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The story: Apple leaves QuickTime securities unpatched on Windows; Adobe drops support in their product line. But that leaves creative people stuck – including live visual artists. And now they’re looking for solutions.

First, here’s the sequence of events – and if you’ve been watching the general mayhem in the US government, you’d be forgiven for missing what was happening with, like, QuickTime for Windows security.

First, from the US Department of Homeland Security (really, even if the headline looks more like Macworld):

Apple Ends Support for QuickTime for Windows; New Vulnerabilities Announced [US-CERT Alert (TA16-105A)]

And from a private security firm:

Urgent Call to Action: Uninstall QuickTime for Windows Today [TrendMicro]

To follow that advice, you can perform that installation on Windows as follower (macOS users aren’t impacted):

Uninstall QuickTime 7 for Windows

That is, Apple had already dropped QuickTime for Windows development, including fixing security vulnerabilities – and this known one is bad enough to finally uninstall the software. It’s a Web-based vulnerability, so not particularly relevant to us making visuals, but significant nonetheless.

Developers should already have begun removing dependencies on QuickTime some time ago. But because of the variety of formats artists support, this starts to break some specific workflows. So here’s Adobe:

QuickTime on Windows [Adobe blog]

And before you get too smug, Mac users, you can expect some bumps in the road as cross-platform software generally tries to get out of QuickTime as a dependency. That could get messy, again, with so many formats out there. But let’s deal with Windows and Adobe software.

What works: uncompressed, DV, IMX, MPEG2, XDCAM, h264, JPEG, DNxHD, DNxHR, AVCI and Cineform), plus “DV and Cineform in .mov wrappers.”

What breaks: Among others, Apple ProRes (the big one), plus “Animation (import and export), DNxHD/HR (export) as would workflows where growing QuickTime files are being used (although we strongly advise using MXF for this wherever possible).”

Moreover, Adobe is dropping QuickTime 7 codec support on all April releases of their full CC product line:

Dropped support for Quicktime 7 era formats and codecs [Adobe support]

Adobe advises customers to move to newer codecs, but that isn’t always an option. PC World have a tough appraisal of the situation (one I’m sure Adobe could live without):

Adobe on QuickTime: You’re up the creek without a paddle [PC World]

That’s by Gordon Mah Ung, the editor who has been around this business long enough not to mince words.

David Lublin of Vidvox writes CDM to let us know that in the short term, this also impacts Adobe software support for their high performance, open Hap format (plus DXV and many other legacy codecs VJs may tend to use). I also spoke with Mark Conilgio of Isadora, who said he was sad to see QuickTime support go, and that it would prevent cross-platform file support, Isadora 3 will remove QuickTime dependencies and work with native file formats on the respective platforms.

Hey, Adobe: Get Hap!

A silver lining: this may be a chance to “shake the tree” and convince Adobe to add native support for Hap, a high performance format that leverages your GPU to delivery snappy playback, ideal for live and interactive visual applications. And given that’s an open source format, and unlike anything else available, that’d be great. There’s already a proposal online to make that (hap)pen:

https://adobe-video.uservoice.com/forums/911311-after-effects/suggestions/33853372-support-the-hap-codec

Hap was built in collaboration with talented developer Tom Butterworth. And Adobe has incorporated his code before: in 2016, Character Animator added support for Syphon, the inter-app visual texture pipeline on Mac:
https://www.adobe.com/products/character-animator/features.html

Work with Hap right now

For Hap support – and you really should be working with it – here are some immediate solutions.

Encoding to Hap from the command line using FFmpeg

Converting movies to the Hap video codec

But I’d love to see Adobe support the format. It’s just a codec; there’s no real UX requirement, and the code is there and flexibly licensed.

Meanwhile, perhaps this is a nice illustration of how important it is that live visual art move to open, cross-platform de facto standards. It makes work and art future proof and portable, and removes some overhead for developers making both free and commercial tools. And given that computers are based on many of the same architectures, it makes sense for the ways we store video and express graphical information to be portable and standardized.

For Vidvox’s part, there’s a nice summary on their page of what they support – and a lot of the formats they’re championing can be used by developers on Windows and Linux, not just macOS:

Open Source At VIDVOX