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Podcast Producer: The Little-Known Leopard Application

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Podcast ProducerI went into Apple’s Leopard Server site and noticed a feature that seems out of place — something that should belong in the non-server version of Leopard. Apple calls it “Podcast Producer.” So far, I have not seen the program in action.  Apple’s site presents an image that shows a very simple “Podcast Capture” window with four large buttons. You have a choice of podcast type: Video, Audio, Screen, or File.

The functions of the first three of these options are obvious, but what is a file podcast? Apple only mentions that you can open the application and “select the type of podcast you’d like to record — audio only, video with audio, screen capture with audio — then click Start.” There is no mention of what the “File” podcast type is. Apple does not provide a definition or indication for a file podcast. If I had to guess, perhaps it is similar to “Photocasts” — where you can create an RSS feed for your iPhoto pictures, but with any type of file.

I am also curious as to what exactly this program does. Apple calls Podcast Producer “a complete, end-to-end solution for encoding, publishing, and distributing high-quality podcasts.” This implies that this is not just some front-end solution like Front Row, but a full-fledged application suite.

I use the phrase “application suite” because a complete solution for podcasting would include audio and video editing applications. Audio and video editing applications can have different interfaces. Is this a stripped down Final Cut Studio or is it more akin to iLife or something in-between? Where does this application lie on the Apple creativity suite continuum? Is it worth it to fork over the $500 for OS X Server instead of picking up the Final Cut Studio suite?

Apple says that “Podcast Producer uses Xgrid distributed processing technology for large-scale podcast productions — encoding tasks are automatically distributed to other servers. All that is required is another server running Podcast Producer and a shared file system such as Xsan or NFS.” In other words, running this program allows for sharing the workload over the network. This kind of application would make it easier for larger organizations to create high-quality podcasts for the Apple TV.

There is a good chance a program like this could eventually find its way into a non-server version of Leopard. Apple has taken Mac OS X Server features and integrated them into the non-server edition of the OS. For example, Spotlight searching over the network was a Tiger Server Edition feature that should be available in the non-server Leopard. Additionally, even if this program currently requires many computers to produce some finished products (i.e. “the large-scale podcast productions”), eventually a stand-alone Mac will suffice considering advances in technology.

18 Responses to “Podcast Producer: The Little-Known Leopard Application”

  1. metaprinter

    Dumb this down for me guys.

    If i want to use podcast producer i need to buy os x server (software) and install it on an intel mac i have laying around to create the end product,(a podcast) which i can then upload to my webfaction server and it will function normally for everyone visiting my site as a podcast, quicktime movie, or however else i designate it to function.

    Is this right?

  2. The elevator pitch for Podcast Producer is this:

    The server provides a centralized place to manage both remote recording agents and workflows for processing content.

    The Podcast is used on a Mac OS X client machine to contact the server. It can either submit content that is captured locally or direct a remote recording agent to capture content.

    Whether local or remote capture is involved, the captured content is uploaded to the server and a workflow is run to process the content.

    The workflows are actually executed on an Xgrid cluster that sits behind the Podcast Producer server.

    Since the workflow definitions are server-based, they can do any manipulation to the content that can be run on an Xgrid cluster, and publish to any destination that is available to that Xgrid cluster.

  3. Podcast Producer is a service that runs on mac os x 10.5 server. Podcast Capture is a program on Mac os x 10.5 client versions that connects to a Podcast Producer server.

    Neither does anything without the other.

    Podcast Producer takes the media from podcast capture, uses Xgrid to process it into several different formats, finally posting it to the server in the required way (apple-tv, itunes, itunesu, blog, etc.).

    And the file-option on podcast capture is there to enable users to upload mediafiles they have created elsewhere, like in professional programs or on their windows machines.

  4. Podcast Producer is a service that runs on mac os x 10.5 server. Podcast Capture is a program on Mac os x 10.5 client versions that connects to a Podcast Producer server.

    Neither does anything without the other.

    Podcast Producer takes the media from podcast capture, uses Xgrid to process it into several different formats, finally posting it to the server in the required way (apple-tv, itunes, itunesu, blog, etc.).

  5. Sean Alcorn

    PodCast Producer is in /etc/podcastproducer in the client version of Leopard, but in the Utilities folder there is an Application called “PodCast Capture”

    When you run it, it asks you to connect to a server running PodCast Producer

  6. reallypod

    The “file” icon is where you can import a quicktime based file from another audio or video editing application, for example , final cut pro , adobe premiere pro, etc. This applies when you have an audio/video production more advanced than simply point the camera/microphone and press ‘record’.

    Also, the ‘Podcast Producer’ simply automates the encoding and upload to server process. Notice that you have to have an apple server I think on the other end. I dont know how or if it can communicate with non-apple hardware and software. Comments from others?

  7. Since podcasting technology (RSS feeds with the ability to include enclosures) was first introduced, I’ve wondered when application and game deveolopers would begin using this method of distribution. It makes perfect sense to include applications in RSS feeds and call them “podcasts”. For example, imagine an iPod game publisher — or several developers, marketing their wares as a group — putting out “podcasts” of their latest releases.

  8. Yep, Apple have been showing our college this. There is a client app to produce content in the classroom, and a server side app that crunches the data and publishes in a blog, etc.

    Almost v cool, but would be better if there wa sa windows client app too. It looks like you can still create the content in Windows using another app, and upload the content to the server for delivery though.

  9. Okay, now. I was watching the Leopard WWDC07 unvieling, and when Steve Jobs was showing the Utilities folder, I saw an icon that resembled that of Podcast Producer. I don’t know if that was what the icon was for, but it would be great. I need a program like this, and I do not want to buy a 10-User Server OS just for it.

  10. Both Leo and It Just Works has it correct. There is a client version and a server version. With the server version, certain scripts can run at set time periods for different computers.

    This was designed more for educational use so that teachers could walk into a room, log on a computer, then enable the recording. From there, the server software can save the file to where it needs to go, then convert it into different formats, and/or upload it to iTunes U (or other website). It’s really easy to set up and really easy to use… especially on the client side where limited technical knowledge is necessary.

  11. It Just Works

    Right. It’s more for people who are already producing content than it is for a single person’s home use.

    Think iTunes U…

    Picture it. A prof walks into a classroom and presses record on a firewire camera in the back room and proceeds to give the lecture. When class is over, press stop and walks out of the room. Then automatically in the background, the audio and video are packaged up, ripped up and distributed for the appropriate class and professor to a podcast server. Because it’s distributed over dozens of machines, by the time the students walk back to the dorms, they can load the class they were just at on their ipods… and the prof only had to know how to press record….

  12. I think this would allow organizations to create and distribute their own podcasts using OS X Server. Say you were a large company or academic institution that wanted to start offering podcasts to employees or customers… this would allow you to do it.

    On the Leopard client side, there is probably an application that hooks into Podcast Producer that actually does the audio/video capture and content-creation.