H.264 is Amazing

by Derrick Story

Waiting for your copy of Tiger to arrive? You can play with QuickTime 7 right now. And you won't believe your eyes...

I just encoded my first movie in H.264 using QuickTime Pro 7. I had been working on this 4:16 project for a couple weeks, and have encoded it previously in Sorenson 3 and MPEG-4. To get the quality I wanted, the file size was around 140 MBs (for a 640x480 movie at 29.97 fps).

Last night, I set up the export out of iMovie HD to the new H.264 codec that's included in QuickTime 7. The compression time was about double what Sorenson had been taking, so I just called it a night and went to sleep.

First thing I did this morning was check the finished product. The file size had shrank to 50 MBs. I thought, "well that's nice, but it's probably going to look too chunky." Heh. Was I wrong.

The movie is beautiful! And because it uses resources so efficiently, it plays smooth as ice -- both audio and video -- on my PowerBook. H.264 is amazing.

The rest of QuickTime is quite impressive also. We're publishing a full review of it on MacDevCenter.com within the next week or so. Until then, I can tell you this. The new audio recording function is a riot. You can also plug in your iSight and record video directly in QT 7. Major fun. The interface is much improved. Overall, there's plenty to keep you busy here while you wait for Tiger.

I recommend the Pro version for $29.95. It includes all of the goodies and the editing tools.

And yes, you can run QT 7 on Panther just fine...


2005-04-30 12:09:52
Dog food
It's worth pointing out that the new QuickTime Player has been completely re-written in Cocoa and the new QT Kit framework. The QuickTime 6 player was a Carbon application that used the older QuickTime API.

I'm sure everybody reading this knows this already, but the term for this in the software industry is "eating your own dog food." When you develop a new API or framework (like QT Kit) and then use it to develop a major application, you're "eating your own dog food." It's a way of making sure the new framework lives up to expectations, and also of showing confidence in the new API.

It bears mentioning that the new QuickTime Player is about half the size of the old one. QuickTime Player 7 is about 958 kilobytes; QuickTime Player 6 is about 1880 kilobytes.

2005-04-30 13:02:03
Dog food
The way you sample direct quotes from ARS' recent review of Tiger without shame or attribution is truly inspiring....

From TFA: (in talking about QuickTime)

"When Carbon was first being developed, Apple chose to base one of its "important" applications on the new API to prove its usefulness: the Finder. In the software industry, this is poetically called "eating your own dog food." Any long-time Mac OS X user knows how things turned out in the case of the Finder, but the dog food concept itself is a sound one."


2005-04-30 14:41:12
Dog food
That is not a direct quote, or even an indirect one. Eating your own dog food is a commonly applied term when talking about a company building products in its own new tools and APIs. You'll hear more of it, accusing them all of lifting the idea is silly.
2005-04-30 17:02:48
Apple Irritation
So yeah -- I wanted to see the HD gallery preview movies, so I installed QT7, and guess what? My QT6 Pro license is no good in QT7.


SHAME ON YOU APPLE! You could at LEAST have told me.

Shame, shame shame.

2005-04-30 21:40:09
Dog food
If you google the phrase "eating your own dog food" you find numerous references to it that have nothing to do with the Mac and everything to do with software development.
2005-04-30 21:52:47
Apple Irritation
Here's a link to download the reinstaller for Quicktime 6.5.2:

2005-04-30 23:20:40
Apple Irritation
uh, I upgraded too and lost my Pro features. dunno why you'd be freakin out as you are prompted to accept this as a consequence of upgrading upon installation - in other words, they did tell you.
2005-05-01 03:22:12
Apple Irritation
See this: http://www.xlr8yourmac.com/index.html#S19154

" If you rename a copy of the QT6 Player - it will work in QT7 - If you are a QT6Pro it will use new QT7 Pro compressors and at least some features"

2005-05-02 14:31:23
H.264, Compression & Multi-threading
I was playing with H.264 at an Apple Store this weekend, and found a couple of amazing features:
- I created a slideshow in Keynote, exported to QT w/ JPEG200, then opened it in QT 7 & exported to H.264. The original file was 500MB, exported as:
- High: about 18MB @ 800x600
- Med: about 12MB @ 800x600
- Low: 2.3MB @ 800x600
I honestly couldn't tell the diff. b/w 'high' & 'med', both looked awesome. The 'low' looked too blocky, and had trouble with the transitions. However, if I had reduced to 400x300 during export, it would have looked great. All settings used auto-keyframes (makes a big. difference on file size) and 30fps.

Even using 3ivx I've never gotten such small files & 800x600!

2nd, QT now makes an export funtion a seperate thread (viewable in activiy monitor)!! This means you can do multiple exports running at the same time!

For example, on a DP 2.3ghz G5, I was exporting the same source as three different export files (high, med. & low quality settings) - at the same time!! (with three seperate threads showing up in activity monitor!)

Encode times seemed a bit slow, so I tried it again only peforming one export, but it didn't speed up the process. So... you can do multiple exports simultanously, without any major performance hit!

2005-05-03 07:34:29
RE: H.264, Compression & Multi-threading
This is really interesting and helpful information... thanks!