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by Brad Smith


Enhancing The QuickTime Web Experience
March 23rd, 2001

I received many comments on last week's column about rollovers on the web without JavaScript. This week I wish to clarify and expand on the "QuickTime Web Experience." As many of you are aware, JavaScript is typically used by Web page developers in order to make their Web pages seem more interactive. This effect is created simply by the use of rollovers. The one problem with JavaScript is that it doesn't always work correctly, as I mentioned last week. With a lot of effort, developers can create identical experiences across both the Windows and Macintosh platforms, and even Linux and various flavors of UNIX. QuickTime, on the other hand, will look the same on both Windows and Macintosh in almost all cases. The one problem with QuickTime, however, is that it does not operate on Linux and UNIX. One can only hope that with the growing market share of such operating systems that QuickTime eventually makes its way to many more computing platforms, thus creating an ideal content delivery platform.

QuickTime's true strength for the Web does not lie within rollovers. In fact, QuickTime is in no way poised to take over JavaScript as the ultimate way to do rollovers on the web. QuickTime's strength lies within the depth of the technology. Rollovers can be just one minor component of an ultimate interactive Web experience through QuickTime. My goal in this column has always been to show off the capabilities and to teach you, the Observer, how you can create your own "ultimate interactive Web experience."

Go ahead and point your Web browser over to Totally Hip Software's Web page and cruise around (requires QuickTime 4.1.2). You'll notice that the Hip Bot immediately welcomes you with a greeting based on the time of day you're visiting. His animations are done within a QuickTime movie, as well as his voice and his "intelligence." He understands what page you are viewing at the current time through a QuickTime feature called inter-movie communication. This feature allows multiple QuickTime movies housed in different locations on the Web or in the QuickTime Player to communicate with each other (variables, constants, etc.). Inter-movie communication is one of the many features of QuickTime that is harnessed by LiveStage Professional. You'll also notice the rollover highlight animations that play when your mouse rolls over certain buttons. On various pages you will find slide shows created as QuickTime movies through LiveSlideShow, one of Totally Hip's products. On the main page there is a news ticker that scrolls. This, too, is a QuickTime movie. The examples demonstrated on the company's Web site are only a few of the many examples of a good Web experience through QuickTime.

After examining the Totally Hip Web site, it becomes apparent that QuickTime is more than just rollovers. To use QuickTime solely for it's rollover capabilities would be a failure to recognize the potential for such a technology. While what I may show you how to do in these columns could be just a very small detail, it is always part of a larger whole of interactivity that really makes QuickTime shine.

Adding Sounds to Enhance Menus

This week's tutorial is again centered around using LiveStage Professional and will extend last week's rollover menu tutorial by providing sounds on rollovers and mouse clicks. If you haven't done last week's tutorial, go back and do it now.

1) To start off, open the file used last week. Remember that you should have a sprite track that your buttons are stored in.

2) Create a new instrument track by pulling down the "Tracks" menu to "Create" and then over to "Instrument Track." The instrument track is where your midi sound data will be stored so it can be called on later by the sprites.

3) Double-click the untitled sample to open the instrument sample screen. Click the "Add Built-In" button in the lower left. Select the instrument you wish to use for the sound that is played when a user drags his/her mouse over a button. It should look like something below. If it does, click "Okay."

4) Repeat step (3) and select the sound you wish to play when the user clicks the button, then click okay. The sample window should now look something like this:

5) Next open up your sprite sample and click on the "Scripts" tab of one of the buttons. In the mouse enter handler, we must enter the script that indicates that this sprite will play the designated sound we want it do when the mouse is over the sprite. Select the mouse enter handler and type the following script in the text field to the right:

TrackOfIndex(3).PlayNote(1,0,60,100,300)

6) Select the mouse click handler an type the following script (the same as the one before, except changing the target instrument to "2":

TrackOfIndex(3).PlayNote(2,0,60,100,300)

7) Now you're ready to export the movie. Pull down the "File" menu to "Export" and name the movie. Now you have your menu equipped with sounds!

Here's my finished product, go ahead and roll over the the links, and click on one too:

iResources for iQT

This week's iResources come just one day before the official release of Mac OS X, and with it, the final version of QuickTime 5. Next week expect iResources to contain a collection of links regarding what's new in QuickTime 5 as well as some links to examples. Without any further delay, here is this week's installment of iResources:

Totally Hip Software -- I know. I know. I included this Web site last week. Guess what? It's changed. Totally Hip Software has just introduced their new version of their Web site, employing an ample amount of interactive QuickTime in the mix. This new edition of the site demonstrates many of the powers of QuickTime for deployment on the web. Try hitting refresh a couple of times to anger the Hip Bot. Just don't let the robot get annoying!

LiveSite -- Ian Mantripp delivers his series of behaviors (pre-programmed functions for LSP) and examples for LiveStage Professional users.

QuickTime Authoring for Education -- The folks over at BYU deliver their QuickTime knowledge and help for educational purposes. They even provide some examples of alternate controllers for QuickTime movies.

BackStage -- Brennan Young offers his knowledge on QuickTime and Totally Hip Software's LiveStage Professional in his own resource site.

Coming Next Week At iQT

So far I have examined several aspects of QuickTime through the interactive capabilities of LiveStage Professional from Totally Hip. Next week I will take a step back and examine the track-based architecture of QuickTime, the building blocks of all things QuickTime.

You are encouraged to send me your comments, or to post them below.


Most Recent iQT Columns

Using Sprite Tracks & LiveStage Pro
April 20th

Understanding Components In QuickTime
March 30th

Enhancing The QuickTime Web Experience
March 23rd

iQT Archives

Back to The Mac Observer For More Mac News!


Brad Smith is currently attending school in Lincoln, Nebraska, and has used Macintosh computers since 1984. Brad is a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, and an interactive media devotee, by hobby. In middle school, Brad and three other students from Lincoln, NE, were recipients of the ISTE MultiMedia Mania international multi-media contest in the middle school division. You'll typically find Brad going all out on a simple twenty-point school project by making an interactive QuickTime movie in LiveStage Professional. In other words, he has no life!

Brad has three brothers and is a big fan of the Dave Matthews Band. His enjoyment for music is evident in the vast collection of CDs he possesses and the fact that music is required to do any sort of work on the computer. He welcomes your comments at brad@macobserver.com.



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