Be sure to pre-scale your QuickTime movies

We got an inquiry from Mike E. recently about some problems he was noticing with a Sandvox-built site playing back QuickTime movies when viewed from a Windows machine. While the movie played fine on a Mac, it seemed that as soon as he updated to the latest version of QuickTime on his PC, the movie he had in a pagelet stopped displaying.  In other words, a broken image, blank, not visible or displaying properly.

It turns out that there is a bug in the newest version of the QuickTime plugin for Windows, in that it can't handle scaled-down movies. In other words, a movie where the original pixel size of the movie (for instance, 480 pixels wide) gets scaled down to fit the sidebar (in this case, 200 pixels wide).

As we mention in our documentation, it's a good idea for you to scale down your movie to match the viewing size on your website, but the reasons we mention there have to do with file size and transmission time, as well as video quality. When you put a larger movie on your website, Sandvox is not able to scale down the original movie data to the viewing size, though your web browser is perfectly happy (except for this new Windows bug) to load the full size movie and shrink it down to fit the available space. The problem is that movies tend to hold a lot of data, and that means extra time to download that movie so it can play. You don't want your visitors to have to wait any longer than necessary to be able to watch the video, do you?

So if you have an embedded QuickTime video on your website, we recommend using a video tool to scale down the size of your video to fit the container it's in.  The dimensions you need to keep in mind are: 200 pixels wide for a pagelet, 320 pixels wide for a page with a sidebar, and 640 pixels for a page without a sidebar.