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QuickTime in a Production Environment

Making the most of the format that powers the medium By Andrew Beach
QuickTime is far and away the most flexible, versatile and, yes, powerful tool available to the video/film/animation/music industry. In a modern production house, where most work is already done on computers, there is no reason why QuickTime cannot be used for pre-production, as well as production and postproduction work. Using QuickTime as a workflow tool will help your company quickly share ideas, test footage, and sample graphics across the office and across the globe.

QT Pro and its Importance
I cannot stress enough the importance of using QuickTime Pro as opposed to the regular QT player. In its basic installation on any computer, QuickTime is a fully functional player--able to play any .mov or .mpg file locally or through an Internet connection. This is what all free (and occasionally not free) video players (e.g. the Windows Media Player, or Real Player) offer consumers. QuickTime even offers consumers some bonuses in addition to this for no cost, such as an absence of advertising.

However, Apple also produces what they term a "professional" version of QuickTime. It is, in fact, the exact same QT installed on every Macintosh and available as a free download for both Mac and Windows from their Web site, but with a bevy of functionality unlocked with the purchase of a serial number. "Oh dear, I have to buy something," you're thinking. Yes you do, but believe me when I say that at $29.99, QuickTime Pro is the least expensive and most robust tool that any digital professional can have in their toolbox. (QuickTime Pro license keys are also provided free with some non-linear editing applications, such as Apple's own Final Cut Pro.)

Registering QT allows any user to export to any supported codec or architecture (including MPEG-1 and MPEG-4), open an image sequence, add audio and video layers, extract the same and enable or disable any track from playing. (This function becomes more important when creating a multimedia project.) There is an additional purchase needed to export MPEG-2, but if you work with DVD, this is an important asset as well.

But this is not all. Users gain an "in" and "out" marker on every file, allowing them to select a particular area (though this is not as fine an in and out as I'd like) to copy, cut, add or otherwise effect. One of the most simple, yet pleasant options available is playing back videos full screen. By selecting "Full Screen?" from the Movie menu or using Command-F, you have the ability to play back a movie on either a black background or by completely filling the screen--a valuable asset for presentations and any televisual experience required on your computer.

All digital projects start analog--that is, they all start with the imagination of writers, directors and other creative talent involved. Yet most of us work digitally, and, what's more, most of us deliver digitally, so why not move our ideas to the digital realm as quickly as possible?

Before creating, try research. When working on a commercial spot, for example, where a style and editing consistent with a 1930s Hollywood musical is required, what better reference than a couple of Fred Astaire clips? Similarly, to designers in the print world who collect photographs, magazine pages and old ads in books to provide direction, those in the digital realm would be well served to create collections of QuickTime video clips that will help keep your creative bearings on track.

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