Apple has apparently emailed to all podcasters registered with iTunes a note encouraging them to upgrade their video podcasts to at least 640 pixels wide:
Greetings from the iTunes Podcasting Team:
Apple TV is here, and podcasts are making a big move into the living room. We want all of them to look as good as possible, so we have three video formatting recommendations for you. Also note that we have just posted a revised and expanded technical spec. Finally, the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference is coming up. There’s a major focus on developers of content in addition to developers of software.
Recommendations for Formatting Video Podcasts
1. If you’re encoding your video podcast at 320×240, please increase the resolution to either 640×480 or 640×360 (depending on the aspect ratio of your source files). Why? Because video podcasts at this resolution look great on Apple TV and still port to video iPods. Lower resolution podcasts might also work on both platforms, but they don’t look nearly as good on a widescreen TV. As always, make sure to test any encoding changes you make to ensure device compatibility. QuickTime 7.1’s “Export to iPod” function will ensure that a video file is encoded at a width of 640 and is iPod-compatible.
2. It’s best not to create two different podcast feeds for different resolutions. By doing so, you dilute the popularity of your podcast and reduce exposure in our charts. It’s better to have one feed high in the charts than two that are lower.
3. If your source files are 16:9, stick with that aspect ratio. Don’t add letterboxing to make them 4:3. By doing so, you prevent the video from expanding to fill a 16:9 widescreen TV and instead end up with black space on all four sides. Also, your original source files should be at least 640 pixels wide.
Of course these are just recommendations. We understand that there are good reasons for 320×240 (bandwidth bills) and 720p (looks fantastic). Do whatever makes the most sense for your show. For more information on formatting video, see the recently updated spec.
To see a sample of excellent podcasts that also look great with Apple TV, check out the Apple TV Podcast Showcase.
WWDC June 11 – 15, San Francisco, CA
The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC07) has a whole session track dedicated to Content and Media developers, designers, information architects, graphic designers and web producers.
You’ll learn how to implement best practices to harness digital content for delivery to the Web, applications and devices such as the iPod or Apple TV. Whether you’re creating next-generation rich-media portals or leveraging the latest AJAX toolkits to develop hybrid/Web integrated OS X applications, the Content and Media track provides the latest information on how to build modern, platform-optimized experiences for Mac OS X Leopard.
WWDC07 is your opportunity to connect with Apple engineers, get a firsthand look at the latest technologies and spend a week getting the information you won’t find anywhere else.
The iTunes Podcasting Team