X in Snow Leopard Imports, Trims, and Publishes Video Quickly and Easily
by Alan Zisman (c)
published in Low
November 4 2009 ZisMac
"Snow Leopard" (Mac OS X 10.6) has been, to a large extent, marketed by
Apple with a lowering of expectations - instead of banners proclaiming
"hundreds of new features", it's promoted more as a a clean-up/speed-up
of OS X 10.5 "Leopard", offering better performance while taking up
less hard drive space - but only for owners of Intel Macs.
Along with the modest expectations, Snow Leopard comes at a modest
price - US$29 for a single-user upgrade edition, compared to US$129 for
most other OS X versions.
But along with tightening the code and removing PowerPC code, Apple has
quietly upgraded some Snow Leopard features. In Preview in Snow Leopard Supports Scanners and Screen
, I looked at few handy new capabilities of Snow Leopard's
Snow Leopard's version of Apple's long-time QuickTime player has also
evolved. Now named QuickTime X, it gets a new icon and a new look.
Apple calls it "a major leap forward" that will give users "enhanced
playback, greater efficiency, and higher quality". Being built on
various core OS X technologies, Apple suggests the new version will
launch up to 2.4 times faster than its Leopard predecessor.
QuickTime X also gained several features that Apple previously kept out
of the free QuickTime viewer, reserving them for its $29 QuickTime Pro
upgrade version (coincidentally, the same price as the single user Snow
Leopard upgrade). You can now make an audio, video, or screen recording
using your Mac's built-in hardware right from the QuickTime File menu
using the iSight camera built-into many Mac models, for instance.
More useful to me is the new ability to trim movies.
I play in a couple of bands, and I've posted video clips of
performances onto YouTube. I may video a set of 8 to 10 songs using a
Creative Vado (see Creative's Vado Pocket Camcorders Now Work with Macs
Flip Mino, or Kodak Zi8 pocket camcorder. Recording the video is pretty
Up until QuickTime X, though, the next steps have been time consuming.
Using iMovie, for instance, the first step is to import the hour or so
of video into the program. iMovie then analyses the file, breaking it
up into seemingly hundreds of individual scenes - and this takes quite
Then I have to locate the beginning and end of a song, selecting it out
from the larger file. After I've done that, I might add titles, fade in
and out, and the beginning and end - a fairly straightforward and quick
But then, to create a video clip of just that single song, iMovie needs
to render the video. On my MacBook, it may take half-an-hour or so to
render a 5 minute video clip, giving me a file I can (finally) upload
While I don't need to be sitting at the keyboard for much of the time,
it has taken the better part of a day to get an hour's performance
imported, edited, rendered, and uploaded. (I can be rendering a second
song while the first song is being uploaded).
QuickTime X. On Halloween, I filmed Mojo Zydeco
, a band with whom I play accordion,
using a Zi8 pocket camcorder on loan to me from Kodak. (The Zi8 is the
first pocket camcorder to record in 1080p hi-def and is, in general,
quite a nice - and affordable - little gadget.) It saves video files in
QuickTime MOV format.
QuickTime X Is Fast
Connecting the Zi8 to my Mac by its built-in USB connector, its SD
memory card (not included in the package) appears as an external drive;
double-clicking the saved video clip opens it up in QuickTime X. Unlike
the tedious process of importing into iMovie, the 2 GB video clip opens
almost instantly in QuickTime X. It's also a much quicker process to
quickly scroll through to find the beginning and end of a song; I noted
the times on a piece of scrap paper.
New to QuickTime X: the Trim command in the Edit menu. Choosing it adds
a bar across the lower part of the window with a little red line
showing where in the clip you were playing. As you drag from the left
or right ends to trim the clip, you get an indication of your timing,
letting you find the proper points to start and stop the clip.
Again, quick and reasonably straightforward.
Once you've trimmed your clip, it's time to save. You'll
get a dire-looking warning: "If you trim and save now, the currently
trimmed parts of the movie will be permanently removed from the saved
Not as big a deal as it may sound. Just give your trimmed file a new
file name - that way, the original file remains intact.
Unlike iMovie, which needs a time-consuming process to render your file
before saving it, saving the song in QuickTime X just takes a few
seconds. No rendering required.
Close the saved file, reopen the original file, and go on to the next
Using QuickTime X, I was able to create my set of ten individual video
clips from the performance in about the same time it would have taken
iMovie to render just one of the clips. Wow!
Doesn't Replace iMovie
I could have done more with iMovie - using QuickTime X, I was unable to
add titles to the clips, adding the song name and the band name in my
best MTV style, for instance. But for the time I saved, it was worth it.
QuickTime X also gains a Share menu, letting
you send the newly-trimmed video clip directly to iTunes, your MobileMe
Gallery (assuming you've got a MobileMe account - I don't), or to
YouTube. Enter your YouTube user name and password, and you can enter
the relevent data and send the clip directly from QuickTime X.
I didn't do it that way - that would let me send one clip at a time,
and despite QuickTime X saving me a lot of time creating the clips, the
time to upload them remains the same. Instead, I used YouTube's online
bulk upload feature, which lets me queue up to ten clips, uploading
them one after the other. I let it run overnight, and in the morning it
(You want to see the clips? Go to YouTube and search for "Zydeco
Crescent Beach". How's that for blatant self-promotion? I'm the guy in
the "Desert Prince" costume - it was Halloween, after all).
For this sort of quick-and-dirty video project, QuickTime X's trim
feature is a huge time saver.
Only in Snow Leopard.
November 5 2009: Reader Mike Richardson notes: "It's important to note that QuickTime 7 in Tiger or Leopard (if you have
a free third party app like MPEG Streamclip, or the Pro license) does
the same thing just as easily, except for the uploading to YouTube part.
QuickTime X is really a downgrade in my eyes. They're still going to
have to maintain the QuickTime 7 codebase for Tiger, Leopard, and
Windows users, so now they have two codebases to deal with for a very
long time. They ported only the newest and most common codecs, so any
old codecs run in some kind of extra process. It's scary to think they
might even cut those codecs out some time and all of your old videos
won't work anymore."