Forecast: A free Mac tool for making better Podcasts
I find myself listening to more and more Podcasts these days, but not all Podcasts are created equal. There is a huge difference in quality between shows. So today I’m going to tell you about Forecast, a free Mac app that has just been released as a public beta.
Forecast takes uncompressed audio files (WAV) and converts them into compressed MP3 files for use in a Podcast’s feed. The app is very good at encoding, it uses the LAME MP3 encoder and is designed to spread the job across all the processor cores on your Mac. The result is that files can encode anywhere from 30 to 80 percent faster than other encoders. Forecast also begins encoding your files in the background immediately once you load them in. You can often find that once you are done the adding your artwork and all your metadata the file might have already completed encoding and is immediately ready once you hit save.
The best thing about Forecast is how easy it makes to add chapters to a Podcast. You start by adding markers in whatever application you are using to prepare your podcast’s uncompressed audio file. When you load that file into Forecast the app will automatically list all the markers as chapters. You can then gives each of them a chapter name, a url link, and a different artwork image. This is my favorite feature, I love podcasts that take advantage of podcast chapters. It makes it easy for a listener to skip to a certain topic and find things of interest. Adding URL links makes it easy to link to sponsors or other external information that might be relevant to the show.
Finally it’s worth mentioning that Forecast is pretty smart and can automatically fill in multiple fields as you being using the app regularly. If last week you ran an audio file mypodcast183.wav for a show called “My Podcast” and an episode of “183” then next week when you run mypodcast184.wav Forecast will know to fill in “My Podcast” as the show name and episode “184.” It will even know to automatically fil in other items like the show art and whatever export settings you used for the previous episode.
If you are a Mac user and are making podcasts then you should definitely give Forecast a try. The developer, Marco Arment, is both a podcaster and the developer of a podcast player, as you use the app and get familiar with it you really appreciate how it has been designed and thought out to both save you time and create richer and better podcasts.