Tuesday, 9 March 2010

QuickTime

Although it's served me well over many years (in spite of a near-complete lack of updates), I've finally had to throw in the towel on Animation Shop. Since I got into time-lapse movies, it's increasingly been showing its age and lack of sophistication. So, against the advice of some stinging reviews (and a two star recommendation at Apple itself), I've finally upgraded our home version of QuickTime. As ever, a handy test for my new toy came in an obliging cat shape ...


So, drawing on the vast experience gained from the point-and-click creation of a single movie file, how does QuickTime shape up? Well, first of all, it worked. Which is more than I can say for Animation Shop and the plethora of freeware tools I've got. Secondly, the resulting movie looks pretty good on our home machine, and weighs in at only 15 Mb (from a pre-compression version closer to 160 Mb). Thirdly, the movie breezed up to Flickr where, again, it plays pretty well.

However, I would add that the mechanics of the creation process are pretty lame compared to Animation Shop. Being generous, I'd describe them as "good for beginners", since what there is of them consists of pointing to the first image in a sequence and then letting QuickTime assemble the movie (which it either does telepathically, or by grabbing every single image in a directory). One definitely had (much) more of a sense of being in control with Animation Shop, even if the package sometimes didn't pony up the goods in the end. That said, QuickTime copies the Animation Shop trick of essentially hanging while it's working, giving the user the escalating suspicion that something has badly gone wrong. How hard can it be for a piece of software to speak to Windows while it's working just to let the operating system know that it's not crashed? Pretty bloody hard it would seem.

Anyway, overall my £20 seems well-spent thusfar, but yet again I'm unimpressed by Apple. The media perception is of a company that can do no wrong (in large part because the media is pretty amnesiac), but again and again I'm left mystified by the gap between their image and the underlying reality. The other week it was with iTunes and its Genius playlist creator. After being badgered for months by iTunes to switch this on, I finally succumbed only to discover that my (somewhat aged) iPod, which iTunes already knows all about, can't handle Genius. This is stupid for two reasons: first, iTunes should have known that the two iPods that connect to it can't handle Genius (plus, that we don't use iTunes itself to play music); second, how hard can it be to implement a work-around that turns a Genius playlist into a real playlist that I can dump onto my iPod? Idiots. But the media just slips into drool-mode whenever some shiny new Apple toy comes along. And don't even get me started on Mac Os X ...

8 comments:

chimpaction said...

Like a greedy fish I'll bite that shiny lure ;) What's wrong with OS X?

Deditos said...

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Genius is rubbish (as are most recommendation algorithms, I find), but I've not had any problems with OSX itself. What's piqued you?

Plumbago said...

OK, OK. I guess I've just been using Unix and Windows for too long, but I find the interface incredibly non-intuitive, and the layout shockingly messy. It practically begs you to leave icons and windows strewn across your desktop. And while there's something clever about showing available applications as a scrolling, pop-up bar, it's just another piece of clutter. I imagine that the environment is completely customisable, and can be arranged neatly and clearly if one takes the time, but I've yet to see anyone do this.

When I find myself having to use a colleague's Mac, I spend half the time making mistakes and pulling up the wrong software. The chameleon-like tool bar at the top, which can change its meaning if you so much as click slightly out of place, is a major offender in my book. And as I like to think of myself as a fluent computer user, I don't interpret this as a sign of good practical design.

The upshot is that I'm just Windoze-institutionalised. I think I was immunised against Macs early on by their wildly misplaced, and pretty long-standing, adoption of the one button mouse. Easily one of the worst ideas ever. But my antipathy probably stems in large part from continuing unfamiliarity.

Anyway, all that said, I would still defend my questioning of the high esteem in which Apple is held. Bar design, and the iPod et al. are great design, they seem no different to another Microsoft. Though I guess they also have better publicists. And no Bill Gates.

P.S. My complaint about Genius is not that it gives rubbish selections (though it's good to hear that I'm not missing much), but that it practically heckled me into activating it only for it to be incompatible with my iPod (which it already knew about!). That, and it being a pretty simple programming job to make it somewhat compatible - something that Apple just couldn't be arsed to do. Lazy, preening, self-important bastards that they are! ;-)

chimpaction said...

Its an iTunes Genius. It was nagging you to turn it on so that it can suggest items to buy from iTunes....Nothing to do with your iPod.

The system menu in OS X is a clever space saver I think. If you have 3 different applications open then you don't use all 3 File/Edit menus at the same time and therefore that's wasted screen real estate.

I don't understand why you think the desktop is untidy? OS X organises files the same way as Windows - in a grid. Or am I missing something?

Plumbago said...

I think I must just work with slobs who insist on having X different applications cluttering up the desktop with Y different windows all at the same time. While it's perfectly possible to maximise one application to full screen size, everyone here seems to prefer many (many) smaller windows instead. And this is compounded now that widescreen monitors are in vogue, since these afford even more desktop space to clutter.

Anyway, I accept that I'm just an angry man who can't be bothered learning another fancy new operating system. ;-)

Oh, I did forget to add that games support sucks on Macs! Apple is practically willing you into buying an abominable console. [If I can springboard into a further conflict zone ... ]

chimpaction said...

It's a whole different way of thinking. In OS X, think about it as there being two different types of applications - ones that only require a single window like iTunes and those that (potentially)work with multiple documents - a word processor, web browser or spreadsheet. The single window applications go fullscreen while the multiple document ones spread across the desktop, allowing you to work across them.

Think about how often you run your brower fullscreen and how much of that is white space. Of course, it requires some getting used to, having the potential distraction of lots of other things going on around the screen.

As a disclaimer, I have a PC running XP, an iBook and and XBox 360...

oh, and btw....

http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2010/03/steam-mac/

:)

Deditos said...

I agree with you about the uni-button mouse (how do you switch to plasmids?) and the toolbar (on a big screen the menus can be a loooong way from where you've positioned the app window), and the dock is mostly eye-candy (I haven't launched an application from there in a long while). But most of the useful shortcut keys (ALT+TAB, cut, paste) are the same on OSX and Windows!

The main benefits seem to be no registry, a usable command line, and simpler admin. Much like Linux really, only without the hardware compatibility issues.

Oh, and widescreen - I notice quite a few people in my lab going dual widescreen! Ye gods!

Plumbago said...

There's only one way to settle this: Half-Life 2 Deathmatch! Which, since Valve now seem to have sided against me and opened up shop on the Mac platform, appears a distinct possibility. Although, since I've not played it for ~1 year, I suspect that even an extra mouse button won't save me. ;-)