Going Bilingual With Your Music Multimedia Projects

September 1, 1997

Dear Squeak and Blat,

My school computer lab has both Mac and Windows 95 computer workstations. I've created some nice Powerpoint and HyperCard projects for my students in the World Music class I teach and in the Music Listening class. These were done on the Mac. When I started converting them over to run on the Windows 95 computers today, I encountered a real mess with the graphics and sounds. Besides, there isn't a HyperCard for Windows, so what do I do with my HyperCard stacks.

Professor Myra P. AppleGates


Dear Prof. AppleGates,

You have indeed taken on a task that has a few landmines laying in wait, especially in terms of graphics, fonts, and digital video. I recently undertook a similar task and have some bruises to show for it. But, it is possible to develop cross-platform music multimedia and once you learn the incompatibilities, you can wisely plan any new development work so it will run on both machines the first time. I'll let Blat comment about sounds and movies, and provide his spin on HyperCard.

Powerpoint is a good cross-platform application for Mac and Windows as long as you stick to Powerpoint 4.0 as this is the latest version that Microsoft has released for the Mac (the Wintel version is Powerpoint 97).

In terms of graphics and fonts, here are a few good rules of thumb:

1. Save the graphics as TIF, GIF, or JPEG, all universal graphic formats for both machines (whatever you do, don't use PICT on the Mac with the Quicktime JPEG compression or your'll be in trouble on the PC side).

2. Stick with 256 colors or 8-bit graphics.

3. Use the fonts that are installed with Powerpoint. Avoid other fancy fonts that might not translate well on the other computer platform.

HyperCard. Well, Myra, there is no HyperCard for the Wintel side. Toolbook is very HyperCard like and you could convert your stacks by hand to this Windows application. Our textbook, Experiencing Music Technology, discussed thoroughly the differences between the two and the EMT CD-ROM has a tutorial an example of a stack done with both. Asymetrix's Toolbook, however, is not an inexpensive software application!

What I did, however, was switch to Roger Wagner's HyperStudio. It is not as powerful as HyperCard or Toolbook, but it is cross platform. If you keep your graphics to 256 colors and use the fonts with HyperStudio, you can run a HyperStudio stack on either Mac or Wintel. It is also a reasonably priced application and a free HyperStudio player is included.

That's my tips on cross platform multimedia. Let's see what Blat can contribute.


Dear Dr. Myra

Squeak got started with some of the gotchas to look for when developing your multimedia projects for both platforms, especially with graphics. Let me take a shot at the sound and video issues which are a bit more complicated.

Powerpoint. Digitial Sound. Digital sound files work best in a WAV format on the PC. Powerpoint will read WAV files on the Mac and on the Wintel version in Powerpoint 4.0 The Mac version also likes AIFF audio as well, but this might not work as well on the Wintel side. So, if you are using either SoundEdit 16 on the Mac or SoundForge on the PC (or SoundEffects on the Mac and Goldwave or CoolEdit on the PC) then save all your sounds as WAV files for Powerpoint presentations. (Hint: on the Mac side, digital sound is incorporated using the "Movie..." item in the Insert menu-a confusing option that we hope is changed in the new version of Powerpoint for the Mac.

MIDI. MIDI files are a bit sticky. Powerpoint 4.0 on the Mac doesn't use MIDI files unless you convert them to Quicktime movies, but Powerpoint on the PC does. If you must use MIDI in the current version of Powerpoint for the Mac, you will need be convert the MIDI file to a Quicktime movie using a program like MoviePlayer and then insert the MIDI file in your Mac Powerpoint presentation.

CD Sound. The same thing applies to CD audio clips. Powerpoint on the PC will allow the playing of a compact disc clip, but the Mac version does not. You will need to create an AIFF or WAV file from your compact disc in order to incorporate a clip into your Mac Powerpoint. Hopefully, when Microsoft releases that new version of Office 98 custom designed for the Mac next year, Powerpoint will add these additional sound features.

Movies. Quicktime digital video can run on either the Mac or the Windows platform. All you need is Quicktime for Windows installed on your computer and this is a freebie which can be downloaded from:

http://swupdates.info.apple.com/cgi-bin/lister.pl?Apple.Support.Area/ Apple.Software.Updates/US/DOS-Windows/QuickTime

Squeak and I have had a little problem with some Quicktime done on the Mac that involved a lot of fancy features like MIDI, still images, and text. When trying to play these feature-packed movies on the PC they would choke and die on us, but most of them work fine. All Quicktime video development needs to be done on the Mac and then they can be played on the PC. Just remember to check the options to "flatten" the movies and to save for "non-Apple" computers when saving your video on the Mac. Most of the time when movies don't play on the PC, this is the reason.

HyperStudio. Most of what has been said above concerning sound and video for Powerpoint applies to HyperStudio. Except, CD audio clips can be used in both the Mac version of HyperStudio as well as the PC Windows version. However, you will need to watch for a few gotchas. Sound files need to be 8-bit sound, not 16-bit. Quicktime movies need to be played with the16-bit Quicktime for Windows, not the 32-bit Quicktime for Windows. You can actually have both installed on your Windows computer.

One more word about HyperCard itself: we continue to hope that the new release of HyperCard (version 3.0) will solve cross platform problems. Apple hopes to have this new version of HyperCard really be a scripting layer for QuickTime technology so that you are able to create scriptable movies. If this happens, then your old stacks will also run on Wintel machines. As my mom is fond of saying, "Time will tell."

That's it from Blat!



1691 Last modified on December 19, 2013
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