Voice Card  -  Volume 25  -  John Card Number 2  -  Thu, Jun 11, 1992 6:17 PM

As part of the exploration I did with my rented Powerbook, I decided to enter the brave new world of QuickTime film clips. I soon discovered that there are hundreds of really interesting film clips in the AOL library with more arriving every day. I hadn't looked into this phenomena before because my SE can't play QuickTime movies. The powerbook can, but only black and white.

The selection of clips, all uploaded by ordinary users, is stunning. There are bits of old Groucho Marx movies, home videos shot out the window of a race car, fly-bys over the surface of Mars and through 3D computer generated Mandelbrot Sets, assorted stag films, scenes from Gilligan's Island, and much, much more.

It would be relatively simple to play a clip from within a voice card. It could work just like the still picture feature currently available except that when you clicked on this picture it would spring to life with both sound and motion. Larry could paste home movies of Kristen into a voice card, Betsy and I could share exciting footage from our wedding, Janine could give us a demonstration of Macromind Director, and who knows what Paul might do!

At this stage there are several significant (but not insurmountable) problems. The first is that all of us must have color capability. I had hoped to get by with black and white but a few minutes with the powerbook quickly dispelled that notion.

I downloaded 3 black and white films, all I could find. There are scads of color and greyscale QuickTime clips, but very few in black and white. Of these three, the most impressive was the Rodney King video with voiceover by one of the jurors. The sound was superb, but the film was little more than shadows. I saw color QuickTime clips at MacWorld Expo; they were spectacular. But black and white clips are nothing to write home about. I conclude, therefore, that all of us will have to upgrade to Si's or better before Archipelago can join the QuickTime revolution.

The second problem to overcome involves storage space. The Rodney King clip was only 43 seconds long, but when uncompacted it sucked up over TWO MEGABYTES of storage. Even if I compacted it and chopped it into pieces it would swallow two entire transit disks. And this was just black and white! Color increases the storage burden by an order of magnitude.

Voice cards of the future, therefore, would have to be transmitted on something other than the current diskettes. However, we can already buy disk drives for only $500 that read diskettes with 2,500 times as much storage, so that doesn't present TOO much of a problem.

The only other problem involves getting the films into the computer in the first place. This, too, is getting easier every day. All you need is a video camera and/or a VCR along with a smidgen of hardware and software already in use throughout the Mac community.

I predict, then, that by issue 50 we'll have QuickTime capability. For now all we can do is hoard our pennies for the inevitable upgrade and store our videotapes in a safe spot. We may be sharing those videos sooner than we think.