QuickTime Starter Kit. (operating system enhancement) (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia Applications) (Evaluation)
by David English
You may not know it yet, but video is about to become the next big thing on the PC. I'm not talking about video as in VGA and Super VGA, but synchronized movies and sound right on your computer screen. You know--television.
You say you'll never buy one of those expensive video cards that lets you bring video images into and out of your computer. Ah, but this is different. This is software-based video. We're about to see a steady stream of video-aware utilities and a flood of video clips that you can cut and paste into major Windows applications.
This is already happening on the Macintosh with Apple's QuickTime technology. It's basically an extension of the operating system that supports digital video, animation, and sound. You record, view, and edit these components, and save them as QuickTime movies. More importantly, you can compress your movies with a variety of easy-to-use techniques. Even compressed, a video movie that runs only a minute or two can require megabytes of hard drive space.
How is QuickTime relevant to PC owners? First, Apple has promised developers that it will release a QuickTime player for Windows. The company has even published the standard so QuickTime can be ported to any platform. Second, Microsoft is about to release a similar standard for Windows using its new AVI (Audio Video Interleave) technology. Either way, PC owners will soon be able to see what all the fuss is about.
Until then, the best way to explore the potential of this new technology is to find yourself a Mac and try the QuickTime Starter Kit (Apple Computer. 20525 Mariani Avenue, Cupertino, California 95014-6299-.800-776-2333; $169). It contains the QuickTime extensions, four QuickTime applications, and a CD-ROM with hundreds of megabytes of QuickTime movies.
The four QuickTime applications include Movie Convertor, which lets you convert a series of still images into a movie; Movie Player, which lets you edit movies and paste them together; Movie Recorder, which lets you capture live video (with an appropriate video-digitizer card) and save it as a file on your hard drive; and Picture Compressor, which lets you compress images by as much as 95 percent.
The QuickTime CD-ROM contains a large selection of QuickTime movie clips, including many useful business presentation videos, campy black-and-white film clips from the fifties and sixties, NASA footage, and some droll short promos by Laurie Anderson.
In less than a year, many major applications for the Mac have added support for QuickTime, including powerful business applications, such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, and children's educational programs, such as Kid Pix and Kid Works 2. Look for a similar wave to wash over the PC world in 1993.