DATELINE: January 1999 Issue
Friendly, Inexpensive Utility Creates Streaming-Media FilesBy Jim Heid
When RealNetworks acquired Vivo Software, in March 1998, it looked like the latter’s VivoActive streaming-media technology might go the way of the Betamax. Fortunately, RealNetworks is continuing to develop compression tools for the VivoActive format. The latest is VivoActive VideoNow 3.0. Like its predecessor, VivoActive Producer 2.0, VideoNow 3.0 is a breeze to use: select the QuickTime movie you want to convert to VivoActive format, specify the target delivery speed, and click on a button.
The VivoActive streaming-media technology isn’t as sophisticated as RealNetworks’ RealMedia or Microsoft’s NetShow, but it has the advantage of simplicity. Rather than grappling with dedicated server software, you can dish out VivoActive clips by using the same HTTP server that handles your Web pages. You can also do this with RealMedia clips, but VivoActive’s superior HTTP streaming uses network bandwidth more efficiently.
VideoNow 3.0 provides a wide variety of presets for common connection speeds and quality settings. You can customize these presets and create new ones, and you can apply multiple presets (for example, to create clips for different connection speeds) to a single movie.
VideoNow 3.0 isn’t just a one-trick pony. It’s the only Mac program that can compress clips for the ASF format, used by NetShow. It can also create QuickTime 3 reference movies, one of which can refer to multiple movie files, each compressed for a specific connection speed.
But VideoNow 3.0 doesn’t support reference movies as well as Terran Interactive’s Media Cleaner Pro 3.0 does. You can’t, for example, specify that one alternative movie plays on Macs while another plays on Windows. VideoNow also lacks Media Cleaner Pro’s broad array of quality-optimizing features. But VideoNow costs just $49, versus Media Cleaner Pro’s $359.
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