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Quicktime VR and 16 bit

Download Apple script for adding High Quality for 16 bit, Save disable, Annotations, Logos, and Autorotation

16 bit screen color is according to statistics from various sites still used by around 16% of the visitors.
At panoramas.dk the number is 10.5 % "JANUARY 2006".

It will take several years before the 16 bit viewers Disappears. It does not only depend on newer computers with better videocards, but there are unfortunately many people who does not even know how to change Resolution or Color Depth.
Some games changes it to 16 bit without telling you.

Statistics from The Counter - Updated with latest stats from panoramas.dk Januar 2007

Color Depth Oct 01 Jan 02 Apr 02 Jul 02 Oct 02 Dec 05 Jan 07
32 bit (max color power) 28% 31% 34% 36% 39% 78% 88%
24 bit (16 million colors) 11% 10% 10% 10% 10% 4% 7%
16 bit (65000 colors) 55% 53% 50% 48% 46% 16% 5%
  8 bit (256 colors) 4% 4% 4% 3% 3% 0% 0.07%
Other or Unknown 2% 2% 2% 3% 2% 0%

Quicktime has as default a very bad color rendering at 16 bit. It shows up in all large areas and makes the Quicktime VR´s impossible to enjoy. As a photographer I have felt very bad at displaying images this way. And the problem increases as you produce better and more clean VR with high resolution. The worst at 16 bit are those from scanning cameras which have no noise at all. The natural grain helps a lot in a VR with a blue sky or other large areas. Actually I have added noise to many of my panoramas because of this. This can however increase the compressed size with up to 50%.

However there is an option which almost completely solves the problem.

Quicktime pro has a function called High Quality Enabled and you only need to open the movie and enable this.

Once it has been enabled in QuickTime Pro all can see the movie in High Quality on a 16 bit screen.

You do not need QuickTime Pro to enable this function. The viewer does not need QuickTime Pro.

Below is a screen shot of the same movie made at 16 bit color. The left is the standard movie and this is how almost all QTVR movies look like.

The right has got High Quality Enabled. Read below how to do it.

View the movies: Standard movie - High Quality Enabled.
Change your colors to 16 bit (thousands on Mac) first.

To enable High Quality just open the movie in QuickTime Pro and choose Get movie properties from the movie menu.
Choose the panorama track and enable High Quality.


Export the movie as Fast Start if you need Fast start
If you save the movie as self contained fast start previews (if you have them) will not be available any more.
They are moved behind each face of the cubic. At least in QuickTime 6 Pro this happens for Cubics.

:::::::::Do not just SAVE .::::::::

The QuickTime VR track and the Video Track can also be High Quality enabled.
It is possible that the video track is necessary if the movie should be resized
Read this notice from Apple.
I have got different results from my experiments. Some times the color rending is lost by resizing.
It can be a memory dependant function as I see different results at different tests.


Apple Script for fast convertions of Quicktime VR movies
Ad logo - Auto rotation - Add Annotations - Export PICT - Enable HQ - Export as Fast Start - Create Save-disabled QTVR mov

Landis Bennett has made a script you can download and use for converting movies fast.
You can just drop single movies or a whole Directory on it.

Click on the script and follow the directions.

To use the autorotation function you also need to download the sprite from Steven Gulie the author of Quicktime for the web.

This is the page with the sprites. http://homepage.mac.com/qt4web/sprites/items.html

I usually use the autorotate5Sec.mov Put it in the directory extras to have it handy for the script.

Download Script.

The Zip archive contains 2 scripts.

VRPrep 1.1b1 is for Macs with older OS

VRPrep 1.1b3 is for Tiger

I do not know if it also works on Leopard

The original resource from Apple about High Quality is here
It is from 1998 but according to Ken Turkowski from the Apple QuickTime team the effect it has on QTVR was first introduced in QuickTime 5.0 in Feb 2001 or 5.0.2 in June 2001

However it seems that almost no photographers know about it.
It is not in any tutorials about QTVR
And It has not been implemented in any QuickTime VR software for Mac besides QuickTime Pro.

PanoCube for Windows has it included

Also CubicConnector can ad HQ and annotations

I would like to thank Ken Turkowski from Apple who pointed this option out for me.

copyright © 2006 Hans Nyberg · www.qtvr.dk · www.panoramas.dk · www.virtualdenmark.dk · www.fullscreenqtvr.com