quicktime: I hate yer

Old and rotten APIs should be politely guided to the graveyard of history. And freaking shot! But, no, some clueless public prodcasting people still enjoy the merits of using ‘real player’. Now Microsoft and Adobe get into a fight over movie playback systems. At least that’s what the tech journalists tell us. Very same people that speculated for years wether Microsoft or Sony would take the next gen crown of gaming. Until there was the Wii. Microsoft vs Adobe during NAB was one of these non stories that became one, since Journalists could write so easily about it.

The reality of quicktime is actually pretty grim: People are able to make movie files that are plain insane. Client of mine likes to produce anamorphic qt’s. Don’t ask. Displaying them on a website, you kinda need to know about that, otherwise they look squeezed. Only problem is: The quicktime player magically knows. But nothing else does. Probing the transformation matrix via javascript returns the most innocent matrix there is: 1.0, 0.0, 0.0 0.0, 1.0, 0.0 0.0, 0.0, 1.0.
ffmpeg, usually so brave in dealing with all this, has no clue. Apple documentation acknowledges the existence of matrices and even teases on this page with the existence of some documentation about matrix functions. But of course the link maybe having some answers goes nowhere. Which is pretty common in Apples online quicktime documentation. It’s huge, it’s old, in many cases examples require OS9 to compile. There are actually very very few working and helpful examples on Apples sites. Whenever the quicktime API gets extended again by some mostly unwanted function there are some files in the development environment du jour. But after years of operating systems and development environments moving on they mostly become a joke or grim reminder of times when Mac’s where beige. Yes, it really is that horrible. And then some.

Quicktime was a good idea. One that got out of hand. Fueled by the success of Apple and it’s other products, it could survive the total failure in gaining any consumer traction. Youtube is flash based. Looks bad, but nobody cares. Unfortunately there are not any alternatives to quicktime. Which is a shame:
It should not be that hard to just have a simple working container format for audio and video. xml works, all these modern things. And quicktime?
Moov containers. nested in each other. Trying to hide their shameful kludgyness. Only thing that Apple did that is worse than quicktime is AppleScript. But we don’t go there. Oh, no. We will not. Sal, oh, Sal, why don’t you go where people wear the had that you do??

Quicktime VR? Who gives a shit? Sprites? Excucse me? You can write actually lots of things in quicktime. Too many. We don’t need an interactive system that would run of a CDROM. Really not. Anymore.

I will have to deal with quicktime in the next five years. And I am seriously not looking forward to all those oddities that will creep up. Not at all.

Apple should define a simple, fast, well documented (examples!) ‘core-qucktime’ subset that actually gets used and that all application should
and can support.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.