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Old July 12th, 2006, 07:10 PM   #1
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Quicktime How-to's

I really don't know how to begin this question, and I know it's going to be broad: I don't understand what quicktime is, yet I use it all the time. What happens when I export a movie as a quicktime file.? It seems that there are thousands of parameters that I can tweak for export. If I'm going to DVD, what do I use? I thought the standard DVD codec was MPEG 2, so why does quicktime default to H.264 ? What does all this mean? I usally just go with the flow, but I have no idea what all those abbreviations mean, and I can't find any info that describes quicktime in laymens terms. It's like everyone understands it but me.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 08:16 PM   #2
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Well Bryan I don't think I understand everything but I'll tell you what I know ;-). If you export a quicktime movie out of FCP using "current settings" that is the best quality output which you can then drop into compressor for encoding to mpeg2 for dvd. If you you export with quicktime conversion that is where you can tweak the settings for a small but high quality file for posting online or whatever. I don't do much of that so someone else can chime in with good settings to use. I think QT defaults to h.264 is because Apple claim it to be so good and high quality so they assume you want to use it to. It is good but depending on your computer takes a while to encode.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 08:42 PM   #3
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Thanks

Well you cleared up a lot right there. See, I always thought that every codec has its own extension (.mpg .wav .jpg .bmp .aiff), so I get confused whenever I see a file with .mov and it could be anything. Can someone maybe clear this up some...I mean, how can you have a H.264 video stream as a .mov quicktime file?
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Old July 12th, 2006, 09:32 PM   #4
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.mov is the extension for the QuickTime movie file format. It is a little confusing at first, but file formats and codecs (like H.264 or MPEG-2) are not the same thing. The codec is the software that actually encodes/decodes your video and/or audio, and some codecs work within multiple file formats.

In general, QuickTime refers to Apple's whole system of multimedia playback. So it refers to the file formats and the software that encodes and plays the files.

All .mov means is that you have a movie file QuickTime will play or process. It could contain all manner of codecs, some of which you might also find in .avi, .omf or other file types. MPEG-2 can have different extensions depending on whether it's meant for DVD or broadcast or came from an HDV camera (.m2v and .m2t are two that come to mind). Even a .wmv might contain any of the older versions of the Windows Media codecs - you don't know just by looking at the file extension.

One good way that people like to explain the codec/file format distiction on this board is that the file formats act like wrappers for movies encoded with the various codecs. A QuickTime movie encoded with the Apple DV codec is more or less the same as an .avi encoded with the DV codec, only in a different wrapper. It's not as simple as that, but it's enough to get you started. If you want to know more, I highly recommend the book Compression for Great Digital Video by Ben Waggoner. It's more theory than exercises, and it has good information about all the major file formats and codecs that were in use at its time of publication.

Does that clear anything up or make it worse?
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Old July 15th, 2006, 12:47 PM   #5
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Media technology is complex and powerful but, like anything complex, it can be confusing until mastered.

I think QuickTime is a work of art. I've always thought someone traveled back in time and gave the idea to Apple engineers. The fact that it has sustained itself over 15 years is a testament to what a gem it is.

Unlike some of the other formats mentioned here, QuickTime is a track oriented file format. It can contain text tracks, picture tracks, and oh yeah, audio and video. Only the latter are stream type media. So, if you have all that media in it, you can't dumb down the file type to just a single purposed extension like .mpg and have it actually mean something.

An analogy I've found that works is to think of QT as a letter sized envelope. It can hold a tri-folded sheet of paper as well as a bunch of other things like a photo, cassette tape etc but it's still an envelope.

Last edited by Les Wilson; July 16th, 2006 at 06:33 AM.
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Old July 15th, 2006, 01:01 PM   #6
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Bryan: have you looked at Volume IV, Part III, chapter 17 "Learning about Quicktime" in the FCP Users Manual? It's a good introduction, although others here have already brought up a lot of good points.
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Old July 15th, 2006, 11:28 PM   #7
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I fully support everything Ernest says, and I would like to add that I only like QuickTime more with the H.264 codec.

Last edited by Zach Mull; July 16th, 2006 at 11:49 AM.
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Old July 16th, 2006, 06:35 AM   #8
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I think my reading was more in error. I edited my post for clarity.
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Old July 16th, 2006, 01:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
Bryan: have you looked at Volume IV, Part III, chapter 17 "Learning about Quicktime" in the FCP Users Manual? It's a good introduction, although others here have already brought up a lot of good points.
Thanks for the heads up on that one, Boyd. I perused it last night to get a better understanding of the whole shebang.

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