Friday, July 13, 2007

OMG! I finally have a great excuse to upgrade my plain old 20gb iPod to a fancy, 80GB video iPod. The excuse? Knitting of course.

Oh sure, the 80GB gives me more space for the podcasts I love. But the video? What do I care about video? Just 2 word: Elizabeth Zimmermann. As we speak, I'm transferring my copy of the EZ Knitting Glossary onto my video iPod. Whenever I want to remember how to do a German twisted cast on, all I have to do is whip out my trusty iPod and watch Elizabeth or Meg show me how. This is a wonderful use of technology.

Now I'm a die-hard Zimmermaniac. During my week at camp, I learned something very important. Whenever I think I'm being clever with some technique, I'm not. EZ already tried it and discarded it for a better way. There's very little not on that glossary that I need to have in my toolbox. Cabling without a cable needle? Meg's got it covered. Kichener? It's there too. And I don't have to carry along any little books. Just my iPod. Of course, there are other technique DVDs out there: Lucy Neatby? Maybe the videos from

I'm loving this idea. I bet you are too. I'm sure someone out there is more skilled than I at working with DVD's and video transfer, but here's how I'm doing it.

First off, I'm using Handbrake on Windows XP. This is an open-source tool, so it is free for you to use. Once you install it, there is a nice link to a step-by-step document on converting your DVD's to your iPod. I don't think I need to duplicate it for you here. However, I do have a couple of tips specific to this project.

BitRate: The preset bit rate for iPod (1.33) sets the bit rate at 1000. At this bit rate, the whole Glossary video comes in at about 1.1 gigabyte. I lowered the bitrate to 512 to reduce the file size to about 650 megabytes (or 0.6 gigabytes). When I watched the two videos on my fancy big computer monitor, I could see some small differences in the quality. However, I doubt I'll notice it on the iPod. Knitter's choice.

Chapters: At first, I just encoded the whole video into one big file. Hmmm....not so useful when you want to see one technique for casting off. When I see it on my television, I can "pick" the chapter to go to. I don't see how I can do that on my iPod. So....always the clever girl...I used Handbrake to put each chapter in a separate file. There are about 75 chapters on the video. Right now, my naming convention is a bit stupid: EZChapter3, EZChapter65, etc. Once I get done encoding all the chapters, I'll go back and give them meaningful names: CablingWithoutNeedle, GermanTwistedCastOn, etc. I'll set up a playlist on my iPod for the EZ GLOSSARY and then have all the different techniques. Or I may group them as she does on the video: a playlist for Aran Techniques for example.

Time: This stuff takes forever to do. Hours and hours. The whole video took about 4 hours to process on my dual processor computer. So...set it up before you go to bed (I used the cool feature to Queue up each chapter, then selected Encode Queue) and then press go. In the morning, it should be all ready for you.

Battery: Video ipods really suck up battery life. I don't want to find myself stuck at the SnB without my handy reference. I have a thing in my car that charges my iPod, but I don't see myself running out to the car to figure out how to do channel island cast on. When I was stuck at the Chicago airport, I picked up a little iPod battery pack that lets me run my iPod on a AA battery. A single AA battery ran my plain old non-video iPod for about 2 hours. I have a stack of rechargeable AA lithium batteries from my original digital camera. We'll have to experiment and see how well these rechargeables work with the video iPod. There's lots of other power options, but this one was particularly small and lightweight--perfect for travelling or for my knitting bag.

Headphones: I bet you can use your video iPod without headphones to see a technique, but you'll probably want to listen too. And someone in the room will want to borrow your video. I promise that's going to happen. Since I don't think I want to share my ear buds (yuck!), I'm going to toss a cheap pair of headphones into my knitting bag--you know those free ones that came in the package with your first portable tape player?

Too much technology for you? Maybe. But you'll be green with envy when you see me at the SnB with all my techniques on video.


carla said...

What a great idea! I have the Knitting Workshop videos and Knitting Glossary is on the way (Knitting Around available Fall 07!)... I'll have to figure out how to do this on my Mac.

tycho said...

Handbreak is a great program, and I think some of the newer versions even have a preset for iPod video export. There's also a HandBreakExpress or something, that's all special for using h.264 ipod format.

but anyway, you have a great idea. I have one of those models (white) and while I keep a lot of video on it, I don't really find occasitons for listening to it very often. :)


See Kay said...

You are absolutley brilliant! Thanks for the idea!

Mary Llynn said...

. . . maybe your sil would like one of those pre-loaded for her birthday. (it is just too bad this can not be sent anonymously.)

Soulknitting said...

You are one smart cookie!! Thanks for sharing this info about getting dvd info onto a video iPod. Just great info!