September 96

September 30th

Apple this week announced QuickTime for the OS/2 Warp operating system. This is more evidence of Apple working to make QuickTime THE platform-independent multimedia standard. QuickTime for OS/2 is, like the current version of QuickTime for Windows, playback-only. Read Apple's press release on QuickTime for OS/2 Warp for more info.

Netscape and Apple released a beta of CoolTalk for the Mac, an audioconferencing and videoconferencing application that runs over the Internet; Mac CoolTalk users can audioconference with CoolTalkers on other platforms. The underlying technology is QuickTime Conferencing. CoolTalk for the Mac runs only on PowerMacs with an Internet connection (i.e. running TCP/IP, which is probably the case if you're using PPP with a modem or you have a direct Internet connection). CoolTalk requires other beta software to run. You can get all the software you need to try it out if you start at Apple's QuickTime Conferencing site. We found it very easy to install everything we needed. Using the audioconferencing functions on our campus machines (direct Internet connection) with the default settings worked well; over a modem the quality wasn't quite as good, but we didn't take the time to tweak any settings.

Rumored in the press is that Apple is working on PCI cards that are specifically designed to deal with audio and video capture, processing, and playback. These cards, using a special chip called TriMedia, will supposedly be standard on the next generation of PowerMacs, but will also work with older AV PCI Macs (7500, 7600, 8500). Read MacWeek's articles ("Apple bets on Trimedia" and "TriMedia vs. MMX: No contest?") for more details. While we can't verify the accuracy of these articles, the basic QuickTime-related implications we see are capture and playback of higher quality video and audio than is currently possible except with very high-end equipment, as well as much faster processing of filters and transitions when editing in applications such as Premiere.

A simple one this week: If you're curious about what codec was used to compress a movie--a movie that's not yours, or perhaps one you compressed so long ago you don't remember--you can easily check with MoviePlayer.

September 23rd

Connectix just released version 2.1 of their Macintosh QuickCam software. They also recently released an update to the Windows version. Both are available free at Connectix's updates web page.

If you're interested in where QuickTime's going, read Apple's press release on IMD (Interactive Media Group), a newly formed unit. This division houses QTML (QuickTime Media Layer) which includes current QuickTime-based technologies (QuickTime itself, VR and Conferencing), QuickDraw 3D, Authoring Tools (Apple Media Tool and HyperCard) and other related technologies. We think this really shows Apple's committment to integrated, platform-independant multimedia. (More information on IMD is found in a MacWeek article.)

More news/rumors about QuickTime's future and importance can be found in MacWeek's story on HyperCard 3.0. This ancient product will be raised from the ashes by QuickTime; HyperCard stacks will be QuickTime movies, and will play back any place that you can play a QuickTime movie (the web, Windows, and other platforms). This is also an indication that QuickTime will finally have an "interactivity track" of some sort.

Other QuickTime-related press releases found in Apple's September PR page: Apple & Sun announce that they'll integrate QuickTime into Java...A new version of AMT will have better support for QT and QTVR...Apple announced version 1.1 of QT Plug-in for Netscape, which will allow you to set URLs that the user will go to when they click on hot spots in the scene.

You can have a QuickTime movie play inside (or outside) a non-rectangular shape. (This looks cool when embedded on a web page and when the viewer has the QuickTime browser plug-in.) We show you an example, and explain how to do it yourself.

September 16th

Intelligence At Large has released version 1.0 of their MovieStar plug-in which allows you to view embedded (i.e. on a web page, rather than in a separate window) QuickTime movies and QuickTimeVR movies within Netscape Navigator 2.0 or 3.0 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 2.0 or later. (Apple's QuickTime plug-in comes with Navigator 3.0, but will not work with previous versions. Also, to view QTVR movies using the Apple plug-in you need the QTVR components plug-in file, whereas with the MovieStar plug-in, QTVR support is built into the single plug-in file).

Intelligence At Large has also released MovieStar 1.5 (It used to be called MovieStar Maker).This is an editing application that's not quite like any others; it has features of many different programs. In a way it's like MoviePlayer - it's aware of QuickTime track types (e.g. text and music) that apps like Premiere aren't, but has a somewhat friendlier front-end then MoviePlayer. (However, there are still things you can do with MoviePlayer that you can't with this product, such as alternate language tracks.) It also bears a resemblance to a simple animation program, or a much-reduced special effects editor in that it lets you import and animate graphic objects, and also allows you to do a few simple transitions, such as fades, wipes, and zooms. In addition it lets you capture video and audio. Finally, it has a few features useful for web developers, and will even generate html for a web page with your movie. It's definitely worth checking out, especially if you're interested in text tracks, want to animate objects or don't want to invest in a more expensive QuickTime editor. You can download a trial version, but we recommend doing it this week - their web site says prices go up on 9/20.

Microsoft released version 2.1 of their Internet Explorer; this version supports QuickTime and QuickTimeVR without the need for a helper application. However, we're not talking about embedded movies (as you can view with a plug-in) - Explorer just has a built-in helper application.

We received e-mail asking how to fit QuickTime movies on floppy disks, so this week we'll just summarize techniques for making movies small - techniques that'll work for web delivery as well.

September 9th

Bargains, bargain, bargains (and some other stuff):

Truevision has a number of their Targa digitizing cards for sale at reduced prices. These Motion-JPEG cards are refurbished, but do carry a full one-year warranty. They have Targa 1000 PCI cards and Targa 2000 Nubus cards; there are some Pro versions and some regular versions of each. (The difference between the 1000 and the 2000 is that the 2000 can accelerate Adobe Premiere transitions and is a 24-bit video card as well as a digitizing card. The Pro versions can input and output component video.) As an example: MacMall & MacZone have the Targa 1000 PCI for about $2800; you can find a refurbished one on Truevision's web site for $1595 or $1995 for the Pro. Also, if you recently purchased any Targa card (or plan to purchase one this month) make sure to check out Truevision's rebates.

Hard drive reseller APS has a close-outs page where you can find some great deals on hard drives, including AV drives. (AV drives are designed for digitizing video.) For example, we saw a Micropolis 1.2GB AV drive for $260. You'll also find DAT drives, CD-ROM drives, and some other odds and ends.

In other news...Apple made an official announcement (a Press release!) about the forthcoming QuickTime for Windows 2.5 which will have all the features of QuickTime for Mac 2.5...there's a new version of the shareware utility GraphicsConverter which imports and exports lots of different file formats, including the QuickTime MooV format; it's kind of a shareware Debabelizer.

Do you have a QuickTime movie that's kind of long? Have trouble finding particular locations in that movie? Would you like to be able to locate key sections in a QuickTime movie quickly? Using MoviePlayer, you can add an invisible text track that contains key words that can be used to quickly get you to that spot.

September 2nd

There have lately been a few interesting developments in the QuickTime VR world:

QuickTime VR developers will want to check out Sanity SaVR (tm) a great unofficial utility from Joel Cannon and Charles Wiltgen of Apple. If you're sick of writing those MPW scripts, Sanity SaVR provides a friendly front-end. You'll still need the QuickTime VR Authoring Tools Suite (and the dongle!), but you'll feel like you're working on a Mac again!

Real Space introduced RealVR(tm), an alternative to QuickTime VR. Seems to be more web friendly-- it allows scenes to be navigated before completely downloaded, can have URL hot spots, and files are more highly compressed. It's a few steps ahead of QuickTime VR in a number of other ways--can have directional sound, a QuickTime video movie playing in a scene, 3D/VRML objects in a scene, and more. Currently there are no tools for building VR movies with some of the more advanced features; there is a QTVR to RealVR converter, however. Also, RealVR only runs on a PowerMac (no 68K) and only supports Windows 95 and NT (not Windows 3.1), unlike QuickTime VR. Check out RealSpace's web site for lots more information.

One of the many simple but useful editing features of QuickTime and MoviePlayer is the Trim command.