QT Authoring on Native Mac OS X06/05/2001
OK, here's my current pet peeve when working in Mac OS X.
I grab a file from somewhere -- let's say a ReadMe for a new application. Out of habit, I double-click on the file expecting the Mac OS X version of SimpleText to launch and open the file.
I look away for a second to take a sip of coffee (or as my co-workers call it, mud in a thermos). When I look back, I notice that my PowerBook is 30 percent into starting up Classic so it can open the old OS 9 version of SimpleText.
I hate that!
I don't want to run Classic when I'm on the go with my laptop. After all, I'm just a writer with a mere 192 Mbytes of RAM. I can't afford to be opening up Classic willy nilly unless I really need to. I want to work as much as I can in native Mac OS X, at least on the PowerBook. It's too late to turn back now.
Authoring in Mac OS X
So you can imagine how much I hate going back to OS 9 to do something as simple as making a digital slide show when traveling. Anyone who knows me knows that I love QuickTime slide shows. Isn't that what the digital camera was invented for?
Well now I'm happy to report that you can produce quality multimedia presentations working natively in Mac OS X. And over the next few paragraphs, I'm going to show you exactly how.
So fire up that DSL connection because we have some software to download.
The basic tools
QuickTime 5, Pro Version
Let's talk about using QuickTime 5 on Mac OS X.
Also in QuickTime Authoring:
I know I don't need to tell you this, but just in case you haven't done so already, you need to upgrade to QuickTime 5, Pro Version for Mac OS X. You can't do anything fun without this.
And don't try to use that old registration key you bought way back in the days of QuickTime 3. It won't work. Pony up the USD$30 and get on with your life.
QuickTime 5 runs great on Mac OS X, and the only problem I've had is when I've overtaxed the processor with one of my 4-minute presentations with 50 transitions at 640 x 480 resolution -- and even that wouldn't be a problem if I'd stop procrastinating and buy some more RAM.
GraphicConverter for imaging editing
We all know there's no Photoshop for Mac OS X, or even Photoshop Elements. I don't know what the heck Adobe is doing over there in San Jose, but they're sure slow on the Carbon uptake. They must be polishing their latest version of some new Windows app. So, forget about them for now.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Thorsten Lemke has produced a lovely Carbon version of GraphicConverter, a venerable Mac shareware program that's evolved nicely since 1992. Nancy Eaton has published a terrific article about Lemke and GraphicConverter on the Apple web site that's certainly worth a look and will give you a good feel for the application.
You can grab GraphicConverter right now from your iTools folder (which I know you're checking all the time because it's so darn easy in Mac OS X) and play around with it for free. If you decide you can't live without it (and by the deafening silence emanating from Adobe, that's probably the case), you can purchase it for a mere USD$30.
And believe me, GraphicConverter is the real deal. It has handled all of my Mac OS X imaging needs quite efficiently, and it's fully scriptable with AppleScript.
Great transitions with SampleMakeEffectMovie
If you don't know about the original MakeEffectsMovie, you're in for a treat. This free tool written by the colorful Sam Bushell has been a longtime favorite of mine for applying QuickTime effects to stills and videos.
Here's the trick though, if you download this app from the normal places on the ADC site, you'll get the older Classic version, 1.0. You don't want that! Next thing you know you're watching Classic take over your computer and you're off to get a bagel.
The version you want is the recent posting written by Tim Monroe called SampleMakeEffectMovie. It's basically the same application Sam originally wrote, except this version runs natively on Mac OS X.
I tell you, there isn't a better tool around for creating a 2-second cross-fade, not to mention all of the other filters and effects. And it's absolutely free.
Pulling it all together
With these three applications, you can create dynamite visual presentations in QuickTime.
Here's a tip on how to build better slide shows with QuickTime Pro. By now you know all about the Image Sequence command to create "quick and dirty" slide shows. But when you apply this command to a batch of images, you have little control over their presentation, let alone applying unique transitions and filters. (If you want a quick refresher on creating slide shows with the Image Sequence command, read my article, Soccer Salsa.)
Instead, apply Image Sequence to each picture individually. This way you can set the amount of time for each picture to display in the player. Even better, then you can create a unique transition for it by using SampleMakeEffectMovie.
Then all you have to do is "Add" the series of short movies and transitions into one continuous movie, and presto, you have a real work of art!
There are only two major drawbacks I've experienced working in Mac OS X on the road for these projects. The first is that my measly 192 Mbytes of RAM isn't enough for multimedia production on a G3 PowerBook -- things do move a bit slower during production. Also, there isn't support for the PC card adapter I use to upload pictures to the computer. So if the shots aren't already archived on CD or sitting on my FireWire drive, then I have to switch over to OS 9 to grab my pictures. Grrrr....
Before too long, I'll pull together a discussion about the audio aspects of making a QuickTime movie. Until then, if you're a die-hard Mac OS X fan, try these tools and let me know what you think.
Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.
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