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April 22, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:49pm

APPLE REVEALS MORE MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY DETAILS

By CBR Staff Writer

Apple Computer Inc used this month’s National Association of Broadcasters convention (CI No 3,137) to give more details of upcoming versions of its core multimedia technologies: QuickTime, QuickDraw 3D and FireWire. First, after mouth-watering previews of QuickTime 3.0 at Tokyo Macworld in February and last month’s Internet World in Los Angeles, Apple finally took the wraps off of QT’s most powerful incarnation to date. Due in early summer, QT 3.0 will be the first version to be released simultaneously for Mac OS and Windows 95 and NT, and first to offer the same authoring capabilities, including capture, edit, compress, and playback of digital media, on both platforms. This, of course, reduces the advantages Macs have traditionally held for multimedia authoring, but Ellen Hancock, Apple vice president of technology, in her keynote speech pointed out what she said was the technical superiority of recent and soon-to-be-launched PowerPC machines. Hancock also reaffirmed Apple’s commitment to take the entire QuickTime Media Layer group of technologies into the next-generation Rhapsody OS, due in 1998. As for QuickTime 3.0 itself, the new version offers much more to professional users, with support for video formats such as Sony Corp’s DVCAM, Avid Technology Inc’s OMF, Microsoft Corp’s AVI, and for flavours of Motion-JPEG.

Cross fade and chroma keying

There’s also new support for special visual effects, in the form of third-party plug-ins and Apple’s built-in effects like cross- fade, chroma keying, and SMPTE wipes. Another new feature is the Media Abstraction Layer, which ensures QuickTime’s underlying media technologies can be enhanced or accelerated without affecting compatibility with existing applications. For developers, the Media Abstraction Layer reduces the cost of supporting emerging technologies and ensures that QuickTime- enabled applications are ready to take advantage of the latest technology advances, including MMX and multi-processing, regardless of the platform. Other important news regarded Apple’s plans for another of the QTML components, QuickDraw 3D 1.5. Product manager Shawn Hopwood revealed that it took Apple engineers only five days to port it to the NeXT OpenStep operating system, which will form the basis of Rhapsody. QuickDraw 3D can also run on Microsoft’s competing technology, Direct 3D, with just a small performance hit. However, Hopwood claimed that with a video card driver written specifically for it, QuickDraw 3D for Windows far outperforms Direct 3D. This is due, he said, to a flaw in Direct 3D’s architecture, since QuickDraw 3D software is scaleable and Direct 3D isn’t. QuickDraw 3D also supports plug-in renderers like LightWorks’ ray tracer and ThinkFish’s LifeStyles, which Apple just licensed, and Apple is working with other developers to provide QuickDraw 3D plug-ins and embedded QuickDraw 3D support. QD 3D 2.0 is due in the summer and will also support third-party shaders. After having invented the technology and then put it out for standards approval, Apple is finally moving to bring FireWire-related products to market by launching v1.0 of the new input/output technology. Also known as IEEE 1394, after Apple’s specification was approved as an international standard, FireWire is both a technology and a licensed product. It currently offers 200Mbps input/output between Macs and external devices such as printers, scanners and digital video cameras, and Apple said it will bump that up to 400Mbps by summer. We believe FireWire could replace SCSI by 2000, said Mick Mountz, Power Mac product manager. Apple will build FireWire software into all future versions of the operating system starting with Mac OS 8.

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