A Quick Look at QuickTime 4.1

SAN FRANCISCO (01/27/2000) - You might not want to watch a feature-length movie on the Web, but what about a short? Apple Computer Inc.'s QuickTime streams short films, and will even let your friends download videos from Cecil B. deYou.

Last week, Apple quietly made available for download QuickTime 4.1, the latest version of its streaming media software. The new version adds features for developers like support for variable bit rate MP3 files, making it easier to download almost any MP3 file. Also, there are improvements in firewall navigation, and support for multiple-movie playback via synchronized multimedia integrated language.

Some 4.1 requirements like seamless ad insertion came from QuickTime TV partners, says Steve Bannerman, director of QuickTime TV Marketing. "SMIL is important for people like CNN that put up multiple forms of a video throughout the day."

Apple also announced five new channels on QuickTime TV, its content network for QuickTime. Mostly consisting of independent audio and video, the new channels are: AtomFilms, a distributor of short films; The New Venue, a showcase for Internet movies; D.FILM, a collection of digital films; V2 Records, an independent music label; and brandnewmusic.com, which highlights unsigned musicians.

They join QTV partners like ABCNews.com, CNN.com, Disney.com, MTV, and Virgin Radio.

"QuickTime is not just a streaming format," Bannerman says. Unlike with RealNetworks' RealSystem G2 and Microsoft's Windows Media technologies, you can create your own QuickTime movies or download those of other people. Many applications, from Adobe Premiere and After Effects, to Apple's Imovie, let you create QuickTime movies.

QuickTime is supported by most major video capture and editing tools, Bannerman says.

Like the RealPlayer and Windows Media Player, QuickTime 4.1 is available as a free download. A $29.99 Pro version adds authoring functionality and other controls. But be warned: If you're happy with QuickTime 4.0, you may want to hold off downloading 4.1; it took five attempts before I could get the new version rolling.

The QuickTime Player interface is fairly intuitive. Menu controls let you open saved movies or URLs. Beyond play and pause are hidden controllers that you can display for fast-forward, rewind, treble and bass, and balance. QuickTime TV channels are listed under favorites, which acts like a bookmark for the QuickTime Player and opens up that channel's content.

Like RealPlayer 7, the QuickTime Player displays a certain amount of content on the desktop. Hit Rage TV under favorites and you can play selections like a clip from an animated series, StarBlazers. But if you choose other offerings from Rage TV, you're sent back to the Web.

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