Murphy uses AirFoil to send audio from a web browser to an Airport Express or an Apple TV. It’s great for listening to Pandora throughout the house, with various speakers all in sync. There’s an Apple TV connected to the stereo and an Airport Express connected to a Tivoli radio in the kitchen. AirFoil can also send audio to another Mac, like the G5 upstairs that has decent speakers connected. Three sets of speakers all playing one stream throughout the house.
Airfoil keeps getting better. Recently it gained the ability to ‘hijack’ audio from an application that’s already running. Previously, you had to start AirFoil, and then launch the application from AirFoil to send its audio to another device. Not anymore – AirFoil can access already-running applications now. And they’ve added an iPhone app. So Murphy can bring a portable radio out on the porch – connect an iPod touch – and listen to the same stream that’s playing in the house. In a nutshell, it turns an iPhone or touch into a battery powered Airport Express in terms of music streaming.
The software is rock solid, no drop-outs. The interface is simple and unobtrusive.
Using Quicktime Murphy could listen to the aapl quarterly conference call over AirFoil. Sending the stream into the kitchen beats lugging a laptop in there. It’s great for Songza, Pandora, YouTube – or whatever audio you want to transmit. You can even transmit an iTunes stream to your iPhone or touch – enhancing its multi-speaker functionality.
The iPhone / touch application is free. The desktop software is $25. AirFoil for Mac / Windows. There’s a bundle with both for $40.
You don’t need third party tools to keep your Quicktime movie always on top. Select your movie in Finder, hit Shift-Command-Y, and your movie opens in a Sticky. (The keyboard shortcut invokes an item in Services) Set the Sticky to float and the movie stays on top of other windows. Now you can get some work done with the movie playing in the corner, but your other windows won’t cover the video.
You could also look at this as an easier way to play your Quicktime file back borderless. They won’t be perfectly borderless, like Murphy showed you in this tip. But setting the Sticky color to gray makes it look pretty close. The extra screen real estate is nice to have on a laptop. And Murphy’s other Quicktime tip didn’t have the Always on Top option.
It’s a little surprising Apple hasn’t added an Always on Top menu to Quicktime. But this seems like a reasonable workaround. Take a look as Murphy plays with Quicktime and Sticky notes in the screencast.
UPDATE: The keyboard short cut might not work anymore, but you can still drag a quicktime movie from Finder into a Stickie and set the Stickie to float. That will keep your movie on top.
With Quicktime Pro you can add chapter markers to your movie and help viewers jump from one part to another with ease. The steps aren’t as friendly as iMovie – but you won’t have to import your video into iMovie either!
Apple has scripts on their web site that automate tons of Quicktime functions. If you didn’t think Quicktime Pro could do much check out the scripts. It’s amazing just how much this application can do.
That’s enough of the sales pitch. If you need Quicktime Pro chances are you already know about it.
The screencast is loosely based on this tutorial from the Apple site. But the Apple version says to activate chapters on the text track – which didn’t work for Murphy. In the screencast you’ll notice Murphy activates chapters on the video track. It could be an error in the Apple tutorial – or it could be a version compatibility issue.
Here’s a little more information on text tracks and Quicktime. Click to download the movie used in the screencast and a sample text file.
Note: Apple announced changes to the Macbook Pro line today. If you don’t need the very latest check Amazon. At post time they have some previous generation models listed with a $150 rebate.
Making your movie play back without borders is a little simpler than creating a skin. All you need is a solid black image file, at least as large as your movie. And a text file. And your movie.
Why would you want to do this? That’s a good question. Maybe you want to play a movie back while you’re working and screen space is tight. Maybe you’re using a computer for some kind of demo kiosk and you’d like the video playing back as part of your demonstration. Maybe you’re a minimalist. Maybe you don’t want to do this…
To be honest, Murphy stumbled into this Quicktime behavior when developing the screencast for creating a Quicktime skin.
In the screencast you’ll see the text file is the glue that holds the movie and the image file together. To make your production portable you’d have to export it into a self-contained movie.
If you want to take this a little further see the screencast on Quicktime skins.
You can also download the files used in the screencast.
If you distribute Quicktime content without embedding it in a web page you might want to apply a skin to your video. Murphy’s covered that before. The downside of the skin is that the controls don’t show up, unless you create some – which requires some commitment to the task.
Your viewers might not know how to initiate playback on your Quicktime movie, unless you’ve added a title page with instructions to hit the space bar. Making the movie auto-play could alleviate some confusion.
The screencast shows how to make your movie auto-play and auto-close. The interface also has an option for auto-quitting. Follow this link to learn how to make a skin for your Quicktime movie or click here for instructions on making a title page.
A skin really sets your movie apart and draws attention. Someone might even think you know what you’re doing. Maybe.