Guide to Using QuickTime and other movie f ormats on the Web
Stephen Wilson, Professor, Art Dept, SFSU (contact details below)
of Web Video
There are two major types of video for the web. Regular
video file formats must be downloaded by the visitors computer before
viewing. The disadavantage is that viewers must wait for the
whole file to download. Once the file arrives, the user is free
to watch it and even save the video on their local machine.
Streaming video is a format that comes part by part as it
arrives. The advantage is that it begins showing as soon as
enough is buffered to show. Sometimes if the network situation
changes the video can hiccup while it waits for enough of the stream to
arrive. Also the digital files are discarded once they are
viewed. They cannot be saved on the local computer - quite an
advantage from the producers standpoint who is concerned about guarding
intellectual property rights. The disadvantage is that streaming
files may requre a special server to distribute them and special
encoders to convert the files to the right format. The
encoders are often proprietory software with the attendant expence.
There is also a pseudo streaming Quicktime format called fast start
that plays as it arrives although it is subject to download once it is
Quicktime Video for Web Presentation
Most web browsers support
the display of QuickTime movies. The viewer must have appropriate
plug-ins in their system files in order for the movies to be displayed
browser window. (For example, Microsoft does not automatically
distribute quicktime with Internet Explorer (IE) - viewers need to
download it.) IE has native support for .wmv files
and may require use of tags that are different than those explained
here. This guide explains the techniques necessary
to prepare and display Quicktime Movies. Also note that sound only
can be used as a way of presenting web sound. See my guide
to using web audio. Much of that guide also pertains to
regular quicktime visual movies.
- Creating or obtaining a QuickTime movie: Prepare a Quicktime
using any of the
normal methods - digitizing, video composition software such as
export from animation software such as Director, or 3-D animation
- Planning for bandwidth: Be sensitive to Web bandwidth
Movies can be huge files such that even with high bandwidth users may
have to wait. Research shows casual surfing visitors will leave a
site that has long wait times. Minimize
your file size using techniques such as small windows and low frame
rates. Quicktime pro and most video editing programs offer
options for making the choices
- Frame size: make the window as small as you will still do
to the movie. For example reducing a 640x480 movie to 320x240
reduces file size to 1/4. Reducting to 240x180 reduces it
to approximately 1/7 size
- Frame rate: Full motion video uses 30 frames/second. Many
movies do not require that frame reate to render respectable
motion. Reduce your frame rate to 15,12 or 10 frames/second if
appropriate for your movie.
- Compressor choice and settings: Different codecs (compressor/decompressor) are better than
others at maintaining quality while reducing frame size - although they
may take more time to compress and may require several passes.
Also you can trade off quality of compression for file size.
Professional programs such as Apple's Compressor (which comes with
Final Cut Pro) give detailed choices about compression including
optimized for web transmission. Be careful about picking exotic codecs
- viewers will not be able to see the videos if they don't have the
proper codec installed with their Quicktime. Here are some links
information about video compression and comparisons of codecs.
Codec Shootout - extreme tech
A comparison of
codecs in QuickTime - MacCentre701
a Codec- Jan Ozer - Streaming Media
- Set the file for quick start if you want pseudo streaming
and hinted movie if you are preparing a streaming movie.
(Remember hinted movies will require special servers to send
them.) See Apple's
guidelines for streaming movies
- Flattening the movie: In the old days Macintosh and Windows files
had different file formats. Mac files had data and resource
forks. Windows dust had one file. Mac developers had to
save the movie in "flattened" form if they wanted windows
computers to read it. Now most programs create flattened video
files by default.
- User system requirements: Think carefully about your users. They
be able to see QuickTime embedded in web pages unless they have
or otherwise obtained the QuickTime plug-in. You should consider
the download address on your web page. (http://quicktime.apple.com/sw/sw.html)
Even without the plug-in they would be able to view the movie via
applications. Also, they will need quicktime capability in their
system. All contemporary Macintoshes come with QuickTime and it is
downloadable for Windows systems.
- Your web server must have its MIME settings configured to
properly serve the the type of video files you are offereing.
- Prepare your web page html to display the video- see below
Video File Formats
In addition to Quicktime there are many other file formats - for
example windows media player, realvideo, flash video, quicktimevr, and
even some emerging formats. You can get more information about
preparing and serving these formats on the web.
Preparing html to embed video.
Video used to be inserted by use of the EMBED tag. Contempoarary
web browsers, however, are moving toward supporting web standard
<OBJECT> tags. The best strategy for now is to
support both tags. The sample below illustrates how that can be
done. The Apple quicktime web site recommends the code
Note that the classid is specific to whatever plug in is going to be
used to play the video. Apple provides that id. Other companies
have other id's for their plug-ins.
There are many parameters that you can set. The src must link to
the correct relative or full path to the movie. Width and height
can either be the dimensions of your source movie or an enlarged or
reduced version. Be careful to maintain the aspect ration
(proportion width/height). Leave 20 pixels extra on height if you plan
to show the controller. Also note that enlarging the dimensions
beyond the original may result in pixellation. The codebase is
the address that will automatically come up if the user doesn't have
EMBED tag within the OBJECT tag along with its own parameters.
Any changes need to be made in both the PARAM and the values within the
EMBED tag. The name for the PARAM's may be different than
the names for the EMBED versions. Apple
provides a guide to embedding quicktime and the different PARAM's
that can be set.
WIDTH="160" HEIGHT="144" AUTOPLAY="true"
Options for PARAM
Start playing movie automatically, do not wait for user to
press Play button
True | False | @HH:MM:SS:FF
Set background color for area alloted to QuickTime but not
occupied by movie
#rrggbb | ColorName
Show or hide the movie controller bar
True | False
Stop playing a movie at a specified point in the movie timeline
Specify a URL to load when the user clicks on the movie
Make a movie loop or play alternately forward and backward
True | False | Palindrome
Scale movie to fit in a rectangle, adjust aspect ratio, or set
a size scaling factor
ToFit | Aspect | n
Begin playing at time offset into the movie
Play movie in QuickTime Player, named frame, or replace
quicktimeplayer | TargetFrameName | myself
Set audio volume level
0 - 255
**Note these are derived from the Apple Quicktime HTML
information page. For a full list see Apple
guide to embedding quicktime
Movie as link
The movie itself can serve as a link:
(HREF=url) Clicking on the movie activates the browser to load the
page. The controller option must be false to allow this option.
<EMBED SRC="Myquicktime.mov" HEIGHT=240 WIDTH=180 CONTROLLER=FALSE
The movie can load its new page in another page or fram by using
target: When the movie is a link the TARGET option
be used to place the retrieved page in another frame or window. If you
are not familiar with frames, see the entry in this guide. The
would make the movie a link and place the linked page in a frame or
that had been named "display".
<EMBED SRC="Myquicktime.mov" HEIGHT=240 WIDTH=180 CONTROLLER=FALSE HREF="http://netad.com/file.html"
guide to controlling quicktime