I scoffed at the notion of watching videos on an iPod, mainly because I was under the impression it would be feature-length movies or even TV shows. Never in my mind did I consider the aspect of watching music videos on the iPod.
And the more I thought about this, the more excited I became. Sure, I've got tapes of classic videos stored away, and some of them I've even transferred to DVD, but when the mood strikes to watch Journey's "Separate Ways" video, it takes as long to find the DVD as it does to watch the actual video. And by that time, the mood has passed.
But last night I played around extensively with the video feature in iTunes, and its rather slick. Videos show up in the Library with a special icon next to them, and double-clicking them plays them in the Cover Art window. Clicking inside the playing video brings it up full-size; clicking a button in the lower right corner of the video box displays it full-screen.
As Cliff would say, this is The Hotness.
Now when you want to see that Journey video, you just go to iTunes, double click it, and have a good ol' time alternatively laughing/singing along. You bet.
<span style="font-size:85%;">BADASS: Steve Perry shaves off the pornstar moustache in the video for Journey's "Faithfully", now playing in my iTunes window
You can clearly see my video collection is nowhere near as expansive as my music collection. There's 10 videos there; almost 8000 songs. But I think anyone would agree that those 10 videos I have are some of the greatest videos ever.
Now, when you buy them from Apple for $1.99, you get a 320x280 video encoded in their proprietary coding (which has an .m4v extension -- just like AAC song files are .m4a). These videos are really pretty good at regular size, and the file size is nice too -- Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" clocks in at just over 25MB for a 4 minute video. They have 2000 videos to browse through, but as was the case when the music store started, there's a lot they don't have.
Of course, just as with music, there are "other" ways to get videos. LimeWire, for one, on the Gnutella network. BitTorrent has some, but you'll only find recent releases and even then my luck at actually getting them to download has been spotty at best. Just browsing through LimeWire last night I was able to find just about everything I was looking for, save one (U2's "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" -- still my favorite U2 song, and the only video of theirs I would want, so of course iTunes doesn't have it).
I found Digital Underground's "Humpty Dance". Ditto for two Journey faves; "Faithfully" and "Separate Ways". Genesis' "Land Of Confusion" with the puppets, and Ronald Reagan in the Superman costume too. I even tried something off the wall, just to see if I could find it, and sure enough I did -- Huey Lewis & The News' "Power Of Love".
The one drawback to these videos is the file sizes tend to be much much bigger. They're generally encoded in MPEG format, and look to run about 10-15 MB more. Some are even bigger. This is of course a problem in terms of disk space. But luckily the update for Quick Time Pro released in conjunction with iTunes 6 gives you the ability to save files in the new .m4v file format. So you can just take your downloaded MPEGs and re-compress them into m4v's and cut down the file size.
It goes without saying that the quality of LimeWire videos can be spotty. But when its the only avenue of acquiring them, save ripping them from a DVD, they're OK.
This has, of course, expedited my need to replace "Bruce" (my current iPod, named for Bruce Dickinson because the back is engraved "I got a fever and the only Rx is more Cowbell. -Tom '03". It was a gift. Shut up.)
For the record, my first iPod -- the 1st generation model, that I bought when they first came out and no one including myself knew quite what to make of it -- was named "Thunderlips", after Hulk Hogan's character in Rocky III. Really, it was!
Its only a matter of time before Chico is christened. I'd place even money on me buying one before the end of the month. Watching Steve Perry shave off that moustache is just the highest of high comedy, and the temptation to be able to watch it anywhere, anytime is probably just more than I can cope with...