conversion option (for video podcasts I have downloaded via iTunes or for external h.264 video, for example) iTunes will start the conversion process, then after a few minutes will give me an error message that “the disk could not be read from or written to.”  This happens whether I have the iPod connected, or not. Any advice about what’s up with that?

Posted by Lee in Toronto on September 5, 2008 at 11:47 AM (CDT)


Hey, thanks for the great help. I have a queiry though…I have copied a couple of videos onto itunes which is fine but then when I tried syncing them with my ipod nano (latest 8gb version) it said that the format was not conpatible.  So I tried clicking on it as you said to ‘convert to ipod’ but it didn’t come up at all, does this mean I should download Handbrake and see if it works that way?  Also my digital camera records in AVI format, itunes is not resistering anything in that file at all so can I convert them for use on my ipod with Handbrake?

Posted by Nina in Toronto on September 14, 2008 at 10:09 AM (CDT)


can you walk me though the process for copying videos from my hard drive to my i-pod touch?

Posted by ccpot in Toronto on October 4, 2008 at 5:49 PM (CDT)


i had a quick question- my friend sent me a movie.. and im not sure how to get it into my itunes in order to put in onto my ipod
what do i do?
i tried importing it.. and nothing happend!
thanks so much!

Posted by tals in Toronto on October 24, 2008 at 6:49 AM (CDT)


trouble adding second ipod on my computer

Posted by bill price in Toronto on November 25, 2008 at 12:18 PM (CST)


How do I make my 30 G ipod compatable with my windows vista and re arrange songs in folders???? please reply

Posted by Howard Griffith in Toronto on December 1, 2008 at 2:46 PM (CST)


I have my video ipod connected to a tv through the headphone jack and when I try and play my ipod, I get a message “please connect video accessory”  I thought it was connected?  What’s the deal?

Posted by Jacobb in Toronto on December 25, 2008 at 12:34 AM (CST)


You should really change the title of this guide to “DVD to Ipod/Iphone/Apple TV” because this said nothing about avi/mpeg/wmv video conversion.

Posted by andy in Toronto on December 30, 2008 at 2:33 AM (CST)


Hi Jesse,
This doesn’t really have anything to do with avi/mpeg/wmv video conversion, but it’s great help for other purposes. Anyway, I have an ipod touch 2G 8gb and I want to put videos into it but it only allows “MPEG-4” files. Do you reccomend any programs I can use to convert different files into “MPEG-4”?  Please help.

Posted by cathh in Toronto on January 15, 2009 at 11:44 PM (CST)


i got an ipod touch and i recently purcahsed applications and it wont let me sync them on my ipod its making very frustrated please help me.
thank you

Posted by brooke crenter in Toronto on January 22, 2009 at 8:13 PM (CST)


I have the newest version of HandBrake, 0.9.3, for windows, the GUI version, and I have a 3rd generation video nano iPod.  I use DVD43 to encode them and then use HandBrake, but the movies won’t fit on my iPod because I can’t change the aspect ratio to 1.33:1.  Do you know how to change the aspect ratio on HandBrake 0.9.3 for windows?  Thank you please help me!!!

Posted by Danny in Toronto on March 28, 2009 at 3:17 PM (CDT)


Nevermind, I fixed it using custom crop.  By the way this is a nice page for help on converting.

Posted by Danny in Toronto on March 29, 2009 at 9:18 AM (CDT)

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