Getting started with QuickTime Player X

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Editing movies

If you ask old-time Mac users who once edited movies in the earlier QuickTime Player Pro, they’ll tell you that QuickTime Player X’s editing features are pretty weak. (And as one of those old-timers, I agree with them.) But editing isn’t entirely missing from the current version of QuickTime Player.

To begin with, you can trim your movie. This means that you can remove material from the beginning and end of a selected movie (or clip within that movie). This is helpful if you want to remove the two minutes of you begging little Jo-Jo to stop mugging for the camera in the family’s What I Did On Summer Vacation video.

To trim a movie, choose Edit > Trim. A gray bar will appear at the bottom of the movie window. Within that bar, a yellow border surrounds thumbnail images taken from the movie. To trim the thing, just drag a trim handle at one end or the other toward the middle of the bar. As you do, you can see a preview of the movie at the location where you’ve dragged the front or back handle. Click the yellow Trim button when you’re happy with your selections.

Cut to the chase with the Trim command.

You can also split a movie into sections. To do this in a useful way, choose View > Show Clips. Another gray bar appears at the bottom of the window. Drag the red line, which represents the playhead, to the place where you want to split your movie. Choose Edit > Split Clip. The bar will now show two highlighted sections (or clips).

Great. So now what? Click on one of the clips to highlight it. You can now trim just that clip by choosing Edit > Trim or you can drag the selected clip to a new location. This is a very quick way to make quick (and rough) edits to your movies. For far more control, you’re better off exporting your movie to iMovie and using it to edit your work.

Recording with QuickTime Player

While editing may not be QuickTime Player’s strong suit, it’s hard to gripe too mightily about its simple recording capabilities. With this application, you can record movies captured with the Mac’s camera or an attached (and compatible) video camera; you can capture audio through the Mac’s microphone (or from an attached microphone); and you can capture a video of the actions on the Mac’s screen. You’ll find each option under the File menu. They work this way.

Movie recording: Choose File > New Movie Recording; if your Mac has one, its camera will switch on and display what it sees. A gray control bar will appear that contains a red Record button as well as a downward-pointing triangle. Click the triangle, and you’ll find options for recording from a different camera (a USB camcorder, for example, if one is attached to your Mac), recording from a different microphone (if one is attached), and setting the video quality. The higher the video quality you choose, the larger the resulting video window (and, ultimately, recorded movie).

QuickTime Player has some helpful recording options.

To begin the movie capture, just click the Record button. To stop recording, click that same button, which has now turned into a square Stop button. When you stop the recording you’ll see an Untitled window. Just click the window’s red Close button (or choose File > Close), and you’ll be prompted for a name and format (the same format options you found when exporting a movie). Click Save, and you’re done.

Audio recording: Creating an audio recording is just as easy. Choose File > New Audio Recording, and a small black window appears. It too has a downward-pointing triangle, from which you choose a microphone and select a recording quality. (Both High and Maximum sound good—the only difference between them is that Maximum is recorded at a higher bit rate, which makes for a larger file that may sound better if you have a great microphone and discerning ears.) To record, click the red Record button. To stop, click the Stop button. Again, close the window and you’re prompted for a name for your recording. Click Save to save.

Screen recording: Termed a motion screen capture, a screen recording is a great way to show someone how to do something with their computer rather than simply tell them. And they’re easy to create.

Choose File > New Screen Recording. Yep, once again, the black window appears. Click its triangle, and you can choose to capture audio along with your video, select a video quality setting, and choose whether to capture mouse clicks as you record. Click the Record button, and a message appears, telling you that you can record the entire screen just by clicking it. To record just a portion of the screen, drag over the portion you wish to capture. Either way, the recording begins. Perform the necessary actions and then click Stop. A window appears that contains the movie of your movements. Press the spacebar to play it. Any time you clicked the mouse during the recording, a black circle appears around the cursor; at the point where you stopped clicking, the circle vanishes.

You know the drill. Close the window, and the sheet appears prompting you to enter the movie’s name and choose its format. Click Save.

Beyond QuickTime Player X

As I said, QuickTime Player X is a perfectly fine media player, but if you’ve had a taste of QuickTime 7 Pro, which had scads of features, the current version is wan and feeble in comparison. Fortunately, QuickTime 7 Pro lives on and is compatible with Mountain Lion. If you’re interested, take a gander at Apple’s page devoted to it. For $30 it can all be yours.

Next week: Our first look at iLife.

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