Glenn's Junk Chest

An assortment of Glenn's writings, photography, gaming resources, flash movies, and other creative output.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Video: High Definition Trailers

I'm really into movie trailers. I like to download them to my computer and show them to friends at parties and conventions, or associates at business meetings, for that matter. For quite a while, Apple has been my staunch ally in this effort, putting almost every movie trailer of note online on their site in high quality, easily downloadable Quicktime movies.

Now, it may be that they've gone too far.

With last week's release of Apple's new OS, Tiger, they've included a new version of Quicktime. (Version 7, for those keeping track). One of the things introduced in the new version is a video codec called H.264. From wikipedia:
The intent of the H.264/AVC project has been to create a standard that would be capable of providing good video quality at bit rates that are substantially lower (e.g., half or less) than what previous standards would need (e.g., relative to MPEG-2, H.263, or MPEG-4 Part 2), and to do so without so much of an increase in complexity as to make the design impractical (expensive) to implement. An additional goal was to do this in a flexible way that would allow the standard to be applied to a very wide variety of applications (e.g., for both low and high bit rates, and low and high resolution video) and to work well on a very wide variety of networks and systems
Now, with each movie trailer for a movie I'm really interested in, it can sometimes be hard to resist the temptation to go through the trailer frame by frame, analyzing
Serenity's Crew in HD
what is (or isn't) there, and trying to figure out stuff about the movie that the trailer shows inadvertently. With the upcoming Firefly-based movie Serenity, this temptation was already there, but Apple has made it far, far worse, because they are posting some trailers and clips in High-Definition resolutions, such as 1920x816, using their fancy new codec. (I've extracted a frame of the video so that you can get a sense of the amount of data we're talking about, here. Here's another.)

And my lowly 867Mhz G4, so good at so many things, is totally and completely unable to play them at speed. It drops frames like crazy. If I want to peek at the all the HD goodness that Apple is offering, I practically have to do it one frame at a time.


At 10:26 AM, Blogger Jon said...

Thanks, Glenn. That shot of the city street was the one I was curious about. It looks like a rundown version of Bladerunner.

I'm surprised there's not Blue Sun signs anywhere in the shot.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Glenn said...

Yeah, I was pretty interested in that one too. I agree that the Blade Runner influence is definitely very strong. I also did a little looking at the frames of the big Batman Beyond trailer, and they are also breathtaking. So much detail.

(Something weird up with Blogger's comments today, since it says 1 comment on the main page, but shows your comment twice here. What's up with that?)

At 5:20 PM, Blogger Mark Simon said...

This is something that happens in the PC world all the time. You get a great new game (10 years ago it was Ultima) that runs so slowly on your PC that you need to get a new PC to handle it.
Does this mean that Apple is following in Microsoft's footsteps?

At 5:20 PM, Blogger Eric The Read said...

Apple makes it annoying for PC people too. I tried to download the trailer, but it won't let me without getting the full iTunes suite (including the QuickTime player). If you don't accept the iTunes install (which will only work with Win2K or XP!) you can't run it. What is it with Apples and version incompatibility?
Luckily I can access the trailer from other mirror sites (in other formats!).



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