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Learn how to create and add video to a mobile project in Adobe InDesign

Digital publishing doesn't always have to be just images and text. Adding multi-media can enhance the user experience, especially when it comes to consuming content in your favourite e-reader or web browser.

In this lesson, we'll go over how to add video files to a mobile project, create a custom thumbnails as well as export for EPub (Fixed Layout).

Before getting started, please note this is intended for either EPub (Fixed Layout) export or Publish Online. While the video may – or may not – work in an Interactive PDF, you will likely lose playback controls, which will make for a miserable viewing experience.

As always, you can download the lesson content here, so you too can follow along.

For this tutorial, we'll be using the Media Panel to add the video and set the custom poster (thumbnail) image. However, know that there are three primary ways of adding a video to an InDesign layout:

  1. In the Media Panel, click the "Place a Video or Audio File" and choosing from your computer.

  2. Going to File > Place, which essentials acts the same way as the Media Panel does.

  3. Dragging and dropping a video from your computer to the InDesign layout.

Creating the Document

  • Go to File > New Document or simply click the New File button on the InDesign home screen.

  • In the new document dialog box, choose the Mobile tab at the top.

  • From the Preset selections, click iPhone X (If you have a mobile screen size you want to use, type the width and height dimensions in pixels).

  • Leave the number of pages at 1 and the margins at 36 px all the way around.

  • Click Create

Because we'll be adding scrolling frames to this layout, it's helpful to add more vertical space to the pasteboard. To do that go to the InDesign preference and select Guides and Pasteboard. Set the Vertical Margins to 2000 px. If you need more space, increase the number.

Adding Video

  • Open the Media Panel, located under Window > Interactive > Media

  • In the bottom right corner, click the Place a Video or Audio File icon.

  • Locate the video file on your computer and click Open

  • You will notice that the video is in your loaded cursor. Instead of clicking and dragging, it's more efficient to click and drop. This will likely land in the layout much bigger than you want, but it's easier to scale it down to the size you need by holding Shift + Command (Mac) or Shift + Ctrl (Windows) and dragging one of the corner handles inward.

Once your video is placed and in the position you want it to be, click on it once with the Selection Tool and then go back to the Media Panel. You will notice that you can preview the content in the panel along with some other options.

One of the options is to add a Poster Frame – which essentially is the thumbnail image or cover photo on the video when a viewer opens the document. If the video is good enough, you can choose a nice frame. However, if it's an interview or talking head, it might make more sense to add a more visually appealing image. Here's how:

Adding a Poster Frame

  • In the Poster Frame selection, choose "Choose image..."

  • Locate the image or design to add as a custom thumbnail. If you're creating it in Photoshop, you can size the image to a 16:9 orientation – 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 will both work as Poster Frame images.

Follow along in the video tutorial and learn how to export for EPub (Fixed Layout) and view in Apple Books on an iPhone.

Here's a preview of how the project will look by the end of the tutorial:

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