To say that Director can import digital video files doesn't seem like that big a deal. After all, we're accustomed to seeing digital video on our computers. But when you discover that you can import a wide variety of video files ”including streaming video, QuickTime VR panoramas, DVD-quality MPEG-4 video ”into Director, place them on the Stage, and animate them just like any other sprite, you may find your imagination flooding with new ideas about what you can accomplish with Director ( Figure 10.1 ).
Figure 10.1. You can import many kinds of digital video files into Director such as the QuickTime VR movie at the center of the Stage.
Director imports video in QuickTime, RealMedia, and AVI formats. (For a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of using each format in Director, see the following "Video File Formats" sidebar.) Keep in mind that digital video is extremely processor- intensive , so keep your use of video to a minimum unless you know that everyone who's going to view your movie has a fast, up-to-date computer.
Director gives you precise control over how your digital video files appear and behave on the Stage. This chapter will look at the ways you can control video cast members in the Score and in the Property Inspector. You can exert even more power over video cast members by using specialized Lingo commands ”although that's beyond the scope of this book.
Director provides very basic video-editing tools in its QuickTime window, where you can rearrange frames by cutting, copying, and pasting. (AVI and RealMedia files can't be edited in Director.) Keep in mind, however, that Director is not intended to be a video-editing program. Most people do all their video editing in Final Cut Pro, Premiere, or a similar program before importing video files into Director.
Video File Formats
QuickTime, which works both on the Mac and in Windows, is more than just a digital video format. It supports a variety of media, including MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) audio, virtual-reality scenes, and even Director-style sprites ”as well as high-quality video and audio. Because QuickTime is so flexible and robust, it's the format of choice for most Director developers.
If you want to include QuickTime files in a Director movie, you must have the QuickTime Player installed on your computer, and so must anyone who wants to view your movie. Director MX supports QuickTime 2 and later, but QuickTime 6 is recommended. (QuickTime 4 or later is required if you want to use streaming video.) You can download the latest version of the QuickTime Player free from Apple's Web site, www.apple.com.
The RealMedia format is especially well suited for streaming video and audio over low-bandwidth connections. If you want to include RealMedia files in a Director movie, you must have version 8 or higher of RealMedia's player (formerly called RealPlayer, now called RealOne Player) installed on your computer, and so must anyone who wants to view your movie. The latest version of the player can be downloaded free from www.real.com.
Director won't recognize RealMedia files unless the RealMedia Xtras are installed in the Xtras folder. This installation is done automatically in Windows. But on the Mac, you must do it manually: On the Mac Director installation CD, look inside the Goodies folder for a folder called RealXtra and follow the directions in the read-me file inside. (See Chapter 19, "Using Xtras.")
If you distribute your Director movie over the Web via Shockwave, users who want to view the movie must download the RealMedia Asset Xtra. In most cases, the Shockwave player handles this download automatically.
AVI is a no-frills , Windows-only format. (The Mac version of Director can import AVI files, but it immediately converts them to QuickTime format.) Unlike QuickTime and RealMedia files, AVI files require no third-party software in order to be playable in Director. Use AVI files in your Director movie only if your movie's intended audience includes no Mac users.