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BitJazz Newsletter
September 2003


Over the past month and a half, we've issued a number of compatibility releases of SheerVideo for Mac. You can download the latest version, v1.1.6, from


Windows beta

On the PC+Windows front, in the meantime, we've had to overcome what we sincerely hope are many more than the usual number of problems with unreliable hardware, flaky operating systems, and buggy development systems. We apologize for this unexpected delay. The first beta of SheerVideo for Windows will be released next week.

The compatibility features and fixes we've added to SheerVideo include:

Support for non-Mac RGB[A] 8b formats

On the Mac, the only standard RGB[A] 8b format is ARGB. In the anarchic PC+Windows world, other popular "standards" include ABGR, RGBA, BGRA, RGB, and BGR. Support for these formats was added in SheerVideo v1.1.1.

Carbon Update SheerVideo X

In SheerVideo v1.1.0 for Mac OS X, the automatic updaters, "Update SheerVideo Pro X" and "Update SheerVideo Reader X", were inadvertently built as Classic applications because the compiler found the wrong "Carbon.r" resource file. [Why Apple gave both files the same name is an unsolved riddle.] This was fixed in v1.1.2.

OS X SheerVideo settings synopsis

In Jaguar (OS X 10.2), only the first line of the SheerVideo settings synopsis showed in the Compression Settings dialog, due to a change in the operating system's line-termination conventions. This was fixed in SheerVideo v1.1.2.

Y'CbCr encoding without transcoders in QT 6

In QuickTime 6, the Sheer Y'CbCr encoders in SheerVideo v1.1.3+ operate without transcoders. This means that in QuickTime 6, you no longer have to check the Allow Transcoding box when using the Sheer Y'CbCr encoders. More significantly, it means that many applications that don't know how to use transcoders now support the Sheer Y'CbCr codecs.

Sheer Y'CbCr capture

Most capture applications that support Y'CbCr video input, including BTV Pro and HackTV, can now record directly to SheerVideo format in real time. Unfortunately, QuickTime's data chunking strategy during capture results in very poor playback performance for SheerVideo. To play back captured SheerVideo smoothly, re-export the video to the same Sheer format, and QuickTime will chunk the data optimally for smooth playback.

RGB display in Cleaner

RGB display in Discreet Cleaner and a few other applications was inadvertently broken in SheerVideo v1.1.1. This bug was fixed in SheerVideo v1.1.4.

Y'CbCr 8bw 4:2:2 display in Mac OS X

Under Mac OS X, BTV Pro and many other applications could not display Sheer Y'CbCr 8bw 4:2:2 ('yuv2','yuvu') due to a bug in QuickTime. SheerVideo v1.1.5 contains a workaround for this bug.

Y'CbCr display in Final Cut Pro

A simplification in the generic decoder introduced in SheerVideo v1.1.2 sometimes confused Final Cut Pro so that it did not display Sheer Y'CbCr videos. This problem was fixed in SheerVideo 1.1.6.

Tip for the Month: Hard Disks for Video Storage & Transport

Do you still archive or ship digital video data on tape? If so, you may want to reconsider. Hard disk drives now cost half as much per gigabyte ($0.66/GB) as tape cartridges ($1.20/GB), and their price advantage is expected to continue to improve. More importantly, at that price, single hard disk drives can read and write your video data 20 times faster (40 MB/s), than tape drives (2 MB/s), and seek to a particular frame in milliseconds instead of minutes. And whereas tape cartridges require expensive custom hardware and awkward custom software to use, hard disk drives are self-contained and highly standardized. In fact, their combination of speed and portability means that it's often faster to "ship" hard disk drives to the computer at the next desk than to transmit their contents by Ethernet.

In any case, whether you use hard disk drives, tape, or Ethernet, SheerVideo cuts your time, materials, and other costs in half.

When shipping hard disks, make sure that the recipient uses the same file system; between Mac, Windows, and Linux, there are several different and mutually incompatible hard disk file systems, and even within a single operating system, mixing disks with different file systems can cause problems. If you're shipping enough data to a specific client with a potentially incompatible file system, consider sending a whole computer along with the disk drive(s), which the recipient can then access by Ethernet.

Today's hard disk drives are very rugged, but still need to be packaged with protective padding for shipment.

Also be aware that, because they contain electronics, international shipments of hard disk drives may be subject to customs duties and delays.

feedback, please!

If you have any experiences or insights regarding SheerVideo that you'd like to share with the user community, such as application notes or testimonials for this newsletter and other educational and promotional materials, please drop us a note. We'll try to make it worth your while.


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

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues!

Friendly regards,

Andreas Wittenstein
President, BitJazz Inc.

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