The present and future of post production business and technology

QuickTime X???

Boy, it’s dusty in here!! Been busy with lots of things, including just this week releasing The Hd Survival Handbook, but there was one thing from WWDC that caught my eye.

Using media technology pioneered in OS X iPhone™, Snow Leopard introduces QuickTime X, which optimizes support for modern audio and video formats resulting in extremely efficient media playback. Snow Leopard also includes Safari® with the fastest implementation of JavaScript ever, increasing performance by 53 percent, making Web 2.0 applications feel more responsive.*

Now, I’m surprised at myself for even bothering to attempt to second guess Apple by hypothesizing wildly, but that doesn’t stop my friend James Gardiner so it won’t stop me!

There are few clues and most of my usual sources are cold. There’s the rub, anyone who has Snow Leopard is under NDA and won’t talk. Anyone who is talking is guessing – we should keep that in mind.

Tim Robertson hopes that “modern codec support” would include .AVI, which is funny because .AVI has not been developed since being abandoned by Microsoft in 1996 – 12 years ago, just after QuickTime was introduced! James Gardiner thinks it might be a Flash/Silverlight competitor. Who knows they could be right as we’re all guessing wildly.

In Apple’s world “Modern codec support” means H.264 in .mp4 wrappers, and just maybe H.264 in .mov wrappers but that’s depricated as they say. (You can still use it but it’s not the recommended method.) Apple have totally moved away from all the rich interactive features that attracted me to the technology in the first place. (Much of what was added to Flash 9, was available in QT3 but never pushed by Apple.)

Then there’s this on Apple’s Snow Leopard page

Using media technology pioneered in OS X iPhone…

The media playback support on iPhone is very basic: H.264 video, AAC audio, MPEG-4 Simple Profile video, mp3 in .mp4 containers with limited support for .mov playback of those codecs. That’s it. A simplified form of media player with none of the older codecs not supported by MPEG-4. None of the wired sprite features, no VT objects or panoramas. A simple, lightweight media player that developers can draw on. (I should note that Flash Player and Adobe Media Player now support those exact same codecs.)

Looking also at what Apple have been doing with Javascript, and knowing there’s already limited Javascript support in QuickTime, my further guess is that QT X will be very open to Javascript, Apple’s new favorite browser language thanks to Sproutcore and the new Webkit Javascript engineSquirelfish. It’s interesting that Apple announced QuickTime X and the new Javascript engine for Safari in Snow Leopard in the same paragraph. Other features went into separate paragraphs.

So my guess is that QuickTime X is a newly optimized media player engine with hooks to good Javascript for interactive programming. Perhaps even to Ruby/Ruby on Rails since Apple’s also adopting that.

But who knows for sure? Only those who can’t tell.






6 responses to “QuickTime X???”

  1. “Too Bloody Right bloke!”…

    sorry…just read your Don Chip quote in We need a Fifth Estate post sitting here at Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast, in Oz.

    I did some work on a team at the Pixelcorps a few years ago that was trying to get interactive quicktime mixed with flash buttons and skins to work for some of the early Macbreak vodcasts. Apple was so far ahead with the features of early Quicktime but dropped the ball.

    If JS and Ruby are there it will be Ace. Can’t wait.

    In development for a shortform web comedy at the moment and like your idea for Open Television Network. Do you have any stats re uptake or projections?

    Luv ur work,


  2. For many years I self-appended the titles/email tags of “Dynamic Media Evangelist” and “Accidental QuickTime Evangelist” and did some presentation on interactive QT back in 1999, 2000 around the place, including up at Apple Canada (Toronto).

    Open Television Network is growing slowly at the moment. There are a couple of bigger sites about to come online that will boost numbers substantially. This week we’re working on separating klickTab and Open TV Network to their own sites. One for the technology/account functions – – and the other – will be much clearer as a showcase/store/subscription point to give content owners better exposure.


  3. Hi Philip,
    great to see some action on your blog. Missed it.

    Your conclusions appear to be going down the flash/silverlight competitor idea.

    A H.264/AAC/MP4 container interacting with a programing language. Sounds like Flash or silverlight. The only thing missing is SVG type technology so we can make it a little more compelling like flash.

    In my opinion, we have two paths ahead. Javascript/AJAX based RIA’s WITH a touch of flash to get those funky animated and data visualizations task done. OR, an OSS alternative that gets a hugh investment from a large company like Apple of Google to make it at all relevant.

    But my big issue here is that, defining an interactive standard does very little if there are no vehicles to get you there.

    What I mean is. For example, I am a big Flash/Flex fan. Not so much about the implementation, which in flash’s case is a little long in the tooth and has issues based around its original design. I like flash because the tools to make the this stuff are quite good. Ie FlashCS3 and Flex3-IDE.

    Apple could, for example, wrap javascript, H.264/AAC/MP4 and SVG into a standalone web browser plug in and make it available for all browsers and platforms.

    Still, what is missing here is that for this technology to become widely used, an IDE, or graphics programing application also needs to be developed. (Or could flashCS3/Flex be updated to output compatible technology??)

    Unfortunately tools like this are very uncommon in the OSS area and as such, in my opinion, a major reason why SVG didn’t get very far.

    Even SVG didn’t get very far as Flash was simply doing so well. Adobe use to have some interesting SVG tools , but they gave up and purchased Macromedia. (On this point, does anyone know what the best current, supported and available SVG creation application is. All the Adobe ones are no longer available or supported I think)

    Then again SVG did not have any video integration. The main reason it lost relevance I would suggest.

    It is interesting to see that flash has Open Sourced a lot of the flash technology. Imagine if Apple brings out a technology that was open and could still use existing tools and talent-base to create content for an open RIA focused implementation.

    Apple may release a tool for SVG..

    It is an interesting time as these issues will shape the web.

  4. Philip Hodgetts

    You realize that Apple had vector graphics in QT 3? They dropped development in preference to incorporating support for Flash (which continued to Flash 5 and has now been pulled completely because of security issues with earlier versions of Flash). QT is so versatile they could add full support for Flash in a QT player, if they wanted to. (I doubt they have the political will).

    For certain interface elements a vector graphic format is desirable.


  5. Philip,

    I’ve seen your expertise in the digital media space and thought you’d be interested in checking out boxee – an open-source project for Mac based on XBMC that lets you turn your computer into a social media center.

    Love to send you an invite to our alpha and talk sometime this week.

    All the best,

  6. I’d be interested in looking closer – read an article on Boxee earlier today and it’s intriguing. is my direct contact.