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Topic: Adding Chapters to audiobook files - step by step guide

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Old 08-08-2007, 06:48 PM
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Lightbulb Adding Chapters to audiobook files - step by step guide

Through trial and error and a little googling, some of us here on the forums have discovered a way to create an audiobook file for the iPod that has chapter stops embedded into the file (similar to the way audible audiobooks do.) I'm going to attempt to document this process step by step in this post. It's outlined in broad strokes in this thread.

Download Slideshow Assembler from here.
It requires that you have Quicktime 7.1 or later (pro is not required). You will also need iTunes installed. Also outlined below is a way to calculate the start times using ms excel (thanks to lintujuh for outlining this method. I was trying to do this myself and couldn't figure out how to format it correctly.)

1. Rip the cd's using itunes in your preferred grouping method in AAC format. If you are working from files already ripped, skip to step 2.
a. either 1 file per chapter or 1 file per cd, etc
2. Calculate the start times of each chapter using excel. This can also be done manually, but I think the excel method is a LOT easier.
a. create a playlist with your chapters and export the playlist as a .txt file.
b. Import the txt file into ms excel or a comparable spreadsheet program as a tab delimited file.
c. The only columns that are important for this application are the name and the time. The time is notated in seconds. The other columns should be deleted so that the name is in column A and the time is in column B.
d. Select columns C and D. Click on Format and select Cells. Set the format to Custom and enter "h:mm:ss" in the field.
e. Select Cell C2 and enter "=time(0,0,B2)", then copy this formula to the remaining cells in the column.
f. Select D2 and enter "0" for the value. Select D3 and enter "=D2+C2" into the cell. Copy this formula to the remaining cells in the column.
g. This column will be your list of start times for each chapter. - see FIGURE 7
3. Create the POD file for the audiobook using the chapter start times created in step 2.
a. field names in the pod file:
altfolder1 - this is the location that you should have all of your working files (images, if applicable and audiofile.)
basename - this will be the filename of the processed file.
audiofile - this is the filename of the unprocessed audio file.
shownotes - this is currently not implement in SSA or necessary for audiobooks. This field can be either commmented out by inserting a ";" in front of it or deleting the line altogether.
artwork - this is the image file that you wish to show as the album art in iTunes.
imgwidth and imgheight - this is the height and width parameters of the image files. Apple recommends 300x300 in their podcast specs.
editpointcount - this is the number of chapter points you will be inserting into the file.
b. metadata tag explanations
İnam - this is the Name field in iTunes
İART - this is the Artist field in iTunes
İalb - this is the Album field in iTunes
İgen - this is the genre field in iTunes. Set this to "Audiobooks".
İlyr - this is the Lyrics tab in Get Info in iTunes.
catg - this is a category field that itunes uses. By default SSA has it set to podcast. You will want to edit this to music to prevent the file from showing as a podcast.
desc - this is a podcast specific field and should be either commented out or deleted.
pcst - this is a podcast specific field and should be either commented out or deleted.
purl - this is a podcast specific field and should be either commented out or deleted.
egid - this is a podcast specific field and should be either commented out or deleted.
PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ARE EITHER COMMENTING OUT OR DELETING THE desc, pcst, purl, and egid FIELDS OR YOUR FILE WILL SHOW UP IN THE PODCASTS SECTION WHEN YOU IMPORT INTO ITUNES.
c. Each editpoint should be in the following format:
[Editpoint_#]
start=00:00:00.00
chapter=Chaptername
image=chapterimage.jpg (The image tag is only necessary if you want to have the album art change on every chapter mark.)
4. Drag and drop the POD file onto SSA.exe. It will process the chapter points and create a file named "basename.m4a" in the location specified in altfolder1.
5. Rename the file extension from m4a to m4b.
6. Slideshow Assembler inserts a black box with dimensions specified in imgheight and imgwidth if there is no chapter art specified. To remove this from the file, you will need mp4box. It is a command line utility. You will need to run "mp4box -info basename.m4a" to find the track with the jpeg-vide stream. In this instance, it is track #3. Once you know the track number to remove, run "mp4box -rem #id" where #id is the stream you wish to remove.
7. Drag and drop the file into your iTunes library and it should show up in the Audiobooks section.
8. When you play the file in iTunes, you should see a Chapter menu that will let you jump to the chapter points that you have created.
Finally, sync to your iPod and enjoy chapterized audiobook goodness!

Last edited by ejsjrnc; 08-08-2007 at 08:49 PM. Reason: didn't finish the post before hitting submit.
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Old 08-09-2007, 06:36 AM
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A tip to help you in creating the .pod file
  • copy and paste the final excel table into word
  • delete columns B and C, so that you have only chapter titles and start times left
  • select the table and choose from menu Table > Convert > Table to Text and select Tab as delimeter, leave the table select
  • add the necessary tags to the file by running replace (Edit > Replace) through the selection
  • Add .00 to the start time and text chapter= before the chapter title
    Find what ^p
    Replace with .00^pchapter=
  • Add a line break between the chapter title and the time and add start=
    Find what ^t
    Replace with ^pstart=
  • Manually add chapter= on the first line
  • Add an empty line before the first chapter and write [editpoint_]
  • Position the cursor after the underscore and select Insert > Field. Select from list field AutoNumLgl and check from the field options 'Display number ... without trailing period'.
  • Copy the edipoint line and paste it before every chapter title
  • Select and copy the whole text and paste it into the .pod file or add the remaining information around the chapter information and save the file as a text file.
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Old 08-13-2007, 11:22 PM
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Which program do you use to create the .pod file?
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Old 08-14-2007, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by realhiphopp
Which program do you use to create the .pod file?
just a simple text editor....notepad is what I use. You don't want to use ms word or any other word processing program as they usually insert extra characters that will make SSA choke.
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Old 08-14-2007, 08:50 PM
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Can you send me an example of a pod file? How do you save something as a pod file using notepad?
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Old 08-15-2007, 02:11 AM
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An example .pod file is with the ssa package. When opening/saving the .pod file, there is a field below the filename, what specifies the filetype. By default, the filetype is Text (.txt). Change this to all files (*.*) and select the .pod file from the list or if you are saving the file, just write filename.pod in the filename field.
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Old 10-26-2007, 02:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by realhiphopp
Which program do you use to create the .pod file?
Give it a try:

http://forums.ilounge.com/books-spoken-word/161628-create-chapter-markers-windows.html#post1167309

Cheers,
Tom
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Old 11-22-2007, 03:29 AM
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I've found out that my chapters are not exactly aligned with audiobook. When I skip to the next chapter, the audiobook starts at the end of the previos chapter. The error is bigger at the end of the book. The error was quite huge in one specific audio book that had over 40 chapters.

I did some investigations to find out the reason for the error and my conclusion is following: iTunes reports the length of a track in whole seconds (see ejsjrnc's original post, position c). The problem is that the length is not rounded but truncated (both 15.1 and 15.9 seconds show as 15 seconds), which means an average error of a half second per track. When calculating the cumulative starting position of a chapter this error also cumulates, so that the calculated start time of last chapter is number of chapers divided by two seconds too early.

To correct this error a moderately accurate fix is to modify the formula in the excel. Replace the formula for cell D3 (position f in ejsjrnc's post) with a formula =D2+C2+time(0,0,1)/2. (The excel's time function also truncates the seconds, so you cannot use function time(0,0,0.5)!).

I don't know any tool that could list the exact length of the m4a-files so that it could be pasted into the excel. After that the calculations could be made based on the exact chapter lengths.
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Old 12-19-2007, 09:30 PM
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Red face

Umm, I am not very tech savvy, so I don't know how you can make a playlist, i tried to make one with iTunes but it totally rejects the .aac files to be added to their library. Same for WMP...and I don't know how to make one with Quick Time. Can someone tell me?

After this step I know I have to save it as .txt and I think I can take it from there.
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Old 12-21-2007, 10:22 AM
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Nice HowTO

Hi,

first thanks a lot for this nice howto! After I read this I was quite fast able to generate my audiobook files. But it is so boring and time consuming :-(
That's why I am currently working on a java interface for all that!

So if someone is interested on that program (for Windows only), please post a note here!

Bests,
Albert
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Old 12-22-2007, 07:27 PM
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Albert, I would be very interested in that program, thanks!

-Mattman
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Old 12-24-2007, 02:41 PM
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The original author of SSA is working on a GUI version of the tool also. check his site for updates. jrlearnsmedia.com
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Old 12-28-2007, 03:57 PM
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Albert,

I think I would be interested in such a program too. I've been looking for a way to add chapters to audiobooks for quite some time now and this is the first program I see that works on Windows. It would be nice to be able to automate it a bit though.
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Old 02-02-2008, 08:24 PM
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Lightbulb XML To POD Converter

XML To POD Converter

I've been digging pretty deeply into making audiobooks and got tired of making all the editpoints for the .pod file, so I decided to make a script that would do this for me. You can check out the converter here. Here are the steps on how to use it:

1) Create a new playlist in iTunes, name it accordingly.
2) Drag all of the chapters to the new playlist
3) Right click on the playlist and export it, choose XML as the filetype.
4) Go to the converter script and open the xml file you created in step 3.
5) Select the convert button. A new .pod file will be available immediately for download!

The beautiful thing about this script is that I personally guarantee that your chapters will be perfectly timed. No more putting into Excel and creating crazy columns and calculations, etc. The times are perfectly generated for you!

Things to know are that the altfolder1, basename, and audiofile are all based on the name of the xml file. You can modify these later or use this to your benefit. Also, since there's no way to know what images you have for the chapter art, I've specified a default "chp01.jpg", "chp02.jpg", etc. Also, the default artwork is "Folder.png". I prefer png to jpg, since it has better quality. There are no metatags yet (I am currently working on this) but those will eventually be driven from the iTunes playlist as well.

Let me know what you guys think. It's certainly saved me a lot of time!

Last edited by SoundOfEmotion; 02-02-2008 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 02-07-2008, 11:33 PM
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Question This doesn't work

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundOfEmotion
XML To POD Converter

1) Create a new playlist in iTunes, name it accordingly.
2) Drag all of the chapters to the new playlist
3) Right click on the playlist and export it, choose XML as the filetype.
4) Go to the converter script and open the xml file you created in step 3.
5) Select the convert button. A new .pod file will be available immediately for download!

The beautiful thing about this script is that I personally guarantee that your chapters will be perfectly timed. No more putting into Excel and creating crazy columns and calculations, etc. The times are perfectly generated for you!


Let me know what you guys think. It's certainly saved me a lot of time!
I exported the xml file from itunes put it on my desktop, went to the script page and browsed to the xml file clicked convert and Nothing... Nada... Zip .... something is not right. this doesn't work at least right now for what it's worth I tried it in firefox and IE
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Topic: Adding Chapters to audiobook files - step by step guide

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