Thursday, February 09, 2006
Punk'd By Apple
You can view the movies in Quicktime, and I wanted to bring them into iMovie to edit them and make them part of a larger project. So I opened iMovie and imported one. The picture showed up...but no sound. I Googled around and found out that this was a common problem, and that you had to change the little movie from an MPEG into a DV file before iMovie would import it correctly. And what would do the trick was a handy-dandy little $30 upgrade to Quicktime Pro.
I went to Apple's Quicktime page and ponied up the $30, even though I shudder whenever I give a credit card number on the Internet. I imagine the numbers flying through the air like Mike TeeVee on WonkaVision, with criminals grabbing them and charging a million bucks to my card.
The upgrade wasn't a piece of software. It was a key number that you enter into the "Preferences" on your Quicktime Player, and then it opens a magic door to the myriad of features available to you, including the ability to turn an MPEG file into a DV file. So I downloaded, keyed in the number, launched my new magical Quicktime Pro, exported the movie and I got a picture...but no sound.
I restarted the computer, even though I knew that wasn't going to do squat, but at least then I could call Apple and say, "And I already restarted the computer." I called Apple, and got the usual voice menu and was put on hold for ten minutes. Then my call was picked up by a tech who knew less about Quicktime than I did. Then came three quarters of an hour of:
"Nope. No sound."
"Nope. No sound."
Then the tech Instant Messaged another tech at an undisclosed location, possibly the one that Dick Cheney goes to when he goes to an undisclosed location. So then I got a whole new barrage of "Try this." Followed by "Nope. No sound." Finally, the tech relayed a message telling me to open the "Get Info" menu on the Quicktime movie and read him what was there.
"It says Codecs MPEG1 Muxed."
"And...did you say 'Muxed'?"
"Oh. Sorry. Quicktime doesn't support Muxed files."
"And there's no work-around."
"So what do I do?"
"Well, you could find a discussion board..."
"That's what I did before I paid $30! I want my money back!"
"Ma'am, we don't do that in this department. You'll have to call the Customer Service department."
He gave me an 800 number, and as I went through the "hold" process and got shuttled around from one rep to another ("Ma'am, your download was a number. You can't return a number,") I Googled "MPEG1 Muxed" and discovered that there was an entire MPEG1 Muxed Community out there, people wailing that they had paid $30 for a Quicktime upgrade and found out they had bupkiss. It turns out that a "Muxed file" means the audio and video are mixed into the same track instead of separate tracks, and so they can't both end up in the re-encoded file.
A few enterprising programmers had created shareware and freeware that claimed to fix this problem. I downloaded and tried a few, but only MPEG Streamclip worked. At least it did last night. Who knows what evil could be happening in my absence?
We'll probably keep Quicktime Pro, since you can't return a number. Perhaps, although it can't do what I needed it to do, it will do things I'd never expected. Maybe laundry.
Update: One Discussion Board had this link to a page way down deep in Apple's site:
Hmm...which is different from what I ended up doing in what way?!?
If the format is "MPEG1 Muxed" or "MPEG2 Muxed," you can't use the clip in iMovie. You may want to consider using a third-party utility to convert the clip to DV format for use in your iMovie project.
Note: If you have the QuickTime MPEG-2 playback component installed, it may not change the issues described above. Editing muxed MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 files is not supported in iMovie, even with this component installed.
So even if I'd popped for an extra five bucks for the MPEG-2 component, I still would have been wailing and gnashing my teeth.
Okay, so how was I supposed to have known this? And I'm a geek!