Apple QuickTime update breaks playback of existing movies

Update (May 17 2012):

It looks like Apple does not plan to fix this, since it's a side-effect of fixing a security hole of some kind.  But the kind people at Pixar have supplied us with a patch, so as of version 3.12.15 RVIO again produces movies that Apple Quicktime can play.

Update (Mar 6 2012):

It looks like whatever is triggering the bad behavior is not set off by movies with resolutions divisible by 16 in both dimensions (eg 1280x720), so if you can target resolutions that meet that constraint, the resulting movies should play in all versions of quicktime.  (Note that the "-outres" rvio flag will set the output resolution without stretching.)

Update (Nov 1 2011):

Apple says they're aware of the problem and are working on a fix for a future update.


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Summary

After a recent update to Apple QuickTime, some movies that used to play fine now present a black or green screen, although you get no errors and audio, if present, plays fine for the length of the movie. (After the update, QT Player 7 reports version 7.7 on Windows, 7.6.6 on Mac)

This behavior occurs on Mac and Windows and in all QuickTime-based players, including QuickTime Player 7, The Foundry's Nuke, and our player RV (win32 and mac32). Some of these movies will play in the current QuickTime X Player, and some won't.

As we learn more about this issue, we'll update this article, so feel free to "subscribe" (upper right of the layout) in order to receive automatic updates.

Solution Status

The only "solution" at the moment is to use a libquicktim/ffmpeg version of RV (linux or mac64), or to downgrade the Apple QuickTime install.

We are continuing to investigate, in the hope that we'll be able to modify rvio to produce movies that this new version of Apple Quicktime will be able to play, but changing rvio will obviously have no effect on existing movies that will not play. The only solution for that will be a further update from Apple that restores the previous functionality. We have an active incident report with Apple Support.

To Downgrade QuickTime on Windows:

Copy aside your current QuickTime install (probably here: "c:/Program Files (x86)/Quicktime") and download and unzip this in it's place.

To downgrade QuickTime on Mac:

Download this and save the original and copy this into place:

sudo cp /System/Library/QuickTime/QuickTimeComponents.component/Contents/MacOS/QuickTimeComponents QuickTimeComponents.bad
sudo cp QuickTimeComponents.good /System/Library/QuickTime/QuickTimeComponents.component/Contents/MacOS/QuickTimeComponents

Details

We haven't been able to determine exactly what characterizes the movies that won't play in the new QuicktTime, but here are some factors:

      • Encoder-related: We've only been able to reproduce the problem with our libquicktime/ffmpeg-based encoder so far. Encoding with either the new or the old Apple QuicktTime produces movies that play in both. We have some anecdotal evidence that some movies produced by Apple QuicktTime-based encoders will also not play in the new version, but nothing reproducible.
      • Player-related: The libquicktime/ffmpeg-based version of our player can play all these movies without issues. No Apple-Quicktime-based player that we've tested can play them.
      • Codec-related: We've only been able to reproduce the problem with jpeg-based codecs like Motion JPEG and Photo JPEG. Raw and H264 seem to work fine.
      • Resolution-related: The problem does not seem to occur with a resolution of 1280x720, but occurs with many others, including 1920x1080 and 960x540.
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