Why QuickTime 7.4 sucks: Reason 23 – It ate my codecs - Macenstein

Why QuickTime 7.4 sucks: Reason 23 – It ate my codecs

For those of you wondering what the first 22 reasons QuickTime 7.4 sucks are, they are the 22 days Apple has not issued a fix for the “bug” QuickTime 7.4 introduced which has caused Adobe After Effects and Premiere to crash on export (Click here to read a thread on Apple’s support site on the topic with over 19,000 views).

But I will now add another reason why QT 7.4 sucks to the pile – it ate my codecs. Without warning, upgrading to QuickTime 7.4 from 7.3 knocked out about 14 of my available export codecs – codecs I used every day. (Ok, it turns out it didn’t really delete them, but I thought it did for about a week. So I’ll tell you the story, in case you are going through the same thing, or have not yet upgraded to 7.4 and want to save yourself some pain.)

I upgraded my system to QT 7.4, seeing as how it was “recommended for all users“. The next day, I opened up a QuickTime movie I had made and attempted to export it. But instead of my usual arsenal of codec options, I was presented with about half of my usual selection.

Above: QuickTime 7.3’s codec list (left) and 7.4’s (right). Audio got a similar hammering, going from 12 to 7 codecs.

I happen to have a ton of video codecs installed for various reasons, like Black Magic support and such, so my list is still quite long and doesn’t make for a good screen grab. Luckily, in researching this problem I found that Chris Adamson over at O’Reilly had already documented this problem, and had taken some nice grabs I have stolen borrowed here to illustrate my point (see above).

And also luckily for me, at the end of Adamson’s post he pointed out something I missed. All those codecs I feared were lost forever were not in fact gone. Apple merely hid them in a new “show legacy encoders” check box in the QuickTime preferences without telling anyone. I was at once relieved and annoyed. “How about a heads up, Apple?” I thought. We’re just supposed to guess at something fairly major like this? This is a point release which claims only to add support for iTunes! Where’s the readme!?!

There are now a number of posts on Apple’s site (here, here, here…) that showcase a number of confused users suddenly not having their favorite codecs appear in QuickTime, but other apps as well, such as Blender and Maya. Odds are Apple made this move to help make consumers less confused by “too many” options when exporting, but they apparently confused quite a few of their professional users in the process.

How to Fix the problem

Of course, QuickTime Pro is one of those rare apps with TWO preference panes, so if you’re looking to re-enable the “lost” codecs, be sure to go into “QuickTime Preferences, not just regular “Preferences”, and then hit the “Advanced” tab to enable these codecs again.

Before I came across O’Reilly’s post I was all set to write a scathing article about Apple’s QuickTime screwing the professional user yet again, but now that I see they didn’t actually screw me, they just confused me, I guess I have to tone it down a a bit. I guess the only real argument I can make here is that when messing with/enhancing products, Apple might want to be a little more clear on what has changed, and provide a link to a “new in this version” readme file along with the link. The current QuickTime 7.4 update dialog box says merely:

QuickTime 7.4 addresses security issues and delivers:
– Numerous bug fixes
– Support for iTunes

This release is recommended for all QuickTime 7 users.

There is no way to know from that description what to do when you attempt to export using a “legacy” codec you normally use (like Sorenson 3), and suddenly it is not there. I use the Sorenson 3 export option regularly to export video that can be inserted into a timeline on Nuendo, running on a PC. Well, for the past week that was right out, and I had to make unwieldy (and 10 times larger) AVI’s that the system could accept.

I often find that the more tech savvy readers of Macenstein and tech blogs in general tend to assume that everyone hunts through every preference pane and package contents folder upon each update scouring for clues and things that might have changed (and actually these days it seems a lot of folks do). But Apple must realize this is not the case, and even “pro” users are often more artist than IT guy, and are used to things just working. If anything, they would expect a new QuickTime update to ADD a codec or two. I recently checked an older computer running QuickTime 7.3, and there is still no link to a version history you can click on when running the QuickTime 7.4 updater through software update. To expect graphics and video professionals to spend time wondering “WTF?” when it appears that a seemingly innocuous “point” update they’ve installed suddenly screws them (most likely during a deadline) is just a bad move. I’m surprised Apple hasn’t learned that a little consideration shown to their professional customers would go a long way. We buy and use MAcs to avoid this kind of confusing crap.

2 Responses to “Why QuickTime 7.4 sucks: Reason 23 – It ate my codecs”
  1. Gidgidonihah says:

    Actually, as of today, the issue has been fixed. Or so the forums say…

  2. Mark says:

    Yep, it got me too. And presumably a million other people. I didn’t know what to use, so I went with MP4- thinking that sounded ‘standard’ enough. Turns out my files played back MOS on my clients’ PC’s. Kind of a problem for a composer. Yay, glad they didn’t disappear. Would I have appreciated a heads up? Yeah.

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