9/2/09
9:36 am

MacMost Now 287: The Pros and Cons of QuickTime X

Snow Leopard introduces QuickTime X, a new version of the QuickTime Player. While it adds trimming and exporting functionality, it lacks many of the advanced features of QuickTime 7, and is no comparison to QuickTime 7 Pro.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. Today's episode, let's take a look at the new QuickTime X in Snow Leopard. So one of the big new features in Snow Leopard is QuickTime X, spelled with an X. Now, this is the big jump over QuickTime 7, the previous version- they skipped right over 8 and 9. Let's get to the bottom of what QuickTime X is, and maybe it'll reveal why they went with this unusual name. So QuickTime X, just like QuickTime 7 is basically a video player. Here it is with a video that I took with my iPhone open, and you can see that it looks a lot different than in a QuickTime 7 video player. It has this black bar at the top and it's masking some of the video you can see just behind it, which makes the video look more widescreen than it really is. At the bottom you've got this area here that has all the controls in it instead of the controls actually being below the video at the bottom. The controls work pretty much as you would expect. You can play, rewind, fast forward, you can drag along the bottom here to go to where you want, you can use the arrow keys to advance in small bits, you can change the volume. Over here you've got a way to change to full screen for the video, and here you've got a way to immediately put this video into iTunes, share it with Mobile Me, share it with YouTube, or Trim. Now trimming is one of the big new features here in QuickTime X, it's something usually which was reserved for QuickTime Pro users in previous versions. So you can go basically to Edit- Trim, or use that button I showed earlier. And you get this little timeline here at the bottom. You can drag the left and right sides to whatever you want, and then click the trim button to trim it. It has a couple of neat little things that you can do, for instance instead of seeing the little thumbnails at the bottom you can hold the option key down and it shows you the wave form at the bottom, so if you have somebody talking you can see clearly where they start talking and where they stop talking and trim easily like that. Also, you've got the ability to select all, or select all excluding silence, so what that does is basically try to figure out where people are talking and where they're not, and it excludes the beginnings and the ends where it's just quiet. This doesn't work too well on a video like this where there's nobody speaking. but it does work in a video where there's voice. So the other feature that QuickTime X has that QuickTime 7 didn't, unless you had the Pro version, was the ability to export. You can Save As and you can also just save it normally, but you can also export it to a cellphone, which is the 3GP format, the iPhone, which is the M4V format, specifically formatted for the iPhone, and then one for the iPod, and then one that's 480p, in other words 480 pixels tall, regardless of the size of the video that you're looking at now. So you have these options here. You also have the save for web options. There's more here you can actually export as a group all of those different things. In addition to that it will also save out a sample HTML file and a reference movie, so you can basically upload some HTML with the reference movie, and then the video will look different depending on if somebody is browsing say with Safari on their Mac versus Safari on the iPhone. So it's a handy little quick way to publish something to any website if you just want to quickly publish a video. Nothing you would use as a professional, but for just posting up quick family videos, it's a great way to quickly do it. Now there are more expert options. You can also share. Go to iTunes, go to MobileMe Gallery, or go to YouTube. Of course YouTube is asking you for ID and password, MobileMe Gallery doing the same, and iTunes basically just throws the video over into your iTunes library. You've got some options. Here you can see that I only can go and take this one down to iPhone and iPod size, since that's the original size. I can't go up to Apple TV, it would have to be a higher resolution, and computer even a higher resolution that that. But what I haven't told you is what is missing from QuickTime X. There are several features that were in many previous versions of QuickTime that are now gone. The main one- QuickTime VR. That's virtual reality panoramas. These are pretty standard and can be seen all over the internet, but they don't work in QuickTime X. Also, playing back MIDI music doesn't work, and that's worked for many versions of QuickTime. And QuickTime interactive movies, where people have added bits of programming into QuickTime movies to give them interactions, little buttons, things like that- that doesn't work in QuickTime X either. QuickTime X is much more strictly a plain video playback environment. Now when you install Snow Leopard you actually keep QuickTime 7 on your machine, and even if you're doing a clean install, you can get QuickTime 7 as an optional install. It actually moves from the Applications to the Utilities folders, but it's still there, and if you have a Pro license, you can still use it. So you still have all the functionality of QuickTime 7 in QuickTime 7, but QuickTime X itself is basically just a video player with a couple little editing tweaks. So QuickTime X is really a whole different beast from QuickTIme 7. I can only theorize that maybe Apple has done something here to be able to make QuickTime more compatible with more devices, say the iPhone and iPod Touch, maybe future devices Apple comes out with, Apple TV, things like that. Now in my tests, QuickTime X and QuickTime 7 work together perfectly. For instance if you go to a webpage and it's got a QuickTime VR on it, it just works. If you look at it closely, it's actually using QuickTime 7 to play back the QuickTime VR. If you look at a piece of video, it's using QuickTime X to play that back. By dumping old technologies like QuickTime VR and interactives and MIDI, well, it allows them possibly to move forward with putting QuickTime on more platforms. So, this does make QuickTime X much less exciting- instead of more features, we have less. And the few new features we have, we already had those in iMovie. So I'm not quite sure where Apple is going with this. Either there's going to be a QuickTime X Pro at some point, or the plan is to split QuickTime Pro versions off of QuickTime 7, and have this QuickTime X be the standard QuickTime player. Only time will tell. Till now, we're good. We've got both QuickTime X and QuickTime 7 on Snow Leopard, both working just fine. Till next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.