Screening Room feed with enclosures: How?

Greg Smith, the author of FeederReader -- "The Pocket PC Aggregator" -- writes:

I was wondering why you did not include the screencast of "Screening Room #5" as an enclosure in the RSS Feed:

I use FeederReader on the Pocket PC and enjoyed the audio portion of the Anders interview on LINQ. If you made the screencast an enclosure, FeederReader would have downloaded the video directly to my Pocket PC and I could have simply pressed "play" to view it. As it stands now, if I want to view it, I have to hunt for your post using a desktop browser because Pocket Internet Explorer does not by default play embedded videos on HTML pages.

Good question. As I explained to Greg, I'd been hoping to publish those screencasts in a single format, and had settled on the Flash SWF format as the best universal option, but then the FLV era overtook the SWF era and things got a bit more complicated again. For best playback using FLV format, my screencasts need to be encoded in a way that requires Flash 8. And while Macromedia Adobe loves to point out that they can upgrade an installed base faster than you can blink, the fact is that it still does take a while, so I've been reluctant to require the Flash 8 player, and have grudgingly been offering episodes of The Screening Room in QuickTime and Windows Media formats as well.

So, to Greg's question, which of these formats should be in the enclosure? Flash, QuickTime, or WinMedia? (Additional wrinkle: the Flash FLV format requires delivery of a Flash-based player, as well.) If I enclose all three, that starts to get hefty. And last I heard, sticking multiple enclosures into an RSS 2.0 item is a nonstarter.

It really would be cool to provide a feed with enclosures for The Screening Room. Got any ideas? Fire away.

Update: Though somewhat daunting to implement, Greg has lots of great ideas:

My recommendation is usually to publish Flash on the website, and both WMV or MP4 in separate RSS feeds. If you have the ability, publish two different feeds with identical content and different video format. If you only want to publish one feed and your audience owns diverse products, choose MP4. For MP4, it is best to choose MP4 Part 2 Video and MP4 Part 3 audio encoding (fps 10-15, 250-700kbps). This will play back on an iPod, which is a large part of the video market. And I'm specifically avoiding the newer and more CPU-hogging AVC (MP4 Part 10).

Unfortunately for my users, MP4 requires a different video player other than the already-installed Windows Media Player.

Flash won't play on a lot of portable devices. I know for Windows Mobile, there is a Flash 7 player but it requires some extra steps to set up to play downloaded content e.g. from an RSS feed.
Excellent recommendations. Thanks!

Richard Miller votes for a QuickTime format, but wonders (as do I) whether screencasts will translate to the small screen:

I've really enjoyed the Screening Room videos so far. I also have a Video iPod so I've thought it would be nice to watch them there. If you implement RSS enclosures, my vote would be for a Quicktime compatible format like MPEG-4 or H264. Both are open formats that should play on any platform with either Quicktime or VLC, with the added benefit that they'll play on the Video iPod. On the other hand, maybe it would be unpleasant to watch a screencast on a small iPod screen; those small screens might be best suited for close-ups of cheery faces like Amanda Congdon instead of screenshots of .NET code.

And over at Macromedia Adobe, John Dowdell weighs in with good news and bad news:

Jon Udell blends three different video requirements together: minimal hassle for computer WWW browsers; RSS video "enclosure" for "newsreaders" (quotes 'cause I was never quite comfortable with those latecomer labels); and video delivery to pocket devices, in this case a PocketPC. The first has a clear answer: Adobe Flash Player 8 already has far greater desktop presence than other current video engines (NPD tested at 70% viewability last March; WMP, Real & QT have *overall* viewability in the same range but don't have corresponding versioning info). For the "RSS enclosure" (which is actually an enclosed reference), I think Scott Fegette will have the best guidance, but as the Yahoo Videobloggers know, FLV/SWF isn't yet integrated into most of that class of software. For PocketPC, we've got some native video, but not the full range available in the big desktop version. So... if you're trying to view a friendly WWW video in a PocketPC through an RSS "enclosure", civilization has not yet quite reached those attractive environs, regrets.... ;-) [JD on EP]

Adobe's Scott Fegette has more here. Bottom line: from the publisher's point of view, this is not going to be fun.

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