July 09, 2003 

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Site Technical Notes
Updated on: October 05, 2000
Help with QuickTime Audio / Video Help with Real Audio / Video

Audio and video clips

We try to keep things simple, but at the same time we like to use multimedia clips where we think it is appropriate and will add to the experience. Certainly not everyone is a wizard who knows how to configure their computer perfectly, and so on this page we will do our best to explain what needs to be done in order for you to experience the many multimedia elements within the site.

QuickTime on sciencentral.com/news/

Get QuickTime
Download QuickTime
Multimedia clips on this site are offered in QuickTime format (and in Real Media format—see below). QuickTime content is available through a QuickTime plug-in installed in your browser’s "plug-in" folder. If you do not have the plug-in, you may download it for free from the Apple Computer QuickTime website by clicking the image to the right. Currently only Windows (95 / 98 / 2000 / NT) and Macintosh computers are supported. The download might take a while, but once installed you will be able to view all the multimedia clips on this site (as well as on many other sites). Please note: Apple will offer the opportunity to buy QuickTime Pro, which is not free. Don’t let this confuse you and prevent you from downloading the free player.

sciencentral.com/news offers three types of QuickTime clips.

  1. Audio-only
  2. Video clips with a controller. These clips will display the first frame of the video while it downloads. When the clip has completed downloading, it will automatically play. You can control play using the QuickTime controls. See below for more information.
  3. Video clips without a controller. Same as above, but there will be no controller. This is often the case when there is no sound and we want the clip to play over and over in a continuous loop.

Thanks to "progressive downloading" you can begin playing the clips before they are completely downloaded (and sometimes the movie will begin playing for you), but note that the player might catch up to what has been downloaded (and temporarily stop the clip). Don’t be discouraged—it will keep downloading and you can view from the beginning without having to reload it.

Test Whether You Have QuickTime

QuickTime File, press the play button
Listen to the Instrument
The box to the right contains a sample QuickTime audio file. Hopefully by now it has downloaded enough that you see a controller and can press the "play" button (the second button from the left—it is a triangle that is pointing to the right) and hear what sounds like a high-pitched flute. It is a clip of the world’s oldest instrument.

In the box above and for all other QuickTime files on the site, clips will first appear as a "Q" logo similar to the one further above. This Q means the clip is downloading—please be patient while it does so—and eventually the Q will turn into the playable clip. If, however, you see something which is NOT a blue Q or which is simply a large blank space, you do not have a current version of QuickTime properly installed in your computer. Please note: Windows users might experience the unfortunate fact that their browser might put a Windows Media Player controller in the box by default—the Windows Media Player does not play QuickTime. So if you see what looks like a controller in the box, but it doesn’t work when you press play, you are probably experiencing this and need to get QuickTime.

QuickTime Controls

Problems and Troubleshooting

If you have problems playing QuickTime clips on the sciencentral.com/news site, try the following:

  1. Reinstall QuickTime.

  2. Check the "plug-ins" folder inside the folder of your Internet browser (probably Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator/Communicator), and make sure the "QuickTime Plugin" file is in the "plug-ins" folder. If it is not, you will need to find the plug-in file in the QuickTime folder and place it in the browser’s "plug-ins" folder. (This is often an issue for people who install an updated/new version of their Internet browser after downloading QuickTime

    Installed in the Netscape Communicator plug-ins folder on a Macintosh
    Installed in the Netscape Communicator plug-ins folder on a Windows PC

  3. Look in the "Preferences" settings for your Internet browser and find the section for "File Helpers". Make sure that the QuickTime plugin (not the QuickTime player or any other media player or plugin) is selected as the application to play QuickTime content.

  4. Send us an e-mail via our contact page.

Real Media

All clips are also offered in Real Media as well as QuickTime. The Real content is accessed via a text link beneath the QuickTime clip on the page; clicking the text link will launch the Real Player separate from your Internet browser and play the clip. Keep in mind, however, that we find the quality of QuickTime content to be much higher than Real content. If you need to get the Real Player, you can get it here for free.

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