Podcast Producer: The Little-Known Leopard Application

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.

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