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When most people think of EPUBs, thoughts of novels, textbooks, or other text heavy publications come to mind. While it is true that these formats excel as EPUBs. It is now possible to add multimedia to these books. InDesign CS5.5 adds support for audio and video, which is supported by the EPUB 3.0 specification. Let's take a look at how we can start using these new features today. Inside this multimedia InDesign document, I'm going to put a video file inside this placeholder frame. So I'm just going to press Command+D on the Mac or Ctrl+D on the PC to bring up my Place dialog box, and I'm going to go into my Exercise folder, links folder, and find the media folder.
In the media folder, I have an MP4 video file and an MP3 audio file. If you're going to be using video inside an EPUB, it has to be an MP4 video with h.264 encoding. If you have another sort of format like AVI or Flash video, you can encode it with the Adobe Media Encoder into an MP4 file. The Adobe Media Encoder comes with InDesign CS5.5. So I'm going to select this MP4 video file and click Open. With this video inside here, I'm going to add a poster, which is a graphic representation of the video.
Otherwise, you wouldn't know there is anything here; it would just show up as a transparent box. So I'm going to go into the Media panel and I'm going to click on Poster, and I'm going to Choose an Image. Inside my Exercise Files, I'm going to go to links, and I'm going to choose video-poster.jpg. This was just created from a still screenshot of the video and I added a little Play button to let the user know that hey, this is a video that they can tap to play. To control where this video is going to show up in the EPUB export, I'm going to create an anchored object.
So I'm going to grab this little blue square and drag it right over here to add it right after the word California. Next, I want to add some audio. So I'm going to go to File > Place and grab seagulls.mp3. Audio has to be in MP3 format. You can use a program like iTunes to convert a different audio format into an MP3 if needed. With this selected, I'll just click, and I have a little placeholder frame. I could put a poster on here if I wanted to, but it really isn't needed right now. I'm going to drag the blue square to create an anchored object at the end of the story.
With all of this done, I'm going to export this to an EPUB. So I'll go to File > Export. I'm going to put this on my Desktop and I'm going to call this multimedia. I'll choose the Format EPUB and click Save. Now inside here, I don't really care about any of these options except for Same as Article panel. I already have an article set up, for the flow this document, so we want to choose that, and we'll choose View EPUB after Exporting. The rest of these options, we'll leave alone, and we'll click OK.
As I'm exporting this file, I happen to get this error. You may or may not be receiving this error, but I've determined that this error isn't a problem inside the sexported EPUB. So I'm just going to click OK to dismiss it, and now that I'm looking at this EPUB, I'm going to decrease the font size, but I'm not seeing the video or the audio. The reason I'm not seeing the audio or the video inside this EPUB is because Adobe Digital Editions unfortunately does not support audio and video at this time. Hopefully, a future version will, but right now it doesn't.
So if a feature isn't supported, it just ignores it, but that doesn't mean it's not in there. Let's take a look inside an EPUB to see where the audio and video lives. So I'm going to close Adobe Digital editions. I'm going to open up a Finder window, and on my Desktop is the multimedia EPUB that I exported. I'm going to drag this on to a program called Text Wrangler on the Mac, which will take a look inside the EPUB. If you're on a PC, you can use Notepad++ or NoteTab. Inside the EPUB, I'm going to open up this folder and select multimedia.html.
Now right now, this is wrapping really far. So I'm just going to click on this little button and choose Soft Text Wrap so I can see everything. and right in the beginning I'm going to see the word video right here. Now what it's telling me if I select this, it says hey, the video happens to be right here and here are the dimensions. But because Adobe Digital Editions doesn't support video, it's just ignored. If I scroll a little lower, we'll see here is the audio. So the audio tag is telling me here is the MP3 can here are the dimensions of it. Unfortunately, not many EPUB readers currently support audio and video inside EPUBS.
One of the few players that does support it is iBooks on iPad. It doesn't work on the iPhone or the iPod Touch, but it does work on the iPad. Let's take a look at it in action. I'm looking at the multimedia.epub on the iPad, and the layout of the EPUB looks a little different than it looked inside my InDesign layout. But that's just the nature of an EPUB. It reflows to fit the medium that it's in. If I tap the Play button, the video will begin to play. You can see how I pinch to make the video full-screen.
When I tap again, I can pause the video, and then I can hit another button to shrink it down. At the bottom of the paragraph, I can tap to play the audio, and I can tap again to stop. In addition, to the audio and video support, CS5.5 has added J language features like vertical text and Ruby. There's now support for sub-lists and headers and footers within tables. Even though iBooks for the iPad is the only device that currently works with EPUB Multimedia, more devices are bound to be released,that will display video and audio inside EPUBs.
- Adding alternate text for screen readers
- Mapping styles to export tags for HTML exports
- Adding multimedia for iBook output
- Dragging and dropping anchored objects
- Working with linked stories
- Using the Overlay Creator
- Creating a panorama for an iPad publication