What is QuickTime X?

With the release of Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) this week, we finally get to see QuickTime X.

Simply put, QuickTime X is, as predicted, a simplified media player and simplified architecture optimized for playback of linear video streams. Most of what made QuickTime interesting to interactive authorers back a few years, is not present in QuickTime X.

We gain some new features: 2.2 gamma, screen capture and easily publish to major online video sharing sites. Screen capture is a nice addition and easy sharing probably would have been predictable if we’d seen Final Cut Pro 7 earlier.

The 2.2 gamma will no doubt take some time to get full adoption but at least it provides a way for us to add or change a color profile. Files with color profiles automatically adjust display to look correct on all screen. (At least, that’s the theory.) Within the Final Cut Studio it seems that correct gamma will be maintained *if* conversions are done with Compressor and not QuickTime 7’s Pro Player.

Chapter display has changed from a pop-up text list to thumbnail images. Better for consumer focused movies; less good for professionals.

Fortunately, it’s not an either/or. You can choose to install QuickTime 7.6 in addition to QuickTime X. If you try and access a movie that requires QT 7 features, users will be prompted to install QT 7 (aka “the real QuickTime!). If you want to make sure it’s installed, Apple have instructions on installing it.

So that’s the story of QuickTime X – a simple, consumer-focused player with a modern-looking interface, just as I predicted a little over a year ago.

Added 8/31 Just got this off a QT Apple email list. It’s not an official word from Apple but I think it sums it up well:

Quicktime X at this time isn’t a replacement to Quicktime 7, just allows faster multi-threaded playback of some of the older codecs.

Added 9/1 Ars Technica has a deep article on the difference between QT X and QT 7 and how QTkit negotiates between them,  that confirms I got my “educated guesses” right and provides more depth in how Apple achieves this.

4 thoughts on “What is QuickTime X?”

  1. Interesting article, Philip.

    Just wanted to note that, despite what’s supposed to happen, a Snow Leopard installation doesn’t always detect that Pro Apps are present and automatically keep QT7 (in applications>utilities). At least that was my experience on my macbook pro with FCP6. I had to go back and manually reinstall QT7 from the SL installation disk (a simple enough procedure).

    1. You did what? You installed FCP 6 on a completely unsupported OS and unsupported QT version. Check back a few months on my article on why that is a very, very bad idea.

      Upgrade to FC Studio to a version that’s actually been tested with Snow Leopard and the new QTkit architecture. Not surprising that it didn’t go smoothly.

      Bottom line: NEVER install FCP on any OS and QT version that is not listed in the approved configurations for that version of FCP. Of course, if it’s just a hobby and you like experimenting and living dangerously, then by all means experiment. The rest of us can learn. Unsupported configurations are not for the professional. 🙂

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