- New video interface, competitive with QuickTime.
- Home page: http://126.96.36.199:80/imedia/activemovie/activem.htm
- Technical info: http://188.8.131.52:80/imedia/activemovie/amtech.htm
- Here's the beta release: http://www.microsoft.com/advtech/ActiveMovie/download.htm
- Part of the DirectX architecture. Possibly
also known as DirectVideo? No -- DirectVideo is the name for Video
for Windows on top of DirectX.
- The successor to Video for Windows.
- Doesn't seem to support video capture yet, just for playback, so the
low level multimedia services are still important.
- Used to be called "Quartz". Quartz is "an architecture
for the processing of streams of multimedia data." According to Microsoft's
"Creating Platforms for Innovative Internet Platforms" article
Quartz uses "Filter Graphs" to handle new media types, such as
streams of digitized video and audio. Expect Microsoft to open and mine
the Quartz vein more deeply now that Netscape
has acquired InSoft and its INTV!, CoolTalk, and CoolView products as the
foundation for its LiveMedia add-on to future versions of Netscape Navigator.
- Microsoft Announces ActiveMovie, Cross-Platform Digital Video Technology,
March 8, 1996
- Next generation of cross-platform digital video technology for the
desktop and the Internet.
- ActiveMovie provides the ability to create and deliver titles on multiple
platforms with synchronized audio, video, and special effects.
- ActiveMovie, scheduled to be available in the second week of March
in beta form, is planned for release simultaneously for the Windows
95 and Windows NT operating systems in
- It is scheduled to be delivered for the Apple
Power Macintosh platform later this year.
- For information about ActiveMovie, refer to: http://www.microsoft.com/ie/news
- Users will benefit from the following features:
- State-of-the-art MPEG playback for full-screen, television-quality
video on mainstream systems.
- Internet playback and streaming for fast and easy playback of all
popular media types on the Internet.
- A flexible, extensible architecture for integration of new technologies,
third-party enhancements, and real-time special effects.
- ActiveMovie uses and is integrated with Microsoft
DirectX technology, which automatically accelerates
video playback on DirectDraw API-compatible graphics cards and enables special
effects and combinations of 2-D and 3-D elements with digital video. For
example, ActiveMovie's integration with the Direct3D
API allows special effects such as promotional presentations.
- ActiveMovie provides a comprehensive set of services for playback
of MPEG movies. It is capable of decoding MPEG entirely in software (without
requiring an MPEG chip) and playing it back full-screen on an Intel 90 Mhz
Pentium-based PC with a low-cost graphics adapter at 24 frames per second
(fps) with 11 KHz stereo.
- ActiveMovie transparently implements MPEG decoding hardware.
- Allows developers to deliver content that plays on the Windows
95, Windows NT, and Power
- The beta software development kit (SDK) includes an OLE
Control that Internet developers can use
to add video playback and real-time media streaming to Internet applications.
- ActiveMovie is scheduled to be integrated with and included in the
next release of Microsoft Internet
Explorer, enabling Internet users to efficiently play back popular media
formats on the Web, including MPEG Audio and Video, .AVI files, QuickTime,
AU, .WAV, MIDI, and AIFF.
- ActiveMovie's flexible architecture and system of replaceable "filters"
makes it easier to develop products that improve or modify video playback
in real time and to incorporate the latest in special effects into titles.
An extensible set of ActiveMovie components, the filters perform functions
such as retrieving video from a CD and decompressing that video from its
stored digital format.
- Developers can replace, change, or add to a set of provided filters
to modify and enhance video and audio playback. For example, an educational
music-title vendor could provide its users with the capability to select
and mix sounds dynamically from different musical instruments in a music
video, or a video-editing tool company could easily create a set of filters
that would allow customers to add contrast, transition, and lighting effects
- More than 20 software developers, hardware vendors, and original equipment
manufacturers (OEMs) support ActiveMovie, including Adobe
Systems Inc., Intel Corp., Macromedia Inc.,
and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. In addition, the Open MPEG
consortium (representing 32 companies) and the Japanese Open MPEG Windows
Forum (representing 32 companies) have announced support.
- ActiveMovie is scheduled to ship to software developers and hardware
manufacturers in June 1996 for redistribution at no charge. Users can expect
software titles incorporating ActiveMovie technology to be on the market
this summer. Developers requesting information about ActiveMovie can e-mail
- The following filters are provided as part of the ActiveMovie SDK.
- MPEG, AVI, and QuickTime source filters.
- MPEG, AVI and QuickTime video decompression
- MPEG audio decompression filter.
- MPEG stream splitter.
- DirectX-compatible video and audio rendering
- Additional sample code filters delivering special effects such as
- ActiveMovie has COM, OLE,
and MCI interfaces.
- Typically, existing applications that use the MCI command set are
easily ported, whereas applications that access lower-level
multimedia services will take more work to rewrite.
- When writing a new application, developers have several options.
- To add ActiveMovie services like MPEG and QuickTime video playback
to an exiting application developers can incorporate the ActiveMovie OLE
control into their applications or access the COM
interfaces on the filter graph manager directly. Both Visual
Basic version 4.0 and Visual C++ allow access
to the control or the COM interfaces. Filters within
a filter graph are typically written in C or C++ for best performance. The
ActiveMovie SDK provides a C++ class library for writing filters, the ActiveMovie
OCX control, and tools for constructing and
testing filter graphs. It also provides many sample filters as well as comprehensive
- Developers who want to modify the media stream in some way, for
example, to create special video effects, or source video from a special
source, can incorporate both the filter graph manager object and a custom
filter. The instantiated filter graph manager is used to generate and manage
the filter graph, and the custom filter can be inserted in a preconfigured
filter graph, which can then be loaded by the filter graph manager.
- Alternately, an application can dynamically insert a custom filter
into an existing filter graph that has been created by the filter graph
manager. For example, an application that plays MPEG movies and introduces
a video effects filter into the media stream can instantiate the filter
graph manager, instruct it to build an MPEG playback filter graph, and can
then insert the effects filter into the filter graph.