Headbanging with QuickTime

At the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and the Knight Digital Media Center, we’ve used Quicktime Streaming Server successfully for years. We mostly love it, but recently I’ve been banging my head against something that’s driving me nuts.

First, understand that .mov files on QTSS need to have a “hint” track added in order to enable genuine streaming. We run live webcasts with something called Wirecast Pro which lets us interleave titles, images, and output from a presenter’s desktop directly into live streams. It also records .mov files of those streams to disk for our webcast archives. After a conference ends, all I had to do was use QuickTime to add hint tracks to the recorded files and put them on our streaming server.

Recently we found that .mov files created with Wirecast would completely crash (hard!) QuickTime player when served from the streaming server into the browser. After much discussion on the QTSS mailing list, I was able to positively identify the problem as a bug in Apple’s hinting routine. Until the bug gets fixed, a developer at Apple recommended that I use the Penguin MP4 Encoder to add the hint tracks, rather than Apple tools.

That worked perfectly, but raised a separate problem – while the files will stream, they can no longer be played directly from the desktop (we offer a separate Download link). Attempting to play them results in an unhelpful “This movie file is apparently corrupt” message.

Thought I would go back to the drawing board and try to remove the hint tracks added by Penguin, so I could try a different approach. Can’t remove them in QuickTime since I can’t open them in QuickTime. Can’t remove them with the qtmedia command line binary that comes with OS X Server. Fortunately Penguin’s command-line tool does provide an “-unhint” option… but attempting to use that crashes Penguin.

So I’m stuck with a set of .mov files that play fine from QTSS but not locally, due to  weirdo hint tracks. And I can’t find a tool to remove  the hint tracks without crashing.

That’s my day so far. How’s yours?

3 Replies to “Headbanging with QuickTime”

  1. If this had been a Microsoft tool or file format we’d already have had a few comments moaning and groaning, but since it’s Apple you’ll have to settle for this

  2. If this had been a Linux tool or file format we’d already have had a few comments demanding you use the correct bugtracker or pull current with git, but since it’s Apple you’ll have to settle for this.

  3. I was corresponding with Apple devs about this months ago. One of them basically admitted it was a bug in their hinter. But no progress :(

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