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BitJazz Newsletter
June 2003

Hi,

Today we released another upgrade to the SheerVideo Pro Preview for Mac. Since the last news bulletin, we have been focussing mainly on documentation and compatibility issues, so this release wasn't intended to introduce any new features. But we couldn't resist the demand to add basic support for still images, which snuck in under the guise of compatibility with PICT files and QuickTime Image files. You can download the latest free SheerVideo Pro Preview from

http://www.bitjazz.com/en/

new website!

Note the new location. We've almost finished overhauling the BitJazz website. With a new look, new layout, and loads of new material, everything's being brought up to date in preparation for the SheerVideo launch. Check it out! For example, there's now a very extensive FAQ about SheerVideo at

http://www.bitjazz.com/en/products/sheervideo/faq/

new release!

The new version, 0.9.9, introduces the following changes and new features:

SheerVideo QuickDraw Pictures (PICT files) and
SheerVideo QuickTime Images (QTIF files)

Many of you said you couldn't wait for us to provide Sheer technology for still images. While it's still going to be a while before we release SheerPhoto, we've decided to already provide basic Sheer support for still images now by letting Sheer-encoded RGB[A] 8b images be stored in QuickDraw Pictures (PICT files) and in QuickTime Images (QTIF files).

Sheer-in-PICT files can be opened by any Mac application that deals with images, including everything from Apple SimpleText to Adobe Photoshop. But though popular on the Mac, PICTs are dependent on QuickDraw, which is unavailable on other platforms. QuickTime Images (QTIF files), in contrast, depend only on QuickTime, and are portable. Sheer-in-QTIF files are also more space-efficient, adding only a 128-byte header to the Sheer image, compared to a 924-byte header for SheerVideo PICT files. However, not as many applications support QTIF files yet.

You can create SheerVideo PICT and QTIF files with many applications, including Apple's QuickTime Player, Preview (OS X) and Picture Viewer (OS 8&9). For illustrated instructions using QuickTime Player, see the SheerVideo Manual:

http://www.bitjazz.com/en/support/sheervideo/user_manual/quicktime_player/

accelerated playback for Y'CbCr 8bv 4:2:2

The Sheer Y'CbCr 8bv 4:2:2 codec supports two different pixel formats, '2vuy' and 'yuvs'. Whether or not you have accelerated playback of either of these pixel formats depends on your graphics hardware, operating system version, and QuickTime version. Prior versions of SheerVideo assumed accelerated playback for the original pixel format to be available, which led to unacceptably slow or in some cases byte-swapped display. This release lets QuickTime choose the fastest display pixel format irrespective of the source pixel format.

intermittent critical bug fixed

In the previous two releases, the code for selecting the scan mode intermittently failed, sometimes causing a fatal error. This bug has now been fixed.

format-specific decoders

In previous versions of SheerVideo, a single decoder handled all SheerVideo formats. This caused compatibility problems with Final Cut Pro. Thus the SheerVideo decoder has now been separated into format-specific decoders paralleling the format-specific encoders. Unfortunately, this has nearly doubled the size of the SheerVideo package.

multiprocessor decoding

Thanks to a correction to the QuickTime documentation, the Sheer decoders now make full use of multiprocessor computers. So on a dual-processor Mac, decompression is now up to twice as fast.

extended preview period

This release of SheerVideo expires on 7 June 2003.

feedback, please!

If this version of SheerVideo does not work as expected in your application, please let us know immediately! Do not assume that someone else will report the problem or that we will magically discover it on our own.

I hope you have found this update useful. This bulletin is also available in German, French, and Spanish.

Cheers,

Andreas Wittenstein
President, BitJazz Inc.

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