How QuickTime Saved The Idiots February 29th, 2000
Gary: Dude! It's not often that I congratulate you, but job well done, man.
Randy: Whoa! Who the hell are you and what have you done with Gary?!?
Gary: I just thought that we pulled off that last project pretty well. Of course, now that I think about it, you were pretty much drunk the whole time, and I had to tell the client that you were a narcoleptic.
Randy: That's more like the Gary I know. Keep the insults coming.
Gary: Yeah, that did feel pretty good after that ill-advised compliment.
Randy: We did kick butt on that job, though. We took what the client thought they wanted and turned out something that they never imagined would be so cool.
Gary: And what turned out to be our saving grace? Nothing but QuickTime itself.
Randy: Maybe we should explain a little. We recently had a client that came to us and wanted what they described as a PowerPoint slide show for their sales reps. They wanted something that all of their sales force could have on their Windows (ugh!) laptops that would showcase their company in about three minutes.
Gary: They talked about a voiceover, and music and a lot of movement, with objects panning and zooming and fading in and out.
Randy: So we pretty much threw PowerPoint out of the window. Besides the fact that it doesn't handle that type of presentation well at all, even if you compromise on the content, PowerPoint seems to crash like a drunk driver if you throw too many graphics at it.
Gary: The client wanted graphics. And lots of them.
Randy: Then we thought of Macromedia Director. Director can handle tons of graphics, and is way more flexible in regards to animations. It can handle multiple soundtracks, and you can time transitions with much more precision than PowerPoint ever could.
Gary: Did we mention that the client wanted the project turned around in one week? That's when the flaws of Director became apparent. Even simple projects can require debugging in Director. And because we only author on Macs, and the project had to be deployed on Windows, we faced cross-platform issues.
Randy: You have palette problems if you aren't careful, certain transitions just don't work on Windows, and on slower machines the audio can get out of sync with the video.
Gary: It would suck if the salesmen had to start off their killer new multimedia presentation by apologizing for the performance of the thing.
Randy: When we realized that the presentation was linear, and the only interactivity would be the salesman pausing the show for a few seconds to expound on a topic, we realized how we would develop this project.
Gary: We would author with Final Cut Pro, producing a QuickTime movie, and deliver the product with an installer of QuickTime for the sales force.
Randy: There were several benefits to using QuickTime that we didn't even realize until later. First, QuickTime is free, if you don't opt for the Pro version. That means no licensing costs for distributing a QuickTime movie. You do have to pay to distribute a Director movie, unless you display the Macromedia logo for 4 seconds or so at the end of the presentation. We didn't want the client to be thinking about Macromedia at the start of the salesman's shpeal, so QuickTime wins.
Gary: Another advantage to QuickTime: if you want to deliver cross-platform Director movies, you have to buy a copy of Director for each platform, but not with QuickTime, baby!
Randy: Did you just call me...
Gary: Don't say it, man.
Randy: What? I wasn't going to say it.
Gary: Moving on. Finally, the last bennie of using QuickTime is that QuickTime movies are very scalable. You can make a high-resolution, full-screen version for a fast computer, and you can create lower-res, smaller movies for those slower Windows chips.
Randy: Like a Pentium 3.
Randy: So that's how our project evolved from PowerPoint to QuickTime. QuickTime movies now support hot spots and sprite tracks, so you do have some interactivity you can include in movies.
Gary: For our project, we just told the sales force to tap the space bar when they wanted to pause the movie and again when they wanted it to continue playing. QuickTime freeze frames are extremely clear, unlike some of its competitiors, if you can call them that.
Randy: Windows Media Sputterer.
Gary: Once again, you hit the nail on the head.
Randy: Hey! This column is not about wasting time!
Gary: Yeah, I noticed that too. But it was about how kickass QuickTime is, and it can be used in a lot of instances when maybe you would think of other software first. Next week, we'll talk about an incredible waste of time that utilizes QuickTime.
Randy: Yeah, but do you think our editor will let us talk about adult web sites?
Gary: That's not what I was talking about, melonhead!
Randy: Guess we'll have to wait until next week to find out. Stay tuned...
Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.
The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.
You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .