During the past year, Apple has focused its steely corporate gaze on desktop video–claiming that soon everyone will be either playing or making movies on their Macs. If this month’s collection of queries is any indication, Apple may be on to something. Our readers appear to be mucking with movies with real gusto, but they’re encountering minor difficulties in the process. Moving Pictures
Our first video conundrum comes from Fairfield, New Jersey: Craig Happ–equipped with a Sony DCR-TRV320 Digital Handycam and a PowerBook G3 with FireWire (via Newer Technology’s FireWire 2 Go FireWire card)–would like to know how to move the still pictures he takes with his camcorder to his PowerBook.
Craig, although you’d like to capture images that appear to be static, the process entails pulling those images from a moving videotape–and you, therefore, require a video-editing application. Fortunately, there’s no need to tender one penny to obtain such an application. Apple supplies a solution for anyone with a FireWire-equipped Mac: iMovie, Apple’s entry-level (and free ) digital video-editing program. (If you don’t have FireWire, shed no tears into your viewfinder; I have a solution for you, too.)
To begin, ignore Apple’s system requirements (yes, iMovie will so run on your PowerBook) and download a copy of iMovie from Apple’s Web site (
www.apple.com/imovie ). Connect the FireWire cable from your camcorder to your FireWire 2 Go card, launch iMovie, rewind the camcorder’s tape to the location of the picture(s) you want to import, and press iMovie’s Import button. As new images appear in iMovie’s Viewer window, they will find a place on iMovie’s shelf –the storage location for movie clips and images. To convert these frames into PICT or JPEG files, simply move your cursor to the shelf, click on the image you want to convert, and select Save Frame As from the File menu. Now select either PICT or JPEG in the Format pull-down menu, name the file, and click on Save.
| Picture Perfect With iMovie’s Save Frame As command, you can transfer still images from your digital camcorder to your Mac. |
We turn now to the non-FireWire solution. Although iMovie won’t work for you, I have a free alternative: Strata’s VideoShop 4.5 demo–a demo that doesn’t let you save video clips but does let you save frame captures as PICT files. To use this demo, you need a way to get video into your Mac–through the video-input ports on AV Macs; a video card that features a video-input port, such as ATI’s Xclaim VR 128 (
www.atitech.com ); or a USB video-capture device, such as XLR8’s InterView (
www.xlr8.com ). Because these video cards and USB devices usually ship with some variety of video-editing software, you may not need to use the VideoShop demo, but if you lack such software, follow along.
Navigate to Strata’s download page (
www.strata.com/html/demos_updates.html ) and grab a copy of the Video-Shop demo. Install the demo, restart your Mac, and launch the application. Select Show Digitizing Window from the Windows menu and then Video Settings from the Digitize menu. From the Input pull-down menu, select either Composite or S-Video (depending, of course, on which port your camcorder is connected to). Click on OK and start rolling tape. When you see the image you want, click on the Digitize Still Frame button (the button that looks like a camera), and VideoShop will place a PICT file of that frame inside the Cache folder (in the Strata VideoShop 4.5 Demo folder).
The ABCs of VCD
Tip of the Month
Here’s a simple AppleScript that can quickly put pop-up folders from the root level of your hard drive back into place after you’ve switched screen resolutions. Just replace “Folder 1” and “Folder 2” with the names of your pop-up folders and insert the name of the last-added pop-up folder after the close window command.
tell application “Finder”
set popup of container window of folder “Folder 1” of startup disk to false
set popup of container window of folder “Folder 2” of startup disk to false
set popup of container window of folder “Folder 1” of start up disk to true
set popup of container window of folder “Folder 2” of startup disk to true
close window “last added folder”
Rosenort, Manitoba, Canada
A certain C J Hinke, of Bangkok, Thailand, faces a video playback problem. Specifically, this C person has found that a PowerBook is incapable of playing many of the Video-CDs (VCDs) he or she has purchased, even though these same CDs play back perfectly on a PC.
For those unhip to the concept, VCD is a video format found most often in Asia–many films made in Hong Kong are available on VCD, as are U.S. releases such as Star Wars Episode 1 and Fight Club . VCDs are MPEG-1-encoded movies pressed onto standard CDs rather than DVDs. The advantage of VCD is that the discs are generally less expensive (though poorer in picture quality) than DVDs, and you can play them on standard CD-ROM drives. VCDs aren’t widely available in the United States, but you can find them online (from
www.coolvcd.com, for example) and in the Chinatown areas of large cities.
Although VCDs should play properly through Apple’s QuickTime Player, they often don’t because Apple’s CD/DVD Driver isn’t fully compatible with all VCDs. To get a better crack at playing VCDs, buy a copy of Intech Software’s (
www.IntechUSA.com ) $40 CD/DVD SpeedTools 5.1. Fans of VCD report that Intech’s driver is a miracle worker when it comes to making VCDs recognizable.
Memories Are Made of This
And finally, Gary (who apparently lacks a surname) hit a brick wall when browsing Apple’s Technical Information Library (
til.info.apple.com ) for information regarding the variety and size of RAM to put into his Power Macintosh 8500. While I admire Gary’s pluck for exploring this normally helpful resource, I must point out that it’s the wrong place to look.
If you want the skinny on Mac memory configurations, check out these two resources that reveal the memory underpinnings of every Mac model: Apple’s own Apple Spec Database (
www.info.apple.com/applespec/applespec.taf ) and Newer Technology’s helpful utility Guru (
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