The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

QuickTime Pro, A Powerful and Versatile Video Tool for Web Marketers


QuickTime Pro, the handy video tool from Apple.OK, hypothetical situation. You’re working on a tight deadline for a web video marketing campaign. You’re close to finalizing several creative elements for your client and you just received the final video clips on cd-rom (they unfortunately exported the clips for you). It ends up the person sending you the clips didn’t know the format you needed them in, so you’re left with a few files in varying formats and dimensions. None are optimal, by the way. What do you do?? Well, my hope is that you’ll know exactly what to do after reading this post! You’ll use QuickTime Pro to transcode those videos into a format you can use across marketing channels, whether that’s for uploading to YouTube, for use on mobile devices like iphones or blackberries, or for distribution via cd-rom or dvd-r. In my opinion, QuickTime Pro is a phenomenal tool to have in your web marketing arsenal. Sure, it doesn’t replace a full blown editing system like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere (by any stretch), but it’s fast, has some great features and can save you a lot of time. Let’s dig in.

What is QuickTime Pro?
I know you’ve all heard of QuickTime Player (QT), but Apple also provides a wealth of features bundled into their QuickTime Pro product. It’s only $29.99 and can really save you a lot of time (no, I didn't mean to rhyme that...) You just need to purchase a registration key and then enter that key into your QT Player (in your preferences). QuickTime Pro comes with a number of handy features that you’ll end up using all of the time (once you know that they are there!) You see, QT Pro is part of QuickTime Player, so you won’t find a unique application or interface for working with clips. Using QT Pro, you can convert clips to a number of formats, you can perform some minor editing, and you can even combine clips, creating a separate QT movie from the original you opened! You can encode clips using the H.264 and AAC codecs, which provide maximum quality at extremely small file sizes. More on this later… Even though most people would think that they are just in the standard QT Player while using QT Pro, looks can be deceiving… Let’s take a look at some of the most useful features of QuickTime Pro for web marketers.

Useful Features of QuickTime Pro:

Converting Video Clips to Other Formats (Transcoding Video Files)
So what can do with QuickTime Pro? The short answer is plenty! In my opinion, the most useful feature is its import and export capabilities. You can open a wide range of formats using QT Pro and then easily transcode them to other formats (convert them). Check out the technical specs page to learn more, but it’s a ridiculously handy tool to have around. You can easily convert your clips to a number of formats, including MPEG-4, AVI, QT Movies, DV Stream, etc. (See the screenshot listed below.)

Exporting video clips using QuickTime Pro (transcoding video).

The export feature is available for any format that QuickTime can open, and it can import quite a number of formats… So, if you needed a version of your video for mobile devices, for YouTube, for providing a downloadable version from your website, and on cd-rom, then QT Pro can help you… It can handle all of those tasks quickly and efficiently. Even though I have several professional level editing systems here, it’s sometimes easier to convert video in QT Pro. And yes, it's great for performing basic edits… On that note, let’s take a look at some of the basic editing features built into QuickTime Pro. Read on.

Basic Editing in QuickTime Pro:

Trimming Based on In and Out Points
Do you have 30 seconds of footage that you want to export from a 90 second clip? No problem, you can easily set the in and out points and then trim the clip. Just set the in and out points using sliders while in QT Pro (in the QT player) and then trim the clip by selecting Edit, Trim to Selection. You’re left with the 30 seconds you want to export… Then, export the clip in the various formats you require. Now, what about if you have two clips that you want to combine? Next feature please!

Trimming video clips using QuickTime Pro in and out sliders.

Combining Video Clips by Using Add to Movie
I actually just ran into this situation last week. I had 2 clips that I wanted to combine for a mobile version of a video. QT Pro lets you easily select the second clip and then add it to the first clip. Simply click Window, Show Movie Properties to bring up the Tracks Window. You can select the video and audio track and then click Extract. This will create a new movie containing the tracks you selected. Then click Edit, Select All. Then Edit, Copy. Go back to your original clip and set the playhead at the end of the clip. Then click Edit, Add to Movie and walla, the second clip has been added to the end of the first clip. Nice. Now you are ready to export the final combined clip to a number of formats. It’s a great feature, very simple but powerful.

Combining video clips using QuickTime Pro Add to Movie.

H.264 Video and AAC Audio
If you’ve dealt with video recently, you’ve probably heard of the H.264 codec. It’s an incredible video format (and part of the MPEG-4 standard), that gives you outstanding video quality at a low file sizes. H.264 can be used for web video, mobile video, cd-rom, etc. Whenever I need to upload a video to YouTube, I go with H.264 and I’m never disappointed. Simply open your clip, select File, Export. Then choose QuickTime Movie and select H.264 from the video codec menu. You can set the data rate, frame rate, frame size, etc. You can even add filters, deinterlace your video, etc. It’s fast and provides outstanding quality. You won’t be disappointed!

AAC
QuickTime Pro also let you encode your audio using the AAC codec, which also provides outstanding quality (rivaling uncompressed CD Audio) at small file sizes. It’s an extremely efficient audio codec and part of the MPEG-4 specification. As a side note, most of the music sold on the iTunes Music store is encoded using AAC. Enough said.

Back to Our Hypothetical Situation…
Let’s jump back to our hypothetical situation mentioned earlier to see how you would handle it with QuickTime Pro. Let’s say you were sent a 3 minute clip for your web video marketing project. You really just need 90 seconds of it. You will need a version for YouTube, a version for mobile devices, and a version for DVD-R for a presentation. It ends up that the clip was exported from Final Cut as a self contained QT movie. You open the clip in QT Pro and set the in and out points to the 90 seconds you want. You trim the clip by selecting Edit, Trim Selection. You are now left with just the 90 seconds you want. Next, click File, Export and you are presented with the Export Dialog Box. Let’s start with the H.264 version for YouTube. You want the highest quality file, so set the data rate, frames per second, and audio encoding properly (the actual settings depend on a number of factors. Maybe that's another post!) Select H.264 as the video encoder for video and AAC for audio. Export your clip to a directory on your hard drive.

Now let’s tackle the mobile version. Select export to iphone, which provides a great format for mobile. The file will be an .M4V and can easily be transferred to your iphone or blackberry. Now, let's say there was a 10 second video clip with a call to action edited late in the game. You just grabbed the 10 second clip and want to add it to the first clip, which will give you a final, 100 second video. No problem. QuickTime Pro to the rescue! Open the original clip and click View, Movie Properties. Select the video and audio tracks by control clicking each track in the window and click Extract. Go back to your first clip and position the playhead at the end of your video file. Then click File, Add to Movie. You’re done. Easy, right? Then export to whichever format you need…

QuickTime Pro Summary
In closing, although this post was just an introduction to QuickTime Pro, I hope you can see its power. It’s definitely a great weapon to have in your web marketing arsenal. It has saved me numerous times… Now, it won’t replace your editing software like Premiere or Final Cut, but it’s still a great tool to have around (especially at the $30 price point)! It does a great job for quick edits, opening several formats, and then exporting or transcoding to a number of other useful formats. It just may save your marketing campaign some day. :-)

GG

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6 Comments:

  • At 10:00 PM, Blogger Mike said…

    Great article on a very handy application to have around. I remember a presentation Apple did waaaay back (before they had their retail stores) about iMovie and QT Pro for making business movies for distribution on CD and the web. The presenter was having trouble convincing people that it was worth $30 for QT Pro (at the time, iMoive was a free download). One person said that he couldn't afford $30 on his own business (I know, I couldn't believe it either.) I had to stand up to say that it is absolutely worth the $30 and that I had used it for a small talking head video on our site (going back to 1999 I think.)

     
  • At 2:03 PM, Blogger Glenn Gabe said…

    Thanks Mike and I'm glad to hear that you stood up for QT Pro. :)

    I think if people knew what it can do for their video marketing efforts, they would pay $30 in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people are confused with what it is and how to gain access to its features. I hope this post can help demystify QuickTime Pro...

     
  • At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Keith Wicks said…

    I've been scanning the web trying to get a clearer idea of what QuickTime Pro could do for me (I found Apple's site too vague to be persuasive), and your article was the most useful and readable I've found, so thanks. Mind you, I would have welcomed some words on the virtues of the separately sold MPEG-2 playback component for coping with additional formats, and how that component compares with Perian, which is free of course. Any advice there? I'm especially interested in transcoding from the following formats: m2v, mpg, vob, wav, flv.

    One other little query (pushing my luck a bit - I'm sure you're a busy man). I often encounter movies that for some bizarre reason are squashed in the Y-axis (do folk think it's stylish or something?) and I want to unsquash things so faces are back to normal etc! Will QuickTime Pro enable me to scale a movie selectively in each axis (as part of the exporting operation), to take care of such matters?

     
  • At 7:09 PM, Blogger Glenn Gabe said…

    Hi Keith. I'm glad you found my post useful. I haven't used Perian, but it looks like an interesting component for mac users. Actually, I may download it soon and play around with it on my mac. That said and from what I can tell from the site, QT Pro looks like it can handle many more tasks than Perian. For the $30 price tag, I would still go with QT Pro.

    Regarding readjusting the aspect ratio of video clips, QuickTime Pro might be able to help you. It really depends on the original clip, but you definitely have the opportunity to crop and then scale the clip to reset its aspect ratio. I would test it out and see if works for your needs.

    GG

     
  • At 6:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yeah Hi,

    I have just spent a whole day trying to find a way to convert the .mov file my camera gave me to .avi so I can mod it in WMM; because that is what I was told I had to do. Now I looked at the Apple site but as an educational or informative site, well it sucks. Finaly your little post is like a beacon in the night.
    Thank you,
    I will now stop trying to swim upstream and hopefully go with the flow.
    Cheers,

    Andrew.

     
  • At 6:41 AM, Blogger Glenn Gabe said…

    Excellent. I'm glad you enjoyed my post and that it could help your situation! QT Pro is powerful, but sometimes cryptic. Again, glad I could help.

    GG

     

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