News and Notes related to Digital Media Transcription, Analysis, and Captioning.
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  • Windows QuickTime Vulnerabilities

    Posted on April 21st, 2016 Alex No comments

    By now, you may have heard about the security vulnerabilities posed by QuickTime for Windows.  Given the security vulnerabilities, if you’re a Windows user, we highly recommend uninstalling QuickTime.

    What does this mean for Windows InqScribe users?

    1. You will still be able to play and transcribe most media that Windows Media Player supports.  For more about the types of files supported by Windows Media Player, head over to our media format guide here.
    2. Unfortunately, you will not be able to export a subtitled QuickTime movie using the QuickTime 7-exclusive “Save Subtitled QuickTime Movie” feature.

    Currently, InqScribe requires either QuickTime or Windows Media Player to play back audio and video files. You do not need QuickTime to run InqScribe on Windows–you can still use Windows Media Player for most files.  If you choose to uninstall QuickTime, InqScribe will automatically switch over to Windows Media Player. As long as your media files are supported by Windows Media Player, InqScribe will be able to play them as it normally does, and you may not notice any difference.

    How Do I Make Subtitled Videos Without QuickTime?

    Since you won’t be able to use InqScribe’s built-in subtitled QuickTime movie feature without QuickTime, you may need to find a new method of creating movies from your transcript. Luckily, there are a number of different subtitling options available to InqScribe users via Windows Media Player, VLC Player, YouTube, Final Cut Pro, etc. For more about these options, check out our “What are the different ways to create a subtitled video?” article.

    Why Does InqScribe Still Use QuickTime?

    When InqScribe debuted 10 years ago, QuickTime was arguably in its prime. QuickTime supports a range of media files, and through subtitle track support, giving our users a straightforward way to produce standalone subtitled movies. We’ve been very happy with the relationship between InqScribe and QuickTime, but the writing is on the wall: QuickTime is now over 20 years old, an eternity in software terms. With these vulnerabilities public, and Apple no longer supporting the software, it’s clear that QuickTime is no longer the way moving forward.

    Taking all of this into account, we’ve decided that future versions of InqScribe will no longer use QuickTime.

    What’s Next for InqScribe?

    We are currently working on a major overhaul of InqScribe.

    For OS X, InqScribe will use AV Foundation for media playback. AV Foundation is Apple’s official replacement for QuickTime and offers decent subtitle support. AV Foundation has the additional feature that it is also used for media playback on iPhones and iPads, so moving to AVFoundation should simplify the process of producing subtitled content for Apple’s mobile devices.

    For Windows, InqScribe could probably get by continuing to rely on Windows Media Player, but we want to look closely at moving to either DirectShow or its modern successor, Media Foundation. Of these options we’d prefer to use DirectShow, because Media Foundation doesn’t yet have strong support for subtitles. (Unlike Apple and QuickTime, Microsoft continues to support DirectShow).

    Beyond the native media engines for OS X and Windows, we are also looking at whether InqScribe can support alternative media engines that would enable playback of additional media formats or provide additional functionality that the native engines lack. Examples of engines in this class include VLC, GStreamer, and web-based solutions to play back online content like YouTube or Vimeo.

    InqScribe will continue to export a wide range of subtitling formats, and we will make sure that it will continue to be easy to generate subtitled content that can be viewed with standard apps on OS X and Windows. It’s worth noting that moving to more modern media playback engines will mean that future versions of InqScribe will not run on some older systems. You can read more about future system requirements here.

    We hope this helps to clarify our direction moving forward. In the meantime, InqScribe will continue to rely on QuickTime and Windows Media Player. If you have any questions InqScribe, feel free to contact us at support@inqscribe.com.

  • Modernizing InqScribe

    Posted on March 7th, 2014 eric No comments

    InqScribe is closing in on ten years old. It’s been a point of pride that InqScribe still runs on older systems — with InqScribe 2.2, as far back as OS X 10.4 and Windows 2000.

    Now, however, the media playback engine changes we discussed earlier are forcing us to reconsider that approach for future versions of InqScribe.

    To recap, InqScribe’s media playback engines will be moving from QuickTime to AVFoundation on OS X, and from Windows Media Player to DirectShow (or possibly Media Foundation) on Windows. The new engines come with their own system requirements (for AVFoundation, OS X 10.7) that force us to abandon some older systems.

    Another important consideration for us is whether Apple and Microsoft support the system versions that InqScribe supports. Here, too, change is coming. Apple is no longer releasing security patches for OS X 10.6, which effectively means they no longer support it. Similarly, Microsoft has announced that they are discontinuing support for Windows XP next month.

    We are hesitant to recommend that our users continue to use an unsupported system, primarily because of security issues. With XP in particular, once Microsoft stops issuing security updates, XP systems will be at greater risk for malware.

    A benefit of moving to more modern OS versions is that InqScribe will be able to take advantage of some of the features that these systems provide (native spell checking!), without having to worry that users of older systems will be left out.

    We think it will be in our users’ best interests to upgrade to a supported system. Combined with the higher system requirements of the media engines, we are planning to update InqScribe’s minimum requirements to the following.

    • OS X 10.7. AVFoundation requires OS X 10.7 or newer, which makes this an easy decision.
    • Windows 7. Dropping Windows XP support is a given, since Microsoft is doing the same. We could support Windows Vista, but our internal use data suggests that the number of current Vista users using InqScribe is vanishingly small. So we’re planning to jump directly to Windows 7.

    If you have an older system, InqScribe 2.2 will continue to work for you. The new system requirements only apply to future versions of InqScribe.

    We’re excited for the next release of InqScribe. Talking about system requirements isn’t as exciting, but it’s necessary. We’re announcing these changes now so that users who will be impacted by the system requirements change will have to time to explore their options for upgrading their system before the next version of InqScribe is released.

    If you have questions or concerns about these changes, feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to clarify. We’ll be continually updating this support article with frequently asked questions and answers. And you can always contact us via our support page.

  • Retiring QuickTime

    Posted on March 7th, 2014 matt No comments

    When Apple released QuickTime in 1991, it was revolutionary. QuickTime provided a straightforward means to open and play a wide variety of audio and video formats. Over the years, Apple enhanced QuickTime, adding support for additional formats, subtitles, Windows support, and even a handful of interactive features.

    When InqScribe debuted (nearly 10 years ago!), QuickTime was arguably in its prime. InqScribe has always relied on QuickTime to handle media playback: for a long time our support slogan was “if QuickTime can play it, so can InqScribe.” InqScribe also relied on QuickTime’s subtitle track support to give our users a straightforward way to produce standalone subtitled movies.

    We’ve been very happy with the relationship between InqScribe and QuickTime. But the writing is on the wall: QuickTime is now over 20 years old, an eternity in software terms. And Apple has been very clear that QuickTime is no longer the way forward. Apple has officially deprecated QuickTime, to the point of warning developers that apps submitted to the App Store will be rejected if they continue to use QuickTime.

    (InqScribe is not sold through the App Store, so this warning doesn’t impact us directly. But we get the point.)

    So we’ve made the decision that future versions of InqScribe will no longer use QuickTime. Which raises two key questions: how will InqScribe manage media playback, and how will our users be able to quickly produce subtitled videos?

    For OS X, InqScribe will use AVFoundation for media playback. AVFoundation is Apple’s official replacement for QuickTime and offers decent subtitle support. AVFoundation has the additional feature that it is also used for media playback on iPhones and iPads, so moving to AVFoundation should simplify the process of producing subtitled content for Apple’s mobile devices.

    For Windows, InqScribe could probably get by continuing to rely on Windows Media Player, but we want to look closely at moving to either DirectShow or its modern successor, Media Foundation. Of these options we’d prefer to use DirectShow, because Media Foundation doesn’t yet have strong support for subtitles. (Unlike Apple and QuickTime, Microsoft continues to support DirectShow).

    Beyond the native media engines for OS X and Windows, we are also looking at whether InqScribe can support alternative media engines that would enable playback of additional media formats or provide additional functionality that the native engines lack. Examples of engines in this class include VLCGStreamer, and web-based solutions to play back online content like YouTube or Vimeo.

    InqScribe will continue to export a wide range of subtitling formats, and we will make sure that it will continue to be easy to generate subtitled content that can be viewed with standard apps on OS X and Windows.

    It’s worth noting that moving to more modern media playback engines will mean that future versions of InqScribe will not run on some older systems. We’ll have a separate post soon talking about the next release and InqScribe’s minimum system requirements.

    If you have questions or concerns about these changes, feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to clarify. We’ll be continually updating this support article with frequently asked questions and answers. And you can always contact us via our support page.

  • Bugs in QuickTime 7.7.2+ for Windows

    Posted on July 14th, 2012 eric No comments

    UPDATE: As of 7/25/2013 and QuickTime 7.7.4, Apple has still not resolved the issue.  Please continue to use QuickTime 7.7.1.  BL.

     

    A word of warning to InqScribe users: we’ve identified a couple of bugs that impact Windows users’ ability to use InqScribe to generate subtitled movies.

    We’ve identified two bugs:

    1. If you use custom positioning and set the width of the subtitles to 1000 pixels or more, the last digit will get ignored. So if you try to create subtitles with a width of 1000 pixels, you’ll get subtitles with a width of only 100 pixels.

    2. In some cases, the exported subtitles simply aren’t visible at all.

    These bugs are directly tied to QuickTime 7.7.2 for Windows, which was released on May 15, 2012. If you revert to QuickTime 7.7.1, the bugs go away.

    To revert to QuickTime 7.7.1, first uninstall QuickTime 7.7.2. You can do this via Start > All Programs > QuickTime > Uninstall QuickTime.

    Then download and run the QuickTime 7.7.1 installer (Apple doesn’t make 7.7.1 available any more, so thanks to oldversion.com for hosting the installer.) That’s it.

    Bug Replication Details

    What follows is a little more detail about the underlying bugs and how to replicate them. It is not InqScribe-specific.

    Both of these bugs can be replicated by editing simple text files and opening them within QuickTime Player on Windows (or, to see the proper, non-buggy behavior, within QuickTime Player 7 on OS X).

    For the 1000+ pixel bug, create a text file (qt_test.txt) containing the following:

    {QTText}{timeStamps:absolute}{timeScale:30}{language:0}{width:1000}{height:600}
    [00:00:00.00] This movie should be 1000x600.
    [00:00:10.00]

    Open the file using QuickTime Player. (QuickTime Player will open text files. It may be easiest to just drop the file on the app icon.)

    Ideally, you should get a movie that is 1000×600 pixels that displays one white subtitle on a black background. With QT 7.7.2, the movie is 100×600. (Similarly, width:2000 will result in a 200-pixel wide movie.)

    Let’s isolate the 1000 pixel issue by cutting the width to 999.

    {QTText}{timeStamps:absolute}{timeScale:30}{language:0}{width:999}{height:600}
    [00:00:00.00] This movie should be 999x600.
    [00:00:10.00]

    This works properly.

    The second bug appears to be tied to how the textBox directive is parsed, which InqScribe uses for subtitle positioning. Take the following file:

    {QTText}{timeStamps:absolute}{timeScale:30}{language:0}{width:999}{height:600}
    [00:00:00.00]
    {textBox:175,175,425,825}This movie should be 999x600.
    [00:00:10.00]

    With QT 7.7.2, this results in a movie with a subtitle that reads “5,825}This movie should be 999×600.” This suggests that the QTText parser in QT 7.7.2 is having trouble with the directive.

    Add the shrinkTextBox directive, which InqScribe uses with the textBox directive to position individual subtitles, and you get the following file:

    {QTText}{timeStamps:absolute}{timeScale:30}{language:0}{width:999}{height:600}{shrinkTextBox:on}
    [00:00:00.00]
    {textBox:175,175,425,825}This movie should be 999x600.
    [00:00:10.00]

    And in this case, the subtitle is no longer visible at all. My guess is that the screwed up parsing of the textBox directive led to funky coordinates which, once shrinkTextBox is turned on, led to the subtitles being placed offscreen.

    It’s pretty easy to confirm that these bugs are tied to QT 7.7.2 on Windows. Open any of these files with QuickTime Player 7 on OS X and they look fine. Similarly, downgrade to QT 7.7.1 on Windows and open either of these files, and they look fine.

    We hope Apple will address these bugs in the near future.