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Update: QuickTime's MPEG-4 Future

Format to support Simple and Advanced Simple visual profiles By Dave Nagel
Last week we brought you news of several key developments in the future of the QuickTime format. One of these notable developments was that MPEG-4 will actually become QuickTime's native file format in the next full version release of the software. Since we published that article, we've had several inquiries about further specifics on the format. While we can't provide all of the information requested, we do have a little more to share.

QuickTime, of course, is central to most of our readers' professional work. So news about a file format shift raises all kinds of questions. One of these is the types of MPEG-4 profiles to be used in QuickTime 6. We've been able to get Apple to provide some information about this. According to Apple, QuickTime "is supporting Simple and Advanced Simple profiles for video and the High-Quality Audio profile for audio."


Profiles are subsets in the MPEG-4 standard that limit the types of data a decoder has to deal with. Simple and Advanced Simple are two related visual profiles specified in MPEG-4. High-Quality Audio is an audio profile that contains the CELP speech coder and the Low-Complexity AAC coder.

In the article we published last week, Frank Casanova, director of QuickTime product marketing at Apple, said he expects to see AAC audio overtake MP3 as the Internet audio standard. "You can do incredibly good jobs with audio at a much smaller file size and lower data rate and get even better sounding quality than MP3 is providing," he said. "I think, over time, we'll see AAC supplant MP3 as the digital audio standard. That's the direction we're headed."

More information on these and other MPEG-4 profiles can be found at http://mpeg.telecomitalialab.com/standards/mpeg-4/mpeg-4.htm. To read more on Apple's plans for QuickTime and MPEG-4 and how they relate to current proprietary formats, read our interview with Casanova here. Casanova also says that QuickTime's future technologies will be on exhibit for all to see at the QuickTime Live conference, shceduled for Feb. 11 through 14 in Los Angeles. For more information on this conference, visit http://www.quicktimelive.com.

Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at dnagel@digitalmedianet.com.

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